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What are the biggest pros and cons of VDI?

Cost savings and easier management are billed as top reasons to do VDI, but the technology also has downsides, and its complexity can make it daunting.

Like any other technology, virtual desktops and VDI have advantages and disadvantages. Before you decide whether to implement the technology, consider the pros and cons of VDI.

Probably the single biggest advantage to virtual desktops is that you can make them far more secure than physical desktops. Virtual desktops run on a backend server, and you can lock them down to prevent any alterations or unauthorized software installations. If a user does manage to change anything, you can reset the virtual desktop to a pristine state at the end of the session.

Another advantage to virtual desktops is the ease of management. It is typically far easier to centrally manage a collection of virtual desktops than it is to manage a collection of physical PCs.

Virtual desktops also work really well in bring your own device environments. Depending on the virtualization tool you use, you can deliver a virtual desktop to a number of different device types.

Of course virtual desktops do have some disadvantages. One is complexity.

Virtual desktop deployments involve using a lot of different components, which tends to make troubleshooting more difficult than it would be in a physical desktop environment. This complexity also means that the initial startup cost tends to be high. An organization must purchase and deploy a number of different components before it can provision the first virtual desktop.

Additionally, virtual desktop environments must be carefully designed to avoid having any single points of failure. This means that your organization must invest in redundant hypervisors, connection brokers, load balancers and more. Redundancy improves reliability and performance, but it also increases costs. This holds true not only for acquisition costs, but also for ongoing support and maintenance.

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VDI is a cost-effective alternative to traditional desktops. Its virtual technologies, however, are somewhat intricate and do have downsides. While great, VDI can be challenging.