What is VDI?
The work landscape has changed dramatically, with employees increasingly working from home and hybrid cloud ecosystems becoming commonplace. As the landscape changes to include more employees working from various locations, on different devices, and within many systems, the challenges of administration and security are growing and changing as well. In order to effectively and efficiently manage these environments, IT leaders are increasingly recommending virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). VDI is a technology that hosts a desktop operating system on a centralized server, which allows employees to access applications and services from anywhere.
VDI comes in two methods- the persistent method, where the desktop configuration remains intact after each logout, and the nonpersistent method, where the desktop reverts to the original state after each logout and must be reconfigured with each login1. The approach that is right for your organization depends largely on preferences and security risks. For instance, a persistent approach is useful for users who wish for their customization to remain consistent and to be saved for future use, but a nonpersistent approach may be preferable for users desiring increased security for sensitive data, such as electronic medical records, ensuring that the search and history is not saved between logins.
Virtualization is a process that allows for more efficient utilization of physical computer hardware by using software to create an abstraction layer of computer hardware that allows hardware elements to be divided into multiple “virtual machines” (VMs). Each VM runs its own operating systems and behaves like an independent computer, even though it is only running on a portion of the underlying computer hardware. VDI is enabled through hosting a desktop operating system within VMs that all run on a host server, which allows IT managers to deploy corporate data, applications, and desktops in a virtual data center and delivers them as a service via the internet3.
There are many important benefits provided by VDI:
Cost savings. VDI allows an organization to reallocate money spent on traditional onsite hardware, software, and licensing.
Increased scalability. Consolidating the VDI on a host server reduces hardware requirements and purchases, since users can access their environments from any kind of device.
Staffing and accessibility. Decentralizing information access creates worksite flexibility that can benefit both employers and employees. Employers can recruit the best candidates with less geographical constraints. VDI allows users to “bring your own device” (BYOD), creating a better user experience where employees can utilize their own devices to work from home.
Centralized management. VDIs centralized management structure allow administrators to patch, update, and change all virtual desktops at one time.
Security. VDI enhances security by housing information on the host server rather than on personal devices. If a device is ever stolen or compromised, the connectivity of the device can be terminated.
Disaster recovery. All components are saved and backed up in the data center regularly (e.g. every 20 minutes or four times a day).
VDI allows organizations to reduce their expenses, simplifies their IT management and security, and creates a more flexible work environment that benefits employers and employees alike. Consider letting go of the cumbersome and expensive relationship with your traditional onsite hardware and begin enjoying these compelling benefits with a new and leaner partner- VDI.
1 Perry, 2017, “Leveraging the Cloud for Efficiency and Savings”
2 IBM Cloud Education, 2019, “Virtualization”
3 Shamir, 2021, “What is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)?”