What is VDI? How Does Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Work?

VDI stands for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. It is a technology that allows users to access and use a virtual desktop environment that is hosted on remote servers. With VDI, desktop operating systems and applications are virtualized and run on servers, while users can access and interact with them remotely from their own devices. VDI offers advantages such as centralized management, increased security, and flexible access to desktop resources from various devices and locations. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a technology that creates a desktop-like environment on a centralized server.

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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 so the user can be productive.

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, the VDI environment can be 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.

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How Does Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Work?

VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) employs a hypervisor to partition servers into multiple virtual machines that host virtual desktops. Then the users can access these virtual machines remotely from their devices while all computing tasks are performed on the host server.

A connection broker serves as a software-based gateway between the user and the server, facilitating the user’s connection to their virtual desktop. This setup enables users to access their virtual desktops from any location or device.

Let’s see how VDI works in-depth:

How does 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 bare metal server/host server into small multiple logical units called Virtual machines that host 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.

Basic Components of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) consists of several key components that work together to deliver virtual desktops to end-users. Let’s explore the basic components of VDI:

Hypervisor

A hypervisor is a 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 of resources, such as memory and processing, between virtual machines created on the host server.

Connection Broker

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

Get Instant Demo: Windows Virtual Desktop: Experience Windows the Virtual Way

 Desktop Pools

Desktop pools are a group of similar desktops that can be configured according to a specific function. For instance, office departments like accounting and IT 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

The users need constant internet to establish a secure connection with VDI. If the internet is unavailable, the users’ endpoint will be unable to communicate with the host server, resulting in a connection loss for the end-user.

Types of Virtual Desktops: Persistent vs. Non-Persistent VDI

Persistent and non-persistent VDI are two deployment models within virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments. Let’s explore the differences between them:

Persistent VDI

In persistent VDI, the user logs in to the virtual desktop and has a personalized experience; 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.

Non-Persistent VDI

In a non-persistent VDI environment, 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.

A virtual machine forms a computing environment with a specific number of CPUs, 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. You need a VM to host a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), but you don’t need a VDI Workspace to host a VM.

Read More: Persistent VDI vs. Non-Persistent VDI: Which one to choose for your business?

What is the Difference Between VDI and VM?

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

A virtual machine forms a computing environment with a specific number of CPUs, 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. , the VM hosts a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), but you don’t need a VDI Workspace to host a VM.

In summary, VDI focuses on virtualizing desktop environments, allowing users to access and use virtual desktops remotely. It is primarily geared toward delivering virtual workstations to the end user. On the other hand, VMs involve virtualizing entire computer systems, enabling multiple operating systems to coexist on a single physical machine.

Read More: VDI vs. VM – What Are The Differences Between Both?

VDI vs VPN: Understanding the Key Differences and Use Cases

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and Virtual private network (VPN), both serve distinct purposes. They both are used to create a secure access path to resources over the cloud. Looking closely, one can quickly identify that VDI provides access to a remote desktop virtual environment where users can work. At the same time, VPN offers a passageway to the organization’s private network. Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology provides a secure encrypted connection over a public network, such as the Internet

VDI vs VPN

In comparison, VDI is used to provide a remote desktop connection to end-users on any device, regardless of their location. When it comes to aspects like security, pricing, latency, and performance, VDI outperforms VPN. However, it’s important to note that VPN still serves its purpose effectively. Depending on specific circumstances and requirements, users can choose between VDI and VPN as per their needs.

Read More: VDI vs. VPN: Does VDI Act as the Demise Of VPN?

Desktop Virtualization vs Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) and Desktop Virtualization are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing.

VDI is a specific type of desktop virtualization that utilizes a centralized virtual machine running on a server to provide virtual desktops to users. On the other hand, Desktop Virtualization is a broader term encompassing various approaches to virtualizing desktops.

Desktop Virtualization can refer to local virtual desktops (also known as client-hosted desktop virtualization), where the virtual desktop runs on the user’s local device, or server-based virtual desktops (also known as server-hosted desktop virtualization), where the virtual desktop is hosted on a central server and accessed remotely by the user.

VDI is a type of server-based virtual desktop infrastructure that provides users with a complete and isolated virtual desktop environment. In contrast, other server-hosted desktop virtualization solutions, such as Remote Desktop Services (RDS) or Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops (formerly XenApp and XenDesktop), provide users with access to individual applications rather than an entire virtual desktop environment.

