VDI or Virtual Desktop Project: What’s the Difference?

Alternative Virtual Desktop Options May Save Your Company Money

As a consulting company focused on Application and Desktop delivery, mobility and end user computing, we often meet with companies who are looking for more insight into their Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) project.  In these meetings we often shock and confuse our clients when we ask them this question: “Is this project truly a VDI project or is this a Virtual Desktop Project?”

 Once the perplexed looks subside, we explain that VDI is a specific technology architecture and not necessarily the best way for every user to get a virtual desktop.  VDI refers specifically to an architecture that provides every user with a dedicated virtual machine while they are connected.  This has a high price tag, as each user needs dedicated memory and storage to run an operating system as well as their applications.  Over 80% of the user types we analyze do not need this high price tag solution and can save money by using alternative virtual desktop project options, such as Hosted Share Desktops.

Virtual Desktop Solutions

In a Hosted Shared Desktop, many users can be granted virtual desktops from a single virtual machine.  Companies have the potential to run between 30 and 50 users per virtual machine, instead of the one user per machine option of VDI.  This has proven to cut costs of virtual desktop projects by as much as 70%.

Before we can help a company decide on the best technology to fit their user types, we first need to take a step back and understand the business objectives for the project. Recommendations may be different depending on whether we are focusing on enabling mobility, cutting costs, increasing productivity, or initializing desktop management.  Typically the answer is a combination of several of these, and that is what allows us to define the true project goals to recommend the best technology fit.

Once clients understand that we can deliver a better total cost of ownership for virtual desktop through a hosted shared desktop technology, they often want to know why anybody would ever choose VDI if Hosted Shared Desktops are less expensive but provide the same user experience.  The answer to this hinges on a few key questions regarding client computing needs:

  • Do the clients need the use of specific USB devices? Most standard USB mice, keyboards, printers and scanners can work with Hosted Shared Desktops, but certain USB scanners, and devices will only work with VDI.  If a non-twain-supported scanner is needed, a VDI may be a requirement for those users.
  • Will users need to install their own software and applications? Hosted Virtual Desktops do not fit well when users need to be allowed to install applications, so if you’re what we call an unmanaged desktop user you will need VDI.
  • Do the clients run applications that require a client operating system? This is the case with a small number of applications out there.  Since Hosted Shared Desktop runs on a server operating system, such as Windows 2008 R2, it may be necessary to use VDI for applications that require something like Windows 7.  Applications2U has deployed thousands of applications through Hosted Shared Desktop but applications that require Windows 7 do exist.

The nature of a company’s decision between VDI and Hosted Shared Desktop really comes down to their primary objectives and the scope of their project. This is where Applications2U comes into play.  Our consultants will ask the right questions to help determine which solution is right for each client. (And by the way, if you do not need remote access to your virtual desktop, there are other, more cost effective options for you that go beyond simply VDI versus Hosted Shared Desktop).

Drop us a line to start the process of learning about your options.