There are many reasons why customers are looking at Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI):
- User demands for “bring your own device” capability
- Mobile workers needing access to data while out-of-office
- The need to keep information secure
- Protection from mobile device loss or theft
- Retaining control over data and people
- Reducing the expense of software upgrades
- Sweating legacy PC assets
VDI is a compelling option for any organisation facing these challenges. The diagram below shows a simple VDI deployment for 100 users:
In this instance, all the customer’s business applications are also house on a cloud (e.g. virtual private cloud). Users themselves connect via technology known as a VDI connection broker. Up to 100 virtual desktop users can be online at any one time. Each virtual desktop is configured via a “gold master base image” containing the default configuration – e.g. operating system and applications like Windows and Office – with additional applications being available for selected users (e.g. Adobe Creative Suite).
A common objection with VDI technologies is “what do I do if I’m offline”, e.g. with a laptop on a plane. Most VDI solutions have an offline capability: the laptop switches into local mode and the user works on their documents offline. Once the connection is re-established, the virtual desktop syncs with the server.
Today, most VDI solutions support Mac, Windows or Linux devices and iPad or Android tablets. Users login via two-factor authentication (such as the well-known RSA SecureID dongles) for security. Even though the device itself may lack the capabilities of a desktop PC, the virtual desktop concept gets round this problem by separating the logical entity from the physical entity, thus allowing the users to access “their” desktop from any device through a replication “screen”.
Elasticity and Scalability
Like any cloud solution, rapid expansion and contraction is faster and more cost-effective with VDI. A typical scenario would be the need to recruit temporary staff for a specific project (e.g. a customer contract), for a specific campaign (e.g. a short-term marketing initiative) or for seasonal spikes in business volume (e.g. the Christmas period). Now, customers can increase their workforce by deploying, say, home workers using their own PCs, with VDI eliminating the need to buy/rent dedicated client hardware. Likewise, they can upgrade desktop software even if the physical PCs don’t support the new software load, saving them on hardware upgrade costs.
Regardless of whether virtual desktops are being accessed by company PCs in branch offices, by temporary workers at home, or by mobile workers on iPads, all the data is stored in the cloud provider’s platforms. This means that the VDI rollout can fit elegantly into the company’s existing data policies and compliance frameworks whilst still enabling the new ways of working that modern business and next generation employee demand.