Have you felt how wasteful it is to spend money on 10 machines when you could spend the same money on a server and get the same, or more, capacity?
Ever worked some place where you couldn't get a RAM upgrade, but the boss' system got retired every three years like clockwork? Or waited around for a couple of days for that new system you can see on the other guy's desk? Or working on a machine that is five years past its prime, but the new hire gets a shiny new machine with all the extras?
Have you misplaced your work laptop or phone with all sorts of proprietary information on it? Have you lost months of work because your computer is not part of the backup system?
Theoretically, VDI is here to solve these problems.
What is VDI
VDI, or virtual desktop infrastructure, allows desktop operating systems to be hosted on virtual machines on a centralized server. VDI is basically a return to the old mainframe and dumb terminal model. You use a dumb terminal or thin client to connect to a virtual desktop. The experience should essentially be the same as using a regular desktop computer. The virtual desktop is hosted on a server that has been carved into multiple desktops.
How does VDI Solve these Problems?
By hosting the desktop as a virtual machine, you reap all the benefits of virtualization. You can have more desktops on the server than you would be able to buy individually. The virtual desktops can share resources, such as memory or hard disk space, reduce your energy consumption, and keep better backups.
Individual desktop virtual machines will last longer, are faster to deploy, and can stay more up-to-date. Increasing individual desktop capacity can be as easy as making a configuration change or upgrading the server. It can be a matter of minutes to deploy a new virtual desktop instead of waiting for a new system to ship to your organization and then waiting some more so that someone can set it up.
Your data is always as secure as the server you're hosting the virtual desktops. You no longer have to store data on unsecured devices. Moreover, because your data is on a centralized server, it is much easier to back up.
These are a few of the benefits of VDI. Now, what kind of problems will you be likely to experience with VDI?
Common Problems in VDI
You will have the same problems as you experience on your regular virtual infrastructure. Performance degradation will always be a trial, as well as the dreaded complaint, "my VM is too slow". Of course, in VDI a slow VM will have to be a higher priority since it could potentially affect multiple users on the same host.
Some applications will not work as well in a VDI environment. For example, image editing, animation, and video editing software won't run as well in VDI.
One important issue that you will be faced with is network connectivity. If the network goes down between the virtual desktop host and the rest of the company, or is otherwise "interrupted," no one with a virtual desktop will be able to work. If the outside connection goes down, off-site employees will no longer be able to work. This could have significant impact on your business, so if you were thinking of moving to VDI, or if you are already implementing VDI, you should probably invest in some network monitoring tools.
So that's the pros and cons of VDI in a nutshell. Do you have other VDI woes? Experienced different problems? You should share them in the comments.