By Damon Poeter
- January 17, 2013 09:50am EST
Cisco is bringing its Jabber unified communications platform to virtual desktops with a new software product called the Virtualization Experience Media Engine (VXME).
This week, PCMag got a look at Jabber running on a new thin client system of Cisco’s own design that is set for release in the first half of 2013, as well as on a Dell Wyse thin client, a mainstream laptop PC, and even a tablet. From what we could see, Jabber’s HD voice, video, and instant messaging runs quite smoothly with superior video quality on all those systems—any spottiness in the video and voice streams were due to connectivity issues and not the Jabber software.
“The definition of an enterprise workspace is changing as users demand increasing flexibility in where and how they work. With Cisco Jabber now available for virtual environments, we are enabling our customers to deliver a complete ‘anywhere’ desktop to their employees without sacrificing the exceptional enterprise capabilities they have come to expect,” Phil Sherburne, vice president of engineering in Cisco’s Enterprise Smart Solutions unit, said during a press event in San Francisco on Wedensday.
VXME is an additional piece of software added to Jabber that enables it to run in virtualized environments supported by top virtualization firms like Citrix and VMware (Gates’ note – and Desktone.). Cisco is promising that the virtual desktop Jabber experience is the same as it is on thick client PCs, and from what we could see, that’s pretty accurate.
The initial rollout of Cisco Jabber for virtual environments will initially be made available for Cisco’s own thin client system, which ties together all of the elements of a full-blown unified communications station. The thin client itself carries the Cisco brand and can run either the Citrix or VMWare virtual desktop solutions. Logitech supplies the webcam, Bluetooth mouse, and a special keyboard with designated keys for various call functions like answering a call and switching it to speaker, as well as a built-in LCD caller ID display. Jabra’s Handset 450 and Speak 450 speaker phone complete the picture.
Those systems will be available through Cisco’s reseller channel from partners like CDW.
At some point after the release of Cisco’s own thin client, VXME will come to Dell’s Wyse Z50D thin client and also other Windows-based thin clients and full-fledged PCs, Cisco said. In thin client installations, the VXME software sits locally in the thin client system while Windows or another desktop operating system runs on a server that can support multiple end users and thus save an organization money on hardware and servicing costs, while offering a more easily manageable security framework.
Another plus for the new virtualized Jabber is that it can be folded into an enterprise’s existing network infrastructure without needing to overhaul the network as the new product was designed to work within existing Cisco Medianet-managed network environments.
The Jabber voice, HD video, telepresence, and instant messaging package is currently used by about 1.4 million enterprise users, according to Cisco. The networking giant, which acquired Jabber several years ago, is now making those tools the centerpiece of its efforts to tailor its unified communications and collaboration product lines for what it calls the Cisco Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI).
VXI is an end-to-end solution that Cisco calls “the first desktop virtualization architecture to eliminate the crippling network bottlenecks and server overload often caused by real-time voice and video traffic traveling between an end user device and a virtual desktop hosted in the data center.”
The upshot is that you’ll soon be able to use Cisco Jabber for enterprise-class communications and collaboration on the desktop, mobile devices, and thin clients. Or at least you will if you’re part of an organization with the bucks to shell out for Jabber licenses and these customized thin client rigs, which Cisco wasn’t offering a price on just yet.
We expect most consumers and small business operators will be sticking to Skype and other free or low cost video communications alternatives for the time being.
For more from Damon, follow him on Twitter @dpoeter.