Update: This article was last updated on 24th May 2022 to reflect the accuracy and up-to-date information on the page.

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The work landscape is changing and evolving as the hybrid ecosystem becomes a part of it. To meet dynamic business needs, IT leaders need an infrastructure to keep their business running. Here’s when Virtual desktop infrastructure comes into play. 

Introduction to Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a technology that creates a virtual environment on a centralized server. Simply, it’s an infrastructure that enables you to access corporate virtual desktops and applications via any device (such as a PC, smartphone, or tablet). It eliminates the need to be confined to office desks to be productive. VDI segments the servers into various virtual desktops, which the users can access remotely through their devices. These virtual desktops are hosted on Virtual Machines (VM) controlled through management software.

Moreover, security protocols are implemented to secure the data by allowing only authorized users to access the same company servers, files, apps, and services from any approved device through a secure desktop client or browser via the hypervisor. Generally, VDI is either persistent or non-persistent. By Persistent VDI, we mean the user gets a personalized experience, whereas non-persistent VDI is a type of desktop that reverts to its initial state after the user logs out.

How Does VDI Work?

In the hybrid workspace, employees need on-demand access to business resources from any location; VDI provides a platform for secure remote access to ensure business continuity. Also, it’s compatible with multiple devices.

According to Global Market Insights, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Market is expected to expand at over 20% CAGR from 2022 to 2028. 

Let’s see how VDI works:

For VDI to work, we first need a virtual machine. To get a virtual machine, we need a hypervisor that logically breaks up a bare metal server/host server into small multiple logical units called Virtual machines that hosts the virtual desktops. Users can access the virtual desktop anytime, anywhere, from any device. All the processing is done on the host server present in the data center. A connection broker is used to broker/mediate the connection between the user and the virtual desktop. It ensures that each user, upon connection, has a virtual desktop available from the host server resources. It ensures obtaining a virtual desktop every time a user connects from the host server’s available resources. 

Virtual-Desktop-Infrastructure-Components

Basic Components of VDI

Here are the components of virtual desktop infrastructure:

Hypervisor 

A hypervisor is software that logically segments a bare-metal server/host server into smaller logical units called Virtual Machines. It also manages virtual machines on the host server and enables sharing resources such as memory and processing between the virtual machines created on the host server. 

Connection Broker

Connection broker is a software program that connects the users to desktop instances. It is also responsible for the authentication of the users and sending them to their desktop instances. 

The connection broker also keeps track of active and inactive desktops. When a user sends a request to connect to a desktop, it provides the user with an idle desktop instance. When a user disconnects the desktop, it updates the status to inactive. 

OS Image 

A VDI needs an OS to run. The most common VDI Operating systems are Microsoft Windows Server 2016, Server 2019, and Windows 10. There are other non-windows operating systems available like Linux & others available.

Desktop Pools

Desktops pools are a group of similar desktops that can be configured according to a specific function. For instance, departments like accounting and IT in an office might use desktops with different applications and configurations. The accounting department may need applications like Sage or QuickBooks, which may not be required for IT. 

You can create a desktop pool for these departments with a similar configuration. 

Internet

In order to access a virtual desktop, the users need to be constantly connected to the internet. If the internet is not available, the users’ endpoint will not be able to communicate with the host server, which will result in a connection loss for the end-user. 

Types of Virtual Desktops: Persistent vs. non-persistent VDI

Within virtual desktop infrastructure, you can choose from two environments as per your business needs: Persistent VDI vs. Non-Persistent VDI 

Persistent VDI

In persistent VDI, the user logs in to the virtual desktop and has a personalized experience, and that configuration is saved even after logging out. In simple words, you can have an experience similar to physical desktops. You can work on the exact configuration and setting even after shutting it down or restarting it again.

Non-Persistent VDI

In non-persistent VDI, every session is based on factory mode default settings. A user cannot have a personalized experience as all the data and Windows settings are not saved and are reversed to default when you log out of the virtual desktop. However, you can save data by keeping it on shared or personal drives. They do not require huge storage space. So, it will cost you less than persistent desktops. 

VDI vs. VM

VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) and Virtual Machines (VM) are similar technologies but different concepts. A virtual machine (VM) is simply a soft copy of a physical computer that runs programs, stores data, and performs other computing functions. Moreover, just like a physical computer, it also requires regular updates and system monitoring. A single physical machine hosts multiple VMs managed by a software

A virtual machine forms a computing environment with a specific number of CPU, storage, RAM, and more. It works just like physical desktops. On the other hand, VDI is an infrastructure that works on a VM to provision applications. Simply, you need a VM to host a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), but you don’t need a VDI to host a VM.  

To know more: VDI vs. VM – What Are The Differences Between Both? 

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Use Cases for every Industry

VDI is becoming a crucial technology for every business across industries.

