What Is Desktop Virtualization And Why Should I Use It?

Desktop virtualization is a major data management trend within the IT industry. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an average consumer, a middle-sized company, or a large enterprise. Desktop virtualization can be the new upgrade you need.

It enables users to store the operating system in “the Cloud” or a remote server. This means that there will be no need for a PC. All you will need is a monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse.

For a laptop user, there are several benefits of desktop virtualization. These benefits include:

  • Ability to use less expensive laptop to run the virtual desktop
  • Files and data are not on local device if the laptop is stolen.
  • Increased data security through centralized backups
  • Ability to access the desktop from devices other than the laptop

Read on to learn about the types of desktop virtualization, the tradeoffs and related technologies.

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Types of Desktop Virtualization

There are different types of desktop virtualization that companies choose to employ, according to their own needs and budget. The three main types of desktop virtualization are: host-based, client-based, and operating system image streaming.

Host-Based Desktop Virtualization

 Desktop Virtualization Host Based

This type of virtualization requires a virtual desktop which is an operating system that run remotely, often in a data center. You use a network protocol in order to access the virtual desktop.

Employees can also access virtual desktops through various kinds of devices. These devices include: thin clients, tablets, zero clients or regular PCs.

Host-Based Virtual Machines

Companies usually employ this type of virtualization by setting up a data center that includes virtual machines. Then, each user can access either the same virtual machine or a different virtual machine every time.

Organizations can connect several users to one desktop since this desktop runs on a shared server. Also, multiple employees can use one server to access applications online.

Client-Based Virtualization

NCs Computing

Client-based virtualization is the opposite of host-based virtualization. This kind is installed using a desktop that hosts multiple virtual machines. This desktop will require a hypervisor installed to effectively manage the operations of the virtual machines.

Operating System Image Streaming

Companies usually use this kind of virtualization when all users access one disk image. Disk images are copies of the shared data a company stores on a server. Desktops access this disk image remotely.

Benefits of Desktop Virtualization


There are many benefits to desktop virtualization that can vary according to the company’s size and budget. For example, sometimes desktop virtualization can be cost-effective for large firms that use thousands of computers.

Companies can also save the cost of upgrading and updating each and every desktop. In addition, they can save on the cost of desktop management and maintenance. For example, instead of having to hire 5-10 IT support employees, they need only hire 2-3.

This might not apply to a small enterprise. Small companies may be tempted to install desktop virtualization infrastructure using thin clients. This is because thin clients cost under 300 dollars each, which is cheaper than desktops.

However, installing the infrastructure for a limited number of users is much more expensive than buying traditional desktops. Therefore, it ends up not being as cost-effective as expected.

Data backups and recovery become much easier when using desktop virtualization. If any damage or disasters occur, recovering data will be simple, since all the data is virtual.

Desktop virtualization makes its processes and activities much more efficient than traditional computers. It enables an IT department to centralize data management and maintenance. When data is stored on one server, IT makes updates and upgrades only once.

In industries where data security is vital to the business, such as financial institutions, desktop virtualization is preferable. These companies can avoid the hazards of employees losing their laptops.

It enables the company to consolidate data in one place and thus have better control over the confidentiality of data. This also ensures the security of that data. This technology can be energy-efficient, too, so saves costs on energy consumption.

Desktop virtualization also enables employees to access their desktops remotely. It facilitates using data on multiple devices, such as laptops, tablets, and even smartphones. Employees can work at home as effectively as in the office, because they are delivered the same desktop on every device they use.

This improves productivity and enhances communication between employees. It can also decrease the downtime or idle time by eliminating the need for the IT department to install or update software.

Virtual desktops are very helpful for individuals who are interested in working from home or as freelancers. It enables them to store and manage their work online in an efficient, secure way.

Disadvantages of Desktop Virtualization

Office Workings

Usually, the downsides of desktop virtualization are due to the fact that it’s a new technology. Companies might face some challenges while installing a new desktop virtualization infrastructure.

Companies usually incur high upfront costs to set up new infrastructure. This factor deters some from using this new technology. They can outsource this task to service providers and pay the costs in installments.

Sometimes, companies might face problems with the licensing of the software they use. The nature of desktop virtualization usage of software is completely different to traditional computers, so this might pose a problem.