VDI Use Cases: Tailor-made for every Industry

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is becoming a crucial technology for every business across industries.

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

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, 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.

Also Read: VDI Use Cases: Top 6 Real World Benefits and Applications

IT

Operating an entire endpoint fleet in the workplace is more critical for an IT firm than ever. The IT firm must also meet dynamic business needs in addition to employees’ security and mobility 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.

BPO

BPOs or call centers have a massively competitive landscape with 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.

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

Finance

Similar to the problems with the healthcare industry, the financial businesses also firm the flexibility and security problems involved in remote working. This business requires a secure bank-level platform when working on auditing and taxation documents.

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 home is feasible for CAs and CPAs to function more efficiently.

Healthcare

Doctors and clinicians are constantly moving from one ward to another. They need remote access to the same apps and patient data within the hospital premises (and sometimes outside for emergency visits).

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

Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry involves a vast workforce 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 workspace allows you to offer virtual desktops to contractors and partners so they can work on any device from anywhere and have a consistent experience.

Legal

Law firms can’t restrict to offices for work, so VDI helps them have top-end secure client information on 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 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 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.

Education uses in VDI

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.

Suggested Reading: Future Of DaaS In Higher Education

Benefits of Implementing Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) offers numerous benefits that decrease the total cost of ownership (TCO) for businesses while providing flexibility to work from anywhere, using any device. VDI also offers a zero-trust security framework and serves as a business continuity solution for enterprises. Let’s take a closer look at the key benefits that VDI provides.

 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, multiple users can pull up virtual desktops on-demand from anywhere at any hour. Whether in your home or another country, you can still access various 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—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?

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

How Safe is Your Data with Ace Cloud Virtual Desktop Infrastructure?

 Save Cost with Extended Device Lifecycle

VDI solutions are 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, an old PC, or a laptop. This extends the device’s lifecycle for up to 2 years, saving IT teams from making as many new purchases without hampering the budget.

Also Read: Top Benefits Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Offers to the Business

Hosted VDI Pricing: Analyze Before Investing Into The Technology

When it comes to VDI pricing, the cloud-based virtual framework, at times, can be more costly than using any of its alternatives. However, in the longer run, VDI will result in one of the most economical and thrifty solutions. One-time investment with the opportunity to scale up or down the system as per requirement makes VDI a more sustainable option than VPN.

VDI pricing depends on the number of licenses clients are opting for. For light users such as BPOs, Management, and Fintech organizations, the VDI specification can be limited to 4GB RAM and 50GB memory with shared access, bringing the cost down to a bare minimum for a single user. Typically, the price of VDI infra can be capped to $60/month per user (a required minimum of 3 users are using VDI).

This pricing can fluctuate for heavy users such as Developers and Designers. Their requirement generally starts with a minimum system specification of 8GB dedicated RAM, 100GB memory, and an additional vGPU for maintaining computing speed. At a minimum, a single VDI infra in a heavy computing environment can start from $90/month per user (min 3 users) without including extra licensing costs.

How To Implement Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)?

To implement VDI, larger enterprises should consider deploying it in a hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) environment due to its scalability and high performance, which align well with VDI’s resource requirements. However, implementing HCI for VDI may not be cost-effective for organizations that require less than 100 virtual desktops.

Aside from infrastructure considerations, there are several best practices to follow when implementing VDI. Firstly, prepare your network by identifying peak usage times and anticipating demand spikes to ensure sufficient network capacity.

Secondly, avoid under-provisioning by conducting capacity planning in advance using a performance monitoring tool to determine the resource consumption needs of each virtual desktop and overall resource consumption needs.

Thirdly, it’s essential to understand end-users’ needs, such as whether they require customizable desktops or are task workers who can use a generic desktop. It’s also important to consider their performance requirements as users who use graphics-intensive applications will need different provisioning than those who only require access to the internet or a few simple applications.

Finally, conducting a pilot test is crucial to ensure the correct provisioning of resources. Many virtualization providers offer testing tools to facilitate a test VDI deployment in advance.

The Future of VDI is DaaS (Desktop as a Service)

The VDI market is growing at an exceptional and exponential rate. Several heterogeneous factors include an increase in the BYOD concept, the remote mobility workforce, and more.

