virtual desktopThe recent innovative-explosion in the form of BYOD, social media marketing, cloud computing, converged and contextual marketing has taken the business segment to a new horizon. While these changes bring great amounts of innovation into business procedures, there come several challenges as well. Among them, securing networks and adhering to compliance issues is a major challenge. KACE, a company that specializes in computer appliances for IT equipment provides important statistics about growing business demands. According to KACE, one in every two companies that implemented BYOD networks has reported a security breach. Secondly, the massive explosion of data in the form of content, video and voice demands 500% increase of bandwidth by 2017. With thousands of concurrent users accessing corporate networks, scalability becomes crucial. Business resources need 99.9% uptime and reliable network connections. Moreover, data centers consume 100 times more energy than offices they support. Moreover, managing BYOD and cloud networks would increase the IT annual budgets by 48%. Desktop virtualization effectively answers these growing business demands.

Desktop Virtualization – An overview

According to Wikipedia, Desktop virtualization can be defined as a concept that isolates the desktop environment and associated applications from the client machine that is used to access it. All components are virtualized and are delivered to bare-metal clients using a software layer called hypervisor. Each user gets a virtual machine with a dedicated instance of OS and associated applications. Though the term desktop virtualization is often replaced with a virtual desktop infrastructure, VDI is one type of desktop virtualization.

Different types of Desktop Virtualization

Hosted Non-persistent VDI Persistent VDI RD Host Sessions
Non-persistent and temporary VMs are assigned to users where load balancing is automatically done. VMs return to the pool when the end-user logs off. VMs are remotely assigned to users on a 1-to-1 basis. In a persistent VDI, changes made to the VM persist after logoff. A true and personalized experience is offered to the end-user A single server OS with common applications is shared among different remote users
Local Local VDI OS Streaming Application Virtualization
Regardless of the end-user OS, server OS remotely runs of the client machine. With a centralized management system, OS files and associated applications that are hosted on a server are remotely published to thin clients over a network. Applications are virtualized and are remotely published to end-users in a non-persistent environment.

According to a survey conducted by Imprivata about 2014 desktop virtualization trends, the implementation of VDI environments in the healthcare segment has increased to 52%. The same firm reported a VDI deployment of 35% in the year 2011. Looking at these trends, desktop virtualization seems to stay.

Benefits and rewards of Desktop Virtualization

Desktop virtualization brings in a bunch of rewards for organizations. With resource centralization and improved application performance, business productivity can be increased. A true mobile workforce keeps your business always available and productive. Moreover, VDI environments are hardware-independent. Organizations can publish apps and desktops to any device, anytime. Employees get the flexibility to access company resources from any device, anywhere, anytime. Secondly, data flow and accessibility gets better. Organizations can leverage pre-configured policies to provide policy-based access to critical corporate resources. Business processes are securely processed and virus protection is improved. Thirdly, image/patch of Os and softwares management is improved. Data backup and recovery is automated and becomes easy. Regulatory compliance is followed. Finally, desktop economization significantly reduces desktop support costs and transfers the cost from CAPEX to OPEX.

Security challenges in Desktop Virtualization

Differently than  a physical desktop that can be securely locked. In a VDI environment, anyone who has access to a username and password can log in to the desktop and access corporate resources. When file sharing is activated, the hacker can access shared folders and make undesired changes. Substantial bugs in API programming can compromise the whole infrastructure. iSCSI and Fibre channels that use text protocols are vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks. Also storage traffic can be recorded and analyzed using sniffing tools. When encryption is used on host-bus channels, performance issues become a concern.

When the security of the hypervisor  is compromised, all the VMs are compromised as well. Hosted hypervisors have to be more secure as they expose the entire environment when compared to bare metal hypervisors.

Native or bare-metal hypervisors:  These hypervisors run directly on the host's hardware to control the hardware and to manage guest operating systems. For this reason, they are sometimes called bare metal hypervisors. Modern equivalents include Oracle VM Server for SPARC,Oracle VM Server for x86, the Citrix XenServer, VMware ESX/ESXi and Microsoft Hyper-V 2008/2012.

