Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI): Enabling Remote Working at Scale


VDI is based on the concept of desktop virtualization where a desktop environment is hosted by a server in a data center and delivered to endpoints through a virtual session over the network. With VDI, an individual’s desktop operating system, applications, settings and data are separated from the physical endpoint device. Users access their virtual desktop from any supported device, from anywhere.

Benefits of VDI

VDI offers many advantages for organizations and end users over traditional PC-based desktop infrastructures. Some key benefits include:

Central Management and Scalability

VDI provides centralized management of desktops and applications. IT administrators can centrally manage, update, patch and secure all virtual desktops from a single console. Since desktops are hosted on centralized servers, scaling capacity is easy by adding more servers or assigning desktop resources dynamically based on requirements. This enables quick deployment of resources for new users or projects.

Increased Security

With data and applications contained in secure, centralized data centers, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure improves security over traditional desktop environments. There is no risk of data loss or malware infection from lost or stolen endpoint devices as all sensitive data remains securely inside the data center. Access controls and policies can also be more easily enforced for virtual desktops.

Enhanced Mobility and BYOD Support

Since desktops are independent of physical hardware, users can access their virtual desktop from any authorized device like a PC, thin client, tablet or smartphone. This allows employees to work remotely more easily. VDI also makes it simpler for organizations to support bring your own device (BYOD) programs.

Improved Hardware Management

VDI eliminates the need to procure, deploy, manage and refresh individual physical PCs. Server-based infrastructure is more cost effective to purchase and maintain over the long run. Hardware failures have minimal impact as virtual desktops can easily be moved or replaced without disturbing the end user experience.

Enhanced Disaster Recovery

All virtual desktop data, applications, configurations as well as the entire server infrastructure can be replicated across sites for quick failover and business continuity in case of any disaster or outage. Employees can continue working seamlessly from alternative locations.

How does VDI work?

In a typical Virtual Desktop Infrastructure implementation, physical servers in the data center run hypervisors to host multiple virtual machines. Each virtual machine acts as a virtual desktop which is then assigned to a user. The virtual desktop contains the operating system, applications and user profile data.

When a user wants to access their desktop, they connect through a virtual desktop client installed on their endpoint device. This establishes a secure connection to their virtual desktop instance running on a server back in the data center. The desktop session along with all graphics, audio etc. is then streamed to the endpoint over the network connection.

The user experiences their desktop just as if it was running natively on their device but in reality, all computation happens on centralized servers while only screen updates, keyboard/mouse inputs are streamed over the network between endpoints and servers.

VDI Deployment Options

Organizations have different VDI deployment options based on their specific requirements:

Hosted VDI – Virtual desktops are hosted and managed by a third-party service provider. Enterprises pay-as-they-go without upfront infrastructure costs.

On-Premises VDI – Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is deployed on in-house data center servers managed internally by enterprise IT teams. This gives full control but requires capital expenditure.

Hybrid VDI – Combines aspects of hosted and on-premises models by keeping certain desktop workloads internal while outsourcing others to service providers. Flexible approach.

Types of VDI deployments:

Persistent VDI – Each user is assigned a permanently resident virtual desktop that remains continually running. Data/settings are retained. Costly in terms of resources.

Non-Persistent VDI – Desktops are shut down when not in use to save costs. Users’ sessions, data and application states are discarded at log-off requiring machines to be refreshed at each use.

On-Demand/Provisioned VDI – Virtual desktops are dynamically created and provisioned on demand when a user logs in. They exist only for the user’s session duration being destroyed later. Efficient use of resources.

Implementing VDI

Successful VDI projects require thorough planning and testing. Key factors include:

Applications – Ensuring all line-of-business applications that need to be delivered are optimized or rewritten for VDI compatibility.

Network Design – Robust, high-performance network infrastructure to support video-intensive virtual desktop traffic across WAN.

Endpoints – Testing different endpoint devices to validate their capability to deliver acceptable user experience over varied connections.

Storage Infrastructure – High-speed storage area networks or hyper-converged infrastructure to prevent I/O bottlenecks for intensive desktop workloads.

Performance Benchmarking – Checking that desired user experience benchmarks are met across desktop activities, network conditions, users before roll-out.

User Profiles – Strategies for centrally provisioning and applying user profiles, settings, policies across virtual machines.

Pilot Testing – Critical to iron out kinks, obtain user/stakeholder feedback before organization-wide deployments.

With careful groundwork, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) can enhance workforce productivity and flexibility through centralized, secure desktop virtualization managed as an intuitive service. For many firms, it provides a prudent long-term strategy for the modern, distributed workplace.

1.  Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it