Enterprise VDI through Parallels RAS Covers All Your Virtual Business Needs

In general, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions are all the same in that they all enable businesses to deliver virtualized applications and desktops remotely to a wide range of endpoint devices. There are, however, certain nuances when it comes to enterprise VDI, i.e., VDI solutions used in an enterprise setting.

In this post, we’re going to revisit our definition of VDI, but this time, in the context of enterprise environments. We’re also going to look at persistent and non-persistent deployments, use cases, and benefits of VDI, again from an enterprise perspective.

Definition and Function of VDI

VDI is a technology that enables you to run a server or desktop operating system (mostly Windows), along with its supported applications, in a central location such as an on-premises datacenter or a public cloud. That operating system (OS), virtual desktop, and its applications are then made accessible to various endpoint devices over a network, usually the internet.

From the user’s point of view—who may be accessing the VDI-delivered applications and desktops from a PC, laptop, phone, tablet, thin client, and other endpoint devices—the applications and desktops appear to be running locally on their endpoint devices. In reality, they’re not even installed on those endpoint devices, hence the terms virtual desktop and virtual application.

The desktops and applications are actually installed on virtual machines (VMs), although sometimes on physical servers, which are themselves hosted on hypervisors in that central location we talked about earlier. A single hypervisor can host multiple guest VMs, and each VM holds an OS and a bunch of applications. It’s this OS and its accompanying applications that, when delivered by a VDI solution to the endpoint device, comprise a virtual desktop.

Some OSs can support multiple virtual desktops, while others are designed to support only one virtual desktop. In the past, only Windows Server could support multiple virtual desktops running simultaneously. This has changed since Microsoft started offering Windows 10 multi-session via Azure Virtual Desktop.

Most enterprises have dedicated IT teams that can manage a broad and diverse selection of technologies. For this reason, many of these organizations would have no problem running and managing their own VDI environment in an on-premises datacenter. In these situations, the enterprises themselves would have to purchase and manage the underlying hardware and software (servers, hypervisors, etc.) in addition to the VDI solution, Windows OS, and Windows applications.

This option is understandably expensive, especially from a capital expenditures (CAPEX) perspective, and it’s why many small and medium-sized businesses, or SMBs, are reluctant to try an on-premises VDI environment. However, new technological advancements such as hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) are making the barrier to entry as well as the total cost of ownership (TCO) of VDI more affordable.

Persistent vs. Non-persistent Virtual Desktops

Being inherently large organizations, enterprises have several use cases for VDI. However, each use case has its own set of nuances that are best met by a specific kind of virtual desktop. Yes, virtual desktops can come in different “shapes and sizes”, but in this section, we’re going to focus on two contrasting types of virtual desktops—persistent and non-persistent.

Definition of Persistent and Non-persistent Desktops

Persistent desktops are VDI desktops whose settings, applications, shortcuts, saved files, and other constituents are retained in the same VM even after a VDI session has ended. Each VM is dedicated to a single user. So, when the user logs back into a persistent desktop, that user will see exactly the same desktop as the one used in the previous session.

Non-persistent desktops, on the other hand, have the exact opposite behavior. Instead of retaining user-defined settings, shortcuts, etc., non-persistent desktops discard those and simply revert to their original form at every user login.

Advantages of Persistent VDI Desktops

Persistent VDI desktops have several advantages. They are:

Not all use cases are suitable for persistent desktops, so let’s have a look at the advantages of non-persistent desktops.

Advantages of Non-persistent VDI Desktops

Non-persistent desktops also have some positive aspects. They provide:

Use Cases for VDI

VDI is suitable for a wide range of use cases—from kiosks that have very minimal system resources to power users who normally demand heaps of CPU, RAM, and storage. Just to give you an idea of what we mean, let’s discuss some VDI use cases along with the reasons why VDI is suitable for them.


Kiosks are locked-down computers that have very limited functionality. You often see them in lobbies of hotels, airports, libraries, and malls, displaying relevant information and a few menus. Because these devices have little to zero storage and very minimal CPU and RAM, non-persistent VDI can be used to deliver a virtual desktop/application to them instead of having those installed locally.

