Desktop virtualization is the secure and economical way to IT resource management.
The concept of “personal computers” is illogical on an enterprise level.
For instance, on my home device, I observe the most I use is RAM (70%), and the rest of the resources (CPU, SSD) are basically overkill for my routine work.
This is a snapshot where I have 18 tabs open across two browsers, active Slack, and a few more dozen background processes, standard for any Windows PC.
You can see most of the hardware capabilities are sitting idle. As a writer, this is how my resource consumption looks for most of my work hours. The only exception is when I’m testing tools where these usage statistics significantly exceed this range, but that’s around 30-40% of the job.
Personally, I can do little to avoid this resource wastage if I do not switch to a cloud PC like Shell. However, as a business, you have a few more options instead of letting all that power sit idle in each one of your machines.
What is Desktop Virtualization?
This is a procedure by which a device is virtually divided among many users via software. The idea is to virtually partition a powerful server into many machines to give remote access to the end users via an internet connection. In other words, computing is “streamed” to the clients on their basic devices, such as desktops, tablets, or even smartphones.
At the endpoints, the users will work as they would on personally allocated devices. The only change is they won’t have complete physical access to an enterprise machine. Instead, they would be sharing resources with their peers, each on their individual units.
The number of “pieces” the server hardware can be split into depends on the underlying hardware capabilities and the client’s requirements.
In addition to being an economical way to resource allocation, this technique protects confidential company data from leaking through cyberscams. Besides, the employees remain free to bring their own devices and connect to the business network to get the work done. Finally, desktop virtualization also saves an organization from expensive hardware maintenance and upgrades.
This resource distribution has a few types based on how it works for the client and the provider.
Types of Desktop Virtualization
One can divide this into three categories:
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
Remote Desktop Services (RDS)
Let’s check out each one briefly.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
This is a traditional way of desktop virtualization where server computing is branched into small streams using technologies such as hypervisor. This helps in running many virtual machines on a single physical server.
Based on the hypervisor, there are two types of virtualization, hardware and software. Hardware virtualization is installed directly on the server and is the best way of resource management to ensure more performance and security. On the contrary, software virtualization sits atop the operating system and does not have direct control of the computing resources and, thereby, is less performant.
However, the primary objective remains to efficiently share resources, such as CPU, RAM, storage, etc., and maintain multiple virtual machines (VMs) as per the configuration.
With VDI, the end users can remotely use enterprise resources for accessing files, running applications and services, etc., from their personal devices (aka thin clients), which might be underpowered to execute those workloads on their own.
For instance, VMWare Fusion allows to remotely deliver Windows experience on Macs.
VDI is usually offered in two flavors: persistent and non-persistent virtual desktops. Persistent experience grants a remote desktop that remains “personal” to a user across sign-ins. A non-persistent desktop will not retain personalization after a sign-out, and the resources will return to their original state.
Remote Desktop Services
Microsoft-powered Remote Desktop Services is an even more efficient version of desktop virtualization with the highest possible density of users per server.
This is achieved when you avoid allotting full virtual machines to the end users. Instead, provide virtual access to specific applications which run from the enterprise data center or cloud. It suits where clients have their primary machines and need support only to run specific resource-heavy and/or data-sensitive applications. Here, multiple users share a virtual desktop running on a remote server.
This can be deployed in-house (Windows server) or in the cloud (Microsoft Azure, which is technically DaaS).
However, there is no clear distinction here, and the underlying Microsoft protocols also allow sharing full “personal” remote desktop experience as VDI besides the standard session-based virtualization.
DaaS can be both VDI and RDS. Just that you don’t do it on-premise and instead pay a subscription fee to a cloud provider for managing desktop virtualization.
Comparing it with the other two, this is the most flexible, scalable, and economical option to begin with. Specifically, this is preferred for startups with a low head count. In addition, this is a cost-effective option than buying enterprise server hardware in-house and deploying experts for management.
For starters, V2 Cloud offers a VDI subscription for SMBs, which comes with a 7-day free trial run.
How Does It Work?
A hypervisor is used to create a virtual instance that uses server resources. These VMs are generally isolated from each other and the supporting server.
This setup between the remote server and the end user is underpinned by the connection broker. This utility acts as a bridge between the two and manages user authentication, access management, etc. On the surface level, the connection broker is responsible for screen updates and transmits signals like clicks and keyboard strokes to the server.
Based on the type, things may slightly differ among VDI, RDS, and DaaS. For instance, VDI primarily depends on hardware virtualization, which is done on the physical host for the best possible performance.
However, RDS can have different protocols, depending on whether you prefer a remote desktop or just want to extend a few virtual applications. And DaaS gives you ultimate flexibility in opting for the best possible setup for your use case.
However, the principle behind these applications more or less remains the same.
Benefits of Desktop Virtualization
There are many ways in which one can take advantage of desktop virtualization, some of which are:
✅ Cost: This applies to all. Even for VDI, setting up the local infrastructure is more cost-effective than lending powerful machines to every user. RDS is even easier on the budget since a remote desktop is shared by many. Lastly, DaaS is best for startups to avoid excess financial burden upfront.
Besides the initial hardware cost, desktop virtualization is beneficial to minimize recurring hardware and software maintenance. There will be fewer devices to take care of and minimum staff to pay for.
✅ Security: This is another primary factor in choosing desktop virtualization. The evolving cyber threats mean it gets tough for any sysadmin to take care of every device in the business network.
In this case, central administration helps monitor the services and timely apply updates/patches. In addition, sensitive data will remain on company servers and not on employee devices. So, it won’t be an existential issue even if an employee’s device gets compromised.
✅ Management: Managing a number of devices is time-consuming. Especially employee onboarding and training are straightforward with central operations. In addition, it’s tedious to plan backups and recovery in case of any cyberattack. Having everything in company servers in those situations proves efficient and flexible.
✅ Accessibility: This is arguably the biggest advantage, especially when hybrid and remote work is the new future. Desktop virtualization ensures employees a uniform computing experience, irrespective of their location. They can be at the office or at home, but access to official data and powerful hardware remains seamless.
People are doing this all over the globe, and for good reasons. One of the major industries is (obviously) IT, where you need decently powerful devices for most employees.
In addition, call centers, computing labs, or any workplace with numerous devices can leverage desktop virtualization for cost efficiency, flexibility, and seamless resource management.
Hitesh works as a senior writer at Geekflare and dabbles in cybersecurity, productivity, games, and marketing. Besides, he holds master’s in transportation engineering. His free time is mostly about playing with his son, reading, or lying… read more