End-user management and support is presently one of the most resource and time-intensive activities in today’s digital age. As such, many IT departments are slowly considering implementing virtual office environments with hundreds, or thousands of virtual desktops in operation.
This comes as no surprise as today’s intricate Information Technology (IT) environments, demand the minimization of costs, better performance, reduction of downtime, and more efficient utilization of resources.
Virtual desktops are essentially preconfigured images of operating systems and apps where the desktop environment is effectively separated from the physical device employed to access it.
In practice, different users can access their individual virtual desktops remotely over a secure network. As such, any end-point device, like a laptop, smartphone, or tablet, can be utilized to access a virtual desktop. So, in practice, the virtual desktop provider basically installs client software on the end-point device, then the user interacts with that software on the device.
Consequently, employees can access their work computers remotely, with the OS and data stored on a network that can be located anywhere using unique log-in credentials.
Overall, a virtual desktop resembles and feels like a physical workstation. However, the user experience is typically better than a physical workstation due to powerful resources, like storage and back-end databases being readily available. Though users may not be able to save changes, or permanently install applications, depending on the virtual desktop configuration.
Generally, the beauty of virtual desktop technology is that there are different ways to set up a virtual desktop. Typically, standard computers are best run through a Desktop as a Service (DaaS), but portable hardware like iOS, Android, or Chromebook devices can best benefit from virtual desktops.
Despite each system delivering different advantages and purposes, changing between multiple disparate operating systems can be cumbersome. Essentially, lowering productivity each time an employee wants to switch devices to perform a specific task. However, with a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), this task can be seamless across different devices.
Fundamentally, a virtual desktop behaves in a manner similar to a traditional desktop. Ideally, your software programs, history, and personalization settings stay wholly intact and appear just as you’d left them at a day’s end. When you are done working on a project, simply save as you normally would, and the files shall be kept in a folder within a virtual server, accessible whether you are at the office or remotely located.
To achieve this, remote servers employ software referred to as a hypervisor to simulate the user desktop. This technology essentially enables the server to run multiple instances of the same operating system. As such, it’s perfect for sharing work between multiple devices. Or even a workplace setting with multiple different users coming and going from the office. Importantly, the hypervisor stores the system’s memory, processor, and other critical aspects of the operating system, effortlessly juggling different users with ease.
With this virtual desktop type, only one instance of an application or OS is hosted on a shared server.
2) Client-side Hosted Virtual Desktops
With these virtual desktops, virtual machines are positioned to run atop the OS, allowing anytime access, anywhere.
3) Client Hypervisors
With this virtual desktop type, a client maintains a hypervisor directly on their desktop, allowing them to run multiple virtual machines concurrently.
4) Operating System Provisioned Virtual Desktop
With this virtual desktop type, the OS is sent to either a virtual machine in a data center, or a machine on a physical desktop. For each case, a constant connection to the data center is necessitated, therefore laptop use isn’t recommended, and actual desktops may need substantial hardware support.
Here, the virtual desktop isolates the application from the user’s operating system, running them completely independently. This separation essentially allows for a variety of apps to run on the same platform, simultaneously without interfering with each other.
As we sought to answer the question of what is a virtual desktop, we found that the key aim of virtual desktops is to better manage workloads by transforming traditional computing to be more scalable, efficient, and economical. Virtual desktops are quickly being adopted by organizations and the academic community due to their ability to offer a reduction of investment outlays and operating costs.
So, as you consider a virtual desktop, be sure to remember the following benefits it could purpose to your business:
A curated newsletter about the world of IT, tech and cloud computing