Capgemini’s research report states that ‘63% of organizations have observed productivity surge by adopting virtualization– giving the flexibility to work from home to the employees.

As we can see, VDI is the top choice for enterprises looking to implement a healthy hybrid work culture with flexibility and collaboration. Thanks to the versatility of VDI, it delivers a personalized digital workspace across its different deployment types. This way, the businesses can give secure access to corporate resources regardless of geographical location. Let’s have a look at some more practical use cases of VDI. 

BPO 

BPOs or call centers have a massively competitive landscape in which they have a vast workforce who access similar tools or apps. And they need round-the-clock access to critical apps and data. Hence, managing and installing multiple apps on different systems gets challenging. Thanks to the VDI solution, they get centralized endpoint management by reducing complexity. Moreover, with the amplified security, the concern of losing confidential data remains at rest.

Suggested reading: Top 5 Reasons Why BPO Should Use Hosted Desktops

Healthcare

Doctors and clinicians are always on the move from one ward to another, and they need remote access to the same apps and patient data within the hospital premises (and sometimes even outside for emergency visits).

Do you know what’s the most critical concern of hospital management? — Securing sensitive information for their patients. And this is achieved with the help of VDI for healthcare.  

Virtual desktop technology acts as a promising approach for the healthcare industry as it enables them to have access wherever they are. Secondly, with the strict security standards and access controls, VDI ensures that medicine and prescription data are in safe hands.

IT

For an IT/ITeS firm, operating an entire endpoint fleet in the workplace is more critical than ever before. Complementary to employees’ security and mobility needs, the IT firm also needs to meet dynamic business needs.

Here, the VDI solution is the solution for the pressure placed on IT managers to enable remote workers to access data to be productive from home networks so that business continuity doesn’t get hampered.

Manufacturing 

The manufacturing industry involves a vast workforce who are always on the road, including engineers, technical experts, designers, architects, contractors or builders, and executives. With virtual desktop solutions, you get a secure way to enable your workforce to collaborate and work productively.

VDI allows you to offer virtual desktops to contractors and partners so that they can work on any device from anywhere and have a consistent experience.

Finance 

Similar to the problems with the healthcare industry, the financial businesses also firm the flexibility and security problems involved in remote working. When working on auditing and taxation documents, this business requires a bank-level secure platform to work. As their financial data is highly vulnerable to data breaches and phishing, VDI service providers implement stringent security policies like multi-factor authentication, data encryption, AI data monitoring, and more. Even working from remote locations is feasible for CAs and CPAs to function more efficiently.

Legal 

In today’s tech-obsessed work circumstances, from BPO to legal, most industries need technology that supports them for efficient remote working conditions. As law firms can’t restrict to offices for work, VDI helps them to have top-end secure client information on both personal and business devices. Virtual desktops offer the solution— to eliminate a lot of headaches needed to install various applications on every device to secure sensitive client data and communication. Additionally, they are always on the run, sometimes working from courts and other times, client’s places; a bring-your-own-device policy is the need of the hour. Thus, VDI for law firms enables solicitors and advocates to access it on any compatible device with authorization while making it simple to control the integrity of the client information.

Education

How’s the education system today? Flexible yet interactive! So, to ensure that knowledge through e-learning is delivered efficiently to the student globally, you would literally need a dedicated IT team to work on one or more critical tasks. Firstly, you need to add multiple students to the shared space. Second, you need high-performance desktops to ensure lectures are given via clear audio-video mode.

Cloud VDI solves this issue for you. With all data in a centralized cloud, anywhere access, and data backups, VDI for education proves to be a priceless asset in the future. Every year new students take admission, and VDI gives you the power to add or remove users from one place. No patching and no specialization are required. Not to mention, its performance is on high-performing servers with 3D graphics for e-learning sessions. 

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Benefits of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Get Strengthened Remote Access

VDI supports enhanced remote access and user control for a more corporate environment. As the employees are not restricted to the office space to be productive, it ensures that multiple users can pull up virtual desktops on-demand from anywhere at any hour of the day. No matter whether you are in your home or another country, you still have access to the range of corporate apps and data.

Access From Multiple Devices

As the hybrid work environment requires employees to be out in the field, VDI offers a remote environment with a full range of necessary applications and data— to give on-demand access to different devices. With the VDI solution, the desktop is not restricted to the actual PC or laptop; you can access your virtual desktop from multiple devices—whether mobile, laptops, tablets, or thin clients.

The Way To Centralize Security

VDI delivers improved security gains as compared to keeping everything on local systems. Assume you store your business files in the hardware, and it gets stolen; what would you do now?

The frightening situation, isn’t it? To avoid this situation, VDI stores all your data on highly secure servers, so you don’t have to worry about data loss. Even if you lose the device, you can access your desktop from other devices as your data is backed up on multiple remotely accessible data centers. 

