What is VDI?

Virtual desktop infrastructure or VDI is a computing model that adds a layer of virtualization between the server and the desktop PCs.

VMware describes Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) as delivering desktops from the data center. In other words, VDI is where enterprise desktop computers are virtualized, moved to the data center, then presented over the LAN or WAN to the end users. Once VDI is used, typically the end user devices are replaced with thin-client devices.  I’ve worked with some thinclient devices such as the HP T5740

While VMware has a VDI product called VDM (Virtual Desktop Manager), VDI is not a product exclusive to VMware. Other VDI vendors include Citrix XenDesktop & Kidaro (now owned by Microsoft).

With VDI, virtual desktops are served by enterprise virtualization servers running products like VMware ESX, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Xen Server. With the addition of the VDI products, these desktops can be dynamically created, pooled & shared, or even accessed from a GUI menu, over a web page.

Here is a nice infographic regarding what it will take for VDI to take off.




1 thought on “What is VDI?”

  1. I guess short-term costs can defeat long-term goals sometimes still looking at that infographic, what those organizations have likely failed to realize are outlined below in manager terms (AKA: $$$).

    Frankly I can see huge savings through a *proper* VDI deployment beyond simply desktop hardware, which is replaced with storage hardware and server infrastructure, which of course should come in at lower cost over all.

    Saved time and man-hours on help-desk and administrative tasks due to a centralized and ubiquitous user environment. (No more nit-picking the differences between hardware models and software versions.)

    Simplified back-up solutions, with block-based back-ups and VSS/VSC and iSCSI, and every other storage advancement that’s been happening, you still can’t beat the advantage of having all your needed storage in one centralized location for back-up purposes.

    Simplified testing and roll-out environment, not that many organizations don’t already use some amount of VM in their test-beds, but with all desktops being VM, a completed test is a ready system, and again, a unified deployment environment means no quirks due to hardware changes between models or drivers that weren’t accounted for in the testbed etc.

    The biggest issue will be dial-in users who load their VM over the WAN, and their issues are more likely to stem from the stability of the VM client against their home system’s hard-ware and software environment as it is not explicitly controlled by the admins.


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