A commonly-cited motivation for implementing virtual desktops is to increase the security of end-user computing, according to Gartner. Properly-implemented virtual desktops can increase security and help infrastructure leaders meet compliance requirements, according to the research firm. This is also advantageous for the increasingly mobile workforce, where employees are using sometimes three or more devices to access work data and applications. VDI allows the IT department to focus less on the arduous task of managing and securing all these devices, and more on implementing the appropriate access and security policies. This is all possible through the centralized data hosting and management architecture of virtual desktops.
Let’s examine a few ways where VDI can support strong security, while enabling BYOD and mobility.
VDI to thin or zero clients. A truly attractive feature of VDI for the corporate, mobility-ready, world is the versatility of the deployment method. Many organizations started with VDI by using thin client computing, which greatly reduced the resource intake of the end-point. This became a popular mechanism to replace the aging desktop. Now, a new type of corporate end-point is making waves: zero clients, which further minimizes or eliminate the processing, memory and storage needs at the client. Similarly, Google Chromebooks and Chromeboxes have become popular because of their low cost and ability to meet the needs of most users without installed applications on the device. The drives on zero-client devices are natively encrypted and allow for an HTML5-ready delivery architecture for clientless VDI delivery. This means you won’t have to install a delivery client on the end-point or into the VDI image!
VDI for contractors. In some cases, organizations may have numerous contractors or temporary workers. VDI works well as a method to quickly provision and de-provision workloads for non-permanent workers. Authentication is controlled at the Active Directory level and administrators have granular visibility into the virtual desktop. Furthermore, users can bring in their own devices to alleviate costs.
VDI to BYOD devices. Virtual desktops are highly customizable for the individual user. Personal vDisks, for example, retain the single image management of pooled and streamed desktops while allowing users to install applications and change their desktop settings. One’s files, folders, and settings follow you regardless of which device you are using. The individual can shift between a tablet and a desktop PC seamlessly, picking up right where they left off. Make sure to share lists of pre-approved devices which you know will work well with your VDI ecosystem.
VDI to remote users. With more powerful WAN capabilities, IT can deliver full virtual desktop experiences to users working from home or the road. Considerations for remote access include latency and the number of users accessing a system remotely at the same time—both of which can downgrade access speed. When delivering VDI to remote users, always consider the amount of bandwidth required and the distance of the connections. WAN optimization technologies can help improve performance through technologies such as deduplication, compression and data caching. As well, VDI systems can automatically optimize the user experience based on the application one is accessing and the user’s location and can even apply specific security policies. For example, you can configure the VDI system to deny access to users connecting from an unsecured location, such as a public WiFi address.
It’s important to understand that mobility and BYOD requirements will continue to evolve. Beyond BYOD, organizations are now experimenting with IoT and wearable technologies. Administrators will need to understand how to deliver applications and desktops to many of these connected devices. Using VDI to help enable these new types of hyper-connected devices is a smart strategy to simplify, control and secure big data and the highly-mobile workforce.
Underwritten by HPE, NVIDIA and VMware.