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VDI – What is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure?
VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) is a technology that is used to host desktop environments on a centralized server on-premises or on the cloud. These virtual machines are then deployed to end-users as and when they request them. Users, in turn, can access these virtual machines remotely. Virtual desktops that are hosted on virtual machines are managed and controlled via management software. Now that you know what a VDI is, read on to understand how it works and what its benefits are.
Why Do You Need Virtual Desktop Infrastructure?
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure offers organizations a number of advantages such as ease of access to enterprise applications, user mobility, greater security, and flexibility. While in the past the technology was expensive and quite challenging to deploy, the increasing number of businesses adopting hyperconverged infrastructure has allowed for VDI to be deployed at a lower cost, while also offering scalability.
How Does VDI work?
In all deployments of the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, the following parameters are followed:
- Virtual desktops exist within virtual machines (VMs) on a centralized, remote server
- The virtual desktop offers an operating system like Microsoft Windows
- VMs are essentially host-based, which means multiple instances can be housed on one server within the same data center
- End users are required to be connected to the centrally managed server for continued access to the virtual desktop
- The connection broker manages to find a virtual desktop for every client to connect to, upon them successfully accessing the VDI environment
- The hypervisor runs, creates, and manages VMs that contain the individual virtual desktop environments.
In modern workspaces, especially for industries like Banking, Finance, and Healthcare, numerous applications will have to be accessed on-demand, and VDI facilitates convenient and secure remote access, which, in turn, boosts employee productivity. Further, VDI also offers a consistent experience across various devices.
Benefits and Limitations of VDI
Having discussed, what VDI is and how it works, let’s now focus on some of the key benefits of VDI:
- Remote access: Traditional desktops can be very restrictive since the user is connected to a single system. As soon as the user is away from the desktop, they are unable to access data and applications anymore. With VDI, however, the end-user can access their virtual desktop from anywhere in the world, day or night.
- Security: Another reason why many businesses prefer VDI is because of how secure it is. Traditionally, your data, applications, and operating systems are stored on your local devices, like your laptop or PC. In case the device is damaged or stolen, all the data that is contained within it is compromised. In such a case, not only will you have to purchase a new system, but you will have to download the OS all over again and try to regain access to all the lost data. This can be extremely worrisome for businesses. But, with VDI, since remote data centers store all the data, you, as a user, never have to be worried about data loss. Even if you happen to lose your device, you can access the OS and data on it through any other device.
- Device portability: VDI technology helps end-users access their desktop from any device. The key benefit of VDI here is that your desktop is not limited to the hardware. You can, in fact, access it from anywhere in the world and from multiple devices. This means you can use your laptop, tablet, mobile, or any other device to view your desktop.
- Decreased cost: When you use VDI, you essentially eliminate hardware expenses. Since you can access the desktop from any device, even the most outdated hardware will do. This translates to cost savings for companies.
- Access to superior data center facilities: : When you use VDI offered by a cloud service provider, the virtual desktops are typically stored on servers that are situated in comparatively high-performance data centers. This helps you benefit from features like advanced security, sophisticated disaster recovery plans, and more. While VDI has a number of uses, it also has a few limitations. For instance, the security of a VDI cannot be taken for granted. The OS image will need to be properly updated and managed and the end-client authentication should be performed strictly. Further, it is important that performance adjustments and VDI deployment checks are done from time to time to ensure that technical issues are resolved without any delay. To do these things, organizations will require dedicated IT staff – this, unfortunately, may not be feasible for all businesses.
Figure: Benefits and Limitations of VDI – Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Basic Components of VDI
The basic components that are part of the virtual desktop infrastructure are:
- Virtualization: Virtualization is what separates the system architecture into various layers. Before virtualization, the hardware of a device was linked to the operating system, which meant the OS would crash if there was a hardware failure. This would result in the user losing all their data. But virtualization helps separate the underlying hardware from the operating system via software called a hypervisor. Thus, users can install and use multiple OS on a hypervisor-installed server.
- Hypervisor: This is the software that helps separate the hardware from the operating system. The hypervisor creates a virtual environment, wherein the hardware is split into various virtual machines. Each virtual machine has its own configuration, applications, and OS. With respect to virtual desktop infrastructure, the hypervisor helps create multiple desktop instances on these virtual machines. Each desktop instance will then serve as a separate desktop and can be allocated to different users.
- Connection broker: This software helps connect desktop instances and users. It is essentially responsible for authenticating end users and connecting them to their specific desktop instances. This software also keeps track of all the inactive and active desktops. So, each time a user requests a connection to a desktop, the connection broker provides the user an inactive desktop instance.
- Desktop pools: A desktop pool is a group of similar desktops that can be configured for a specific function. For instance, the entire IT department of an organization may use a desktop pool, where all desktops have the same applications and configuration.
