Understanding & managing VDI
(virtual desktop infrastructure)
Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is a term used to describe desktop virtualisation.
In VDI, a hypervisor segments servers into virtual machines that can host virtual desktops. Users can access these virtual desktops from any device or location, and all processing is done on the host server.
In other words, virtual desktops are secure computers that you can ‘stream’ from any device.
The technology isn’t new – in fact, they’ve been around since the nineties. But recently, they’ve enjoyed a huge boost in popularity since they’re such an effective tool for powering secure, convenient remote work.
How does VDI work?
The technology that powers VDI is complex, but the main thing you need to know is that your VDI performance, availability and security begins with your server.
Windows Server 2022 provides the ideal OS for optimising and securing your VDI thanks to its advanced, multi layered security.
Note that Windows Server 2022 Datacenter edition is for use in highly virtualised environments, and Windows Server 2022 Datacenter Azure edition runs either as an Azure virtual machine or on an Azure Stack HCI cluster. You can compare editions in this Microsoft article.
What does it offer?
Using VDI you can save costs and improve productivity while keeping your data centralised, and secure.
- Mobility and flexibility
users can connect to their virtual desktop, files and apps from any device or location with internet
- Greater security
in a VDI environment, data lives on the server rather than the end client device, protecting the data if the device is stolen or becomes compromised
- Centralised management
manage data, security and systems all in one place
- IT efficiency
IT can quickly deploy, patch, update or configure all the virtual desktops in a system
- Cost savings
it’s the server that takes the strain. This means users can access virtual desktops from their own devices, older devices, thin clients or even tablets reducing the need for IT to purchase new hardware
- Mobility and flexibility
How do I manage a VDI?
The good news is that you’ve got plenty of options for running and managing a VDI.
In our experience, the best VDIs are built around your IT teams capacity, and the performance your users need.
With that in mind – there are two main branches of VDI that most organisations consider, Hybrid and Managed (also known as hosted desktop virtualisation.)
Best for organisations that want more control over their environment
As the name implies, a Hybrid VDI is a blend of on-premise, public and private cloud infrastructures working in concert to deliver a seamless VDI experience.
Hybrid VDI benefits:
- Rapid scalability
Want to expand your VDI? With an on-premise infrastructure, you might spend weeks or months waiting for hardware to be procured and installed. With a hybrid VDI, you can expand as soon as you’re ready to
- Management simplicity
Access a unified desktop and application brokering environment to manage your entire VDI estate through a single-pane-of-glass
- Reduced costs
Only pay for the resource you use – no spend wasted
- Rapid scalability
Our friends at VMware have put together this useful set of Best Practices for Implementing VDI for anyone thinking about taking the next step in to VDI.
And the best hybrid VDI manager on the market is...
If you have, or are considering a hybrid VDI, then Microsoft's Azure Stack is well worth considering.
Azure Stack gives organisations flexibility across on-premises, multicloud and the edge. With Azure Stack, organisations can bring Azure services and capabilities into their environment of choice on vetted hardware available from approved vendors. This means you can enjoy the benefits of the Azure public cloud whilst still keeping sensitive data and information within your own data centre.
Build and deploy hybrid and edge computing applications and run them consistently across location boundaries with one of three Azure Stack options:
Azure Stack is a broad technology with the potential for multiple configurations and customisations. To help you get the most from it, our Platform Specialists offer Azure Stack consultancy-led design and deployment for your individual Azure Stack environment.
boxxe are one of the only approved vendors in the country for Dell Azure Stack hardware, supported by our Dell Titanium Partner Status. Our Microsoft Gold Partner status and expertise further positions us as experts able to deliver.
A great place to start when considering Azure Stack, or desktop virtualisation or even a new server is our FREE 3-stage Platform Assessment.
Have a chat with one of our specialists and using the information gathered, we'll build you a bespoke report with our findings and recommendations. Once you have it, it's your choice whether we help you with the next steps or if you start the work yourself. Either way, the report is yours to keep. No hard selling. Just great advice.
