Last updated on February 10th, 2023

As our world becomes increasingly digital, businesses of all sizes need to ensure that their data stored in different information systems is secure and accessible. Two common solutions for securing data are virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and virtual private networks (VPN). Despite their similar-sounding names, these two offerings offer very different levels of security and performance. 

Whether you are a network administrator, IT specialist, or small business owner, understanding the differences between Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and Virtual Private Network (VPN) is essential for making informed decisions about security protocols. 

Each technology provides different services that affect the security framework. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the capabilities of each in order to determine which one best meets your needs. 

We’ll take a closer look at the differences between VDI and VPN to help you make an educated decision based on your organizational requirements. 

VDI Vs. VPN: What Is This Concept Exactly? 

Today, most employees work on Windows, whether they are at the home, office, or while traveling. This means they are working on different networks. Therefore, the Information Technology (IT) teams might wonder what should be provided to them. 

A virtual desktop (VDI) that can be accessed on any device on any network? Or a local laptop that runs locally and establishes a connection to the office via a virtual private network (VPN) when the employee wants to access corporate files and applications? 


Before moving forward with this VDI vs. VPN question, what factors would you consider to know which solution works for you?  

The more secure one offers a better user experience and is easier to deploy.  

So, let’s see what fits your organizational goals. It depends on the applications you need to support- web apps or Windows apps. Are your users operating on their own devices, or will you provide them with one? Is your bandwidth requirement dynamic? 

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Using VPN For Remote Working 

VPN simply means that users work on their corporate devices at home and access locally installed applications. And when they want to access business applications, they connect with the VPN for entering the corporate network. 

Here’s The Issue with VPNs 

VPNs are in demise now.  

The reason behind it is the incapability of VPNs to secure the attack surface when the user is working remotely. VPNs only perform the best when the user is a certain defined perimeter. However, that’s not the scenario anymore; users work from different locations, which can be different cities or towns as well. 

The VPN server runs on a local network, and the user must install a VPN client locally to access the network. The VPN model works on entry based on credentials that attackers can easily hack. The actual fault in the VPN is that it establishes a secure web-based only on credentials; the network might easily be exploited. 

VPN also falls flat when it comes to noticing the user activity in the network; thus, any unauthorized user can go unnoticed and lead to insider threats. Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report states that around 30 percent of data breaches occur due to human error or employees acting maliciously. As a result, malware hazards impacting a remote device or network can infect the corporate network. Segmenting an enterprise network to restrict access over VPN is complex and does not ensure security from lateral threat activities. 

Using enterprise-issued devices with added security measures minimizes threats but does not remove them permanently. Since remote workers generally work on their own devices, the risk dramatically increases as they lack a certain level of safeguards as compared to enterprise devices. 

Employing a VPN is equivalent to placing a remote device inside the enterprise network without the cyberattack protection framework, which makes it vulnerable to phishing or malware attacks. 

Using VDI For Remote Working 

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is traditionally described as a technology where a user can remotely access corporate resources with the help of a virtual machine hosted on a server in a data center. However, broadening the VDI enables users to connect to a Windows desktop from any device. 

The long-lasting Future Of Virtual Desktops 

  • It doesn’t restrict you to what device you work on. It can be a Windows desktop, laptop, Chromebook, Linux, or MacBook. It is just about implementing security measures and providing access to it.  
  • Connecting a VDI desktop is easier than ever. No, IT intervention is required after the infrastructure has been set up and your device is authenticated. You have to log in, and you have access to the full setup corporate desktop within minutes. 
  • Most importantly, it comes with ‘built-in’ security, where all applications and data are housed on the servers. The model works on the end-to-end encryption of core disk files and data, which better safeguards sensitive data. 
  • VDI security architecture is crucial to reducing the vulnerabilities expected in virtual environments. The pace at which businesses are growing needs IT admin to allocate resources, such as storage, computing, and networking.   
  • The unified virtualization platform accelerates and facilitates the provisioning of virtual desktops while ensuring data center infrastructure and workloads security. VDI is monitored for anomalies to ensure prompt and proactive remedial action to protect virtual desktop data and resources. VDI vulnerability scanning blocks network traffic and isolates the virtual machine whenever any questionable activity occurs. 

Always Verify, Never Trust- Zero Trust VDI Model 

Cloudflare reports state that 46% of enterprises experience slow connection and high application latency with VPNs. Therefore, 76% plan to accelerate their shift to a zero-trust security framework.  

The zero-trust model is a security framework that only enables users to access the workspace if they meet certain key credentials. Instead of giving entry to users based on credentials or location (as they are inside the corporate network), every user is verified and validated before granting admission to any application. These validation factors may include device ID, network type, the application they are trying to access, and more. Here, the key takeaway is that the Zero-trust model accepts access on a highly granular level if they are company employees or have credentials. 

Such an instance is when an authenticated marketing team member would be granted access to CRM during business hours on registered IP on the corporate-owned device and would quickly get access. However, if a finance team member tries to do the same outside working hours, it would certainly raise a red flag. Zero-trust recognizes legitimate users and denies their entry. 

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VDI vs. VPN: What’s The Call? 

In summary, VPNs will be partially dead; however, they will decline with time if they are not evolved to meet remote work criteria. The zero-trust framework on VDI unlocks a new way of security and access, governing in favor of flexible work.   

The future looks bright for VDI with zero trust by bringing real business value to well-entrenched organizations. 

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