VDI Meaning | Wondering What VDI Is? | Parallels Explains

VDI is an integrated desktop delivery solution that allows organizations to execute and store desktop workloads such as OS, applications, and data on Virtual Machines (VMs) in a data center. To present the user interface to users, VDI leverages remoting protocols such as the Remote Desktop Protocol(RDP) or Independent Computing Architecture (ICA).

VDI makes application and desktop an on-demand service, anywhere, and anytime. The data center hosts the desktop workloads while users access these resources remotely via a variety of endpoints, including PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

What is VDI?

VDI, meaning Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, is a technology that makes use of virtual machines (VMs) to deliver and manage virtual desktops. A virtual desktop is hosted by the VDI using a centralized server which is then deployed to the end-users on demand.

A VDI uses a hypervisor to divide the servers into virtual machines. These virtual machines then host virtual desktops which users can access remotely from any device and any location. The users connect to the desktop instances by using a connection broker. A connection broker is a software-based gateway that acts as a middleman between the user and the server.

This can be used in all types of environments but some use cases work exceptionally well, such as remote work, bring your device workplaces, and the task or shift works such as large call-centers.

VDI Basic Components

VDI consists of three essential components: clients, connection broker, and hypervisor, as shown below:

1. Clients

Clients give end-users access to their virtual desktops and applications, which reside on VMs. A client can be any device, such as a PC, Mac, or mobile device leveraging the Internet to access virtual desktops and apps. Additionally, the client must allow users to access desktop virtualization on any platform, including Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, or Android.

2. Connection Broker

A connection broker is software that connects users to their virtual desktops and applications, anywhere, any time, and on any platform. In this regard, the connection broker ensures that:

  • Users get authenticated and authorized to their desktop
  • Users have a secure connection to their desktop instances
    through Single-Sign-On (SSO)
  • There is seamless management of desktop sessions
  • There is seamless management of desktop pools

3. Hypervisor

A hypervisor segments physical servers into VMs. Each VM hosts desktops and apps that users can access from any device, on any platform. Since each
VM can have its own OS, apps, and configurations, users can customize their desktop profiles. The High Availability (HA) function allows hypervisors to switch users to other servers in case the current server fails.

VDI basic components

Benefits of VDI

The benefits of VDI outweigh the negatives, here are a few examples of the upside to VDI:

  • Reduces administrative and support costs: In a VDI environment, there is one image—an OS and other applications—that users will be utilizing, meaning; less administrative and support costs.
  • Shifts processing from individual PCs to the VDI server: You’ll no longer need to continually upgrade many workstations to meet the ever-changing OS’s minimum requirements.
  • Manages hardware costs: Rather than buying many PCs for your staff, VDI allows you to have access to premium hardware infrastructure complete with high-performance storage, UPS, power supplies, and high-bandwidth networking to deliver services for your company.
  • Enhances the security of informational assets: By reducing the volume of data exchanged, VDI can significantly protect the company’s informational assets.
  • Facilitates mobility: By allowing users to securely login to VDI from any device anywhere and have streamlined access to their tasks, VDI enhances the efficacy of employees from home.
  • Simplifies IT Management: One of the other biggest benefits of VDI is the simplification of IT management. Since everything is managed from a central location, hundreds of thousands of end-user devices can be maintained and troubleshot with ease, without the need to physically deploy IT administrators to do so. Additionally, setting up new employees is also easy as base images can be spun up to virtual machines in minutes, saving valuable time.
  • Offers more control: Since new users can be added or removed with the click of a mouse, IT departments can gain better control over who is using which application, and can also control application versions with ease.
  • Improves flexibility: VDI makes businesses more agile, allowing the easier setup of new VMs for development or test purposes or seasonal workers and contractors. Employees can use their chosen devices at work, without any compromise to the user experience.
  • Supports Remote Workers: The percentage and number of remote workers have grown exponentially over the past few years. Since the trend of remote working is surely set to grow over the coming years, there is an emerging need to support them. VDI helps companies support remote workers in a simple yet effective manner.

