VDI stands for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. Many people will be familiar with virtualization when it comes to servers but may not be when it comes to desktops.
The core principals still apply no matter whether you are talking about virtualized servers or desktops, because it basically allows you to run multiple machines on a single piece of physical hardware. Doing this allows you to make much greater use of all the power and resources that the hardware provides.
One of the greatest IT challenges around is supporting desktops within a business, for the simple reason that there is so much variation between them. Although the desktops may be running on the same type of hardware, exactly what they have installed and the versions of that software will vary widely. Imagine, however if your users could retain their normal desktop but log into a ‘standard’ desktop to do certain tasks. It is a kind of modern version of the old mainframe terminals.
Once you do that you have a much more consistent environment and one that is much easier to manage and support. Also, by being virtual you get the ease of being able to migrate these desktops to new and more powerful hardware. From a users point of view they get added functionality in that they can now access these desktops from any of their devices. This access is quick since the only traffic that comes to their device is just the screen information.
A number of providers are now beginning to offer virtual desktops and it is expected that Microsoft will also offer something along these lines within 12 months. If the adoption of VDI environments becomes wide spread then it truly means that users are no longer chained to a desktop at the office. It also means that the management and support of a businesses environment becomes much, much easier.
Don’t be surprised if you start hearing more about virtual desktops and VDI over the coming months.