VDI Vs VM: What Are the Differences, and How Are They Related?

Virtualization technologies have been around for several years, but they have gained traction among organizations as demand for affordable, scalable and secure IT infrastructures soars. Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and virtual machine (VM) are industry terms most often used in virtualization.

A VM is a virtualized computing environment functioning as a traditional physical computer with its own CPU, memory, storage, and network interface. VDI, on the other hand, leverages VMs to provision and manage virtual desktops and applications.

What Is a Virtual Machine?

VDI vs VMA virtual machine is a file behaving as though it is a physical computer. A VM has its own CPU, memory, storage, and network interface and is akin to creating a computer within a computer. For example, a physical PC running Windows Server 2019 can host another VM or guest machine running a Linux system or macOS.

You need a hypervisor to emulate the physical hardware’s resources, including the processor, RAM, hard disk and network interfaces. A hypervisor treats the physical hardware’s resources as a pool that you can easily relocate between existing virtual machines or on which you can create new ones.

When you create a virtual machine, the hypervisor sandboxes it from the rest of the system. As such, you can also run multiple VMs, each running a different OS, on the same physical hardware simultaneously.

Each OS on a VM runs precisely the same way as it would on host hardware, so users’ emulated experiences are nearly identical to the operating system running on a physical computer. This makes VMs ideal environments for accessing virus-infected data, creating backups, running disaster recovery and testing other OSs, including beta releases.

What Is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)?

VDI is a desktop virtualization technique where you leverage VMs to provision and manage applications and virtual desktops. VDI hosts the desktop environments—including the OSs, applications and desktops—on servers in a datacenter and deploys them to end-users on request.

You can access VDI remotely from an endpoint and manage the OS, including the applications and files on it, as though they are running locally. This way, VDI can allow users safe access to corporate files and applications from virtually any device—including thin clients and mobile devices—and platform.

This contrasts with traditional IT infrastructures, where you utilize physical and portable personal devices to access computing resources. VDI leverages different components to present virtual desktops to users. Some of these components include the following:

What Are the Different Types of VDI?

Depending on your user needs, you can configure VDI as either persistent or non-persistent.

Persistent VDI

Persistent VDI—also called stateful VDI—is a virtual desktop infrastructure implementation where end-users maintain their personalized settings, store data and even configure instances that they can retrieve each time they log in. Because they allow full personalization, persistent VDIs act exactly as physical PCs.

They are popular in environments where end users are always the same—reporting to the same location and using the same workstation each day. You can also use persistent VDI if you want consistency and stability with long-term and full-time employees.

Non-persistent VDI

Non-persistent VDI—also called stateless VDI—is a virtual desktop infrastructure implementation where end users cannot retain their data and configure desktop instances because they get destroyed after each session. Since they don’t allow any personalization, you cannot get the same experience you would with a typical PC.

Non-persistent VDIs are ideal solutions for frequent one-time access scenarios for a homogenous end-user base. You can use them to quickly provision and manage virtual desktops for shift, task and kiosk employees who don’t need to save their desktop instances.

What Are the Benefits of VDI?

VDI is enticing to most organizations because it simplifies administration, enhances security and productivity, saves money and is highly scalable.

Simplified IT administration

VDI helps IT administrators manage all their assets via a central location. To deploy a new application, all you need is add it to the centralized desktop image. In a traditional IT architecture, you must deploy such an application—and then maintain and troubleshoot it—across multiple endpoints in the organization.

Besides, users don’t give up their endpoints during the update process. As such, their work is never interrupted.

Enhanced security

VDI allows organizations to enhance security because applications and desktops reside on a centralized server and not the end-user devices. When a device gets lost or corrupted, you can decommission it quickly to protect corporate data.

Lower costs

VDI consolidates computing power on a central server. This can help you reduce hardware expenses significantly because there is no need to buy expensive endpoints for your employees. Employees can leverage bring-your-own-device (BYOD) to access corporate applications and data securely, saving the organization vast sums of money.

Enhanced productivity

VDI empowers employees to work from any location via any device so long as they can connect to the internet. This flexibility allows them to collaborate and move the projects forward.

Better Scalability

VDIs can coexist with traditional IT infrastructures. Organizations can test various VDI options to find a platform and pricing scheme that best meets their requirements. Once selected, you can easily adopt those virtual desktops as quickly or slowly as you deem fit, allowing the current traditional infrastructure to reach its end of life before deciding to implement VDI fully.

How Does Parallels RAS Simplify VDI Management?

Deploying VDI can promote your bottom line only if you choose an ideal solution that meets your business requirements. Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) is an affordable, all-in-one VDI solution you can leverage to provision virtual desktops and applications to your employees.

It has exceptional server management capabilities, including simplified IT administration and security. You can create, scale and manage VDI workloads quickly via a single intuitive console. Parallels RAS supports virtually all the major hypervisors, including VMware ESXi and Hyper-V, offering the required flexibility to implement VDI.

Download your free 30-day Parallels trial today, and simplify your VDI management!