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What is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)?

By Harold Bell

We’re all familiar with the traditional desktop computing experience. Walk to your desk, press the power button, and wait for the processor to do its thing. Before long, the operating system kicks in gear, a wallpaper appears, and application icons slowly load on the screen. At this point, you can access all of your native applications, files, and web browsers. This is life in the physical desktop world. And for one person. This isn’t sufficient or scalable for enterprises, government agencies, or educational institutions. And thus VDI, or virtual desktop infrastructure, was created. In this blog, we’ll simplify what virtual desktop infrastructure is, how to deploy it, and how to learn more information about VDI.

First and foremost, the reason deploying physical desktops doesn’t work for large groups is because frankly it's too expensive. Let’s take Wells Fargo for instance. They employ over 250,000 people. And given their industry, its safe to say that the majority of their employees use computers. Now imagine that Wells Fargo needs to supply each employee with a physical computer. One that is equipped to run specific software and have secure access to specific files. Could you see how this is adding up quickly as you think about the sheer volume? And what about updating the workstations? I can only imagine how much of a headache this could be for a design firm. Which is exactly the wall schools are running into with keeping their computer labs current. So what is an alternative?

Virtual desktop infrastructure, or VDI, emerged as a cost-effective alternative for organizations in this predicament. The desktop operating system is removed from the local computer and placed in a cloud hosting data center. Instead of applications and files being accessed natively, everything is accessed from the data center. How does this play out in real life? Well with a thin client of course! But what is a thin client?! Glad you asked. A thin client is essentially a desktop PC that’s missing all of the features typically found on the desktop PC. Like the memory, data, and everything else that’s useful. Basically a fanless desktop terminal with no hard drive. The key here is that the investment in computing hardware is exponentially smaller.

When deploying an application and desktop virtualization solution, with traditional infrastructure you have to size the infrastructure for future business growth even though your budget may be constrained by current workforce size. Indeed, agility is one setback to deploying virtual desktops on-premises on traditional environments. But nevertheless, that doesn’t negate the innumerable benefits offered by VDI. Deploying virtual desktops can also be achieved via the cloud. This approach is more elastic and may be better served for organizations that have embraced BYOD. But you can get more info about that route here.

In conclusion, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and application virtualization has enabled enterprises to mobilize their workforce, improve productivity, and protect business-critical data. Unfortunately enterprises struggle to reduce the overall costs and complexity of their data centers, and from these traditional implementations. Download the Definitive Guide to VDI on Hyperconverged Infrastructure to see how Nutanix can manifest application virtualization with streamlined management and excellent user experience.

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