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Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Desktop virtualization is software technology that separates the desktop environment and associated application software from the physical client device that is used to access it.

Desktop virtualization can be used in conjunction with application virtualization and (Windows) user profile management systems, now termed “user virtualization,” to provide a comprehensive desktop environment management system. In this mode, all the components of the desktop are virtualized, which allows for a highly flexible and much more secure desktop delivery model. In addition, this approach supports a more complete desktop disaster recovery strategy as all components are essentially saved in the data center and backed up through traditional redundant maintenance systems. If a user’s device or hardware is lost, the restore is much more straightforward and simple, because basically all the components will be present at login from another device. In addition, because no data is saved to the user’s device, if that device is lost, there is much less chance that any critical data can be retrieved and compromised. Below are more detailed descriptions of the types of desktop virtualization technologies that will be used in a typical deployment.

Desktop virtualization implementations are classed on if the virtual desktop runs remotely or locally, on whether the access is required to be constant or is designed to be intermittent, and on whether or not the virtual desktop persists between sessions. Typically, software products that deliver desktop virtualization solutions can combine local and remote implementations into a single product to provide the most appropriate support specific to requirements. The degree of independent functionality of the client device is necessarily interdependent with the server location and access strategy. And virtualization is not strictly required for remote control to exist. Virtualization is employed to present independent instances to multiple users, and requires a strategic segmentation of the host server and presentation at some layer of the host’s architecture. The enabling layer—usually application software—is called a hypervisor.

Remote Desktop Virtualization

Remote desktop virtualization implementations operate as a client/server computing environment. Application execution takes place on a remote operating system which is linked to the local client device over a network using a remote display protocol through which the user interacts with applications. All applications and data used remain on the remote system with only display, keyboard, and mouse information communicated with the local client device, which may be a conventional PC/laptop, a thin client device, a tablet, or even a smartphone. A common implementation of this approach is to host multiple desktop operating system instances on a server hardware platform running a hypervisor. This is generally referred to as “Virtual Desktop Infrastructure” or “VDI”. It should be noted that VDI is often used incorrectly to refer to any desktop virtualization implementation.

  • In distributed environments with high availability requirements and where desk- side technical support is not readily available, such as branch office and retail environments.
  • In environments where high network latency degrades the performance of conventional client/server applications
  • In environments where remote access and data security requirements create conflicting requirements that can be addressed by retaining all (application) data within the data center with only display, keyboard, and mouse information communicated with the remote client.

It is also used as a means of providing access to Windows applications on non-Windows endpoints including tablets, smart phones and non-Windows-based desktop PCs and laptops.

Remote desktop virtualization is also used as a means of resource sharing, to provide low-cost desktop computing services in environments where providing every user with a dedicated desktop PC is either too expensive or otherwise unnecessary.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

A Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a desktop-oriented service that hosts user-desktop environments on remote servers and/or blade PCs. Users accessed the desktops over a network using a remote display protocol. A connection-brokering service connects users to their assigned desktop sessions. For users, this means they can access their desktop from any location, without having to use a single client device. Since the resources are centralized, users moving between work locations can still access the same desktop environment with their applications and data.[3] administrators, this means a more centralized, efficient client environment that is easier to maintain and able to respond more quickly to the changing needs of the user and business.



Hardware and software solution for optimized remote 3D visualization


Full GPU acceleration for off-the-shelf OpenGL® applications


GPU sharing across multiple users


Collaborative session sharing of remote 3D data

Remote Desktop Services

Remote Desktop Services (also called terminal services, server based computing, and presentation virtualization) is a component of Microsoft Windows that allows a user to access applications and data on a remote computer over a network using a remote display protocol. Another leading example of presentation virtualization is Citrix XenApp.

Remote Desktop Services is functionally similar to VDI in that it hosts the users’ desktop environments on remote servers; however it differs from VDI in two important ways. Where a VDI service provides individual desktop operating system instances (e.g. Windows XP, Windows 7, etc.) for each user, Remote Desktop Services sessions run in a single shared server operating system (e.g. Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, etc.).

Where VDI is designed to deliver full desktop environments, Remote Desktop Services can provide connections to individual applications or full desktops as needed.

The use of a single shared server operating system instead of individual desktop operating system instances consumes significantly fewer resources than the same number VDI sessions. At the same time VDI licensing is both more expensive and less flexible than equivalent Remote Desktop Services licenses. Together these factors can combine to make Remote Desktop Services-based remote desktop virtualization more attractive than VDI.

However, VDI implementations allow for delivering a personalized workspace back to a user, which retains all the user’s customizations. There are several methods to accomplish this. One is to deliver fully persistent VM desktops, in which a user gets a dedicated desktop that functions essentially as their own PC. Another mode is to deliver non-persistent desktops which do not include user personalization. These are VM desktops delivered from a pool which are then used for a session and returned to the pool. This approach has the advantage of keeping VM desktops “clean” as nothing is saved to the image by the user. Non-persistent desktops can be paired with user virtualization technologies to deliver user profiles and customizations (and all profiles settings, application data settings, configuration and user data), to the user upon login.

The user profile is matched with a non-persistent desktop providing an experience that is very little different from a PC. All changes made to the user profile are saved to the profile and are restored to the user upon their next login. However, the VM is returned to the pool with no changes saved to it.

SGI VizServer system with NICE Desktop Cloud VisualizationTM (DCV) software is a commercially supported hardware and software solution that delivers efficient and optimized remote access to graphic-intensive, off-the-shelf 3D applications running on both Windows® and Linux® desktop environments, including major CAD, CAE, Petro-technical, medical and scientific visualization software.

NICE DCV is the first software product on the market to allow sharing of a single physical GPU between multiple Windows and Linux sessions, while maintaining full OpenGL application acceleration and workstation-class performance: this makes SGI VizServer servers with NICE DCV the ideal choice for remote working and collaboration, allowing a better utilization of available hardware resources and enabling an efficient and responsive 3D Cloud experience.

Dell and SGI with NICE DCV is integrated into NICE EnginFrameTM Viewsto provide 2D/3D session management via a web browser including the ability toshare an interactive session with others for collaborative working. When coupled with EnginFrame HPC functionalities, engineers and researchers benefit from a user-friendly, web-based experience across their complete workflow, including state-of-the-art data and batch job management using their job scheduler of choice.