Over the years, overall IT infrastructure across organizations has transformed, and the recent global health event has only spurred the trend. The era of working in office cubicles – via company-issued systems – is fading away. Now, the near omnipresence of digital technologies and the availability of newer, more portable devices enable work from almost any location.
However, deploying and maintaining all end-user devices at scale while catering to the fast-changing workforce needs is challenging. So, to be resilient, agile, and efficient in this context, businesses are gravitating toward virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to encourage remote data access to their workforces.
This article briefly discusses Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) in general, its working, types, and benefits.
What is Windows Virtual Desktop?
Windows Virtual Desktop is a cloud-based app and desktop virtualization platform from Microsoft that offers a native Windows 10/11 experience on demand. While each virtual desktop mimics real standalone computers, the processing/computing occurs on the central server. Besides, all these are managed centrally by an organization’s dedicated IT staff or outsourced to a cloud service provider.
Now rebranded as Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD), WVD enables a company’s employees to access their business resources quickly and securely from anywhere and any device – PC, tablet, or smartphone. As such, organizations no longer need to provide their workforces with physical machines, let alone manage, repair, and maintain them.
How Do Azure VDI Platforms Work?
VDI platforms such as Azure Virtual Desktops work using a hypervisor, a software that creates, runs, and manages virtual machines (VM) on enterprise system servers. Also known as virtual machine monitors (VMM), hypervisors categorize servers into pools of identical VMs that further host virtual desktop operating systems (OS). Each such virtual desktop contains an instant of the OS. Further, the IT administrators supervise these VMs using centralized management software and configure them for specific tasks and functions.
Employees can access these virtual desktops from any location or device, and all the processing happens on the host server. They can log in to their AVD instances and establish a connection via a connection broker – a software-enabled gateway that acts as an intermediary between users and VDI servers. The connection broker assigns the session to an Azure Virtual Desktop from the appropriate pool.
Types of Azure VDI Platforms
Businesses can deploy Azure virtual desktop infrastructure solutions in two environments:
Persistent VDI functions are similar to legacy systems where end-users can personalize their devices and retain their work progress and settings from the previous sessions. Thanks to the capabilities of VMs, persistent virtual desktops act like true physical systems – from a remote device. The end-users log in to the same VM every time, even if the connection is reset. This is tremendously beneficial for several educational and work settings.
Non-persistent VDI platforms, on the other hand, offer a slew of generic desktops that end-users connect to whenever necessary. The desktops allocated to the users start anew in each session. Hence, whatever changes users make on their desktops in their previous sessions are lost once they log out. Besides, non-persistent virtual desktops are cheaper and simpler to use as the organizations’ IT teams need not have to maintain customized desktop instances between sessions.
Non-persistent VDI is commonplace in companies brimming with multiple-task workers or employees performing a limited set of repetitive tasks. Case in point, call centers, computer labs, public libraries, and retail kiosks. In these environments, neither users require personalization nor want their personal data to be stored.
Benefits of Azure VDI Platforms
With the worldwide shifts in work patterns, more organizations are turning to AVD. Following are some of the benefits of leveraging VDI platforms, especially in a hybrid workplace environment:
As computing is done on servers, Azure virtual desktop infrastructure helps scale down hardware, maintenance, and software licensing expenses significantly. Employees can access their virtual desktops from traditional devices, thin clients, or even tablets, thus avoiding purchasing new (and expensive) hardware.
Also, end clients can cut down on infrastructure costs by right-sizing VMs and optimize their usage with Windows 11 and Windows 10 multi-session. Companies with heavy and highly unpredictable workloads can opt for pay-as-you-go billing.
Azure VDI users can log in to their virtual desktops from any endpoint. In addition, they can utilize any web-browsing device – smartphones, tablets, and computers – to access the same application and data. Therefore, setting up hybrid workplaces for new joinees becomes unbelievably easy with AVD, particularly if they are working remotely.
Besides, integration with FSLogix Profile Containers helps end-users switch comfortably between VMs. The multi-session capability of AVD enables employees to experience the feature-rich capabilities of Windows 10/11 and assemble numerous users on a single system.
In Azure virtual desktop infrastructure solutions, data and applications live on centralized servers instead of end-client devices. As such, businesses’ digital resources will no longer remain at stake, even if an endpoint device is compromised or stolen. Moreover, fewer workstations equate to reduced chances of cyber criminals intruding into a company’s IT fabric.
Azure VDI services boast intelligent security capabilities that proactively detect and tackle threats to keep critical assets secure and compliant. Further, they come with a reverse connect transport to create remote sessions, providing a considerably more secure mechanism.
With Azure VDI platforms, companies can launch or pare back on resources based on their corporate requisites. Also, they can deploy system apps, configure settings, and adjust the number of users. This agility and flexibility help trim overall costs while ensuring that businesses always have the resources they need to operate at peak efficiency.
Apart from that, Azure VDI platforms automatically scale session hosts to balance loads to deliver a better user experience, especially during computing-heavy tasks, while optimizing session host costs.
How will hybrid work fuel the demand for VDI?
