In a previous blog post I talked about how identifying use cases is one of the most critical considerations when evaluating a virtual desktop solution. This is especially important because is helps us determine which virtual desktop model to utilize for each user group in the organization. Use cases aside, I often find that customers are curious about the different types of virtual desktops available to them. There's a long list of virtual desktop types available such as pooled, dedicated, hosted shared, the list goes on. I'm not going to go in that level of detail but I am going to touch on the two key types of virtual desktops: Server-hosted desktops and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).
Server-hosted desktops are desktops which are hosted on a single server-based operating system such as Windows 2012 R2, where resources are shared among several users. Server-hosted desktops have been around for a long time in many forms, including RDS (Terminal Server), and Citrix XenApp. The second type of virtual desktop is what is traditionally thought of as VDI. VDI desktops are built on client-based operating systems, such as Windows 7 and Windows 8.
So, those are the types of virtual desktops. Here are three common use cases for VDI desktops:
Applications that don’t work well on multi-user operating systems - It’s amazing to think that in this day and age applications are written that are not compatible with multi-user operating systems such as Windows 2008 R2 and Windows 2012. Even though Microsoft has best practice recommendations on how to develop applications to make them compatible with all versions of the Windows OS, these types of applications are still fairly common place. If you have the need to provide one of these applications to users in a virtualized environment, VDI is the way to go. The only difference between a physical desktop and a VDI desktop is that one is virtual and the other one isn’t. As far as the application is concerned there is no difference and will usually run properly without any modifications.
Isolate intensive applications - Most applications are not very resource-intensive. However, from time to time one crops up that pegs the CPU at 100% or utilizes a large amount of RAM. Although server-hosted desktops have some controls in place to minimize the effect of these conditions, a user consuming a large amount of resources can negatively affect the rest of the users sharing the same resources. These types of users are ideal candidates for VDI desktops as CPU and RAM resources can be dedicated to them as opposed of being shared among 30-40 users.
Provide a more personalized environment for VIPs - Piggy-backing on the previous use-case, providing a VDI desktop to your VIPs will give them dedicated resources. But these VIPs usually have needs that most employees within the organization may not have. They may need apps and resources that others don’t utilize. Usually, these users may require a more personalized computing environment, making a server-based desktop environment problematic. Your VIPs may be the smallest group in your organization, but will be the most vocal group of users and setting them up with a VDI desktop will go a long way to keeping them happy.