Moving your computations over to the cloud is imperative and DaaS is one such steppingstone with which one can easily transition to the cloud. The future of VDI seems bright as it follows a subscription-based model where users pay only for the services they avail and can easily cancel or scale their service. Subscription-based models are also profitable for vendors, creating recurring income. It also allows vendors to offer lucrative offers to their prospects making the services more attractive and flexible.

Choosing Between VDI and Desktop as a Service (DaaS): Making the Right Decision

VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) and DaaS (Desktop as a Service) have their own benefits and limitations. Let’s explore which option may be better for your firm:

  1. VDI demands expert internal management: Managing a VDI environment requires a skilled IT team for implementation, updates, patches, and support. This can be cost-intensive, making it more suitable for larger enterprises than small-medium businesses.
  2. Monumental server installation: Traditional VDI requires a significant investment in server infrastructure and ongoing management. While larger firms can afford this, small-medium enterprises often prefer fully managed VDI or DaaS to have more flexibility and cost control.
  3. DaaS offers a cloud-based solution: DaaS, also known as cloud VDI, provides virtual desktops delivered by a service provider over the Internet. It is fully managed and secure, eliminating the need for extensive internal management and reducing IT costs.
  4. Customized for different needs: DaaS allows businesses to choose providers based on their specific requirements. For example, companies can opt for multi-device compatibility, enabling access to the desktop environment from various devices. Each industry may have unique needs and access controls.

Read More: VDI vs. DaaS: Which One is Better for You?

By considering factors like management expertise, infrastructure investment, and cost, you can decide whether a VDI solution or DaaS solution is the better fit for your firm’s needs.

ACE-Citrix: Revolutionizing Traditional VDI Challenges

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 manage the virtual desktop infrastructure and deliver 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 your VDI infrastructure. They offer you storage space on their cloud data centers, deploy virtual desktops, install desired applications, and manage software licensing.

Also Read: Top 6 VDI Providers to Watch in 2023

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

Moreover, 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 hands-on experience with ACE-managed desktops on the Citrix VDI platform; get a free demo now.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Frequently Asked Questions

   1. 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.

Read More: VPN vs. RDS vs. VDI – Choosing the Best Remote Solution

   2. Is VDI the same as a remote desktop?

Some people may think that virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and Remote Desktop solutions (RDS) are the same, but in reality, they are quite different.

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, enabling users to control a remote system from different backgrounds.

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

    3. 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 means we are responsible for every IT task from deployment to security, and you get a high-performance experience.

Read More: Citrix Vs. VMware VDI: A Comparison of Best VDI Solutions

    4. Is the virtual desktop a subscription-based model?

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

     5.  What type of virtualization should you deploy to provide a virtual desktop infrastructure?

There’s no specific type of virtualization per se for deploying VDI over a virtual machine. VDI can be hosted on a secure VM, and the users can immediately access the virtual desktop, be it Windows 7/10 or Linux remotely.

About Julie Watson

Julie is a dynamic professional with over 16 years of rich experience as a VDI and Application Hosting expert. At Ace Cloud Hosting, she humanizes disruptive and emerging remote working trends to help leaders discover new and better possibilities for digital transformation and innovation by using cloud solutions with an enterprise-class security approach. Beyond work, Julie is a passionate surfer.
On the weekend, you will find her hanging out with her family or surfing around the North Shore of Oahu.

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Comments (1)

  • Patricia says:

    Hey, Julie! Just needed to ask what are some of the top companies which provide Hypervisor?

    • Julie Watson says:

      Hi Patricia, VMware is the leader in the hypervisor provider market with their vSphere product which is available in one free edition and 5 commercial editions. Microsoft also offers Hypervisor services with their product “HyperV.”

  • Dona says:

    I am amazed to see that how much technology has advanced that I can access my desktop screen on my smartphone and that too remotely. VDI is undoubtedly the future!

  • Adeep says:

    An unbelievable piece of technology. Just has one problem that it takes a little long to load and sometimes the virtual desktop freezes — still a long way to go for VDI but going to be a massive thing in the future.

    • Julie Watson says:

      Hi Adeep, the performance of VDI depends on the platform on which it is being implemented such as cloud or local environment. Although access to virtual desktop does not need a superfast connection, it is recommended that you have reliable Internet connectivity.

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