The past few months have witnessed an explosive discussion on the “future of work,” and certain critical themes have dominated such commentaries. Case in point, several companies are nodding for hybrid work cultures, thanks to COVID-19-triggered shifts. As the dust settles and people return to normalcy, hybrid work will remain highly preferred among employers and employees alike.
However, supporting hybrid work arrangements creates new speed bumps for chief information officers (CIO)s. With tablets, smartphones, and laptops underpinning most of the mission-critical operations, C-level executives are contemplating what technology proposition they should have for their workforces – both at homes and offices.
Luckily, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is the answer to that query. Desktop virtualization technology serves as the antidote to the apparent challenges organizations face while endorsing a more flexible future of work. Moreover, the much-discussed pros of VDI are ringing in the ears of CIOs when pandemic-induced lockdowns have pushed enterprises into the remote working arena.
Having an entire virtual desktop – single and/or shared – housing corporate workflows and assets accessible anywhere, anytime, and from any device makes more sense. This is especially true when VDI simultaneously ticks the boxes of performance, mobility, security, and cost-efficiency.
Going forward, even as the remote working fad wanes, companies will promote hybrid work settings. In addition, initiatives, including scaling down office footprints and implementing hot desking, could become par for the course. Virtual desktop infrastructure solutions truly shine when it comes to managing hybrid workforces. As the work culture continues to cement its position, businesses investing in failsafe VDI to support each employee’s needs (irrespective of location) are well-placed for lucrative returns.
Azure virtual desktop infrastructure is a natural fit for the modern digital economy, serving various use cases across industries. Reputed for its robust scalability, security, and flexibility, the leading-edge desktop virtualization service offers umpteen benefits to organizations with relevant use cases.
Additionally, remote and hybrid workplaces have dug their heels in the labor market. As these pervasive work models gain more steam, the adoption of Azure VDI platforms will only see an uptick.
What is the future of VDI?
Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) has been experiencing a demand uptick over the past few years. The new hybrid working paradigm will stimulate this trend as businesses have to facilitate their entire workforce with secure access to mission-critical resources – irrespective of device or location.
The latest technologies, such as hyperconvergence, will be of enormous importance in shaping VDI. This will empower IT teams to focus more on business-centered tasks and spend less time fretting about the infrastructure.
Virtual desktop services have matured, and so have the technology and infrastructure underpinning them. With further advances, their future will nearly mimic that of the cloud: hybrid alongside multiple deployment models serving various purposes.
What is hybrid VDI?
Hybrid VDI fuses the layered, single-image management attributes of on-site/cloud VDI with local image execution on endpoints. All this with fast planning and setup, low implementation cost, and minimal IT skills. Hybrid VDI offers the centralized management benefits of its legacy version while still delivering the best possible experience for end-users.
This layered approach to virtual desktop management tremendously streamlines administration. The IT staff manages only one golden image of applications and operating systems (OS) rather than managing tons of independent endpoints in the fleet of devices.
However, unlike VDI, end-users leverage all the local computing power of endpoints, including on-board graphics processing and high-end processors. Further, they can work even while offline.
Is VDI still relevant?
Virtual desktops have gained immense popularity and for the right reasons. They offer loads of robust features. They help businesses cut down on the total cost of ownership (TCO). They are flexible and agile. Installing software updates and patches is unbelievably easy with virtual desktop infrastructure.
That being considered, VDI’s numero-uno selling point is its ability to enable remote work culture. It allows workforces to connect to corporate networks anywhere and on any device securely. However, even though conventional work models regain momentum, forward-thinking organizations acknowledge the urgency to accommodate employees in a hybrid setting as people rethink work-life balance.
So, yes, virtual desktop services do hold relevance in the current (and future) business economy.
Why is a virtual desktop important?
More than ever, the performance of businesses rests upon data collection and sharing. They benefit from working with flexible, reliable, and highly secure computer systems. This is where virtual desktop infrastructure yields substantial business gains.
VDI empowers companies to operate fully functional virtual desktops, allowing employees to access desktops, data, and applications from any device, location, and anytime. Some of its key attractions include business mobility, device friendliness, reduced operational expenses (OPEX), and the pay-as-you-go subscription model.
Not only are virtual desktop services becoming more prevalent in corporate and home environments, but even governments are quickly realizing their benefits.
What are the benefits of virtual desktop infrastructure?
Virtual desktops offer a multitude of benefits, some of which are as follows:
- VDI empowers businesses to quickly modify their resource usage, for instance, virtual desktops, as per their evolving needs
- Better data security with MFA, encryption, OS patching, and access control
- Cost savings due to reduced on-site workstations and their maintenance costs
- Allows employees to work on their own devices (also called BYOD)
- Centralized management helps IT professionals monitor all devices, servers, and networks in real-time and proactively respond to cyber threats.
Is a virtual desktop good for work?
Virtual desktops hold the reins on the future of workplaces. As remote and/or hybrid work climbs from “good to have” to “must have,” organizations are hunting for technologies enabling workforces to conveniently access critical resources without being in a physical workplace.
Thanks to virtual desktop services, employees can work from anywhere, be it their homes, nearby cafes, or a thousand miles away. Moreover, end-users need not worry about system version, configuration, or technical complexities. In a nutshell, employees get to enjoy the same experience as on-site desktops as long as they have a stable internet connection and a compatible device.