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VDI Solutions: What are they and how do they work?

Technology is constantly changing and developing, but businesses are sometimes a little shy about investing in it. Take VDI solutions, for example. Many companies have been hesitant to invest in virtual desktops deployed in data centres preferring instead to continue to invest in physical products.

But this is changing.

What is VDI? VDI, or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, is the name given to the technology used to create a virtual desktop environment on a remote server. VDI technology segments the server into numerous virtual desktops which users can remotely access through the device of their choice.

A typical VDI implementation includes:

  • Server visualisation software hosting desktop software as a server workload

  • Session management software connecting users to their desktop environment

  • Tools to manage the provision and maintenance of the virtual desktop software

How does VDI work? In technical terms, the two main components of VDI are the hypervisor and the connection broker.

  • Hypervisor – detaches the physical hardware from logical operating systems allowing multiple virtual desktops to be served

  • Connection broker – software gateway connecting each user to their individual desktop, able to authenticate every user regardless of their choice of device

How are VDI desktops deployed? There are two main ways in which VDI desktops are usually deployed, and these are:

  • Persistent desktop – each user is assigned their own individual desktop which they can customise to suit their needs

  • Nonpersistent desktop – users access a pool of desktops to perform tasks as needed, they cannot be personalised to the user, but instead, revert to their original state after each use

Not only has the technology behind VDI services developed over the years, but the way in which it is deployed has also changed. In the beginning, many companies just tried to replicate what was on their desks through their data centre, which not only made the implementation of VDIs more complex than it needed to be but also very costly.

Nowadays, system networks are more than capable of coping with a large number of users accessing software through virtual networks. This has led to more inclusive working environments and flexible working patterns – which have come into their own in the last 12 months or so.

What do you need to consider when implementing VDI solutions? Determining what type of VDI service is right for your business will depend on the following factors:

  • Network speed – the faster network speeds available now are of huge benefit to organisations looking at VDI solutions

  • Storage – enterprise-grade storage is key to the success of VDI solution deployment as the desktop is hosted on a centralised infrastructure

  • CPU (Central Processing Unit) – this is also important as the virtual desktop is only as fast as the core processor which it is running on – it needs to be as fast as the user’s physical workstation CPU

  • GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) – GPUs can be a great way to free up CPU resources to speed up services, and therefore help power users (who may otherwise reject VDIs) to adopt them

One of the main things to consider, however, is the compatibility and portability of any applications you want to use i.e. can the applications your business relies on be used in a virtualised environment?

Some VDI vendors are trying to help with this query by offering their own hyper-converged systems, aka HPE converged, which they have formulated to not only bring core speed and storage to systems but network performance as well.

What are the components of hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI)? Hyper-converged infrastructures consist of two main components:

  • Distributed plane – delivers storage, virtualisation and networking services for guest applications (virtual machine or container-based) across a cluster of nodes

  • Management plane – sits above the distributed plane and provides the user interface for the provision and management of the hyper-converged infrastructure

What are the benefits of using HCI for VDI? The main benefit that companies find comes with using HCI for their VDI needs is the ease of scalability – but there are other benefits as well, namely:

  • Extra storage – eliminating the storage capacity issue that many find with traditional VDI systems, which can lead to a slowing in performance

  • Cost savings – mainly down to the reduced management costs associated with HCI

What are the drawbacks associated with HCI for VDI? The ease of scalability of VDI is also potentially a drawback as it can lead to:

  • Over-provision of one resource to meet the storage demands of another resource

  • Single thread workloads suffering due to performance offerings

  • Not a one size fits all requirement

With all that said, this is a really exciting time for VDI solutions and HCIs and it may just be the solution that your business needs to thrive. To find out more about VDI solutions and how ebb3 can help you get started today, please call 0203 8181 0000 or email us at

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