Update: This article was last updated on 17th November 2021 to reflect the accuracy and up-to-date information on the page.
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the conventional functioning methodologies, maybe forever. Businesses are now more inclined towards offering their workforce with permanent work-from-home capabilities to ensure business continuity. However, the challenge they face is choosing the right remote access solution.
Although there are multiple technologies available in the market to work from remote locations, the best fit for your business depends on multiple factors – associated costs, ease of deployment, efficiency levels, among others.
There are three top platforms for remote working – VPN, RDS, and VDI. Here is a detailed comparison between the three to help you make the right decision.
What Is The Difference Between VPN vs.VDI vs.RDS
VPN – Virtual Private Network (VPN) is the technology that enables remote users to connect securely to the office network. VPN enables secure transmission of data over the Internet by creating a private network, even when using public networks. When a user installs VPN software on the end-point device, the software creates a secure encrypted tunnel to transmit data to the destination network. Hence, even if a hacker tries to access your data, he or she will not be able to decode it.
RDS – Remote Desktop Services (RDS) is a Windows-based feature that allows remote computers to access a central server. The server may be in the office premises or a data center. RDS is a server-client model where the remote PC accesses the desktop instances on a Windows server through client software.
VDI – Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a virtual desktop environment that enables the creation of virtual desktops on a remote server setup. These virtual desktops are delivered on the personal devices of end-users who can access them from any location. Every virtual desktop can be personalized to meet the unique needs of each user.
VPN – Virtual Private Network is not an optimum solution when it comes to performance. As the data is transmitted through secure encrypted channels, the bandwidth is less than the usual network speed. Hence, you can experience some latency issues while working with a VPN.
RDS – In Remote Desktop Services, the end-user accesses desktop sessions on a Windows Server Operating System. Hence, it is not recommended for applications that demand a high graphic resolution.
VDI – VDI is by far the best solution when it comes to working on accessing graphic-intensive applications or multimedia. It gives you performance comparable to the local desktop as the virtual desktops work on dedicated resources and can be GPU-enabled.
VPN – In the case of VPN, as the user is working on their PCs or laptops, the user interface does not change. You only get a secure network connection to the office network to access your data and apps.
RDS – While using RDS, the user experiences an interface same as the Windows Server OS. Using RDS is like accessing the server remotely, the only difference being that you are accessing desktop instances rather than the entire server.
VDI – VDI solution gives end-users the same experience as their laptops or computers. Unlike RDS, you get Windows Desktop OS, such as Windows 10 or XP in VDI. Hence, you get virtual desktops with the same desktop experience on your end-point devices.
Recommended Reading: Persistent vs. Non-Persistent VDI: What You Should Know
VPN – As an end-user is just accessing a public network through remote channels is Virtual Private Network, there is no scope of customization.
RDS – RDS does not allow customization as the user is accessing desktop instances on a server.
VDI – An important feature that distinguishes VDI from RDS and VPN is that every user gets a personalized virtual desktop. You can customize each desktop with pre-installed applications and configurations according to the business requirements.
VPN – Virtual Private Network encrypts your data and masks the IP address so that no malicious hacker can access the data and detect your location. The data is decrypted only at the intended destination.
RDS – In RDS, the data is stored on the remote server and not on the end-point device. Hence, any threat to the end-point device does not cause data loss. However, there can be a threat to data if the remote server malfunctions.
VDI – In the case of VDI security, the resources and desktops are virtualized over a cluster of cloud servers. Hence, even if a server malfunctions, virtual desktops can be shifted to redundant servers. Moreover, if you opt for hosted VDI solutions from a DaaS provider, you get advanced security features, such as OS patching, antivirus management, network monitoring, DDoS protection, and more.
VPN – VPN is the most cost-effective option. Businesses can deploy a VPN server at their end to take all the incoming connection requests. At the user end, the users can install VPN client software tools that are quite affordable (or even free).
RDS – RDS is a bit more expensive than VPN as it facilitates remote access to a central server. Businesses need to purchase and manage the server at the backend. The end-users can just access the desktop instances through client software. However, you can opt for RDS services from a third-party provider to eliminate these costs entirely.
VDI – VDI technology is the most expensive among the three. On-premiseVDI deployment requires deployment and maintenance of a complex server setup. Moreover, a dedicated IT team should also be present in the facility at all times to cater to the issues.
However, if you opt for hosted VDI services, the capital expenses are eliminated as the provider offers you virtual desktops, and you pay them accordingly.
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Which One To Choose: VPN vs.VDI vs.RDS
All the three options mentioned above can be beneficial for businesses in their own rights. However, it depends on what you are looking for in a remote access solution. VPN is the most cost-effective option if you already have the infrastructure you want to work on.
If performance is your priority, then there is none better than VDI. It gives you an optimum performance even with graphic-accelerated apps. Hence, it is recommended that you analyze your current process carefully and choose wisely.
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