What Is Desktop Virtualisation? (Benefits And Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many organisations aim to improve employee satisfaction and flexibility, and one way to do this is by using convenient technology. Employers can make workplaces more flexible with the virtualisation of computers. If you are thinking about implementing this solution, it is helpful to understand how it works and the benefits it offers. In this article, we explain what desktop virtualisation is and why it is important, outline how it works, list different types and considerations for deciding between them and share a few tips for implementing it effectively.

What Is Desktop Virtualisation?

Desktop virtualisation is one of the key digital architectures that help maintain applications and virtual employee workstations on a central server located in a data centre or cloud server. Virtual workstations are simulations of computer desktops. They allow professionals to access their workstations from endpoint devices connected to servers. This enables them to work remotely or switch between devices while easily accessing data and maintaining productivity.

Related: Different Types Of Virtualisation In Cloud Computing

Why Is It Important?

The virtualisation of desktops can assist organisations in increasing flexibility for employees. As employees always have access to their office systems, companies may also experience increased productivity. The ability to centralise data storing and processing devices can also ease information technology (IT) maintenance by lowering the number of unique network elements. Separating data from individual workstations also minimises the impact of device loss or damage.

Related: What Is Virtualisation? (Definition, Types And Uses)

How Does It Work?

The process varies depending on whether the operating system is local or remote:

Local

Local virtualisation refers to the use of hardware to run the operating system on a client device, with all processing and workloads taking place on local hardware. This type of virtualisation works well when users can manage computing requirements with local system resources and do not require a constant network connection. As it requires local processing, it cannot share virtual machines or resources over a network with other clients or mobile devices.

Remote

Remote system virtualisation enables users to run operating systems and apps on a server inside a data centre using a client device, such as a thin client, laptop or smartphone. This provides remote access to pooled computing resources. Remote virtualisation can maximise an organisation's hardware capabilities by giving the IT team more centralised management over apps and desktops.

Benefits Of Virtualisation

Virtualising a desktop can provide many advantages, including:

Remote work capability

Virtualisation can be a helpful tool for companies with remote or hybrid workforces. It allows employees to access their work desktops from any endpoint device if they have the appropriate permissions. This can enable them to work from any location, such as from home or while travelling, without losing access to resources or decreasing their productivity.

Related: What Is Remote Work?

Effective use of resources

Implementing virtualisation can allow a business to use its resources more effectively. It unites all the core applications on a central server, which eliminates the requirement for updating and maintaining devices individually. It also allows employees to share endpoint devices or access work on their personal devices. This can help reduce the number of resources that a business requires.

Related: What Is Resource Planning? (With Benefits And Techniques)

Increased security

Virtualisation allows an organisation to consolidate its security operations on a single server. It ensures that individual devices do not contain sensitive information, reducing the security risks associated with lost or stolen devices. Virtualising a desktop can help ensure that all data stays securely on the servers when an employee leaves the company.

Related: Use Of VPN At Work (With Benefits And Steps On Using It)

Different Types Of Virtualisation

The following are the three major types of desktop virtualisation:

1. Remote desktop services (RDS)

RDS refers to various services that Microsoft Windows Server offers. These features allow users to access desktops and Microsoft applications remotely from Microsoft or non-Microsoft devices. RDS can be especially useful if a user only requires access to select applications.

Related: What Is Software As A Service (SaaS)? (Examples And FAQ)

2. Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)

VDI uses a central server to host the content of individual workstations. The operating system contains desktop images that users can access remotely from endpoint devices. Employees can then use these virtual workstations to access and manage their work data and projects.

3. Desktop as a Service (DaaS)

DaaS is a type of VDI that operates as a subscription service that a company can purchase. It is cloud-based, while VDI is server-based. DaaS allows companies to access the benefits of virtualisation without maintaining their own server infrastructure.

Deciding Between VDI, RDS And DaaS

Whether you choose VDI, RDS or DaaS depends on your desired end-user experience and business and IT factors such as capabilities, cost, scope, infrastructure control, geography and agility. Below is a guide to help you choose the best solution:

Business capabilities

Consider whether the organisation you work for has the knowledge and resources to deploy VDI, RDS or DaaS. Consult with the IT team to decide if it is preferable to have a virtualisation solution as a service or as VDI or RDS. If the organisation lacks skilled technical employees to efficiently implement and manage VDI or RDS, it may benefit from cloud resources or DaaS.

Cost

Cost is often a major consideration when implementing virtualisation. In the case of VDI, major expenditures occur in the form of capital expenditure on infrastructure setup, scaling charges and recurring maintenance fees. The same applies in the case of RDS. DaaS executes all desktop workloads in the cloud. It is a complete operational expenditure-based model with greater flexibility than VDI and RDS. A company with a well-defined IT consumption pattern, foreseen expansion and sufficient resources may benefit from installing VDI or on-premises DaaS.

Related: What Is Opportunity Cost? (Plus How To Calculate It)

Scope

Consider whether you want to virtualise every workspace or just some of the applications. For large virtualised networks, RDS and VDI may be preferable. DaaS may be a more suitable solution if you plan to manage a small number of applications.

Infrastructure control

With VDI and RDS deployments, IT administrators have complete control over infrastructure updates, including network service protection. As a result, VDI and RDS are the optimal choices for organisations that want total control over their infrastructure, such as those in heavily regulated industries. DaaS deployment transfers infrastructure control from the company to the cloud provider. In highly regulated sectors, such as banking and insurance, DaaS may not be an ideal solution despite its shorter update cycles and the possibility for more use cases.

Related: Centralisation vs Decentralisation: Differences And Benefits

Geography

Identify the locations of the users and data before comparing VDI, RDS and DaaS. DaaS is suitable if you have users in various geographic locations. It is also simpler if the organisation already stores its data in a cloud server. With RDS and VDI, an organisation may benefit from deployment near its users' region. It is crucial for the servers to be close to the users, as it results in less network delay.

Agility and flexibility

If you require a virtualisation solution that is simple to deploy and manage, DaaS is a suitable option. For instance, if you want to accept seasonal or contract staff on your infrastructure, DaaS is preferable to RDS and VDI, which often require more time to set up. DaaS may also be a suitable solution for new businesses or start-ups where requirements change rapidly and agility is important.

Tips For Virtualising Desktops

Here are a few tips to consider when choosing and implementing the virtualisation solution for a business:

Train the staff

When introducing new procedures or technology into an organisation, it is important to train the employees. Consider inviting an IT professional to educate and teach them about virtualisation. A well-trained team can help a business gain the benefits of virtualisation, which include better productivity, reduced expenses and enhanced security.

Related: 9 Different Methods Of Training For Employees With Benefits

Start with a pilot

Before virtualising all desktops throughout the entire network, consider testing your plans with a pilot programme. You can select one application to virtualise, or you can select a small group of users to test virtualisation on their endpoint devices. This can enable you to observe how your virtualisation process may work and can provide you with valuable feedback from employees. You can use this information to solve any issues before expanding your plans across the organisation.

Related: Essential Automation Testing Tools To Enhance Efficiency

Understand the options

There are numerous types of this virtualisation available. It is beneficial to assess the business requirements before selecting a solution. Compare the requirements to the capabilities of VDI, RDS and DaaS and choose the one that most closely aligns with your needs.

Explore more articles