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Virtual desktops are emulations of a preconfigured desktop environment that can be remotely accessed by any physical device or endpoint on a local, secure network. In other words, virtual desktops provide a work environment that is nearly identical to and even better than that of a physical workstation.  

Virtual desktops are the modern solution to a successful business. Not only does it provide an efficient, secure, and reliant virtual workspace for all employees, by providing access to the desktop from anywhere on a network, it promotes business continuity and employee productivity. Virtual desktops are centrally managed; all software and application updates can be done at once across all shared network devices, eliminating a huge source of time waste. Additionally, IT organizations are easily able to regulate the access and usage of corporate resources through the network—an important facet to have in a world where cybersecurity is a necessity.

How Virtual Desktops Work

Virtual desktops are images of operating systems that are sandboxed, or separated from the hardware used to access it. They are often used as part of virtual desktop infrastructures (VDI), which are collections of virtual desktops hosted on large-scale servers. Endpoint devices can log into these virtual desktops to greatly increase accessible hardware power and for security purposes. 

There are two types of VDI: persistent and nonpersistent. 

Behind each cluster of virtual desktops is a hypervisor: native software that creates, runs, and manages virtual machines. It allows for many different virtual desktops to reside on the same hardware, and is responsible for allocating the host’s hardware resources to the virtual machines. In a virtual desktop infrastructure, the host is typically a large, physical, and central server. The host delivers the virtual desktop to the endpoint device; a tablet, phone, or laptop can now run an operating system that has the power of a physical desktop machine.  

Having all of the virtual machines in a centralized server also makes cloud security and central management easy to implement. Other software can still be run alongside the virtual machines, such as packet monitors, dynamic firewalls, and even machine-learning security algorithms.

Benefits of Virtual Desktops

Virtual desktops provide a multitude of benefits over the traditional physical desktop machine. 

Improved User Experience 

Virtual desktops are built so that users can access anything that is necessary for their job all in one place. This desktop is consistent across all devices that a person would use, allowing users to choose when, where, and how they want to work. Persistent and non-persistent virtual desktops give users the ability to customize their desktop if desired, resulting in a more comfortable and productive workspace.  

Enhanced Security 

Valuable corporate data and information are stored in a data center instead of on endpoint devices, thereby reducing the chance of theft by outside organizations. IT organizations can control who can access data and how they can access it (to what degree of freedom, e.g., view only, editing rights, etc.)  

IT Management Efficiency 

Administrators of the virtual desktop network can apply software updates to all devices at the same time. They can also manage control access and change configurations for all desktops. Launching changes to desktops from a centralized location reduces the amount of time and effort needed if they were to be done individually.  

Cost 

The processing power for virtual desktops happens in the data center. This means that endpoint devices do not require more expensive hardware. Less physical equipment and maintenance is required.  

Scalability 

Virtual desktop interfaces can easily scale up or down with the amount of users on a given network. This makes it easy for businesses to deal with temporary shifts in employee counts due to unforeseen circumstances. Anyone can easily be given a virtual desktop with all the essential applications and be ready to start working.

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