Task Workers

Task workers are employees who perform repetitive tasks on a small set of applications. Examples of these types of workers include call center agents, retail workers, and warehouse workers. For these types of users, you can employ lightweight non-persistent VDI desktops. The uncomplicated, repetitive nature of their work, coupled with the fact that they don’t have to install applications or even create and store new files, makes these users suitable for desktops that can be discarded after every session.

Power Users

Power users such as software developers, game developers, architects, and graphics designers have far greater system and storage requirements than most users. These types of users can also be served VDI desktops. However, they do not require just regular virtual desktops but GPU-powered persistent VDI desktops with substantial CPU, RAM, and storage allocations.

Benefits of VDI for Enterprise

Compared to a traditional IT environment where desktops and applications are all installed on endpoint devices, a VDI-powered environment has several advantages. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits enterprises stand to gain if they shift to VDI.

Simplified IT Administration

A typical enterprise has to manage hundreds or even thousands of endpoint devices. Imagine being part of the IT team tasked to install, update, maintain, secure, and troubleshoot an operating system and applications on each device. Yes, there are ways to automate many of these processes, but you’d have to go through hoops to do that.

With VDI, the applications and desktops are hosted in a centralized location. Hence, all those tasks mentioned above can be carried out in one place, on one administrative interface. That’s going to save a great deal of time. In fact, VDI reduces administrative overhead by such a large amount you can reassign some of your IT administrators to other tasks.

Better Flexibility

Gen-Zs and millennials are known to have a penchant for workplace flexibility. Part of that flexibility is the ability to work on the device of their choice, a practice that has given rise to the bring-your-own-device or BYOD revolution. Unfortunately, traditional IT environments struggle to support BYOD. It’s extremely difficult to manage and support devices running on different platforms and models, especially if you need to install legacy or line-of-business (LOB) applications.

VDI addresses that challenge easily. By just asking your users to install the appropriate client for a given OS or simply asking them to use an HTML5 browser, you can already deliver VDI applications and desktops to their respective devices.

Increased Control over User Access

In a non-VDI-powered environment, you have very little control over what applications your users install on their endpoint devices. This can put whatever corporate data they have on those devices at risk of being locked up or corrupted by malware.

In a VDI environment, you can have full control over what applications are installed on your users’ virtual desktops. Sure, they might still be able to install illegitimate software on their endpoint devices (but not on the virtual desktops). But because you can control interactions between their devices and their virtual applications/desktops, your corporate data should be safe. Moreover, you can easily enable and disable user access to your VDI infrastructure. If an employee leaves, you can simply disable that person’s account.

Reduced Costs

The costs associated with managing a large fleet of endpoint devices can be quite expensive. Aside from administrative overhead, you’ll also have to worry about the upgrade costs of each endpoint device.

Indeed, you’ll still need to upgrade your endpoint devices in a VDI environment. However, because most of the computing is done on the server side, you really don’t have to purchase high-spec devices, nor do you need to upgrade as often. Moreover, you can extend the life of aging devices or even repurpose them into thin clients. With a longer hardware lifecycle, you can gain substantial savings.

Remote Work Support

Yes, you can still do remote work with non-VDI-powered endpoint devices. However, that practice isn’t very secure. What if a device is stolen? That would put any corporate data stored on its hard drive at risk. What if a device fails? For the user to get back to work, you’d have to set up a temporary replacement device. That user’s going to experience some lengthy downtime. The chances of these types of issues occurring increase exponentially with a large fleet of devices.

Those issues are addressed easily in a VDI environment. If a device is stolen, your corporate data stays safe because it’s stored in your datacenter or cloud infrastructure. And if a device conks out, you can have that user use a temporary device and connect to your VDI infrastructure to access desktops, applications and data.

VDI vs. DaaS

The emergence of Desktop as a Service (DaaS) is giving enterprises an alternative to VDI. Like VDI, DaaS also delivers virtual applications and desktops to endpoint devices. However, there are some key differences between the two. Let’s talk about those differences now.

