Cisco doesn’t have much of an investment in existing PC systems, so when it comes to moving to desktop-as-a-service (DaaS), it might only be natural for Cisco to see moving desktops to some form of cloud computing as not only a good idea but also a major opportunity to disrupt the status quo.
With the launch today of a formal Cisco Desktop as a Service (DaaS) offering, Cisco has essentially created a turnkey architecture for deploying DaaS inside the enterprise by either an internal IT organization or an external service provider.
According to Satinder Sethi, vice president of engineering for the Cisco data center group, while the elements needed for delivering desktop as a service have existed for a while, actually being able to package all the technologies needed to succeed has been a challenge. Cisco Desktop as a Service combines the core Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) platform with desktop virtualization software from either Citrix or VMware. Customers then have the option of attaching storage systems from with EMC or NetApp to complete the entire deployment.
Sethi says the combination of memory extensions and high-speed interconnects in UCS and the rise of Flash storage make deploying desktop virtualization a lot more practical today from a latency perspective.
Some hurdles still have to be overcome in terms of how desktop software is licensed. But in the meantime, Sethi says that from within a Cisco UCS console, IT organizations can now manage up to 2.5 million desktops.
Clearly, the convergence of desktop and server management has some implications for job functions within the average IT organization. Sethi says that Cisco UCS is designed to make it easier to isolate specific services, but over time it’s clear that desktop and server management are going to become more intertwined. In fact, that’s one of the primary reasons that VMware, for example, recently acquired Desktone.
Obviously, Cisco is not the only server vendor making a strong case for DaaS. As the cost of DaaS delivery continues to fall. and latency issues begin to disappear, more organizations are going to see DaaS as a more flexible way of managing the desktop in a manner that reduces the total cost of ownership of IT. While it may take most of 2014 for that transition to play out, the biggest issue now may not be the technology itself, but rather the inertia that is created within most IT organizations any time a job function needs to change.