Hosted hypervisors: These hypervisors run on a conventional operating system just as other computer programs do. Type-2 hypervisors abstract guest operating systems from the host operating system. VMware Workstation and VirtualBox are examples of type-2 hypervisors.

When VMs are created a new instance of OS is built and certain ports and protocols are open. As VMs scale up quickly, they strain the security system because is very difficult to keep track of the VMs created by the users. It is important to protect all these components because being heavily software-based, VMs are more vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Secure your Desktop Virtualization with 2X RAS solutions

2X Remote Application Server is designed to securely provide the best of VDI while adhering to compliance regulations. Gone are the days when employees hold on to their desktops at work. Today, the BYOD revolutions has changed the way employees work. Organizations have the flexibility to provide remote access to corporate networks. Whether an employee is at office, home, road or at a partner site, he can remotely access corporate resources with ease. 2X RAS empowers organizations to easily create and securely manage a virtual offices.

Desktop Virtualization with Policy-based Access Control

Software-based VDI environments are more vulnerable to hacking attacks. It is important to provide policy-based access controls to mitigate data breaches and unauthorized network accessing tasks. 2X RAS supports multi-level policies where you can configure appropriate levels of access to windows applications and data. With a full integration with Microsoft Active Directory, 2X provides centralized control over user profiles based on the device, network and location. The same user would get different levels of access when he accesses corporate networks from the office and home.

Reduces security strain on the IT

In a VDI environment, VMs can be quickly scaled up and down and can be replicated as many times as needed. You can create and deploy guests on the fly. However, protecting the OS, applications, data and other configuration settings for each VM is a cumbersome task. Using the VM templates integrated in 2X RAS, you can automatically apply security updates and patches to a pool of virtual machines and save time.

Encrypted Connections

Fully integrated with Secure Socket Layer (SSL), 2X provides a secure channel between the clients and servers for internet and intranet connections. There are several third-party data protection tools integrated with 2X that provide an additional layer of protection. User access is provided according to the privileges set in the Active Directory for a secured access of data.

Real-time for effective monitoring of networks

In a VDI environment, VMs are created and destroyed at lighting speeds. IT staff has a tough time in monitoring things happening with the network. With 2X RAS Reporting feature, organizations gain clear visibility into VDI environments. Application performance and user sessions can be proactively monitored to identify top applications and desktops used in a day or on a regular basis. From a centralized location, you can monitor who has executed applications that access critical business data. Any abnormal activity can be easily  detected,  with real-time reporting and analytics, IT guys can quickly identify and issues and resolve them. Moreover, 2X RAS creates an audit log so that you can quickly refer the log to find details about each user connection. In addition, VDI environments can be rightly sized for a better ROI.

Desktop Virtualization Conclusion

Desktop virtualization provides centralized management of network resources for a secure access and effective communication. It provides secure VDI solutions, adheres to compliance issues and ensures data privacy. While it offers several benefits of organizations, security challenges have to be clearly addressed before implementing a VDI network in the organization. 2X Remote Application Server optimizes a VDI environment to squeeze maximum benefits from it while not compromising on network and data security.

 

References

Desktop Virtualization : http://www.imprivata.com/resources/analyst-reports/imprivata-2014-desktop-virtualization-trends-healthcare-report

Desktop Virtualization :  https://www.kace.com/~/media/Files/Support/KACE-Konference/2013/Understanding%20the%20Desktop%20Virtualization%20Trend.pdf

Desktop Virtualization :  https://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/smb/Desktop_Virtualization_Spiceworks.pdf

Desktop Virtualization : http://www.infoworld.com/article/2627220/vdi/what-desktop-virtualization-really-means.html

Desktop Virtualization : http://www.infoworld.com/article/2627220/vdi/what-desktop-virtualization-really-means.html

Desktop Virtualization : http://searchvirtualdesktop.techtarget.com/definition/desktop-virtualization



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