Benefits of VDI in 2022

As part of the ransomware market report by Cyber Security Ventures in 2022, it is foreseen that by 2031, ransomware costs will exceed $261 billion. It has become increasingly important to use VDI. With VDI, the corporate data is secured by moving it off from the end-user into a secure data center or cloud. This will reduce the chances of ransomware attacks significantly protecting companies from risking breaches.

Drawbacks of VDI

While there are numerous advantages to VDI, it does have a few drawbacks:

  • Procuring a VDI server can be costly for an organization. The initial costs of procuring a large server might be higher than just buying a basic PC for each user or upgrading existing PCs.
  • It may be challenging to manage when compared to a traditional workstation environment: Accommodating users who need unique apps or require personalized settings can result in image proliferation, making it more difficult to manage when compared to conventional workstations.
  • Employees can resist VDI deployment: Users have a tendency to resist initial technologies, especially if they are comfortable with their current systems. This can lead to the failure of VDI implementation.
  • Server-side failure can affect many users: In case there are problems with the server, every user utilizing the image is affected.

However, the benefits heavily outweigh the drawbacks, especially with all the security concerns on the rise. Having the ability to remove the burden of security from companies, making deployment easy with little hassle, while still increasing the productivity of their employees. It’s no wonder that VDI is increasing in its popularity.

The Purpose of choosing VDI

Organizations are looking to deploy VDI, meaning; they implement the ability to lower the cost of equipment by utilizing a single server to host multiple desktops for users. It also presents a secure platform that is available to users from anywhere and any device. VDI cuts down the total cost of ownership for many organizations, compared to traditional computing infrastructure.

VDI can simplify end-user support, lower licensing costs and help streamline management and backups. A few of its benefits include:

  • Save money on individual workstations/PCs by deploying thin clients
  • Monitor, manage and back up your virtual infrastructure centrally
  • Provide secure remote access from anywhere and any device
  • Reduce cost for multiple software licenses

What Are the Different Types of VDI?

Persistent VDI

Persistent VDI—also known as one-to-one VDI—provides each user with the ability to customize the desktop image. This allows the user to log in to the same desktop for each use. This VDI type allows full personalization to use their desktop workloads the same they would when using their computers. Here’s how persistent VDI works:

  • When signing in to the VDI environment for the first time, you are assigned a standard desktop from a resource pool.
  • When accessing the VDI environment for subsequent times, you get connected to the same desktop. The desktop retains all the changes in the VM even when the user restarts the connection.

Persistent VDI is appropriate for employees with complex and fast-paced workflows that want full personalization.

Non-persistent VDI

Non-persistent VDI—also known as one-to-many VDI—provides a single standardized desktop environment that reverts to the standardized base image once the user logs out. This VDI type is like a kiosk computer. Here’s how a non-persistent VDI works:

  • When you sign in to the VDI environment for the first time, you get connected to a randomized desktop.
  • When you log out of the VDI environment, VM does not save any changes related to your personalized settings. Nonpersistent VDI is suitable for users that don’t need to personalize their desktops.

VDI Meaning: How VDI Works

Deploying VDI means the organization has many users and wants to keep management central. In that case, a high-end server with two or more server-spec processors (expensive and multithread/core) and a massive amount of RAM (usually a minimum of 32 GB) along with a RAID storage filesystem take place.

Apart from the hardware server, a hypervisor is also required. Some of the common hypervisors used are VMware ESXi, Microsoft Hyper-V and Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM).

The vital component to creating a VDI infrastructure is virtualization software that runs on the server. Apart from providing the server with virtualization capabilities, the software must provide the capability to administer the application and desktop delivery to guest machines. Some virtualization solutions are cloud-based and require a monthly fee. There are also hybrid solutions that combine both on-premises and cloud-based components, depending on the organization’s demands or needs.

VDI and Parallels RAS

Whether you’re looking to shift or implement VDI in your infrastructure, Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) is an all-in-one virtualization solution capable of publishing both applications and desktops from most major hypervisors. Serve your employees and end-users with highly secure resources to any device of their choice, while keeping management central. Be it a Windows application such as Microsoft Excel or a CRM application like Sage, Parallels RAS will securely and instantly make it available to access on the go.

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