Cisco and Citrix: Enhancing the Value of Desktop Virtualization

Cisco announced today a five-year strategic alliance with Citrix in the desktop virtualization space.  As a first outcome of their new alliance, Cisco WAAS will be optimized for Citrix XenDesktop.  It’s designed to improve the end-user experience such that it has “LAN-like” performance.  This translates into the capability of a more rich Unified Communication experience—HD quality video, faster print jobs, and improved app performance.  Rather than buying several products to get this done, this is nicely packaged as one solution for virtual and physical desktops.

What does this mean for Sourcing and Vendor Management (SVM) professionals and what can you do? 

1.       If your organization isn’t looking at this, it will be forced to within your next refresh cycle.  While Desktop Virtualization has been around for years, it’s more recently been attracting enterprise customers at a very robust growth rate.  Most resellers I’ve spoken to enjoy double digit semi-annual growth rates as high as 40% in inquiries and many of them include desktop virtualization on tablets.  At this stage, most companies are still in education mode, but adoption appears to be steadily increasing.  If you’re not working on it right now, spend the time to get educated on the various flavors and the elements of the project that lead to savings for your organization.  ROI will vary from company to company due to the varying desktop environments.

2.       Desktop Virtualization RFP’s I’ve seen commonly have no requirements—they initially look like solicitation for proposals with non-existent IT environmental descriptions.  By including a user profile survey that entails apps and devices, networking environment, storage, security requirements, and any industry-specific requirements as it relates to anything in the cloud, SVM professionals can help cut down times in the sourcing process.

3.       Planning for Desktop Virtualization involves working with multiple IT roles.  Desktop support, networking, storage, security, and your Microsoft licensing expert.  In order to build the business case and demonstrate a strong ROI, you’ll need to gather everyone’s input.  This is especially true for the Cisco WAAS offering.  This offering is intended to optimize the WAN for a rich HD experience and lead to mainstream adoption of virtual desktops.  With more people adopting this solution and the changes to your WAN environment, you’ll need to collaborate with your internal team to calculate/re-calculate the ROI.  In a lot of cases, a good portion of the savings comes from the operational side. 

4.       Service providers offering this solution should have performance SLA’s for their enterprise customers, so the responsibility doesn’t necessarily fall on Citrix and/or Cisco’s shoulders.  Internal IT departments need to be responsible for SLA’s.  Additionally, some elements of the SLA’s have shared responsibility.  If you fall in this camp, you’ll want to pay very close attention to this as well as your internal network SLA’s, as this will affect the user experience.  Cisco’s WAAS should also have monitoring capabilities, so you have an additional tool other than your existing tools to track performance.

As I’m finishing up a report touching on considerations for your upcoming desktop virtualization RFP, I’d love to hear your experiences.  With all of the changes in the PC market, desktop virtualization, consumerization of enterprise IT, and tablets, we’ll explore how companies have conquered this mobile frontier, from a sourcing perspective at Forrester’s SVM Forums, November 7-8 in Miami and November 31-December 1 in London.  I’ll be going over sourcing strategies and tactics on these emerging trends and technologies in this age of mobility.


Great article. I look forward

Great article. I look forward to attending the conference or at least meeting-up with you when you're down in Miami.