What is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)?

VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) refers to a workplace environment that allows employees to access an organisation’s applications and services from anywhere. It has become the most cost-effective way for IT departments to manage the security and infrastructure requirements needed to keep a business running.

Virtual data centre

In this VDI environment, IT managers create a virtual data centre and deliver organisational data, applications and desktops via the internet as a service to users. All processing is done on a host server.

Access from anywhere

Users access the virtual desktops from any device and any location, but to continue working, the end user needs to remain connected to the server. A connection broker regulates these connections, acting as a gate between users and servers. This intermediary is software-based and verifies credentials and controls entry.

Because multiple VMs can be housed on the same server, the number of virtual desktops in some VDI environments can reach the tens of thousands, all humming busily at once.

How does VDI work?

Virtual desktop infrastructure works via virtual machines that are controlled through centralised management software. Essentially, a VDI is a remote server setup where the servers are segmented into virtual machines (VMs). A hypervisor creates, runs and manages multiple host machine VMs that contain the virtual desktop environment. These virtual machines host a virtual desktop operating system, with each virtual desktop containing an image of the operating system.

What are the benefits of VDI?

VDI offers a number of advantages over maintaining a single location workplace.

Using a VDI means that an enterprise is consolidating resources on a host server. As users place demand on that infrastructure, the virtual network enables more efficient use of those resources. As a result of this improved efficiency, IT departments can scale hardware requirements and purchasing.

In addition, because VDIs provide for centralised management, IT departments can patch, update and change the entire group of virtual desktops all at once. This drastically reduces the effort required and makes disaster recovery much simpler.

Another benefit lies in a VDI’s inherent accessibility. Users can connect via any device from any location, which makes access to company files, applications and services much easier. This enhances productivity and user experience.

Perhaps most important of all, because the applications and devices remain segregated, VDIs help businesses to lock down all data and maintain complete confidentiality. If a device is ever compromised, the IT department can simply deactivate the unit to prevent an unauthorised user from gaining access.

In brief, transitioning to a VDI solution allows a company to:

  • Control costs
  • Maintain security
  • Transition seamlessly between workspaces
  • Ensure consistent productivity
  • Optimise facility usage
  • Scale hardware

How is a VDI successfully implemented?

When implementing a VDI solution, it’s helpful to focus on the service being provided and not entirely on the desktops themselves. Users need to know what VDI will do for them and understand it so usability will be strong.

Consequently, it’s a best practice to start the project by seeking to understand the end users’ needs. Do some users need graphic-heavy applications? That will require a different configuration. What level of efficiency does a user need, i.e. instantaneous results or a more measured return of information? That will affect the built-in computing power.

The network itself also needs to be prepared. That means evaluating network volumes for peak use times and demand changes so capacity can be more accurately estimated.

It’s critical to ensure each desktop is provisioned to handle the highest level of resources that it has historically consumed. Total power performance for the total number of users also affects the capacity designed into the VDI.

Lastly, running a pilot to test and retest the setup will ensure that the design works flawlessly.

How do different industries deploy VDI solutions?

By implementing modern VDI solutions, organisations can reduce IT costs, simplify data and services management, and increase storage and application efficiency, all while adding a significant number of remote desktops. Nearly any type of enterprise can benefit from installing new VDI systems, but here are a few good examples:

Healthcare: As healthcare evolves, the sector has seen increasing multimedia requirements for simulations and video-conferencing with patients. Often the existing VDI solution in hospitals delivers insufficient graphics performance and the centralised and complex data centres are severely compromised when used intensively. Current VDI solutions provide networks of mobile, high-performance workstations that combine the benefits of centralised IT with the performance of dedicated hardware.

Manufacturing/Retail: Major manufacturers and retailers conduct business across continents with thousands of employees. Previous VDI solutions proved unstable, with file server capacity shortages, weak backup and poor business continuity. New VDI infrastructures operate much more reliably and offer high-speed backup/restore functions, as well as a tool that automates failover/failback operations in the event of a disaster.

Utilities: Power companies must run constantly over remote distances, which can lead to connectivity problems, system latency and lost productivity. To overcome these issues, utility providers can revamp their IT ecosystems with VDI solutions that provide 24/7 data and application availability with seamless scalability and centralised management.

Education: After a huge jump in remote education demands, many large schools struggled to support enough concurrent student desktops. By implementing a modern VDI setup, schools can dramatically increase storage, server capacity and application availability so students can use the flash-based and CAD/CAM web applications and 3D animation suites that are required for efficient remote learning.

Rapidly deploy VDI with HPE

HPE offers a broad portfolio of secure virtual desktop infrastructure solutions that support a variety of architectures to handle your workloads. Designed for Citrix and VMware® environments, HPE offers a choice of traditional rack servers, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solutions, composable solutions and even support for bare-metal VDI. Our solutions for VDI platforms support:

Small- to mid-sized businesses: You can start small, scale incrementally and expand as your needs change with HCI and disaggregated HCI solutions from HPE.

All businesses: Many large organisations opt for a composable solution.

HPE provides rack-based form factors backed by centralised storage, which is a more traditional approach to VDI.

Resource-constrained environments: If you require high levels of system responsiveness, you can use HPE’s hosted desktop infrastructure (HDI) solution that provides a physical one-to-one resource.

Graphics-intensive workloads: You can use HPE platform options that include NVIDIA® vGPU technology to address a wide range of VDI with the security, performance and manageability you need.

HPE also offers assistance with planning and mapping out strategies to build the right VDI solution for you. HPE Pointnext can advise you on IT readiness, help you streamline your VDI deployment and guide you in simplifying and optimising your IT operations. We can even provide global consulting, financial, educational and other services, including emergency remote working solutions with HPE VDI on the cloud and 24/7 support if that suits your needs.

Partnering with HPE means your agile workplace is designed with industry-leading VDI technology and partnerships, backed by experience, expertise and as-a-service delivery to enable your remote workforce.