Operating System Virtualization

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

VDI offers a comprehensive suite of solutions to address today’s business challenges; empowering organizations to provide their employees the flexibility to work everywhere on a range of devices, while simplifying compliance and business continuity through a centralized and unified management infrastructure. Users have access to consistent, secure, and personalized experiences, whether inside or outside the corporate network while IT is able to improve compliance through centralized control and managing access to confidential data.

VDI lets you deliver desktops and apps without compromising compliance. Apps and data stay in the datacenter so the risk of information loss from lost and stolen devices is reduced. VDI provides efficient management with a single console and rich user experience on a variety of devices and platforms too.

IT has the freedom to choose between personal or pooled virtual desktops, session-based desktops, RemoteApp in the datacenter so IT can customize the implementation to meet their organization needs.

Session Virtualization

An Remote Desktop Session Host (RD Session Host) server is the server that hosts Windows-based programs or the full Windows desktop for Remote Desktop Services clients. Users can connect to an RD Session Host server to run programs, to save files, and to use network resources on that server. Users can access an RD Session Host server from within a corporate network or from the Internet by using Remote Desktop Connection or by using RemoteApp.

When a user accesses a program on an RD Session Host server, the program execution occurs on the server. Each user sees only their individual session. The session is managed transparently by the server operating system and is independent of any other client session.

If you deploy a program on an RD Session Host server instead of on each device, there are many benefits. These include the following:

  • You can quickly deploy Windows-based programs to computing devices across an enterprise. This is especially useful when you have programs that are frequently updated, infrequently used, or difficult to manage.
  • Users can access programs that are running on an RD Session Host server from devices such as home computers, kiosks, hardware that might not meet the requirements of the operating system or application, and operating systems other than Windows.
  • Branch office workers who need access to centralized data stores can receive better program performance by accessing a program remotely on an RD Session Host server. Data-intensive programs sometimes do not have client/server protocols that are optimized for low-speed connections. Programs of this kind frequently perform better over a Remote Desktop Services connection than over a typical wide area network.

Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V)

MED-V uses Microsoft Virtual PC to provide an enterprise solution for desktop virtualization. With MED-V, you can easily create, deliver, and manage corporate Virtual PC images on any Windows®-based desktop.

MED-V is an integral component of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, a dynamic solution available to Software Assurance customers, which helps reduce application deployment costs, enables delivery of applications as services, and helps to better manage and control enterprise desktop environments.

Enable Legacy Applications and Accelerate Upgrades to New Operating Systems

Incompatibility of legacy applications with new versions of Windows can often delay enterprise upgrades to the latest version of Windows. Testing and migrating applications takes time, and users are unable to take advantage of the new capabilities and enhancements offered by the newest operating system.

By delivering applications in a Virtual PC that runs a previous version of the operating system (for example, Windows XP or Windows 2000), MED-V removes the barriers to operating system upgrades and allows administrators to complete testing and address incompatible applications after the upgrade.

From the user’s perspective, these applications are accessible from the standard desktop Start menu and appear side-by-side with native applications—so there is minimal change to the user experience.

Windows Thin PC

As desktop virtualization becomes more prevalent and getting deployed in larger numbers, organizations are evaluating the option of hosting desktops on servers in the datacenter using either VDI or Session Virtualization, thereby reducing the footprint and simplify the management requirements at the edge of the network. Once the desktop is in the datacenter, the next logical step is evaluating the devices that users will use to connect to desktops in the datacenter. Full PC functionality isn’t required at the local end point, since most of the compute happens remotely. This provides organizations with the opportunity to deploy devices that are thinner and have longer lifespans, or enable users to connect to their hosted desktops using the latest consumer devices and platforms.

Thin Clients have been around for many years, but enhancements to hardware platforms and maturity of VDI and Session technology have enabled a richer desktop-like experience for thin client users. A Thin Client is an always connected device that has an extremely low hardware and software footprint, since it is intended for use only in remote desktop scenarios. Typically, a thin client has smaller CPU and lower RAM than PCs, with extremely limited local storage. Thin clients usually run an embedded operating system (such as Windows Embedded Standard 7), that is specifically designed to use lower CPU cycles, with local application execution typically restricted to security and management. Today, thinner and smaller devices have emerged that have no local OS or storage, relying on a server for all processing (including input translation and graphics rendering). These devices are called “Zero Clients”, and are nothing but I/O redirectors.

Thin clients provide many benefits to organizations, including lower hardware TCO, higher reliability, reduced end point management, and higher levels of data security on the local device. Thin clients are applicable for a subset of users that rely only on a server based desktop. Below is a list of some specific benefits that should be considered when evaluating Thin Client computing in an environment.

  • Longer life of device
  • Thin clients have less moving parts and components, and hence are generally more rugged than PCs. They can be refreshed at longer intervals (typically 5-7 years), as opposed to shorter cycles for the PC (typically 3-4 years).

  • Security
  • Since all computing is done in the datacenter, there is no need to store data locally. This enables greater levels of security.

  • Reduced management
  • Thin clients can be setup quickly, as they are typically configured by the OEM. They require fewer security and management updates, since local data and applications are limited.

  • High reliability
  • With fewer moving parts, thin clients are less prone to failure and have longer lifespans.

  • Energy consumption
  • Thin client devices require much less power than traditional PCs, due to less hardware per device and limited amount of compute done locally.

  • Lower cost of ownership
  • Combining all the benefits of longer lifespan, increased reliability, reduced energy consumption and management, along with greater levels of security equate to a total lower cost of ownership of the end point. However, increase in data center costs and additional licensing for VDI may negate this advantage.