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Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

What is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)?

What is virtual desktop infrastructure? Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) refers to using virtual machines to manage instances of virtual desktops. A virtual machine is a computing system made using software instead of physical components. For example, a virtual machine may have important computing functions performed using software instead of hardware, such as its processing and memory functions. In the context of this VDI meaning, each virtual machine is referred to as an image.

IT admins and engineers use virtual desktop infrastructure to deliver these images to endpoints using a network. In this way, end-users can access their desktop environments no matter where they are. They just need an internet connection that ties them into the network the VDI runs on.

How Does Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Work?

What is VDI, and how does it work? A VDI setup is relatively straightforward. There are three basic components: a hypervisor, virtual machines, and virtual desktops.

A hypervisor is a program that runs and manages virtual machines. And a virtual machine, as mentioned above, is a computer made with software as opposed to physical components.

In a VDI solution, the hypervisor divides servers into as many virtual machines as you need. Each virtual machine can then host a virtual desktop. You can think of a virtual machine as a computer without anything running on it. But after you install a virtual desktop on it, your virtual machine can look and behave almost exactly like a regular computer.

Once a virtual desktop has been set up, employees can then log onto it and use it to do their jobs. In most situations, you will install all of the applications employees need to get their work done on their virtual desktops. Then, whenever they need to do work, they can connect to it using a thin client, which is a computer with very little hardware resources, just enough to connect to a virtual machine and run a virtual desktop. Employees can also use a regular computer or a mobile device to connect to your VDI.

Five Benefits of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) to an Organization

Five of the most compelling benefits of virtual desktop infrastructure include:

  • Increased scalability
  • Centralized management
  • Security
  • Accessibility
  • Cost savings

Increased Scalability

VDI makes it very easy to scale, especially because you don’t have to invest a lot of money in computer hardware. Everything used to run your computer is built out of software that runs on a virtual machine. This means you can simply copy disk images and make them available to employees as you see fit. As long as the employee has their own computer or access to a thin client, they get all the computing resources they need to do their work.

Centralized Management

Another reason why a VDI is an attractive solution for many enterprises is it gives you the ability to manage many computing systems from one centralized location. As a result, you can upgrade systems, install patches to software, and perform other maintenance without even leaving your desk.


Similarly, VDI streamlines the process of protecting dozens or hundreds of computers from cyber threats. For example, you never have to worry about whether one virtual machine has the latest antivirus protection because you can install it on all of them at the same time. Similarly, you can position one firewall to safeguard all of your virtual machines at once, giving every user equally strong endpoint security.


Accessibility, especially in the context of remote and hybrid work environments, is another significant benefit. It’s easy for users to connect to a VDI and get to work, regardless of where they are physically located. Also, because they can use a variety of different devices to connect to the VDI, it’s easy and convenient for them to remain productive—even if they’re outside of the office or traveling.

Cost Savings

VDI, especially when you have to scale up, can result in considerable cost savings. Desktop computer hardware can get expensive, as can the labor required to manage scores of computers across your environment. But with VDI, each of your employees' computing environments exists within a virtualized, software-based environment. As a result, there’s no need to invest in hundreds of physical desktop computers.

Different Approaches to Deploying VDIs

The two basic approaches to deploying VDIs include persistent and non-persistent VDI.

Persistent VDI

With a persistent desktop setup, each user gets the same desktop they used during their previous session every time they connect. In this way, if they make changes to files or applications, these adjustments get saved on the virtual machine.

Non-Persistent VDI

A non-persistent VDI system is the opposite because every time someone connects to their virtual computer they get a fresh desktop. This means that any work they do doesn't get saved, so every user gets the same blank slate whenever they connect.

Disadvantages of a VDI Deployment

Even though VDI can be a convenient solution for many organizations, it also has a few disadvantages:

  • It depends on a strong internet connection. If an employee has to connect to your VDI using a slow internet connection, for example, they may experience performance issues while using your business applications.
  • VDI can get expensive. Even though you save money on hardware components, as you add many instances of software, your licensing costs can climb. Also, you may have to invest in more bandwidth as more users access your VDI and do their work.

Three Use Cases of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

Three common use cases of VDI include remote workers, call centers, and contract employees.

Remote Workers

VDI works well for remote workers, especially because they can use their own computers to login to your VDI system. As a result, they can choose which devices they want to use to connect to your VDI. All you have to do is provide each remote worker with access to your VDI.

Call Centers

Call centers often have many representatives working at the same time, and they need to have certain software tools, such as customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, to do their jobs. With a VDI, you can have many call center workers connect at the same time and provide each worker with the applications they need to do their jobs.

Contract Employees

Because contract employees only work for a limited period, it would be wasteful to buy a new desktop computer for each one. On the other hand, you can use VDI to give them the applications they need to get their work done. When the contract is up, you can simply delete their virtual machine or revoke the contract worker's access privileges.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Vs Virtual Machine (VM)

When thinking about VDI vs VM, the key difference is very simple and straightforward. VDI is IT infrastructure while a VM is a computer. In other words, a VDI can have VMs running on it while a virtual machine is just a computer.

VDI Vs Desktop as a Service (DaaS): Top 5 Differences

The differences between DaaS vs VDI are also significant. Here are the five most important differences:

  1. VDIs use a single-tenant model, which means only one company uses a VDI at once. But with a DaaS, the DaaS provider may serve many organizations at the same time.
  2. With a VDI, you manage the installation and maintenance of your infrastructure, but with DaaS, your provider installs and manages everything.
  3. VDIs require you to invest in servers or upgrade your data center. But with DaaS, those kinds of expenses are taken care of by your DaaS service provider.
  4.  With VDI, you control how your environment operates and its configuration. On the other hand, with DaaS, your DaaS provider controls the infrastructure and its management.
  5. It can take considerable time to set up your VDI because you have to make sure you have the right servers and computational resources to support all of your virtual machines and desktops. But DaaS is faster because your provider has already taken care of getting the hardware set up and configured for you.

Security Benefits of VDI in Remote Working

Because you can control the security features that protect your VDI, you can reduce the chances of remote workers introducing malware to your system. On the other hand, if a worker were to use their own computer as they connected through remote access, they could download malware onto it, and that could be shared with the rest of your network if they came into your office and connected.

Market Insights and Future of VDI

According to the most recent analysis by Global Market Insights Inc., the (VDI) market size will reach a valuation of $55 billion by 2028. The most likely reason for this growth is the widespread use of mobile devices for business computing. More and more users, especially remote workers, want to do the work on mobile devices, and VDI is an ideal solution for this kind of arrangement.

How Fortinet Can Help?

Fortinet’s FortiClient streamlines the process of protecting endpoints that connect to your VDI. You install FortiClient on each endpoint, such as a mobile device or laptop, and then you can not only safeguard it from malware, but you also get visibility into how each endpoint is behaving.


What is the difference between a VDI and VM?

The key difference is that VDI is infrastructure while a VM is a computer. A VDI will have VMs running on it while a virtual machine wouldn’t host a virtual desktop infrastructure.

What are the benefits of a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)?

The most compelling benefits of virtual desktop infrastructure include:

  • Increased scalability
  • Centralized management
  • Security
  • Accessibility
  • Cost savings

What are the components of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)?

There are three basic components: a hypervisor, virtual machines, and virtual desktops.

What is a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)?

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) refers to using virtual machines to manage instances of virtual desktops.