The Complete Guide: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

By: Microtek Learning

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The novel technology that is developed to host desktop environments on a centralized server is called Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). VDI deploys this service to end-users according to their customized requests. In simpler words, it is a kind of desktop virtualization where a specific desktop image runs with VMs (Virtual Machines) and is delivered over a network to the end clients. Those endpoints can be any device like thin client terminals, PCs or tablets, etc.

Overview

The term “Virtual Desktop Infrastructure” was originally coined by VMware and since then it has become a tangible technological acronym. The notion of delivering desktops and virtualized applications to the users falls under the category of End-User Computing (EUC). Though, windows-based VDI is the most common workload in the technological landscape, but Linux Virtual Desktops can also be considered as an option.

Depending upon the organization’s configuration, the user’s access to the VDI can be determined. It can also range from requiring the user to choose the virtual desktop and then launching it to the automatic presentation of the virtual desktop. Once the user has access to the virtual desktop, it takes prime focus but the feel and the look are that of a local workstation. The user can then select an appropriate application to perform their work on.

How does Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) work?

In VDI, a part of hypervisor servers into VMs (virtual machines) will, in turn, host virtual desktops. Users can access these virtual desktops from their personal devices and location but, all the processing would be done on the host server. By making the use of a connection broker (a software-based gateway that works as a liaison between the server and the user), users can connect their desktop instances.

In all the deployments related to VDI, the following features apply:

  • Virtual desktops stay within the Virtual Machines on a centralized server
  • Each Virtual Desktop Infrastructure would include an operating system image
  • VMs are host-based, meaning numerous instances of them can stay on the same server with one data center
  • To maintain access over the virtualized desktop it is hosting, end clients must be continuously connected to the centrally managed server
  • VDI execution’s connection broker is developed to find a virtual desktop inside the resource pool for every client. This is done to connect to get thriving access to the VDI environment
  • VMs are designed to encapsulate an individual virtual desktop environment

In today’s digital workspace, applications and files can be accessed on-demand. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure is developed to facilitate convenient and secure remote access that will help to boost the productivity of the employees.

How to implement the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure?

Organizations should consider implementing VDI in an HCI environment because its scalability and high performance are organically for the resource needs of the VDI. The best practices to follow during the VDI deployment are:

  • Preparing the network: Since the performance of the VDI is linked closely to the network performance, it is necessary to know the peak usage times and to determine the demand spikes to ensure sufficient network capabilities.
  • Avoidance of under-provision: Capacity planning should be done by making the use of a performance monitoring tool. This will allow you to understand the resources which each virtual desktop consumes.
  • Understanding the needs of the end-user:  Can your users work from generic desktops or do they need to customize their desktops? What are their performance requirements? You need to provide the setup differently for users who just need access to the internet versus those who want to use graphics-based applications.
  • Performing a pilot test: Testing tools are provided by most of the virtualization providers so that you can run a VDI deployment beforehand.

Why should you choose VDI?

Although VDI is a bit complex, still it offers numerous benefits to its users like mobility, flexibility, etc. Take a glance below:

  • Remote access: Irrespective of any location or device, VDI users can connect their virtual desktop from anywhere. It makes it easy for the users to get access to all their applications and files and they can also work remotely from any corner of the world.
  • Safety: Data lives on the server in a VDI environment. This safeguards the information even if it is stolen or compromised at the endpoint device.
  • Centralized management: The Information Technology department can easily configure, update, or can even patch all the virtual desktops in a system through VDI’s centralized format.
  • Cost-efficient: Since the processing work is done virtually, consequently the hardware requirements are much lower. Users can access the virtual desktops from tablets, thin clients, older devices, etc.

Persistent VDI and the Nonpersistent VDI

In the persistent VDI, a user will always log into the same desktop image where all the changes in the data and the applications will retain. This will allow space for full personalization. Following is the way in which persistent VDI works:

  • A standardized desktop is assigned to the user from the resource pool when the first time they log on.
  • Every time after that, they can access the VDI environment. They all are connected to the same desktop where all the changes will be retained in the virtual operating system image even after the connection is restarted.
  • For workers with a fast-paced and complex digital workflow, extensive personalization of the setting and virtual apps of the desktop is provided.

In contrast to the aforementioned features, nonpersistent VDI works in the following approach:

  • The end customer might be connected to the same desktop or from a random one from the resource pool.
  • In either of the above-mentioned cases, upon restarting, no changes will be saved.
  • In a nonpersistent VDI, the implementation is suited to one-off access to a desktop and not to use a virtual desktop.

The IT department does not have to maintain a large number of OS images that are customized because nothing is saved once the connection is terminated. This will allow a simplified data center management and will also reduce the costs. Nonpersistent will also streamline the management of devices for task workers who don’t save anything while working.

Difference between VDI and Desktop Virtualization

A generic term, desktop virtualization is any technology that will separate a desktop environment from the hardware that is used to access it. It can be executed in numerous ways, for instance, Remote Desktop Service (RDS), in which users can connect to a shared desktop that works on a remote server. Whereas VDI is a type of desktop virtualization. It is an alternative to other types of virtual desktop delivery that incorporates hosted shared solutions.

Difference between VDI and Virtual Machines (VMs)

The technology the backs up and powers the VDI is Virtual Machines. Created exclusively by dividing a physical server into multiple virtual servers, VMs are software machines that can be used for a number of applications.

Relation between VDI and Digital Workspaces

Application-driven, digital workspaces are straightforward and secured. Within them, you can enjoy access to numerous applications. An economical and reliable VDI solution will help in scaling key services and applications to today’s increasingly remote and mobile teams. VDI is developed to deliver a consistent experience across all devices including smartphones, tablets, PCs, etc. They offer a high degree of freedom to contractors and employees in terms of their working experience. It allows a more unified and streamlined workflow.

Limitations of the VDI:

Here are some potential limitations of the Virtual Private Network:

  • Low user-experience: If sufficient training is not given to the users, then, it can lead to a lot of confusion. For instance, if a user makes an attempt to save a file, they may search it in an incorrect location. Hence, this would require additional requests to find the missing files.
  • Extra costs: With VDI, storage for the applications, operating system, data, and settings for every single user must be available in the data center. Therefore, this requires large workload capacity needs, and the cost to fulfill them might go out of budget.
  • Intricate infrastructure: To work flawlessly, VDI requires several components. If any back-end part faces an issue, then users won’t be able to set up a virtual desktop connection. While details related to system issues and forensics are offered by the VDI, large environments require third-party monitoring tools to ensure productivity that will further add to the cost.
  • Dependence on the internet:  Users cannot access the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure without a network connection or with poor or weak connectivity. This means, no network= no VDI session.
  • Additional IT staff: To support a VDI environment you require staff. In addition to maintaining and recruiting qualified IT professionals, ongoing turnovers can be challenging.

Not only VDI is developed to reduce the overall costs but it will improve cybersecurity. VDI’s centralization and isolation is a pivotal aspect in offering multilayered security in today’s era where data breaches have become common and costly. It also spares from the complications of IT and from sensitive data being stored locally on the devices of the client.

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