Have you been wondering what exactly VDI is, and why IT keeps recommending it? VDI stands for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, and just in case you’re really lost – IT stands for Information Technology. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, in short, untethers the whole desktop complex (operating system, apps, saved files, preferences, and security profile) from its physical home in various devices, whether they be PCs, iPads, androids, laptops, etc.) and anchors it in a virtual hub that runs on a centralized server in a data center. This enables and empowers users (and managers and agents) to access their programs and files from any device that’s connected to their network.
It’s not hard to imagine what a radical move this is. It can be a game changer for a business’s efficiency, flexibility, and cost savings, not to mention culture and connectivity. Building on the client/server architecture, VDI can lead to financial relief in both capital and operational expenses (CAPEX and OPEX). One can also imagine savings in these areas being redirected to foster employee satisfaction through greater flexibility in scheduling and the option to work from home.
Desktop virtualization has two possibilities. The virtualization can be sourced at the host (i.e.: data center) through a single image being transmitted to all users, also known as a “thin client,” or at the host through multiple images to users. This is also known as the difference between “persistent” VDI and “nonpersistent” VDI.
In the persistent VDI frame, every user has his or her own desktop – sometimes referred to as a 1:1 ratio. Nonpersistent desktops, on the other hand, are many-to-one, or shared among end users. Each one has its pros and cons in terms of storage, supervision, and personalization.
With persistent VDI, every desktop is driven by a separate disk image. The user’s preferences are saved and show up each time at login. Obviously, this system accommodates more customization; however it also demands more storage and backup, though recently, there are more products and features on the market that address these concerns. Persistent VDI is generally interpreted as more user-friendly since its setup most resembles that of a physical desktop.
With a nonpersistent desktop, a user’s settings or data are not saved once they log out. When a session ends, the desktop returns to its initial state. It’s simpler for administrators to edit and fine tune the image, not to mention back it up and send it out, since all nonpersistent desktops are products of one master image. The downside is that users can’t personalize their own desktop settings or add applications. The upside is this arrangement does make the image more secure and less heavy in terms of storage.
There’s no doubt that VDI is a new and exciting development. It has already begun to be put into application by a few major companies such as HP, IBM, MS, VMvare, Citrix, and SUN. Also, Smarkassen, the German savings banks’ financial group, enjoyed great success with it – launching over 100,000 thin clients with VDI. Though new, there is enough data to suggest that it is a solid tool for businesses to engage.