How SMBs Can Achieve Desktop Virtualization

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In a previous post, we discussed the advantages of desktop virtualization over a traditional PC environment. Because desktop virtualization separates the operating system, applications and data from the user endpoint and stores multiple virtual desktops on a central server, desktops can be managed more efficiently. A virtual environment is also more secure and minimizes the risk of data loss and operational disruptions.

There are number of different models for achieving desktop virtualization that fall into two general categories – host-based and client-based. The model should be chosen based on the specific needs and goals of each individual organization.

Host-based desktop virtualization requires the use of a remote display protocol on a thin client, zero client or mobile device for users to access and use their virtual desktops. Processing occurs in the data center, where virtual desktops are hosted.

  • In a host-based virtual machine environment, VMs are hosted in the data center and each user accesses one VM. When the user accesses the same, personalized VM each time, this is known as a persistent desktop. A non-persistent desktop is a random VM delivered from a pool.
  • In a shared hosted environment, also known as remote desktop services, users access either a shared desktop or specific applications from a server.
  • When host-based physical machines or blades are used, the operating system runs on a centralized server in the data center, where all data resides.

Unlike host-based desktop virtualization, client-based desktop virtualization requires processing to occur on local hardware, a thick client that has the resources of a desktop PC. As a result, thin clients, zero clients and mobile devices cannot be used in this model.

  • OS streaming is a type of client-based desktop virtualization that is ideal when multiple desktops utilize an identical disk image. The operating system runs on a thick client but is delivered as a disk image on the network, so OS streaming must be connected to the network at all times.
  • In a client-based VM environment, each VM runs on a full PC and is managed by syncing the disk image to a server. Unlike OS streaming, this approach does not require a constant network connection.

Desktop virtualization is becoming more cost-effective for small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) as the complexity of converting physical servers to support virtual desktops has been greatly reduced in recent years. Most solutions are compatible with standard office software and hardware and can be deployed quickly to accelerate ROI. Because routine administrative tasks such as security patch deployments are simplified and automated, SMBs can refocus limited IT resources on revenue-producing strategies. Organizations also profit from the gains in productivity, flexibility and agility achieved through desktop virtualization.

SMBs can minimize capital costs and further reduce management complexity by opting for Desktop-as-a-Service. In this model, a cloud-based desktop virtualization infrastructure and backend management and maintenance, including storage, backup, security and upgrades, are the responsibility of a service provider.

Atlantic-IT.net, your outsourced IT department, will work with you to determine if desktop virtualization can benefit your organization based on your specific business processes and goals. Let us help you better understand the various deployment models and costs and develop a strategy that improves the efficiency and simplicity of your desktop environment.