VDI Boosts BYOD and Mobile
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is something of a misnomer when it comes to the modern IT environment. These days, the desktop and the infrastructure extends to both wired and wireless computing. And mobile is a big part of what VDI will eventually encompass.
To some extent that’s true today. VDI is increasingly pitched as a way for enterprises to provide IT flexibility; the ability to continually change the way that business processes adapt to requirements. It also promotes a level of agility to help the enterprise to scale resources as needed.
On the desktop, that means being able to access applications and data as users require. Increasingly, however, much of that work is done away from their desks and out of the office.
Thankfully, VDI provides the same applications and data to both desktops and mobile devices from a centrally managed resource.
Now that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has become more accepted within government agencies, VDI presents a possible solution for the difficult management and security issues that have plagued the rollout of BYOD in government over the past few years. A recent 1105 Public Sector Media Group survey makes several nods to the importance of mobile and BYOD in agency considerations to deploy VDI.
For those agencies that have already adopted or are considering VDI, for example, nearly one third said they have already deployed VDI to support their mobile users, 43 percent said they were in the process of doing so, and 15 percent were considering the option. Only 10 percent said were not considering it, at least not yet.
In the same set of respondents, 19 percent said they were already using VDI for BYOD, while a combined 59 percent were either in the process of deploying or considering it to support mobile devices. More than one third of agencies believe VDI will help them enforce their BYOD policies.
Where agency employees use agency sanctioned tablets and smartphones, VDI can provide consistent software and application updates that mirror what’s on their desktops. With each device’s identity registered, agencies can also use VDI to track where, when, and how the devices are used.
BYOD introduces a whole other layer of complexity. Since those devices belong to the user, they can contain different operating systems and applications than those sanctioned by agency IT departments, it may not have required security installed, and is more likely to be used in places such as coffee shops where connection security is suspect.
With VDI, however, the user’s device is simply another thin client. It accesses the same secure image on the central server as anyone else, uses the same applications, and accesses and stores data remotely. There are no downloads directly to the user device.
Because the employees aren’t using their own applications for agency work, any malware on the device can’t infect the agency VDI server. VDI can also provide for non-persistent sessions, so when a user ends the session, it truly goes away. A completely new session, with all applicable settings and policies, must be provided the next time the BYOD user accesses the system.
There’s still a lack of understanding at government agencies about the expanded use of VDI can also cover mobile and BYOD, says Troy Massey, director, enterprise engagements for Iron Bow. “Our slide deck certainly does have mobile in there, and you do notice that peoples’ eyes light up when they realize what VDI can mean for them that way.”