Should you deploy disconnected VDI?

What are the benefits and downsides of disconnected VDI?

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When virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) first became popular a few years ago, the argument most often cited against transitioning to VDI was the fact that it didn't work when a user was offline. With so many users now working remotely or travelling, many decision-makers still discount the viability of VDI for this reason.

Support for disconnected VDI is readily available from vendors, via a "check-in/check-out" process for user desktops. But, should you give it a try? Technical roadblocks to disconnected VDI may be a distant memory, but there are still good arguments for and against using disconnected virtual desktops. Let's examine each side of the story.

Nay-sayers say "Heck no!"

The downsides to disconnected VDI include:

  • It's more expensive;
  • It's more complex to deploy, configure and maintain than network-connected VDI and
  • Syncing during desktop check-in can go slowly when using limited-bandwidth connections such as those found in hotels and at airports.

Yea-sayers say "Yay!"

The upsides to disconnected VDI include:

  • Users can securely access their desktops from anywhere, using any supported device;
  • Admins can automate backups data once users reconnect to the network;
  • It can lower hardware costs because you don't need powerful, expensive laptops for remote workers;
  • Users can work in offline mode while traveling, then sync their desktops and data during off-hours or once they return to a network and
  • Disconnected VDI makes disaster recovery easier.

The list of credible objections to disconnected VDI is dwindling compared to the advantages it offers. In fact, disconnected VDI is a natural extension of the move by IT shops to regain control over the end-user experience in a cost-effective fashion. That's why we expect more companies to adopt VDI strategies that include support for disconnected user desktops in the future.


This was first published in May 2013

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