August 06, 2012, 7:32 AM — VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) is one of the hottest technologies going, and there are nearly as many ways to deploy it as there are companies providing the solutions. Some VDI solutions are server-based, running on "big iron" in a data center like their virtual server cousins. Other VDI implementations run on the client, using either a bare-metal hypervisor (aka Type 1 virtualization) or a host-based hypervisor, which runs on the host operating system as an application (Type 2 virtualization). Each method fits a specific use case, and the various options available allow IT organizations to choose the solution that best meets their needs.
Regardless of how VDI is done, centralized management of operating systems and applications is the goal. Admins can define "golden images" that all virtual desktops are based on to keep the user experience consistent. Golden images also allow admins to quickly spin up a new virtual desktop in case of corruption or virus infection. Security is another important benefit. With hosted VDI, no data ever leaves the data center. Through the use of security policies, administrators of client-hosted VDI can have virtual machines expire after a specified time, helping to prevent data leakage.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Virtual Computer review: VDI without the server connection | Download InfoWorld's Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Deep Dive special report | VDI shoot-out: Citrix XenDesktop 5.5 vs. VMware View 5 | Keep up on news in virtualization by signing up for InfoWorld's Virtualization newsletter. ]
Further, while server-hosted VDI solutions provide access to virtual desktops through Web browsers, software applications, and even mobile apps, some of their client-hosted counterparts are beginning to provide this kind of flexibility. That's the case with MokaFive Suite, a client-hosted or "offline" VDI solution that supports Windows and Mac endpoints, as well as provides a way for iOS users to securely access Windows shares.
Virtual desktops, three ways