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What is VDI, and how does it support digital workspaces?

Here at ebb3, we help organizations make use of our technology specialisms. We can do this successfully when there is a bit of technological fluency or grasp of the systems and terms we use. This guide to VDI, therefore, is intended to provide an easy-to-understand overview of virtual desktop infrastructures as a commercial solution.

What is VDI?

VDI is the acronym for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. VDI is best defined as a software technology that allows end-users to launch software titles on a virtual desktop—which is run from a central server. It is also sometimes referred to as “desktop virtualisation.”

Brief History of VDI

The term Virtual Desktop Infrastructure or VDI was coined by a company named VMW back in 2002 – but it was not adopted by any major players in the software industry until around four years later.

In 2008, VMWare released Version 2 of their first VDI solution, followed by Version 3 a year later. In 2009, Version 4 was released, which included the use of iPoPC technology to connect to virtual machines and servers – rather than the RDP technology it had relied on previously.

In 2010, Version 4.5 was released, most notably giving users the ability to have tiered storage —as well as PCoIP optimisations and support for Windows 7.

How does VDI work?

TechTarget refers to VDI working similarly as server virtualisation, which is: “a process that creates and abstracts multiple virtual instances on a single server.”

A simplified way to look at it is to break it down into the relevant characteristics of VDI employments, which are as follows:

  • The virtual desktops live on a centralised server, within virtual machines.

  • Each individual virtual desktop has its own operating system image.

  • As the virtual machines are host-based, it is possible to have multiple versions of them housed on the same server within the data centre.

  • The end client must be connected to the centralised server to maintain access to the virtual desktops which are hosted there.

As long as the infrastructure is working as it should, the end-user should be able to manage their OS, applications and data through remote access – in the same way as if they were running it locally. This also means that employees can access all information they need from practically any device they own, without the need for any specific hardware.

Virtual desktops can also be run alongside the many cloud, mobile and web apps that the majority of businesses rely on these days meaning employees will have an experience that fosters increased productivity. Additionally, IT departments will deal with a reduced risk of unauthorized log-ins and avoid any silos.

Persistent vs Nonpersistent VDI Deployments

VDIs can bring many benefits to business, but the specific advantages will depend on the type of VDI deployment. The two main types of VDI deployment are:

#1 Persistent Deployment

  • The first time a user logs in, they are assigned a standardised desktop from the resource pool.

  • After that, every time they log in, they are given access to the exact same desktop.

  • All of the user’s changes will be saved in the virtual OS image, even if the connection is restarted.

Persistent deployment is therefore beneficial to businesses whose employees rely on fast-paced and complex workflows as it means they can easily pick up from where they finished. They also benefit from being able to personalise their desktop apps extensively, and so on.

#2 Nonpersistent Deployment

  • Each time a user logs in, they will be connected to a desktop, but it may not be the same one they were connected to the last time

  • None of their changes will be saved, even on restarting

Nonpersistent deployment is of use to those businesses with kiosks and task workers who don’t need to save anything, which can save on costs due to simplified data centre management.

What are the benefits of VDI?

The main benefits associated with VDI are:

  • Enhanced user mobility and remote access.

  • Offers employees an office on-demand with access to all the necessary apps and data.

  • Substantial cost-saving measure for IT departments as it removes the need for cutting-edge hardware, it can take place from a relatively thin end client or even a zero client and reduces the need for additional IT purchases.

  • Improved data security due to centralisation.

VDI is a vital piece of technology which has its uses in many different types of industries. It is also versatile enough to be used as both a highly personalized digital workspace as well as a standard, non-persistent desktop.

Please get in touch with the helpful team at ebb3 to find out more about how we can enable your digital workspace to take place from any device, anywhere.

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