What Is Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI)? - ITU Online

What Is Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI)?

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Definition: Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI)

Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) is a technology that delivers desktop environments from a centralized server to end-user devices. These desktops are hosted on virtual machines (VMs) and can be accessed remotely, providing users with the experience of running a local desktop while actually operating a server-based computing model.

Understanding Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI)

VDI is a form of desktop virtualization that allows IT administrators to create a managed desktop environment on a central server. Users access these desktops over a network using a client device, which could be a traditional PC, a thin client, a tablet, or even a smartphone.

Core Concept

The core concept behind VDI is to host and manage desktop environments in a data center while providing users access from remote locations. This setup separates the desktop environment from the physical hardware and allows for centralized management, increased security, and potentially reduced costs.

Benefits of VDI

  1. Centralized Management: Administrators can manage and update desktops centrally rather than maintaining individual systems.
  2. Increased Security: Data remains on the server, reducing the risk of data loss from stolen or damaged end-user devices.
  3. Flexibility and Mobility: Users can access their desktops from any location and on any device with internet connectivity.
  4. Cost Efficiency: Potential to reduce costs through the centralized management of hardware resources and the use of less expensive client devices.

How It Works

In a VDI environment, virtual desktops are hosted on virtual machines running on centralized servers. These virtual desktops are delivered over the network to the end-user devices. The user interacts with the desktop interface as if it were running locally, but all processing happens on the server.


A company implements VDI to allow its employees to work from home. Each employee uses a thin client or personal device to connect to their virtual desktop hosted in the company’s data center. The employees perform their tasks as if they were using a local PC, but all software runs on virtual machines managed by the company’s IT department.

Implementing Virtual Desktop Interface

Implementing VDI requires careful planning, robust network infrastructure, and the right virtualization software. Key components include:

VDI Software

Software such as VMware Horizon, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, or Microsoft Remote Desktop Services is used to create and manage virtual desktops.

Server Hardware

Powerful servers are needed to host the virtual machines. These should have high-performance CPUs, ample RAM, and large storage capacities to handle the load.

Network Infrastructure

A reliable and fast network is crucial to ensure that users have a smooth experience without lag or latency issues.

Client Devices

Users can access their virtual desktops using a range of devices including PCs, laptops, tablets, thin clients, or even smartphones.

Security Measures

Implementing security protocols and tools to protect data and manage access to the virtual desktops is essential.

Frequently Asked Questions Related to Virtual Desktop Interface

What are the main differences between VDI and traditional desktop environments?

In traditional desktop environments, the operating system and applications run locally on each user’s computer. In VDI, the desktop environments are hosted on a server and accessed remotely, which centralizes management and increases security but requires continuous network connectivity.

How does VDI enhance security compared to conventional desktops?

VDI enhances security by centralizing data storage on servers, reducing the risk of data leakage from lost or stolen devices. It also allows for more controlled and consistent deployment of security updates and policies.

Can VDI reduce IT costs, and if so, how?

VDI can reduce IT costs by centralizing management, reducing hardware needs at the user’s end, and extending the lifecycle of client devices. Economies of scale in software and hardware purchases also contribute to cost reductions.

What are the challenges of implementing VDI?

Challenges of implementing VDI include the initial setup and infrastructure costs, the need for a robust network to support seamless desktop delivery, and managing the complexity of virtual desktop infrastructure.

Is VDI suitable for all types of businesses?

VDI is beneficial for businesses with flexible work environments, those needing high levels of data security, and organizations with high compliance requirements. However, it may not be cost-effective for very small businesses or those without complex IT needs.

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