If you want to know more about how secure your data is with our VDI solution, read on VDI Security

Save Cost With Extended Device Lifecycle

VDI solutions prove to be a powerful cost-saving technology for basically every firm. In a VDI based environment, the data processing is server-based. Therefore, there’s no need to purchase new hardware.

VDI access can work perfectly from an economical thin client, which might be an old PC or a laptop. This benefits you by extending the device’s lifecycle for up to 2 years, thereby saving IT teams from making as many new purchases and hampering the budget. 

VDI Or DaaS? – Which One Should You Choose

With every technology comes the benefits and the limitations. While we have gone through the benefits of VDI, there are certainly a few limitations that you might face with its management. Therefore, let’s see which is better for your firm: VDI or DaaS. 

VDI environment demands highly expert internal management.

You will need to hire an IT team to look after implementation, updating, patching, and supporting the infrastructure. Moreover, you need 24-hour employees in shifts to ensure low downtime. So, this makes VDI still workable for enterprise-level businesses, but small-medium enterprises still face challenges. For instance, a small startup with 70 employees can’t afford to hire 20 people of IT experts, isn’t it? That’s cost-intensive!

VDI needs huge server installation.

Traditional VDI demands massive server installation and an IT team to manage and monitor the deployment. Large-scale firms with huge budgets can benefit from setting up on-premises VDI. Still, small-medium enterprises opt for fully managed VDI or DaaS as it gives them little more flexibility with the oversight of management tasks and costs.

However, there’s a solution for this limitation too. You can take VDI to the cloud which means desktop as a service.

Cloud Virtual desktop infrastructure offers a digital workspace platform to the users and is often known as desktop-as-a-service (DaaS). Keeping naming aside, cloud VDI or desktop as a service is simply a form of virtualization powered by cloud infrastructure where a service provider delivers virtual desktops to end-users over the Internet.

DaaS is fully managed and secure.

The DaaS technology comes from the traditional VDI. The significant difference between both is that DaaS is a fully managed approach that shifts the extensive management and IT costs associated with the conventional form of VDI. 

Suggested Reading: VDI vs. DaaS: Which is better for your business? 

Additionally, these DaaS are optimized for different businesses as per their custom needs. For example, instead of limiting their desktop environment to one device, companies can look for a cloud VDI provider with multi-device compatibility. Every industry has different needs and requires a different set of access controls.

How ACE- Citrix Strategic Partner Overcomes the Challenges of Traditional VDI? 

Businesses can host their managed virtual desktops on the VDI platform such as Citrix or VMware and get them hosted via third-party vendors such as Ace Cloud Hosting. The Cloud VDI provider would be responsible for managing the virtual desktop infrastructure and delivering it to you as a fully managed service. It means you get the same benefits without the hassle of deploying and managing the infrastructure at your office premises. Cloud VDI is offered by managed Cloud Service Providers(CSPs) like ACE, where providers handle all the VDI infrastructure for you. They offer you storage space on their cloud data centers, deploy virtual desktops, install desired applications, and manage software licensing.  

In cloud VDI, security is not your concern either; we are responsible, thus giving you a superior working environment. To keep your data secure, we offer security safeguards like multi-factor authentication, firewalls, OS patching, OS hardening, and regulatory compliance. 

There’s more, we charge you on a pay-as-you-go model, so you only pay for the resources you utilize. Additionally, you get customized plans and round-the-clock support so that you never have to face downtime issues. That’s a relatively massive saving benefit for your business. 

Get a hands on-experience of ACE managed desktops on Citrix platform, get a free trial now.

Learn more about VDI and related solutions

Frequently Asked Questions

Are VPN and VDI the same?

VDI and VPN both perform different functions. VDI is a setup where users can remotely access a virtual desktop running as a virtual machine on a central server. On the other hand, VPN is a network connection between a device and the corporate network installed on PCs, laptops, and mobile devices. 

Is VDI the same as a remote desktop? 

While these two terms may seem similar to some people, there is a vast difference between a virtual desktop infrastructure and a remote desktop connection.

Both are computing terms that give remote access to the users, but they are not the same. VDI is the technology that offers dedicated resources to the user for high performance from any location. In contrast, RDS is a Windows-based client solution that develops a connection between a host computer that enables users to take control of a remote system from different locations.

Read more: VDI Vs. RDS- Which Desktop Infrastructure Is Best For Your Business

Is Citrix a VDI?

No, Citrix is the platform for offering virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). We, ACE, are the Citrix Strategic Partner and deliver your managed virtual desktops hosted on the Citrix platform. It basically means we are responsible for every IT task from deployment to security, and you get high-performance experience.

Is virtual desktop a subscription-based model?

When a virtual desktop is hosted on the cloud with the VDI provider, then it’s a subscription-based model. This saves you high costs and gives you the flexibility to opt-out anytime as per your business needs.  

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