What is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure?
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure or VDI is the underlying IT architecture that is deployed, on site in your own offices or with a hosting partner, to support a hosted desktop solution for your business. The service is fully dedicated to you as the single end-user organisation.
One of the major reasons businesses choose VDI is that it provides a centrally controlled homogeneous experience across a wide range of endpoint hardware solutions. Think of using a desktop at work, a laptop at home and an iPad on the train and you can see that you will have three totally different environments all potentially attempting to use the same business resources. Using VDI means that each user sees the same corporate desktop regardless of what platform they are viewing it on.
With no data on the client devices, VDI provides a secure yet normal looking computing environment and allows secure access to the corporate desktop environment for users when they are outside the office. Plus, if there’s an emergency and you need your users to get to work quickly at an alternative location, they can login from whatever device they have with them.
This article will explain how a VDI solution can lead to simplified corporate device management, enhanced security, increased protection against data loss, and can enhance productivity.
Why use a virtual host?
There are four main reasons for a business to consider Virtual Desktop Infrastructure: Management, Security, Mobility and Cost.
Managing all of a company’s desktops can be a real burden. Each desktop needs to be set up with individual specifications and the hardware needs to be monitored and upgraded as necessary. In contrast VDI gives the IT manager control over all users’ access to corporate data by centrally managing their experience across multiple devices. Changes can be made very quickly – within seconds updates can be made to all desktops using the virtual infrastructure.
With VDI all of the above can be achieved while ensuring that the user experience is safe and secure. All the virtual desktops are compatible with all your corporate computer programmes and applications, as well as being compliant with company and industry regulations that you have to adhere to.
VDI solutions are normally hosted on high performance servers which are kept behind a strong firewall and monitored 24/7 by the provider. They can be much more secure than non-VDI based architecture because of the ability to have central control and set strong security policies. If someone leaves your organisation you simply terminate their access so there is no risk of data loss.
VDI is a flexible technology that allows your business to adapt to changing circumstances more quickly. Employees are able to access their desktops from any place, at any time, securely. If you have staff who work abroad, it allows them to tap into your corporate computer system without having to configure and set security controls for each of their individual PCs or laptops. With compact messaging between the client and the host machine, documents can be shared and worked on without huge files being transferred between users.
It’s not hard to work out that cost benefits can follow. Reduced spend on expensive hardware; reduced spend on processing power; and reduced spend on monitoring and management.
DaaS, an even better solution?
With the propensity of staff to use a combination of office owned and their own devices, not every business wants just one type of solution. Desktop as a Service (or DaaS) allows you to choose different deployment models to meet your operational requirements.
DaaS offers a VDI solution that is hosted by a third party service provider, usually on a monthly subscription basis. It provides a multi-tenancy architecture that serves a single instance of an application to multiple users or tenants.
The provider manages the virtual infrastructure such as network, servers, desktops and hosted applications while the business decides what level of security it wants. And because the data is not stored on the users’ local device, all data interaction is done in a secure cloud environment.
Businesses that can benefit from DaaS include smaller to medium sized businesses who can’t afford the full-time IT administration required for VDI and start-ups or companies where there is likely to be regular turnover of staff. As a company grows DaaS allows it to scale the solution easily for new users.
Pick the Right Virtual Desktop for Your Business
Replacing physical desktop systems with a virtual desktop infrastructure requires a different approach to protecting the corporate data it contains. If there is a problem with the VDI it could potentially leave all your users unable to work, rather than just the one whose desktop has failed in a physical setup.
Data protection, backup and disaster recovery are therefore important issues that have to be addressed. User data, databases, master images, and other files need to be backed up regularly. Ideally this should not require additional time or expense compared to more regular backup.
Each VDI system has its own vendor-recommended backup method. So each element of the infrastructure – the virtual infrastructure itself, the desktops, and the user profiles – must be backed up according to the vendors’ recommendations. In iomart’s case our hosted desktop offering is based on VMware Horizon View. We keep backups of all control and management information and use storage replication to keep a DR copy of all end user content and configurations. This allows us to restore services to a different data centre should the primary DC fail.
A secure VDI solution allows your workforce to access your corporate systems in a controlled, managed and protected environment. Staff get everything in the same place on their home screen no matter which device they are using. With no data hosted on the actual device employees are using, it makes it much easier for the business to comply with regulations such as PCI and HIPAA.
Since all desktop environments are hosted centrally, updates are easier to manage and less time consuming. And if a device happens to fail, staff can get back to work quickly on another one.
It’s estimated that for every pound spent on the hardware for a regular office desktop, approximately 3x more is spent on managing it. On top of that, there’s also the routine maintenance needed to keep everything running and the time spent customising each desktop to the individual user.
iomart’s desktop solution is a centralised and managed desktop service that will help you reduce costs and transform the way your employees work. By virtualising the desktops and hosting them in one of our secure data centres, you can customise and manage all the desktops being used in your organisation in one place. You can integrate everything from financial software to CRM systems, enabling your staff to access all their business applications. It is delivered through a simple and transparent billing model which charges per user per month and is hosted in secure ISO accredited data centres and includes 24×7 monitoring and support.