What Is VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) And How Does It Work?
Update: This article was last updated on 1st October 2021 to reflect the accuracy and up-to-date information on the page.
Directly jump to your desired category.
Types of VDI
Components of VDI
Working of VDI
Benefits of VDI
Why Cloud VDI?
Virtual desktops have changed the way companies work. From working on physical desktops, then BYOD, and now virtual desktops have enabled working from any device from any location. Companies are rapidly replacing the on-premise legacy solutions with virtual desktop solutions. Virtual desktops help bring more flexibility and ease of IT management at a lower cost.
According to Market Research Future (MRFR), the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) market is projected to reach new milestones. It may reach a market value of USD 25,496.3 Million by 2025 with a CAGR of 16.1%.
What is VDI?
VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) is a technology used to create a virtual environment on a remote server setup. 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) that are controlled through management software.
VDI can either be set up in your office premises or on an external cloud server by a managed service provider.
Setting up on-premise VDI requires a high-end server installation in your office premise from which your IT team will deploy desktops to end-users. Here, you and your IT team manage all IT aspects. You have to get involved in an endless cycle of purchasing licenses to run hardware, software, or OS in multiple systems. The maintenance and upgrade requirements that keep coming with time can become hectic to handle.
If you opt for VDI on the cloud, then the providers(also referred as DaaS providers) manage all the IT for you. Providers create hosted desktops on their cloud data centers (also called DaaS or Desktop as a Service) for you to use from your personal devices. VDI gives you the freedom to access your desktop from anywhere through a browser or secure application software.
Know more: All About Desktop as a Service(DaaS).
Types of VDI Deployment
In persistent VDI, the data and configurations remain saved even after logging out from the virtual desktop. Hence, it allows users to have a personalized experience similar to using their own desktops. As it saves all the data, large storage space is required, which may increase your cost.
In non-persistent VDI, all the data and Windows settings are not saved and are reversed back to the original when you log out of the virtual desktop. However, you can save data by keeping it in shared or personal drives. They do not require huge storage space. So, it will cost you less than persistent desktops.
Learn more about Persistent and Non-persistent VDI.
Use Cases Of VDI
VDI is your best bet when you want to implement remote working or facilitate BYOD in the company. Also, it allows you to work on graphic-intensive applications with the least latency. Let’s have a look at some more practical use cases of VDI.
BPOs or call centers have a vast workforce that accesses similar tools or apps. Hence, it is challenging to manage and install multiple apps on different systems.
VDI will help you centralize your IT and manage all the users from a single panel. Moreover, you can install applications very quickly on multiple virtual desktops from a single system.
Doctors always want to spend more time treating and interacting with patients. They can’t waste their precious time reaching hospitals and log into their physical desktop systems.
VDI allows them to keep patient data on personal devices to access it everywhere and anytime in emergencies without wasting any time.
The manufacturing industry involves engineers, technical experts, designers, architects, contractors or builders, and executives. With legacy solutions, it becomes complex to collaborate and work productively.
VDI allows you to offer virtual desktops to contractors and partners so that they can work with mobility and log in through their mobile phones whenever required.
Universities, institutes, or schools require multiple sets of applications for different domains or fields. Each field or level may require a unique set of applications.
It is very tedious to install multiple apps on so many physical desktops. Setting a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure in universities makes it easy to deploy and scale up or down the resources needed according to the requirements.
Moreover, students don’t need to rely on expensive desktops to work on these applications. Even a low spec device works smoothly to access the virtual desktop or application.
The finance or accounting industry requires a bank-level secure platform to work, and office desktops have a greater chance of getting compromised. They are also more vulnerable to cyber threats, thefts, or breaches.
Virtual desktops help you to install different security policies like multi-factor authentication, data encryption, AI data monitoring, and much more. Additionally, working from remote locations allows CAs and CPAs to work more efficiently.
Not just these industries, but VDI is used in many other sectors like retail, IT, legal, insurance, and others because it is scalable and flexible for organizations of all sizes.
How does VDI work?
To understand how VDI works, you first need to understand virtualization and the components involved in a VDI setup.
Virtualization is the technology that divides the system architecture into different layers. Before virtualization, the hardware was bound to the operating system (OS) at the time of installation. Thus, in the case of a hardware failure, the OS also crashed, and you would lose all the data.
