Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is virtualization technology that hosts a desktop operating system on a centralized server in a data centre. VDI is a variation on the client-server computing model, sometimes referred to as server-based computing. VDI is a technology that helps organizations distribute virtual desktops from a centralized infrastructure located in a data centre. The VDI environment can be found either on-premise (within the company) or in the Cloud (secure remote location).
Virtual desktop infrastructure means that desktop operating systems and applications are hosted in virtual machines that run on remote servers. This technology enables users to have access to the virtual desktops and applications through using what is called a remote display protocol. The users who run the virtual applications on their devices will not find any difference between them and the ordinary applications that are downloaded on the operating system of the device that they use. There is only one difference between the virtual applications and the traditional applications that exist on the devices; the traditional applications can be modified and managed easily by the user while the virtual applications are centrally managed and administrated without the interference of the users.
One of the most important considerations you will need to make when considering a VDI solution is whether to use a persistent, non-persistent or mixed model for your desktop platform. When using a persistent model, a user will be assigned a desktop and each time they login with their assigned credentials they will always use the same desktop. This in turn means that any work they do on “their” desktop is saved on “their” desktop. This approach pretty much matches the physical desktop world.
A non-persistent desktop is more like having access to a pool of desktops that are all setup identically. The user connects to the connection broker and then they select from one of the images available. Once they click on their image choice, they are then allocated one of the desktops from that image pool which they use during that session. If they log off, when they return, they get a different desktop from the pool.
The non-persistent model works best for organizations that need high availability and are simple in their application needs. A call centre for instance would be a perfect example. They would need to have possibly hundreds of desktops available to various shifts of workers that would need to utilize a desktop when they are on calls. Other examples would be student labs, training facilities, Kiosks, Public Libraries or any large organization that needs better security controls in place for their users.
Benefits of VDI
- Access: The most distinguishing feature of VDI is remote access. Traditional desktops can be viewed as connected (or, one can say ‘restricted’) to a single system. As soon as you are away from the system, you could not access your desktop anymore. With VDI, you can access your desktop from anywhere, day or night.
- Security: Another vital aspect of VDI is security. Conventionally, your Operating System, Applications and data are all stored on your local hardware like laptops or PCs. In case the computer is stolen or damaged, all the data is lost. You must buy a new laptop and start all over again with OS installation.With VDI, as remote data centres store the data with high-level redundancy, you do not need to worry about data loss. Even if you lose the device, you can access your desktop from any other device.
- Device Portability: VDI technology enables you to access your desktop from various devices. As in the case of VDI, the desktop is not bound to the hardware; it can be accessed from multiple devices. You can use mobile, laptops, tablets or thin clients to view your desktop.
- Easy Desktop Provisioning: Since with VDI you don’t have to configure each system manually, it very easy to provision the desktops in VDI. The virtual desktops can be provisioned almost instantaneously as the settings have to be mirrored from a desktop image.
- Data Centre Facilities: When you are availing VDI from a cloud service provider, the desktops are hosted on servers situated in high-performance data centres. You get all the facilities and features associated with the data centre namely advanced security, high-end infrastructure and disaster recovery plan among others.
- Cost Reduction: By availing VDI services from a cloud provider, you eliminate the cost of hardware. You can access your desktop from any device and can use the most advanced hardware in your office. A thin client, mobile or tablet can also be used for the same purpose.