Virtualization has become an essential part of modern computing. It enables multiple operating systems to run on a single physical machine. It provides more efficient use of resources, reducing hardware costs, and simplifying management.

Two of the most popular virtualization technologies are Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and Virtual Machines (VM). Both have similarities and also unique differences at the same time, which make them suitable for different use cases. In this article, we will explore the key differences and advantages of VDI vs VM in a simple way.

What is VDI?

VDI or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure is a form of computer virtualization that allows desktops to be hosted on remote servers. It enables many users to access their own virtual desktops from one central server. Each virtual desktop runs on a separate operating system and has its own resources, such as CPU, memory, and storage.

Through remote access users can connect to their virtual desktops from any device with an internet connection. VDI is commonly used in business environments where employees need to access their desktops from remote locations or on different devices.

What are VMs?

Virtual Machines (VMs) are virtualized environments that simulate physical hardware to host multiple operating systems on a single physical server. VMs are created by dividing a server's resources, such as CPU, memory, and storage, into multiple isolated virtual machines. Each VM has its own resources and can be configured with different operating systems and applications. Virtual Machines are widely used to consolidate physical hardware and to achieve better usage of server resources.

Differences between VDI and VM

VDI and VM are two types of virtualization technologies that have some similarities but also some differences. VDI lets people use a virtual desktop hosted on a server in a data center. VMs on the other hand let you use different operating systems on one physical server by creating virtual hardware.

One of the main differences between VDI and VMs is the level of isolation between virtual environments. In VDI environments, each user has a virtual desktop, and the resources are shared between users. On the contrary, VMs provide a high level of isolation between virtual environments since each virtual machine operates on its own.

VDI and VMs also differ in their management approach. VDI environments are managed from a central location by a connection broker. This allows administrators to host virtual desktops from a single location. In contrast to VDI, managing VMs requires handling each machine separately, which takes more time and demands additional effort.

Different types of VDI

There are three primary types of VDI environments: persistent, non-persistent, and pooled. Let’s delve into the details:

  1. Persistent VDI: In this type of VDI, users have access to the same virtual desktop environment across multiple sessions. Any changes made during a session are saved and persisted across all future sessions.
  2. Non-Persistent VDI: Non-persistent VDI environments provide users with a new virtual desktop every time they log in. Any changes made during a session are discarded at the end of the session.
  3. Pooled VDI: In pooled VDI environments, multiple virtual desktops are created from a single image. Each user is given a temporary virtual desktop for their session. Any changes they make are erased after they log out.

Different types of VMs

Virtual machines can be classified into two main types: Type 1 hypervisors and Type 2 hypervisors.

  1. Type 1 hypervisors: Type 1 hypervisors, also known as bare-metal hypervisors, run directly on the physical hardware of a server. Type 1 hypervisors are commonly used in data centers and provide better performance and security than Type 2 hypervisors.
  2. Type 2 hypervisors: Type 2 hypervisors run on top of an operating system and are commonly used on desktops and laptops. Type 2 hypervisors are less efficient than Type 1 hypervisors but are more flexible and easier to use.

Advantages of VDI and VMs

Here’s a quick comparison between the advantages of both VDI and Vms.

Image comparing VDI and VM advantages.

Applications of VDI

VDI is a popular desktop virtualization technology that provides businesses with many benefits, including:

  1. Remote Working: VDI enables remote working by allowing employees to access their virtual desktops from any location, using any device.
  2. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): VDI enables businesses to support BYOD policies. They provide employees with access to virtual desktops from their own devices.
  3. Centralization: VDI enables businesses to centralize their desktop infrastructure in a data center, reducing the need for physical hardware and promoting efficient remote access to desktop environments.

Applications of VMs

VMs are widely used for many applications, including:

  1. Server Consolidation: VMs enable businesses to consolidate multiple physical servers into a single virtualized environment. This leads to more efficient usage of hardware and reduced expenses.
  2. Development and Testing: VMs are extensively utilized to produce isolated testing environments that replicate the production environments.
  3. Disaster Recovery: VMs are used in disaster recovery solutions. They enable businesses to recover their virtualized environment in case of a disaster.

Which one is right for your business?

The choice between VDI and VM depends on your specific needs. If you want to enable remote access to desktops for your employees, VDI may be the better option. On the other hand, if you need to consolidate multiple servers into a single physical machine, VM may be more suitable. It is important to evaluate your requirements and consider factors such as resource allocation, isolation, management, and performance.

Image comparing the differences between VDI and VM.

Conclusion 

Virtualization has transformed the way we operate in the digital world. VDI and VM are two popular virtualization technologies that have their unique differences and advantages. Understanding these differences can help organizations make informed decisions on which technology to adopt based on their specific needs.

Whether you are an IT professional or a business owner, evaluating your requirements and considering the factors we covered can help you choose the right virtualization solution for your business.

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