Cisco has announced plans to extend its Jabber conferencing platform by adding support for virtual machines.
The company said the move would allow it to bring the Virtual Experience Infrastructure (VXI) to customers who rely on thin clients and virtualised instances to support employees and remote workers.
Through the use of VXI Media Engine software, the client system will be able to interface directly with the unified communications server and connect to other phones and computers just as an on-premise VoIP system would.
That connection capability, says Cisco, is the key to overcoming a hurdle which had previously made unified communications on virtual PCs all but impossible.
Phil Sherburne, vice president of engineering for Cisco smart solutions, said that traditionally a user would have to connect back with the datacentre hosting the virtual machine, placing added load on the network connection and throttling performance.
"There were a lot of issues about moving voice and video across this interface," he said.
"Now, at the end of the day the voice and video is not flowing back to the DC, rather it is flowing to the other endpoints."
Sherbune told V3 that the addition of VM support could help to expand the reach of VXI to new markets. He said that fields such as remote customer support can take advantage of the service to allow operators to work remotely rather than in "phone bank" facilities, improving employee flexibility and morale.
The company said that the service will launch in 2013 with support for Cisco thin clients, Dell Wyse clients and Windows virtual machines. The service will be available as part of Cisco's VXI 2.7 package.
When the software does launch in the first half of 2013, the company plans to partner with third-party developers on specialised hardware.
Cisco said that it would be teaming up with LogiTech on a series of speakerphones, handsets and keyboards designed specifically for use with the VXI platform.
Rather than compliment the service, the company hopes that the third-party developments will prove to be a key selling point.
"For some number of years there has been all talk that soft clients would be replacing the phones, it has not yet and part of the reason is people like a lot of the tactile experience of using a phone," said Sherbune.
"This allows everybody to have a much more useful experience in interacting with all the capability that is there."