Employees might be able to adapt quickly to the new environment, since the interface will be similar. However, you will need IT staff who are familiar and experienced in deploying desktop virtualization or maintaining it.

Some software programs might not be compatible with desktop virtualization so they may have to be replaced, meaning staff would have to be re-trained to use the new software.

Sometimes, there are risks of losing connections. Since all the data, OS and applications are consolidated in one place, it means that the whole company might lose total access. This won’t be the case if the company uses traditional desktops.

Display quality could be reduced when using desktop virtualization. If the connection or bandwidth isn’t strong, the quality of the image stream won’t be very high. This isn’t the case if users are operating on regular desktops.

Similarly, video streaming might be hard to manage if you’re using a virtual desktop. However, some companies try to solve this issue by using extra graphics acceleration cards.

The level of flexibility might not be very high. Sometimes virtual desktop solutions are only compatible with the same brand’s servers. This might be a problem for some companies since it limits the options available.

Some products have a maximum number of operating systems. This means that growing companies may need to buy new virtual desktop solutions if they expand.

Type of Virtual Desktops

There are many types of virtual desktops, all of which have variable features and prices. Companies should make their choice based on their own needs, size, and budget.

Thin Clients

Thin clients are the most common devices used to establish a desktop virtualization infrastructure. They are computing devices linked to networked servers. A thin client will not operate unless it’s connected to a network. Therefore, Thin clients act as an interface, not an operating system.

Thin clients don’t include storage devices, hard drives or SSDs, fans, or motherboards. Therefore, they are less prone to damage than desktops. They are also easier to maintain. They are much smaller in size and cheaper than regular PCs.

If you’re using a thin client, it means that all your data is stored on the data center’s server. To access your data using a thin client, you either use desktop software, such as Microsoft Terminal Services, or a Web browser.

Companies prefer to use thin clients due to their low cost and efficiency. However, if the company works heavily with pictures and videos, thin clients might not be the best option. Thin clients can be slow when operating graphics applications.

Sometimes, companies apply a hybrid model. This means that some employees use thin clients and others use PCs. It mainly depends on the tasks being performed. In the case where an employee performs complicated tasks, they will use a PC, and vice versa.

There are several manufacturers that provide high-quality thin clients. Currently, HP is the leader in the thin client market. It offers devices suitable for consumers and enterprises. HP is also known for mobile thin clients, which are laptops designed to be used for desktop virtualization.

Wyse technology is one of the major manufacturers. It provides a variety of thin client devices. These devices include regular thin clients and laptop thin clients. In addition, Wyse technology offers software, such as Wyse’s PocketCloud.

NComputing provides enterprises with cost-effective solutions. The company can create an infrastructure for desktop virtualization by linking several users to one desktop PC. This company provides solutions that are easy to maintain and save energy.

Zero Clients

Zero Clients in PC

Zero clients are small devices that connect users to a remote server. Unlike thin clients, zero clients don’t retain any kind of memory or configuration settings. They are more compact and cheaper than thin clients.

Zero clients can enable connecting a monitor, keyboard and a mouse to a remote server, either with a cable or Wi-Fi. They consume less energy than thin clients. Since they don’t operate the software, they are very easy to maintain and administer.

There are several manufacturers of thin clients who also produce zero clients. Pano Logic is one of the top names. It produces zero clients that are compatible with different Microsoft and VMware operating systems.

Flexibility is crucial while choosing a zero client. Therefore, you should make sure that you purchase a zero client that will still operate even if you change your desktop virtualization infrastructure.

Virtual Desktop Manufacturers

VMware Logos

There are three big names in the field of manufacturing virtual desktops: Microsoft, Citrix and VMware. The most updated versions of Citrix and VMware devices aim at making desktop virtualization more cost-effective and efficient.

These manufacturers can also tailor desktop virtualization infrastructure according to the company’s size. They can provide solutions to small, medium, or large enterprises.

The latest updates also allow users to have a personalized experience, as if they were operating traditional desktops

Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Windows Remote Desktop Firewall

Microsoft has been very successful in the field of desktop virtualization. It provides comprehensive services that enable facilitating the transit to virtual desktops. Microsoft offers state of the art technology with a great deal of flexibility.

Microsoft’s infrastructure allows users to access Windows applications remotely. It provides several deployment options, such as hosts, cloud-based or in-house servers.

The company enables its customers to customize the infrastructure according to their needs. Therefore, companies can reduce costs when using a Microsoft infrastructure. It also provides extra security for data against loss.