Through virtualization, the OS and the underlying hardware are separated by a software called a hypervisor. You can install multiple operating systems on a hypervisor-installed server.
Recommend Reading: What is Desktop Virtualization Technology?
Components of VDI
The functioning of VDI consists mainly of two parts- Hypervisor and Connection Broker.
A hypervisor is software that separates the operating system from the underlying hardware. It creates a virtual environment where the hardware can be divided into multiple Virtual Machines (VMs). Each VM hosts virtual desktops that can have its unique configuration, OS, and applications.
Some of the well-known hypervisors in the market are Citrix Hypervisor, Microsoft Hyper-V, and VMware vSphere.
Let’s look at an example to understand the use of a hypervisor.
Suppose a company has its own data centers with 1 TB of disk space and 100 GB of RAM. They have all the hardware like internet cabling, firewalls, routers, and hard disks installed on their data centers.
Suppose they want to create 10 VMs for ten users, and users want utmost optimization of the resource allocations of users. How will they do that?
This is where hypervisor software comes into play. It helps companies create multiple VMs for various users according to their requirements. Moreover, it allows admin users to manually or automatically allocate resources according to the business requirements.
Connection broker is also a software program that connects the users to resources like Windows desktops, Linux applications, etc. It is also responsible for the authentication of users and allowing them access 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 of the desktop to inactive.
Understand the elements of connection broker as shown in the above image:
Virtual Apps and Desktops Controller: It is also simply known as Controller. It is a network device that is responsible for the distribution of resources.
Gateway: It is a security layer that validates the virtual desktops delivered to the end-user within SSL and then forwards the request to the Storefront.
StoreFront: It is a type of application store which is generated according to unique user IDs. It validates the credentials against the Active Directory.
Active Directory is a service that connects users from their database, and it is used to manage multiple users. It comes under the Control part in the flow chart.
Studio: It is a console used by the admin or IT team to manage and configure the user environment.
Director: It is a web-based tool used to monitor the virtual desktop environment.
Database: It stores all the information like configurations and usage information of the particular environment.
Working of VDI
Have a look at this infographic flowchart of the VDI technology. Now you would be able to relate the functioning of the components with the following steps.
- A user enters the login credentials and initiates the connection request to the Gateway URL or application.
- The user IDs and passwords are validated against an Active Directory (AD).
- Then the Gateway forwards these credentials to the StoreFront.
- If the StoreFront is in the same domain as the Controller, it directly validates the users against AD. (For example: suppose both Storefront and Controller are on the same domain acecloud.com, then it will validate the user directly).
- If the StoreFront is not in the same domain as the Controller, credentials are forwarded to the Controller for validation against AD.
- Then the Virtual Desktop Controller retrieves the data from the SQL database.
- The available resources are then sent to the StoreFront, which displays the Workspace application (in this case, it is Citrix Workspace).
- Now the user can select the desired resource from a pool of Windows or Linux applications.
The hypervisor creates multiple virtual machines for the users. The connection broker accepts the request after authentication when the user logs into their desktop from the client software or URL. It then analyzes the request and sends the user to their resource section.
Let’s take you through the live VDI deployment, showcasing how virtual desktop is deployed and delivered to the end-users.
Suppose you take a VDI solution from a cloud service provider like ACE Cloud Hosting. Then let’s see what exactly happens.
- The professional team of the provider will do all the backend IT configurations and deliver a secure web-based URL that you can operate from any personal device via any HTML 5 browser (browsers like Google Chrome, Edge, Safari, Firefox, and others that support HTML version 5).
The provider will create your virtual desktops on the nearest server locations to minimize latency. Hence, select the server location according to what the provider has offered to you.
- After selecting the server location, it will give you two options. You will need to choose two-factor authentication if you are logging in for the first time.
Reputed providers offer two-factor authentication as a security safeguard before a user accesses the virtual desktop. This helps you avoid any unauthorized person from entering your system.
- A new tab will open. This is your Gateway. From there, you will have to add your unique credentials offered by the provider. The whole process you followed till now is the Access and Control mechanism.
Providers offer you a Gateway where you can enter your credentials. ACE is partnered with Citrix, and hence it provides you a highly secure Citrix Gateway.
- The new tab will ask you to add and register your device by giving it a name like “ACE Desktop.” Add the name and click on the Go button.Additionally, you will have to install the Google Authenticator application on your mobile.Google Authenticator offers verification codes for all your added accounts using 2-Step verification.
