What Is VDI and How Does It Work?
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a technology that allows access to a desktop environment and its associated software from a remote device that is physically separated from the server on which it is hosted. This facilitates anytime anywhere access to resources, specifically the desktops and their applications as a service by subscribers.
Essentially, the server belonging to the solution provider is partitioned into several sectors, each of which acts like an independent desktop that can be accessed remotely from a subscriber’s device. These desktops run on Virtual Machines that are controlled using specialized software that can handle both the desktops as well as the user profiles for accessing applications installed on them.
Let us understand the benefits of VDI before delving deeper into what is a VDI and how it works.
Advantages of Using VDIs
There are more benefits of using VDIs than can be enumerated. VDIs have the potential to revolutionize the workplaces of the future. Here are some of the most important advantages of VDIs.
Anytime anywhere access
Virtual desktops can be accessed from literally anywhere with any device that can be connected to the internet. All it requires is a web browser, or in some cases, an application installed on the device to access the resources on the virtual desktop.
The importance of this capability cannot be understated especially at a time in which there is a global effort to empower remote and mobile teams. With virtual desktop computing, organizations can standardize workflows even when their employees are not on the same premises. It works exactly like your local physical desktop with the same look-and-feel.
Extended processing power
Can you imagine working on a heavy software like a video editor from a tablet? With VDI, you can use ‘thin clients’ to establish a connection with servers on which such software is installed and use an endpoint like a tablet with significantly less storage and processing power to perform the desired task.
Better resource optimization
The use of virtual desktops improves resource optimization at multiple levels. For starters, because the server is an asset whose capabilities are distributed among users, it reduces the overall operational costs for all stakeholders. While clients can use inexpensive devices instead of expensive servers for managing operations, the host can manage servers with greater predictability in resource utilization. The budget involved in procurement and operations is reduced consequently.
Advanced security and compliance measures
The contents of applications running on VDIs are stored on the servers on which they are hosted. The loss of devices such as laptops or phones will not lead to a corresponding loss of data on the VDIs so long as the credentials have been secured. Even then, because their access can be controlled remotely by admins, data is much safer on the centralized server with enterprise-level security implementations than local drives. Admins can even apply configurations, policies, and security updates specific to the desktop pools of the organization.
With physical drives, there are limitations on storage and processing power. VDI, on the other hand, is much more scalable horizontally and vertically. You can add more servers to the network for increasing the number of VMs or increase the space and processing power of an individual virtual machine. You can continue to enjoy sustained high performance and high availability of virtual machines regardless of the endpoint provided there is an uninterrupted internet connection.
Facilitates better productivity
Unlike a physical device, the backend operations of a VDI can be managed by the admins freeing up time spent by resources in activities like updating their systems, installing software, and running scans. Employees can use their personal devices of choice and may even have the flexibility of choosing the right configuration for their virtual machine for greater convenience. With the availability of regular back up, they need not worry about space constraints hampering their work. All these factors add up to improve the overall productivity of the workforce.
Components and Working Of VDI
The Virtual Desktop Infrastructure comprises of two major components. These components perform different tasks to ensure the availability of virtual machines to end-users.
Components of a VDI
The first is a software called the Hypervisor. The Hypervisor is a solution that enables virtualization for separating the Operating System from the underlying hardware. This allows the installation of multiple Operating Systems on the same server for each Virtual Machine along with its unique set of applications and configurations.
Additionally, it acts as a fail-safe against crashes which can now be restricted only to the VM that is affected without spillover of the effects to the others. Besides, the hypervisor also serves the purpose of connecting to multiple physical servers. With this capability, it ensures that the desktop instances are available on a backup server if the primary server fails.
The second component is the connection broker. The connection broker is the software that ensures the availability of the desktop instances to the assigned user. It performs user authentication, tracks the status of instances on a desktop pool, which is a collection of desktops and assigns them appropriately.
Additionally, there is another aspect of virtualization called application virtualization. This is a technology that enables the replication of an application image and VDI deployments to all virtual desktops in a pool. This software minimizes the need to repeatedly install applications on different virtual machines in the same desktop pool by replicating desktop images of a system with the applications installed on it.
This process of creating copies of a desktop is called cloning of which there are two types. While with linked cloning, the virtual disk of the master copy is shared among the clones with each desktop separately storing its data on the disk, the full cloning is a technique in which each of the cloned desktops works independently with separate disk space.
The Working Of VDI
A central server hosts virtual machines on which the virtual desktops run with each virtual desktop having its own copes of an Operation System and applications running on it. The host-based system makes it possible to run multiple instances on the same server. This role is delegated to the hypervisor that optimizes the resource utilization on a server by managing the number of active virtual machines on a server based on usage.
An interesting feature of this ability is that there can be more VMs than the server’s capacity as not all users will be operating their virtual desktops simultaneously. The connection broker identifies and allocates a virtual desktop from the resource pool where users can access the VDI environment. All the components work in tandem to ensure that there is consistency in user experience while facilitating a secure and convenient remote access to the endpoint device.
Accessing Remote Desktops
Now that we have seen how VDI implementation occurs, the next logical step is to find out how to access a remote desktop assigned to you. Most hosting service providers or admins would provide the steps you need to access your virtual desktop and it is recommended to follow them as it might be specific to the provider. Nonetheless, there are primarily two ways of accessing virtual desktops.
In the first case, you might need a client like Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Connection and Citrix Receiver that can be installed on your device through which you will access your remote desktop. You will be prompted to input the hosted desktop address provided by the hosting service along with your username and password while you are connected to the internet. This will establish a connection with the server on which your desktop is hosted, and you can start working remotely.
The other option is direct access through a web browser. In this method, your hosting service provider will include a link to a page on which you can enter the details to access your virtual desktop. This eliminates the need for additional applications for VM access and the role of the client is played by plugins running on the browser to enable connectivity.
How VDIs Are Modernizing Workplaces
VDIs are changing the face of industries around the globe in more ways than imaginable. From healthcare to education and IT professionals to field technicians, virtual desktops are digitizing workplaces at an unprecedented scale and speed by accessing information from client devices. VDIs are empowering remote and mobile teams by facilitating collaboration and streamlining workflows. Healthcare professionals can access confidential patient data securely while accountants can handle company files on software like QuickBooks remotely for better collaboration with peers.
Students can access their courses on desktops customized for their comfort while shift workers can transition in and out of their shifts with smoother handovers all because of virtualization. Most importantly, all these capabilities improve security and productivity while reducing costs simultaneously regardless of their industrial application.
VDI Solution for Your Organization
At a time when businesses are increasingly looking to pivot towards remote teams as a part of a broader agenda of becoming leaner and more agile, VDI is becoming a must-have tool in the business playbook. While there are several hosting service providers that offer persistent VDI as a part of their offering, Apps4Rent is proud to be a pioneer in the space with deep expertise and decades of experience.
Apps4Rent offers a wide range of VDI solutions from leading virtual desktop service providers like Citrix and Microsoft with its Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure. When you purchase VDI from us, you get the benefit of round-the-clock support, transparency with licensing, and simultaneous support for several devices. Additionally, you can save a lot more by simply adding more users to the existing virtual desktops rather than purchasing new ones.
Since 2003, Apps4Rent has been offering desktop hosting services at the best prices in the industry. Our SSAE certified centrally managed data centers are based in New York and New Jersey (USA) having the highest redundancy and security standards required by top banks and institutions. We offer 24/7 support via phone, chat, and email. Feel free to contact our agents now!