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Cisco announces virtual desktops for video collaboration

Matt Hamblen | Nov. 15, 2010
Also upgrades videoconferencing endpoints and capabilities

VXI is available immediately, but Cisco didn't offer other details.

In addition to the desktop virtualization clients, Cisco announced two new videoconfererencing personal endpoints: the TelePresence EX60 and the TelePresence System 500 32-inch.

O'Sullivan said the EX60, with a 21-inch high-definition screen, will be "perfect for the knowledge worker" and can be toggled to serve as a desktop computer monitor. It will be available by the end of 2010 for $6,900. The CTS 500-32 has a 32-inch screen, and is designed for videoconferencing by executives in private offices. It can be wall-mounted or placed on a pedestal and will cost $23,900 when available by year's end.

Cisco also announced that all of its collaboration endpoint devices will be video-enabled and that voice and video will interoperate with Cisco Unified Communications Manager. This innovation means that a single call-control system can be used for videoconferencing as well as voice.

Another innovation combines Cisco WebEx with high-quality video, enhancing the current WebEx video experience. A new interface enlarges the image of the person talking in a videoconferencing session and allows flexibility in how attendees' images are arranged with documents being shared. Cisco also announced that the new WebEx Meeting Center with high quality video will run on the Apple iPad starting in December as well as on the Cius tablet when it's released.

O'Sullivan said Cisco is also working to make its videoconferencing tools interoperate with industry-standard endpoints, even those from competitors such as Polycom and LifeSize.

Critics have said that Cisco has created an ecosystem of products highly reliant on its own brand, to which O'Sullivan responded: "We want to drive video everywhere and the more video, the more bandwidth and the more networking. We want to have video be more pervasive so it interoperates with Polycom and LIfeSize.... We are the first to link video to virtualization. The only time we don't apologize about not being standards-based is when there's no standard and we're interested in creating one."

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group, said Cisco does seem to understand that keeping its technology open to third-party gear helps it. "They do understand now that the more video there is, they will create a rising tide of video and all that network traffic is good for them," he said.

Kerravala said Cisco's linking of virtualization with video and other collaboration applications and data recognizes that a Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) is the "only way to deliver content consistently to the increasing variety of different endpoints."


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