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Collaboration experience within a virtual environment : VXI

By Patrick Tredway | Jan 24, 2011 | Insights

As the collaborative experience is evolving in the workspace, it is driving the need for more and more rich media and therefore better performance of the underlying hardware and network. The fastest growing medium of this new experience is video. In the time that it takes to write this article, google will have serviced 70 million search requests and the second most utilized ‘search engine’ will service 30 million searches – YouTube.

Combine the onslaught of video and rich media collaboration with another market trend, virtual desktops, and we get an interesting situation. Virtual desktop protocols are great at doing what they were originally designed to do – transmit screenshots, mouse clicks, and keyboard strokes. These protocols (RDP or ICA) are lacking in their ability to deliver rich media content over the network within reasonable bandwidth constraints. Some protocols (PCoIP) have risen to the forefront of the market to address this need but are still lacking.

Think about it. If you take a point to point video call between to pc’s, the video is encoded in a protocol that is purpose built for delivering high quality video over a packetized network. H.264 is a great example.

Imagine that same call between two virtual desktops, the bandwidth between the desktops themselves doesn’t change, but we now introduce another leg for that media to travel – between the virtual image and the thin client connected to the remote keyboard and monitor. The protocols used in this leg are the weak point. They can take what is a 128Kbps video call and increase the load on the network to over 2Mbps between the virtual image and the thin client. That’s an increase of 1600%.

So where’s the solution? Meet the ‘Virtual Experience Infrastructure’!

Cisco has formed a coalition of companies, all working in the virtual desktop space, to design products that offer the best of both worlds, local media processing and virtual desktop services. The first tangible products to be born from this group will be the Cisco VXC 2100 and 2200 thin clients, which are due out Q2CY11. The 2100 will be a backpack model hanging off the rear of a Cisco 8900 or 9900 series IP phone. The 2200 model will be standalone.

Check back for more details as the products release.

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