- In the Google Authenticator app, click on add (“+”) button. You can either scan the QR code on the screen with your mobile or enter the code manually to add users to your mobile application. Now, the authenticator app is ready to provide you fresh OTPs for the user you added.
- As you are authenticated, you have to come back to the initial web-based portal. Select the desired server again. And this time, click on Login.On the next page, enter your credentials and OTP (one-time passcode) from the Google authenticator app for the same added user.You moved from Access and Control to the last section, the resource section, where all your Windows, Linux, or applications are kept installed by the providers.
- This is the Storefront where you can see all your resources. You will get a welcome page where you can click on the desired resource like Apps or Desktops.The provider’s professional IT team will manage your Storefront with management software. You can ask your provider to install the desired OS or Applications according to your requirements.
- Just click on your desired app or Windows, and you will enter your virtual desktop, which will look similar to your desired OS as you operate on your own devices.
In the Desktops tab, you can choose your OS like Windows or Linux.
After clicking on the Apps tab, you can choose among all your installed applications like MS Office, Acrobat, Notepad, etc. If you are looking to opt for this exciting technology and offer your employees highly secure and flexible remote working opportunities, take a free trial today.Get A Free Trial
Now, you must have got a good idea about what exactly happens in this “so-called” complex VDI.
Benefits of VDI technology
The most distinguishing feature of VDI is remote access. Traditional desktops can be viewed as connected (or can say ‘restricted’) to a single system. As soon as you are away from the system, you can not access your desktop anymore. With VDI, you can access your desktop from anywhere, day or night.
Another vital aspect of VDI is security. Conventionally, your Operating System, applications, and data are stored on your local hardware like laptops or PCs. In case the computer is stolen or damaged, all the data is lost. You also have to buy a new laptop and start all over again.
With VDI, as remote data centers store the data, you do not need to worry about data loss. Even if you lose the device, you can access your desktop from any other device as your data is backed up on multiple remotely accessible data centers.
VDI technology enables you to access your desktop from various devices. With VDI, the desktop is not bound to the hardware; it can be accessed from multiple devices. You can use mobile, laptops, tablets, or thin clients to operate your desktop.
Data Center Facilities
When you are getting VDI from a VDI provider, the desktops are hosted on data centers with high-performance servers. Also, you get all the latest facilities and features, such as advanced security, high-end infrastructure, disaster recovery options, and others.
By getting VDI services from a cloud provider, you eliminate the cost of hardware, the professional IT workforce, the endless cycle of software renewals, and OS licensing. Additionally, you save considerable amounts on electricity and office-space rentals as well. Providers also offer you a pay-as-you-go pricing model that cuts down your fixed capital expenditure, helping you better optimize your budget.
Challenges in VDI if setting up by yourself
VDI has enormous benefits. However, you can’t always just reap the benefits of any technology. Similarly, VDI has some challenges as well.
- If you are setting up VDI in your office premises, it becomes complicated to manage the infrastructure. Small and medium companies cannot hire IT professionals, as it needs more budget.
- Many SMBs may not be able to afford to have an in-house server and storage setup as it requires a considerable investment.
- Some companies also don’t want to indulge themselves in purchasing, OS licensing, or renewals as it becomes hectic for them. They want a managed solution to work remotely without looking after the IT infrastructure.
Then, you may be wondering how to cope with these challenges?
The answer is with Cloud Hosted VDI.
How is Cloud-Hosted VDI different from Normal VDI?
Hosted 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 OS, and manage OS or software licensing.
They offer security safeguards like multi-factor authentication, firewalls, OS patching, OS hardening, and regulatory compliance to keep your data secure.
They also offer pay-as-you-go pricing plans so that you can start using virtual desktops at a significantly lower monthly subscription price.
Additionally, you get customized plans and round-the-clock support so that you never have to face downtime issues.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure has become the need of businesses to give their employees suitable work-from-home options. However, setting up VDI on your own and managing all the required licensing, renewals, and servers can be a tedious task.
Therefore, companies are looking forward to cloud-hosted VDI services so that they can focus on their work and leave the rest on the CSPs.
You can try Hosted VDI for free, or if you have any queries, you can directly reach out to our solutions consultant.
Just click on the chat button down below to resolve your query instantly.