What is VDI and how it works? This refers to the process of using a centralized server to host desktop operating systems that enterprises can access remotely and through the cloud. Virtualization streamlines IT management by allowing end-users to interact with the OS as if the software is loaded on individual devices and computers.
There are two key components involved. The first is the connection broker that manages a pool of connections to shared resources, including virtual apps, virtual desktops, and server-based desktops. When a VDI client establishes a session with the connection broker, it directs the client to an available virtual desktop from the appropriate pool. Next, you have a hypervisor, which is the software responsible for creating and running virtual machines (VMs). In a virtual environment, it isolates a computer’s software, apps, and OS from the physical hardware, which the host machine then shares with several devices via an internet connection.
So, why use VDI? The platform delivers many business benefits, including:
- Centralized desktop management
- Data security
- Improved user efficiency
- Mobility and remote access
- Reduced costs of computing resources
Where Are We Headed?
Virtualization has come a long way in recent years. In this digital era, many enterprises are creating efficient and centralized business models by virtualizing entire user workgroups. Government, defense, education, finance, healthcare, research, engineering, and call center industries get to reduce endpoint footprint, roll out feature-rich apps, and deliver great user experiences.
The question is: has the platform offered everything it possibly could, or can we expect more from it in the coming years? Let’s have a look.
In the early days of the technology, users would have concerns about setups being capable of supporting only lightweight apps such as spreadsheets and word processors. Today, the best vendors are consistently upping their game to address complex workloads. For example, the ClearCube engineering team focuses on end-user needs in order to custom-craft innovative hardware and software management solutions that easily support graphically and compute-intensive enterprise assignments. Hence, working with the right service provider is very important, and for the right reasons.
Virtualization has been around for quite a while now and vendors are getting better at performance-tuning products and services to deliver the best results. Administrators now have better control over their infrastructure, especially when it comes to ensuring that users implement workloads that do not affect other virtual desktops. IT can also map virtual desktops running graphics-intensive intensive tasks to physical graphics processing units so that workers receive graphics performance equivalent to what they would expect from physical desktops.
Key takeaway: service providers are always on the lookout for ways to add more features to their offerings that deliver stability and consistent performance.
Initially, there were claims of virtual desktops costing at least five times more than physical desktops. Hence, only a select few companies were able to afford them, keeping SMBs out of the action. Moreover, if the platform showed great savings possibilities on paper, where did the money actually go during the roll-out process? It was eventually discovered that the amount of required storage majorly accounted for high expenses.
For example, if Company A intends to virtualize desktops, they will first take an OS, say Windows 7, designed for local storage. Next, they will place it on SAN, DAS, or NAS, and prepare for heavy disk I/O. The solution is to ask the vendor to provide storage for VDI client systems by going beyond SAN, DAS, and DAS. What other tools or techniques do they offer to optimize storage use and performance while providing value for money? Let’s take a case in point. Do they assist with deduplication if Company A’s IT department plans to utilize the storage for multiple copies of the same data (Windows 7 OS)? This method minimizes the storage capacity demands of a VDI deployment in a cost-effective way. Similarly, other affordable approaches soon followed.
Today, the cost of VDI has dynamically reduced, and the platform is expected to become even more accessible, owing to three factors:
- Friendlier Licensing Conditions
Customers seek straightforward ways to license projects as they will compare both technical and business benefits of VDI with conventional desktop deployment options like rich clients and session-based desktops. In any case, vendors should present clear, easy to understand licensing terms and offer excellent value so that opting for virtualization is worthwhile.
- Moore’s Law
This is the observation that processor speeds for computers can be expected to double approximately every two years because of increases in the number of transistors a microchip can hold. In the context of virtualization, it means that IT personnel can add more desktops per host server as the technology matures. For example, assume that the price of VDI was $600 per user in 2015. Now, the focal point in 2019 is not that one can adopt virtualization for 1/5th of its cost in 2015. Instead, the return of the $600 invested now is five times more valuable per user than what a business received in 2015. Simply put, one receives faster and better performance by putting in the same amount of money.