Microsoft has been focusing recently on improving desktop virtualization that requires only a web browser. Recent updates have been performed to make the experience of accessing your desktop through Azure cloud more optimal.

Cloud-based virtualization infrastructure can enable employees to work from home or access their work even during vacations. This deployment doesn’t require special devices.

All an employee needs is a web browser and internet connection. If employees rotate on a number of desktop devices, this feature can work very effectively.

Microsoft’s virtualization solution is called Remote Desktop Services. It includes two major options that can be customized according to clients’ needs and budget.

The first type is session-based virtualization. It allows users to access applications or entire desktops through a server. The other type is virtual desktop infrastructure which we discussed earlier. Clients can also combine between these two types.

In addition, companies can also specify whether they want to virtualize the whole desktop experience for their employees. On the other hand, companies can also just virtualize apps and enable accessing them remotely.

Citrix Virtual Desktops Infrastructure

Citrix Virtual

Citrix is one of the large IT firms that excel in the field of desktop virtualization. It has an array of different services that fit all needs. The products it provides include

HDX technology, published Windows, Linux, Web and SaaS applications, and a single management console.

Other products include single image provisioning technology, VDI desktops and Remote PC access. The company also provides flexibility to its clients. A client can pick and choose a set of products that suit their needs and Citrix will deploy them.

Citrix facilitates the transition to virtual desktops by allowing clients to have secure access without migrating data from PCs to data centers. Moreover, Citrix offers its clients high-quality and high-definition image management solutions.

Also, companies that operate lots of video editing and graphics refrain from transitioning to virtual desktops. However, Citrix can provide them with high-definition agile desktop virtualization solutions that serve their needs.

Citrix makes it easier for the IT department to manage apps, data and operating systems. It allows clients to use Citrix Cloud services that provide remote access to an entire desktop through a Web browser.

Citrix has worked with Microsoft to build a new virtual desktop solution. The outcome was creating a Citrix XenApp that operates on Microsoft’s Cloud Azure. One of the benefits of this product is an easy transit of data and app management to the Azure cloud.

Besides being high-resolution, secure and agile, Citrix virtual desktop experience using HDX technology, also makes use of Microsoft’s network of data centers. It enables users to access Windows apps from any device remotely.

Companies pay fees and subscriptions only for what they use. Citrix calculates the costs that save companies money to invest in other channels. It also provides the flexibility of adding more users or removing users at any time.

This product also saves companies money that might be spent on building an in-house infrastructure. Therefore, it eliminates the costs of maintaining and fixing the physical infrastructure. Citrix also allows clients to test its product and app before full deployment.

VMware Desktop Virtualization Infrastructure

VmWare Desktops

VMware company has a variety of products to set up an efficient desktop virtualization infrastructure. It provides cost-effective, high-quality, customizable products. These products include Horizon 7, Horizon Apps, Horizon Flex and Horizon Cloud.

Horizon 7 is an integrated infrastructure smart solution for businesses. VMware combines the benefits of products provided by both Microsoft and Citrix. These benefits include high-definition graphics solutions, flexibility and convenient prices.

This session-based virtualization allows clients to access up to 120,000 sessions around five sites. VMware has also developed a new platform, JMP, that is built according to the client’s needs.

A client states what the workplace should look like and JMP automatically designs the workspace. The platform makes use of different technologies, such as VMware user environment manager, VMware app volumes, and Instant Clone technology.

Like Citrix, VMware allows clients to use Horizon 7 Cloud and pay subscriptions.It also employs smart policies to assure the security of data and easy recovery.

It uses True SSO which is an identity authentication process. Instead of having to log in twice to verify identity, users log in once, while still ensuring the security of their data.

VMware collaborated with Microsoft to create the Horizon Virtualization Pack with Skype for business products. It allows clients to use Skype through a virtual desktop or an app with high-quality streaming. It also eliminates any errors that can happen to the infrastructure.

Final Thoughts

VM Workstations

Desktop virtualization is the new hype in virtual technologies and can provide some nice benefits to either desktop or laptop computer users. Whether or not desktop virtualization can be useful to you or your business, depends on lots of factors.

If you want to build a digital startup, a virtual desktop infrastructure can be very convenient. Companies usually base their decisions on business nature, resources and return on investment.


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