VDI: The Basics
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is defined as the hosting of desktop environments on a central server. It is a form of desktop virtualization, as the specific desktop images run within virtual machines (VMs) and are delivered to end clients over a network. Those endpoints may be PCs or other devices, like tablets or thin client terminals.
Benefits of VDI
VDI supports enhanced user mobility and remote access, since the standardized desktop can be reached from almost any approved and compatible endpoint at any location. For people who are frequently on the go and need to pull up a virtual desktop containing a full range of virtual apps and data, VDI is like having an office available on-demand. In that regard, it fits right into their digital workspace workflows that already feature similar, use of cloud, web and mobile apps across multiple contexts.
Cost savings and lower hardware requirements
VDI technology benefits end users & is also a strong cost-saving measure for IT:
Because the processing in VDI is server-based, relatively expensive or cutting-edge hardware is not needed
VDI access can instead take place from an inexpensive thin client, which might be an old PC that has been repurposed for the task and thereby had its lifespan extended
Enables IT not to do many new purchases or major adjustments to its budget.
Improved security and centralization
On the security front, VDI offers some improvement over running an OS and everything on it locally. All of the data from a VDI connection lives on the server, not the end client, meaning that if the endpoint is ever stolen, there’s nothing to exhilarate from its local storage.
Moreover, the VDI environment is fully and centrally controlled from a data center. Administrators can apply software patches and updates, change configurations and enforce policies for all virtual desktops across the deployment. In this way, VDI allows for fine-tuned control and secure isolation of OS images from a central server, which is a less complicated setup that managing laptops running their operating systems locally.
Security and performance considerations
At the same time, security cannot be taken for granted with VDI. The OS images have to be properly managed and updated, and end client authentication must be rigorous. Digital workspace solutions can help in this regard via SSO, improved endpoint security and encryption for data in transit.
Performance is another key consideration with VDI:
When it first became widely available in the mid 2000s, VDI’s typical performance lagged visibly behind that of a local OS.
Over time, this gap has closed significantly, but users might still feel they’re not always getting the best possible experience.
Occasional performance-tuning and reviews of the VDI deployment are advisable to make sure that solvable technical problems are addressed.
Who can use VDI?
VDI is an important technology for many types of people across numerous industries. Remote and mobile employees, contractors, kiosk and task workers, field technicians, medical professionals, teachers and many others can regularly rely on VDI to access a reliable virtual desktop from one or more locations.
Thanks to the versatility of VDI across its different deployment types, VDI technology can work equally well as a way for users to have access to standard, non persistent desktop or to turn their virtual desktop into a highly personalized digital workspace.