The whole point of having a virtual desktop infrastructure is so you can move your office wherever it needs to be, and access it through whatever you can carry with you. And the whole point of unified communications (UC) is so you can integrate all the information and voice traffic you receive into a single console. The problem up to now is that it's been hard (maybe not impossible, but hard) to do both - to stream the voice traffic from the UC system to the virtual desktop using channels made for the job, so your conversations don't sound like synthesizer effects, and so your performance doesn't go down like a Miley Cyrus concert.

At VMworld in Las Vegas this week, VoIP provider Mitel is making a splash with the first genuine hard-wiring of UC with VDI. The result is no less than a virtual desktop phone which not only becomes mobile, but can effectively be rerouted... to one of those mobile phones you've been reading about.

"If I'm in Las Vegas and my office extension is 1234, and yet I have a remote office in Sydney, Australia, when I go to Sydney now, with the ability to virtualize voice on the desktop, I can now go log into my VMware View session and simultaneously log into the telephone that is associated with me," explains Stephen Beamish, VP for marketing and business development for Mitel, in an interview with RWW from Dreamforce '11. "Suddenly this phone on this desk becomes 1234 as well."

One reason businesses have been investing in VMware View, contends Mitel, is for its inherent security. Thus the act of unifying View with Mitel UC, it goes on, puts desktop communications and collaboration within that rich security envelope.

"VMware sees a world with a PC and a mobile device, but no hard phone," explains Beamish, whose company's Communications Director software is designed for businesses that rely on hard phones and even PBX. "We understand that and we agree with that, but we also believe that there are individuals within a business that will still require a hard phone. You have accountants, data entry people who have a phone beside them."
The basic virtualization feature of Mitel UC Advanced would be geared toward that group, says Beamish. But the all-virtualized, mobile-ready realm of VMware's typical customers will be addressed as well, as the VP explains:

"You can now have on your PC or your laptop a soft phone, so there's no hard phone associated with it. And if you use Microsoft Lync, no one has been able to create a virtual soft phone because there's a lot of difficulty in scaling that to large enterprises. So they could get one or two, maybe 10, clients that are virtual soft phones - fully integrated into Outlook or Notes, with your contacts and presence, showing that I'm on a phone call, not on a call, available. So say I'm going back to my office in Sydney. If I log into [Mitel UC Advanced], my soft phone will be there. But now when someone calls 1234, it will simultaneously ring my soft phone and my mobile device."

With Mitel's Dynamic Extension feature enabled, one extension can be integrated into up to eight devices, including a user's home phone and mobile device - and this latter class is all-inclusive, enabling Android, iOS, and BlackBerry devices. Beamish says this all-inclusive element is part of his company's "Freedom Architecture," which he explained in this video from last November:

Mitel's licensing for UC Advanced is certainly noteworthy. As Stephen Beamish tells RWW, users will already have purchased licenses for VMware vSphere 4. For UC Advanced, there will be a one-time perpetual per-user capital charge of $125 for a minimum of 50 users, with the option of redeploying an individual's license should he leave the company. The "sweet spot," Beamish adds, is businesses with 100 - 2,500 users.

Live demos of Mitel UC Advanced are taking place now at Dreamforce, between the VMware booth (#621) and the Mitel booth (#560).