VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) is a server-centric computing model that borrows from the traditional thin-client model but is designed to give system administrators and end-users the best of both worlds: the ability to host and centrally manage desktop virtual machines in the data center while giving end users a full PC desktop experience.
How VDI works
VDI is usually a complex solution with server backend. There's a few components to it, primarily the following:
- virtualization host – one or more servers which host virtual machine (VM) images of virtual desktops
- connection broker software – often called connection manager or virtual desktop manager (VDM) – one or more servers managing requests from thin clients and software clients and bridging such requests to the pools of virtual desktops
Why use VDI?
Installing and maintaining separate PC workstations is quite complex and some steps like deployment of the physical workstation, networking and decommissioning of a desktop are largely manual and cannot be streamlined past a certain level.
VDI is a great way to simplify desktop provisioning due to automated tasks and virtual nature of the environment.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure provides many of the advantages of a terminal server, but (if so desired and configured by system administrators) can provide users much more flexibility. Each, for instance might be allowed to install and configure their own applications. Users also gain the ability to access their server-based virtual desktop from other locations.
Advantages of common VDI solutions
- Instant provisioning of new desktops
- Near-zero downtime in the event of hardware failures
- Robust desktop image management capabilities
- Normal 2-3 year PC refresh cycle extended to 5-6 years or more
- Ability to access the users' enterprise desktop environment from any PC (including the employee's home PC)
- Desktop computing power on demand
- Self provisioning of desktops (controlled by policies)
- Zero downtime in the event of client failure (VM keeps running on the host)