Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is a desktop virtualization technology that hosts desktop environments on a centralized server. It entails creating and managing desktops and applications that allow employees to work and access applications in the office, outside the office, or from a remote location.
Virtualization supports VDI by creating a virtual computer system (also known as virtual machines) that allows you to run multiple operating systems and applications on a single physical server.
The specific desktop images are run within virtual machines and are delivered to an endpoint device over a network. This allows the end-users to interact with the operating system, applications and data as if they are installed or stored locally.
How Does VDI Work?
To help you understand how VDI works, you need first to understand all the moving parts and how they facilitate the functionality of a VDI environment.
- Hypervisor- is a software that separates the operating system from the underlying hardware. A hypervisor creates a virtual environment in which the hardware can be segmented into multiple virtual machines, allowing each to run like a standalone computer, with required virtual software & hardware resources and applications.
- Endpoint device: This can be a laptop or desktop PC, mobile phone or even tablet. Because the device is used to run a Virtual Desktop, the endpoint does not need to meet the minimum requirements for running the virtual desktop OS and applications. This is achieved through the Virtual Machine.
- Connection broker: This is a security layer in a Virtualized environment. A connection broker authenticates log in requests and allows end-users access to the virtual desktop assigned to them. It also validates the active and inactive states.
- Virtual desktop: This virtual instance combines an operating system, applications, storage and network capabilities. You can also create a pool of virtual desktops, which typically a set of similar desktops that are configured to perform specific functions. For instance, you can create a "Pool of Desktops" for your accounting department and include applications specific to accounting, such as QuickBooks or Sage.
You can log into your virtual desktop using client software (such as Hyper V, VMware, XenDesktop, Quest-EOL etc.) from any endpoint device or location. The log-in request is approved by the connection broker when the authentication is complete. The connection broker evaluates a log-in request and then directs the user to their virtual desktop in the desktop pool.
The hypervisor installed on the servers creates multiple virtual machines for hosting the virtual desktop. The end-user sees a desktop image that is a mirror of the master desktop. For example, you can develop a master desktop for your accounting department that hosts data and apps common with every member of the accounting team and create different virtual desktops that mirror the master desktop and allow end-user personalization.
In a VDI environment, data is hosted in a data center and not in the endpoint device. As such, loss of the endpoint device safeguards all your company data from exposure since sensitive data is not stored on the endpoint device. In cases where your IT environment entails standardized configurations that do not require personalization for each user, a VDI instance offers you ideal controls to eliminate chances of violation of company policies.
Non-Persistent Versus Persistent VDI
There are two approaches through which you can deploy a virtual desktop depending on the use case.
In a non-persistent VDI environment, your users will connect to generic virtual desktops, and no changes or personalizations are saved. The virtual desktop restores to its default settings at the end of each end-user session.
A persistent VDI means that you assign each of your end-users a unique virtual desktop from the Desktop Pool, which they can customize according to their functions and preferences. Each time an end-user logs into the client software, they get a provision for the same virtual desktop as before.
Persistent VDIs allow your users to have personal settings such as shortcuts, stored passwords, screensavers etc.
Benefits of VDI
Here are some of the key reasons why you may want to consider VDI for your organization.
- Remote access- End-users can connect to their virtual desktop from any device or location. This makes it easier for your team to access all the required data applications and work remotely anywhere in the world, thus boosting efficiency and productivity.
- Cost savings- Because processing is done on the server, hardware requirements for end-devices are relatively lower and flexible. You can be to access your virtual desktop from average/ordinary PCs, tablets or even thin clients, thus eliminating the need for new and expensive hardware.
- Security- In a VDI environment, data primarily dwells on the server instead of the end clients' devices. This an excellent safety feature to protect your data in case of loss or compromise of an endpoint device.
- Centralized management- VDI's centralized arrangement makes it easy to patch, configure or update all your virtual desktops in a system.
- Scalability- When demand for your business services expands with seasonal cycles, you can easily enlarge your VDI environment. This means that your organization can meet the increased workload (demand) within minutes instead of days or weeks of procuring extra (expensive) endpoint devices and configuring apps.
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