Many companies are making the investment in Virtual Desktop Infrastructure and are various reasons to consider a VDI solution these days. Two of the biggest trends driving this technology are BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and Mobility. Many companies are moving away from assigning company assets for personal computers, laptops, tablets and phones. Instead they are giving employees a stipend as part of their salary and letting them choose their devices. This lowers the cost of hardware and software to the company, ensures employees take care of equipment, reduces administration costs for user devices and extends the hardware lifecycle. Most employees embrace this option because they do not have to carry multiple devices and can choose the devices that they want to use.
What are the Benefits of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure?
VDI centralizes desktop OS management for IT organizations, which reduces support costs and ensures consistency and stability. This also provides access to company resources anytime, anywhere. Managing a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure makes patching, backups and software updates much easier for administrators and support staff.
A VDI solution empowers users to access their company desktop from a PC, laptop, tablet or cell phone, which leads me to Mobility and Mobile Device Management. For more information on Mobile Device Management, check out one of my earlier posts, “Choosing the Right Enterprise Mobile Device Management Solution.”
As always, security is a major concern when accessing company resources from the internet. Access methods will include a VPN, SSL load-balancer, such as F5 or Citrix Netscaler. These products offer a variety of secure options such as hygiene checking (ensuring anti-virus is up-to-date), application firewall, SSL offload and access gateway options. All of which, offer the ability to integrate with a two-factor authentication solution, if required.
There are a variety of products on the market today. The key players in the VDI space are Citrix XenDesktop, Microsoft Virtual Desktop and VMware Horizon View. All three are excellent products, while some are more mature than others and have more robust features, they all have their place. Our methodology at IDS is to assess our customers’ needs and recommend the best solution, so I base my recommendations on things such as customer requirements, current infrastructure, and budget.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Use Cases
Imagine a physician that is constantly moving from room-to-room visiting several patients in an hour while looking at images, reading vitals, and accessing their Electronic Medical Record system. Many physicians also serve more than one office or hospital. Imagine a solution where no matter which hospital or office in the network a doctor visited, they could walk into a patient room, authenticate with a fingerprint and launch the same desktop image from any machine they logged into in the facility. If one facility had a particular requirement that was different in the market they were in, they would only see it at that particular location. With this new solution, they can now login and access any application with 5 clicks, in only 5 seconds. These are the types of solutions we deliver at IDS.
Many legal institutions are moving to the BYOD model. Think of an attorney that uses a Document Management System (DMS) to access legal documents that many people are constantly updating and maintaining. If a paralegal has updated documents that an attorney needs while walking into court, they can have access to these critical company documents on a tablet using VDI or MDM technology. In many businesses, it is critical for company resources to have access to real-time data and have the ability to make updates on-demand. This feature keeps operations staff organized and efficient so that they can focus on generating company revenue.