The Virtual Desktop and Infrastructure
American Military University
Virtualization is one of the most prevalent advancements in modern computing, how that technology is used to increase productivity and decrease resource costs is a validation to its popularity and demand. With the use of virtualization, many of the inherent issues associated with traditional networks resources that include hardware and software costs, maintenance and speed of implementation are resolved by merging the concepts of yesterday with the technology of tomorrow seen in tools such as client based virtual desktops. The idea of storing distributed data in a central location and accessing it remotely is not a new concept, in the early stages of computer networking two major components were used; that being a mainframe computer and dumb terminal. The disposition and beauty of the dumb terminal was its simplicity and relative ease in managing its functions while providing the basic needs of the user at the lowest possible resource demands. Much like the dumb terminal, the thin clients of today offers the same features of scalability, cost, lower power consumption, increased security and a multitude of management benefits that make them a strong contender verses their heavier counterpart the PC. Although desktop PC’s demand less server storage and network bandwidth demands on the infrastructure in addition to their ability to provide improved application performance, virtualization technology is closing the gap between the two giving the eventual advantage to the virtual desktop solution. Leading Virtual Desktop infrastructure (VDI) technology companies such as Microsoft, Citrix and VMware are creating and improving protocols such as PCoIP and RDP that will increase the speed and performance of applications and media used for virtual desktops. Virtual desktops do not exist on their own; they demand a sometimes vast infrastructure to support both the bandwidth load and the appropriate storage capacity that fits the model best suited for either the organization or the environment in which they will be used. To deliver a product that offers the equivalent speed and customization of a fat client, many issues must be carefully considered prior to committing to an entire infrastructure change. Behind the shroud of a virtual desktop on a thin client or mobile device lies a sophisticated mesh of software management and servers that support the datacenter. Among the many types of supporting software that make virtual desktops and cloud computing possible is a hypervisor which lies between the hardware layer and the virtual layer, this software is typically loaded on servers to allow several users to access the resources such as memory and storage through virtual machines. Although virtual servers are not a mandatory infrastructure component for virtual desktops, it is generally used as an enterprise solution to reduce costs even more. The two major variations of desktop virtualization according to Lunsford (n.d.) are virtual desktops on a workstation which is similar to server virtualization in that several virtual machines can be performed on one machine; examples include Microsoft Virtual PC and VMWare Workstation. The alternative uses a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), this format uses the resources of a server to host the storage, networking and applications facilities which can be used on either thin or fat clients in addition to mobile devices that have internet access. Another growing virtual solution is found in Desktop as a Service (DaaS). Virtualization has created a wide variety of services that decreases the IT infrastructure load for enterprises and DaaS is one that addresses issues such as managing the minutiae of each individual workstations, backups, and security in addition to adding and removing users. By outsourcing the VDI to a third...