First things first… If you’re not familiar with the acronym “VDI” then you’re missing out! VDI stands for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. It is the process of hosting a desktop operating system within a virtual machine (VM) that is running on a centralized server. VDI saves you time, power, and money.
As you probably know, businesses tend to run traditional desktop environments, with physical desktops at every end user’s workstation. For companies with VDI, these physical desktops are substituted with thin clients that tie users directly to a centralized server. Rather than data and resources revolving around the end user, data and resources now revolve around a centralized server.
There are two types of VDI landscapes. The first VDI landscape we’ll discuss is an integrated landscape. An integrated VDI solution utilizes a business’s existing server and storage infrastructure. This is primarily seen in smaller VDI deployments where a business is able to easily house users on their current hardware.
The second and more common VDI landscape is a stand-alone solution. Stand-alone solutions are solutions devoted to VDI. The software and hardware in these solutions are only utilized for the VDI solution. With a stand-alone solution, it is simpler to determine the resources each user is utilizing and the administrator is able to see how many resources they need due to the fact that they are confined in a separated environment. Whereas, with an integrated solution, it is more problematic to determine what resources you have available, how many resources are required for your users, and how many users you can maintain without bogging down your infrastructure.
Advantages of VDI
The number one advantage of VDI is management simplicity. With VDI, as stated before, users are centralized to a server. The VDI Administrator is able to manage every user of the environment from a single access point. The Administrator is no longer required to complete updates individually to each physical desktop. They are now able to complete software installations and updates from a single point, making the process much simpler. Envision being able to deploy hundreds of software updates with just a couple of mouse clicks. VDI gives you that ability!
VDI also saves time! VDI solutions run on enterprise hardware opposed to user-grade hardware that end users run on. VDI solutions have complete redundancy which translates into better worker production and uptime for users. Administrators also experience uptime when users experience problems. The VDI Administrator can remotely return the system to the previous backup in order to reload the image. In the case of a complete hardware failure, a new device can easily be plugged in and deployed within minutes.
Another advantage of VDI is power savings. VDI users usually run off of thin clients or zero clients which use about 5-7 watts of power; whereas in a physical environment you utilize physical desktops that use about 50-70 watts. The difference in power here comes from the zero clients and thin clients having no moving parts, no hard drives, a small amount of RAM, and a small amount of processing power.
The fourth benefit to VDI is security. Opposed to a traditional desktop setup with several points to defend, VDI only has a single point to protect. For example, in a physical desktop environment, installing security patches on multiple desktops can take days. With VDI, this process is simplified, and you are able to deploy all of the patches to a central master image that fixes the problem instantly. In addition, you can also set policies and permissions at the user level to select what the user has access to.
The final benefit that we are going to discuss is versatility. When VDI is deployed, the IT Administrator has the ability to create different user categories. Typically, there are two different types of users that can be created. The two types are pooled users or persistent and non-persistent users. Pooled users are those who use the same applications every day. These users don’t require the ability to add software or modify their desktops. For example, if a pooled user downloads software to their desktop, ends their session and logs back in, that application will be removed. Pooled users can only use applications on the template that is produced by the administrator. User data is saved, but their settings remain unchanged. A persistent user is similar to a traditional desktop, in that any software downloaded or settings that are adjusted are saved to that specific user. In addition, you can also incorporate your own devices, called Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, where you are able to log into VDI via laptops, tablets, etc.
If you weren’t privy to VDI before reading this post, I hope that you now have a better understanding of the technology. While VDI isn’t designed for every IT environment, it is definitely something worth looking into if you haven’t already. If you’re interested in taking a look at the cost of VDI for your environment, SnapVDI offers hassle-free VDI price quotes that can be found at http://snapvdi/quote.