WHAT IS A VIRTUAL DESKTOP?
A Virtual Desktop is a solution in which the employee’s desktop is hosted on a server in the cloud, such that all applications are executed on the remote server, rather than being run on the user’s end point. In this way, IT can centrally manage all desktops in the company, with no need to download apps to PCs. Furthermore, all of the users’ files are stored on the server-based Virtual Desktop, so that regardless of which location the end user logs on from, all of their files remain in the centralized cloud location.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VIRTUAL DESKTOP INTEGRATION (VDI) AND DESKTOP-AS-A-SERVICE (DAAS)?
With VDI, the Virtual Desktops are run on servers that stay within the enterprise’s cloud and are managed directly by the enterprise. Leaders in this space are VMware (Horizon View), Citrix (HDX) and Microsoft (RDS). With DaaS, a service provider (such as Amazon Web Services) hosts the servers, with an Internet-based GUI for ordering / configuring desktops. Leaders in this space include Amazon Web Services (AWS) and VMware (Horizon DaaS).
WHAT IS A ZERO CLIENT?
At the end point, the end user requires a screen, keyboard, mouse and headset to interact with their Virtual Desktop. The solution with the best security, best performance and lowest management cost is a zero client. A zero client looks like a small home router,which connects to a monitor, as well as to the LAN via Ethernet. The zero client is so-called because it does not have an Operating System, but rather a low level task manager; this implies that there is no surface area of a virus to attack. Zero clients also use hardware-based video encode / decode, thus offering the best performance. From a manageability perspective, zero clients require virtually no ongoing effort to manage, as there are no local apps. All software is provided in the form of firmware updates.
WHAT IS A THIN CLIENT?
A thin client is similar to a zero client, in that it connects to a monitor, as well as the LAN, and allows the end user to connect back to their Virtual Desktop. The key difference is that thin clients are based on operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows Embedded (a stripped down version of Windows) or Linux. Thin clients are more costly to manage, due to the need to keep virus detection software up-to-date on the thin client. Also, thin clients are inherently more expensive.
WHAT IS A THICK / FAT CLIENT?
A thick client is simply an application that runs on a desktop. Some enterprises use older / refurbished PCs as the end point, which require a special VDI or DaaS software package be installed for accessing the Virtual Desktop. Or when employees work from home, thick clients can be used for connecting to the Virtual Desktop.