Hosted Desktop Virtualisation
Best for organisations with IT teams that are already stretched
VDI is great, but if you’re just starting out with cloud computing or if the budget just won’t stretch hosted desktop virtualisation is something to consider.
With hosted desktops, also known as Desktop as a Service (DaaS), your organisation’s virtual desktops aren’t connected to in-house servers. Instead, your DaaS provider manages network control, load balancing and resource provisioning for you.
This approach is attractive to a lot of organisations, since its often a much more affordable entry into cloud computing than VDIs. Instead of paying a substantial upfront cost to buy the required hardware or hire cloud specialists to manage a virtual infrastructure, organisations can access a modern, cloud desktop for a flat monthly fee.
With the correct setup, hosted desktops can stream to almost any other device. Also, depending on your needs, you can choose a specialised DaaS supplier for added advantages. Like boxxe, for example. With our Modern Desktop on Demand services, your cloud desktop would be managed by MoD-certified security specialists meaning that your sensitive data would benefit from added protection at no extra cost. Modern Desktop on Demand (MDoD) is a suite of services that gives the customer access to a fully managed secure desktop in the cloud that they could access from anywhere, at any time.
The boxxe MDoD utilises Microsoft’s Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD.) boxxe can scope, design and build the AVD platform for your organisation, then our highly trained engineering support teams can manage the platform going forward. You can even try before you buy with an AVD Proof of Concept from boxxe.
Find out what makes AVD great
boxxe can provide a turn-key hybrid desktop solution using Windows 365. With minimal set up or disruption, users can benefit from a loud desktop featuring Windows 10 or 11, perfect for Developers or Power Users on the go. Users can access applications that are local, in the cloud or in your own data centre, allowing great flexibility and simplified management.
Windows Windows 365 can be managed with Microsoft Endpoint Manager and secured using Azure Active Directory and Microsoft 365. boxxe’s skilled service team can support the provisioning, security and management of your Cloud Desktops for added peace of mind.
Technologies and terminologies
Desktop virtualisation is a generic term for any technology that separates a desktop environment from the hardware used to access it. VDI is one type of desktop virtualization, as is remote desktop services (RDS). RDS runs on a single server and users access it through a network connection, whereas with VDI each user receives their own virtual server. Check out our quick guide to desktop virtualisation to learn more and hear what makes a virtual desktop great.
Virtual machines or VMs are the technology that powers VDI. VMs are created by server virtualisation – partitioning a physical server into more than one virtual server by using a hypervisor. Virtual machines can be used for running a virtual desktop in a VDI environment.
Azure Stack is an on-premises implementation of the core software that makes up the public Microsoft Azure cloud. Bring Azure services and capabilities into your data centre on vetted hardware available from approved vendors. It provides organisations with an opportunity to modernise on-premise assets, develop cloud skills, and simplify – or hyper converge – infrastructure.
Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI)
Hyperconverged Infrastructure or HCI is a software-defined, unified system combining everything you would find in a traditional data centre – storage, compute, networking and management. With HCI you can build a private cloud, extend to public cloud or achieve true hybrid cloud.
Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)
Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) is Microsoft’s desktop and app virtualisation service, running on their Azure public cloud and delivering a complete fully-managed virtualised Windows 10/Windows 11 experience to users wherever they are.
Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD)
In 2021, Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) from Microsoft evolved to become AVD – Azure Virtual Desktop.
Desktop as a Service (DaaS)
Desktop as a Service is also known as hosted desktop virtualisation. DaaS solutions provide a virtualized desktop or Windows application experience to users, entirely from a remote hosted location such as the public cloud. DaaS eliminates the need for businesses to purchase the physical infrastructure associated with VDI, instead functioning through subscription and usage-based payment structures.
Finally, as always, if you'd rather speak to a specialist to learn more about VDI instead of read articles or watch videos, we're here for you.
We're proud to hold top-level partnerships with Microsoft, Dell Technologies and VMware, so you can trust us to support you with all your infrastructure challenges and developments.
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