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PATHWAY TO THE CLOUD – VIRTUAL DESKTOPS

What are virtual desktops? What are VDI and DaaS? There are many terms and acronyms that are used to describe virtual desktops and this can be confusing. However, the underlying concept is simple and should be explained so you can have a better understanding of the advantages of moving to a virtual desktop environment.

In the 1970’s, the business computing environment consisted of server-based computing infrastructures. Mainframes were large, powerful computers that users logged into from a terminal. These terminals were often referred to as “dumb” terminals since no computing was done at the end-user device. As the personal computer or PC gained popularity in the 1980’s, the applications and computing became distributed. This environment is known as client/server infrastructure where typically there is a central, back-end server that shares a database to the PCs. The PCs run the client application software and communicate to the database or application server.

As the work environment became more dependent on computer systems for information, desktops and laptops became standard equipment for office workers. Management of the end-user computers became a full-time job for IT departments. In 1989 Citrix Systems developed a remote access solution that allowed client/server applications to be deployed over wide area networks. This Citrix solution enabled applications to be accessed by remote users over slower network connections such as frame relay and even dial up connections. A major benefit of the Citrix solution was the centralization of the client application. Administrators could now install the client application software once on a central server as opposed to installing it on individual desktops.

Today, virtual desktop technology has matured even further and the availability of high-speed Internet connections makes server-based computing a reality for companies whose users are distributed. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, or VDI, is used by large enterprises that have thousands of desktops to support. VDI allows administrators to deploy dedicated, virtual desktops to end users from a central data center. Cloud service providers have taken the technology a step further by offering Desktop as a Service or DaaS. Similar to other cloud services like email, users can now leverage server-based computing to run their own virtual Desktop as a Service.

The impact of centralizing server and desktop infrastructure in the cloud, as a service, can be seen in the amount of time saved in server/desktop deployment and management. IT departments can redirect their resources to other initiatives that may have a bigger impact on growing the business. In conclusion, the IT industry has come full circle in regards to server-based computing and with the availability of high-speed Internet, virtual desktops are a viable option for all companies today.

Author Credits: David Lagumbay, Solutions Engineer

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