Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is a very hot topic right now. A VDI can deliver a pre-configured Windows virtual machine with all of the necessary applications on demand. This benefits highly regulated environments like banking and healthcare because they can configure their virtual desktop with precise security settings to comply with current laws. Also, legacy applications that won’t run on Windows 7 can run on a virtual desktop using an older version of Windows.
To implement a VDI with Windows Server 2008 R2 you need an Active Directory Domain, Hyper-V, and the Remote Desktop Services Role. A VDI requires the following:
- Remote Desktop Session Host makes applications and virtual desktops available to clients running the Remote Desktop Connection Client (RDC) using the RDP protocol
- Remote Desktop Virtualization Host integrates Hyper-V based virtual machines with the Remote Desktop Session Host to make them available to RDC clients
- Remote Desktop Connection Broker works with the Virtualization Host to direct RDC clients to a virtual desktop. Connection Broker also reconnects users to their desktops if their connection momentarily drops out
- Remote Desktop Web Access allows Windows 7 users to connect to their virtual desktop from the start menu. Users with older versions of Windows can connect from their web browser
- Remote Desktop Licensing issues and manages Remote Desktop Services client access licenses (RDS CALs) which are required to use Remote Desktop Services
All virtual machines in Hyper-V that are available as Virtual Desktops must be joined to the Active Directory Domain and have the same fully qualified domain name in the Hyper-V console. The Remote Desktop Connection Manager console configures Virtual Desktops. A Virtual Desktop can be placed in a pool of identical desktops that are available when clients connect. A single Virtual Desktop can also be assigned to a user account in Connection Manager so that the user can reconnect to the same desktop.
A Remote Desktop-based VDI is available from anywhere in the world using a low-bandwidth connection. Any computer, including thin clients, that can run RDC, can reach a virtual desktop accessing new technology on older hardware. Security updates and software management are centralized, and administration is simplified with VDI, making it a low-cost alternative to conventional networks.