Single-tenant vs. Multi-tenant Models

Generally speaking, VDI follows a single-tenant model. Meaning that its underlying computing resources are dedicated to a single organization—in this case, the enterprise that owns and operates the VDI environment.

DaaS, on the other hand, follows a multi-tenant model. The underlying computing resources are shared among the customers of the DaaS provider. Thus, if your provider’s infrastructure isn’t robust enough, activities and events (including cyber-incidents) affecting one DaaS customer may also impact the performance of your users’ virtual applications and desktops.


As stated earlier, on-premises VDI deployments require the acquisition, installation, administration, monitoring, and maintenance of the underlying infrastructure. It’s the exact opposite in DaaS, wherein the DaaS provider takes care of all that responsibility, and the customer organization (say an enterprise) only has to manage the virtual desktop environment.

Thus, from an administrative standpoint, DaaS is much easier. Of course, if you have the underlying infrastructure in the first place (many enterprises do), it might be more practical to just go with a self-managed VDI environment.

Upfront and Operational Costs

In terms of cost, it all boils down to your preferred spending model, which could be based on CAPEX or operational expenditures (OPEX). On-premises VDI is CAPEX-based. You pay an upfront cost for the underlying infrastructure, the VDI solution license, and the Windows and Windows application licenses. Although you’ll still be spending on certain operational costs (administration, maintenance, etc.), it won’t be as high as the recurring costs in DaaS.

In DaaS, your spending will be OPEX-based. You pay a monthly or annual recurring cost. While your recurring cost will be generally higher compared to the operational costs of a self-managed VDI environment, you won’t have to produce a large capital outlay. It’s worth noting that, while most SMBs might not be able to afford the upfront costs of an on-premises VDI deployment, a large enterprise may not suffer from the same constraints.


On-premises VDI deployments are normally fully managed by the owner. The owner—in this case, the enterprise—therefore has full control of its applications and data. You can also choose which brands of physical servers, hypervisors, network devices, and so on must make up your infrastructure.

With DaaS, you don’t have as much freedom and control. You won’t know what brands or models of hardware equipment are being used. You won’t even know where exactly your applications, desktops, and servers are being hosted.

Agility and Elasticity

In an on-premises VDI deployment, the agility and elasticity of your VDI environment are dependent on your underlying infrastructure. Agility and elasticity shouldn’t be an issue if you’ve invested in top-of-the-line equipment and have ample computing resources. But if not, you could reach the limits of your infrastructure faster than you hoped for. Storage is one resource that VDI can quickly gobble up. If you run out of storage, you can’t create more virtual machines.

DaaS doesn’t have these limitations. Most DaaS providers host their services in a public cloud. That means compute resources are virtually unlimited. They will only be limited by your budget.

Easy and Affordable Enterprise VDI with Parallels RAS

Two of the biggest challenges of building and managing your own VDI environment are (1) the large upfront cost and (2) the high administrative overhead. While many enterprises have the financial resources and IT talent to support a self-managed VDI environment, it’s always good to save on costs and reduce administrative overhead. That’s why more enterprises are shifting to Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS).

Unlike other VDI solutions, Parallels RAS has a simplified architecture that lowers upfront costs and total cost of ownership (TCO). That simplified architecture likewise reduces the complexities often associated with building and managing a VDI environment. While other VDI solutions require certified specialists to deploy and manage their VDI environments, even junior IT administrators can handle Parallels RAS.

Parallels RAS supports both persistent and non-persistent desktops readily. So, it’s great for kiosks, task workers, power users, remote work, BYOD environments, and just about any VDI use case possible.

While Parallels RAS can be used in a single-tenant architecture, it also supports multi-tenancy. Although often associated with service providers that need to separate the published resources of individual customers, a multi-tenant Parallels RAS architecture is also useful for large enterprises that need to keep the published resources of different business units isolated.

Enterprise VDI doesn’t have to be expensive or overly complicated with Parallels RAS!

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