- Application virtualization: This technology creates a virtualized application image and then replicates this to all desktops that are part of a desktop pool. The VMware ThinApp, for instance, is an example of this.
VDI Use Cases
VDI is a key technology for many businesses across numerous industries like Banking, Finance, Healthcare, and more. Remote employees, kiosk workers, medical professionals, contractors, and several other professionals rely on virtual desktop infrastructure in order to access virtual desktops remotely. Thanks to its versatility, businesses can use VDI to give their employees access to standard, non-persistent desktops and also provide them the option to turn their virtual desktops into personalized remote workspaces.
Figure: Use case of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Types of Businesses use VDI
How to Successfully Implement VDI – Virtual Desktop Infrastructure?
To successfully implement VDI, here are some best practices that you should consider following:
- Prepare your network: Since the performance of the VDI is closely interlinked to the performance of the network, it’s important to assess your network and be aware of the peak usage times, so you can anticipate potential demand spokes, which will help you ensure adequate network capacity.
- Understand your resource consumption needs: It’s important to avoid under-provisioning, so it’s recommended that you make use of performance monitoring tools to check the resources that are consumed by each virtual desktop. This will help you be aware of your overall resource consumption requirements.
- Understand the needs of the end-users: Are your employees task workers who can perform their day-to-day duties through a generic desktop or will they have to customize their desktops? What are the performance requirements of your users? Keep in mind that you need to provision the setup differently for employees who only need access to the internet, users who only use a few basic applications, and those who use graphic-intensive applications.
- Run a pilot test: If you can, it’s important that you perform a pilot test before deploying the VDI. Many virtualization providers offer tools that help you run pilot tests. Make sure to do this so you know you have provisioned your resources in the right manner.
Figure: How to successfully implement VDI
Why Should You Use VDI in Your Organization?
One of the primary reasons why organizations use VDI is due to its flexibility. Users can access their desktops from pretty much anywhere in the world using any device, as long as they have an internet connection. Further, it helps users collaborate as if they were located in the same office.
Given the fact that virtual desktop infrastructure only sends basic input and output data, you can be assured that sensitive data will never leak from the VDI environment. This makes VDI a lot more secure. While the upfront costs of VDI may seem high, over time, it can result in reduced costs, thus helping you spend on other areas of your business.
Top Reasons to adopt VDI
How Does Anunta Tech Help with VDI?
With over a decade of experience in helping businesses navigate the complexities of design, implementation, and management of VDI environments, our exhaustive domain expertise with regard to virtual desktop infrastructure makes us the most trusted partner across leading enterprises across the world deploying remote desktops for over 500,000 users. With our technology partners VMware, Microsoft, AWS Cloud, and Citrix, we ensure our solutions give you the best possible experience with VDI and add value to your business. To book a free consultation to understand how VDI can help your business or to better understand our offerings, click here.
If you are thinking about making the switch to a VDI system, make sure to consider how the VDI will fit into your business’s long-term plans. For instance, if you expect to grow substantially in the near future, it’s a good idea to set up VDI so your platform can support the additional users. Also, while deploying VDI can offer long-term benefits, you should be aware that it can be disruptive initially. You may, for example, find that your employees need more training than you expected or you may face some outages when technical problems are first discovered. So, in the beginning, you will need to be prepared to handle such short-term issues. It’s also important to ensure that your IT team and all staff members are on board and prepared to switch to VDI.
Why should I use virtual desktops?
Businesses choose to use virtual desktops for various reasons such as increased cybersecurity, collaboration, and reduced IT costs. Further, with a virtual desktop, employees can access their desktops from anywhere in the world – not only does this boost employee morale but it also helps the business hire qualified candidates, irrespective of where they are physically located.
What do I use to connect to a VDI?
Using a virtual desktop is as easy as using a physical desktop. Users can access virtual desktops from anywhere in the world through a connection broker, which acts as an intermediary between the server and the user. Once connected, users can interact with data and applications on the virtual desktop like they would in the case of a physical desktop.
What do you use virtual desktops for?
A virtual desktop gives users the ability to access their desktops, applications, and data from anywhere in the world, on any device. Many businesses have been using virtual desktops because they are centrally managed, thus eliminating the need for app installations and updates on individual desktops. Further, based on the type of desktop virtualization technology that is being used, the end-users may (or may not) be able to customize their desktops and save data locally.
How do I choose a VDI vendor?
Once you’ve decided that VDI is the best solution for your business, choosing the right vendor will require you to be aware of your requirements from the solution. It’s also important that you assess the features, services, and costs that are quoted by the vendor. Further, make sure to also check how reputable the vendor is. With a legacy spanning over 10 years and having partnered with technology companies like Citrix, Microsoft, and VMware, Anunta Tech is a prime choice for enterprises looking for VDI solutions, across the world.