- Purpose-Built Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI)
HCI is a software-defined technology that virtualizes every component of traditional hardware-defined systems. It combines storage, compute, and networking into a single SKU to decrease data center complexity, boost scalability, and offer a unified management layer. HCI adds more value by focusing on data control and management. This helps businesses expand and gather analytics to track operations more efficiently, monetize current offerings, and make more informed decisions. They also get to reduce the amount of software required to execute activities and streamline integration processes.
Key takeaway: HCI lowers the cost of operational tasks in the long run by collapsing compute, storage, and networking into one piece of hardware. Keeping this in mind, virtualization is shifting to affordable software-based infrastructure that sees nearly every layer of the data center virtualized and managed by hypervisors. This system delivers components as a service and uses software to automate them, hence increasing business agility, flexibility, and responsiveness to ever-changing IT demands.
Application Experiences And Delivery
Enterprises benefit from richer application experiences, thanks to two key factors. Firstly, IT professionals have greater control over CPU, GPU, RAM, and storage resources at the data center level that enables more virtual workloads to be delivered with higher density. Next, the delivery method itself is more robust than ever before due to new types of policies that manage applications, user groups, network segmentation, and how resources are pushed to the VM.
If we compare this to past performance, dividing GPU resources was by no means simple. Today, administrators have complete visibility into how GPU resources integrate into virtualized desktops. Furthermore, powerful graphics cards allow IT to design GPU resource control plans that facilitate pass-through efficiencies and VDI graphics acceleration to address intensive apps/workloads. In this way, apps such as CAD/CAM/GIS can run smoothly in VDI environments.
Let’s talk about application delivery. The upcoming generation of application and virtualization will revolve around clientless delivery. With HTML5, we can now stream down entire apps and desktops directly to a web browser. This completely changes how we deploy endpoint devices and control resources. For example, schools and colleges can use low-cost Chromebooks while delivering students’ desktop images. Remote fieldworkers can utilize less expensive devices with end-to-end security as information is centralized and locked down at the data center.
Key takeaway: virtualization will continue to introduce lighter delivery models that are capable of supporting more device types.
Cloud Integration Support
A major reason for virtualizing IT infrastructure is to effortlessly support both onsite and offsite users. VDI allows organizations to realize this type of architecture via direct cloud integration. Let’s start by assuming that your hypervisor is the gateway to the cloud. It becomes easy to create private and secure connections between on-premise data centers or those residing in the public cloud. Also, you can introduce policies that enable the load-balancing of desktops and apps between internal and cloud scenarios. The best part is that this process will become even more transparent in the days to come. A single, independent portal that hosts VDI instances will deliver on-premises, hosted, and SaaS applications. As a result, workers will no longer need to access multiple portals for various types of apps, as is the case presently.
Key takeaway: VDI and cloud computing often go hand in hand. With cloud adoption on the rise, businesses now have the opportunity to take end user computing to the next level and deliver beyond the promise of virtualization. For example, deploying a cloud VDI solution is as simple as purchasing a regular PC. All you need to do is select a configuration that includes storage, memory, CPU, and the choice of a GPU. Next, deploy it in a cloud region nearest to your end users. You can even ask your vendor about the possibility of scaling horizontally across cloud regions. With flexible and scalable cloud-native VDI resources being more available these days, there is a lot you can do to find the solution that best matches your unique demands.
Monitoring And Automation
Incorporating automation like alerts, thresholds, and infrastructure into a VDI ecosystem is all the rage these days. Technologies offer granular controls over the complete virtual and software-defined infrastructure, introducing a proactive environment that effectively responds to resource bursting and new users coming on board.
Key takeaway: there are many smart tools and features to automate actions such as virtual desktop provisioning, monitoring, and image management. Such an advanced degree of automation enables enterprises to better accommodate employees and invest less time in overseeing the actual environment.
Virtualization has already helped many companies transform their IT systems to cut costs, regain control, and solve common infrastructure challenges. It only gets better with time, and we can safely say that the future of VDI technology is bright.
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