Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is a desktop virtualization technology wherein a desktop operating system, typically Microsoft Windows, runs and is managed in a data center. The virtual desktop image is delivered over a network to an endpoint device, which allows the user to interact with the operating system and its applications as if they were running locally. The endpoint may be a traditional PC, thin client device or a mobile device.
If you read this and you work at a company with legacy technologies – or you are past a certain age - you may have flashbacks to mainframes and dummy terminals.
With VDI, the hypervisor creates virtual machines that host virtual desktops. Users need to connect via a connection broker, and all activities are processed on the host server – creating significant complexity and latency challenges.
Other key drawbacks: what if the server crashes? What about downtime for upgrades? The entire VDI becomes inaccessible – incurring significant productivity costs. Furthermore, operations and management costs automatically increase, from licensing, the need for more IT staff, and the fact that all data and applications need to be stored in a central location.
The VDI infrastructure varies by organization, so significant training is required as part of the employee onboarding process. If non-persistent VDI is the tool of choice, the users need to customize the browser for each session, reducing productivity and efficiency. In addition, the employees are automatically working in two places at once – the VDI and the actual device, so material can get “lost” within their workspaces; if the device itself has been compromised, threat actors can have a field day with the “missing” files.
While VDI architecture is good for accessing on-prem applications and data, it’s very ineffective when it comes to accessing SaaS and cloud-based data and surfing the web – all the proxies cause significant latency.
Adopting a secure enterprise browser completely eliminates all the drawbacks of VDI.
Device cost savings – The browser works anywhere, on any device, and needs no back-end processing. The secure Zero-Trust browser is automatically forward and backward compatible, so it can be easily used on older devices. It is naturally a thin client, so the device’s processing power is irrelevant.
Security – The Zero-Trust enterprise browser ensures that all applications and data remain within the purview of the enterprise, preventing threats from phishing, ransomware, and more. In addition, the enterprise can enforce security controls like extensions management, DLP, content disarming and reconstruction, phishing prevention, kill switch, device posture checks, transactional MFA, and more.
Furthermore, a secure, Zero-Trust enterprise smooths web categorization, allowing the organization to quickly and easily filter websites - whitelisting or blacklisting specific sites – reinforcing productivity, preventing distraction, and reducing the potential of workers visiting malware-infected sites.
Management – The backend of the enterprise browser streamlines management, easily allowing for both role-based and individual access.
User experience – Based on Chromium, the secure browser delivers the exact same user experience as if it were a consumer-focused browser. The learning curve is nonexistent versus a VDI, which requires training.
Scalability – The Zero-Trust secure enterprise browser can be used across an infinite number of devices, just like Chrome, Edge, Safari, etc. VDI is scalable only to the point where the network can support the activities.
Remote workforce support – Employees, contractors, third-party workers, etc. can be up and running on the corporate network within seconds of downloading and installing the enterprise browser.
The Zero-Trust secure enterprise browser completely replaces the VDI – for BYOD or corporate-owned devices while allowing on-site employees, third-party contractors, and remote employees access however, wherever, and whenever. With a secure browser, it’s download and use, with no-backend processing required.
Using a a secure enterprise browser automatically creates an air gap between the device threats, the web threats, and the work itself- without a proxy. When using a zero-trust enterprise browser, the website is real - not a mirror – so everything “works.”
The secure browser delivers the same user experience as an insecure browser but achieves full security and zero trust without any additional technologies layered above or below. Instead of adding layers of virtualization, cost and complexity and fracturing the user experience, security and access controls are built directly, seamlessly within the browser.
VDI is rapidly becoming obsolete. Embrace the convenience and security of a Zero-Trust secure enterprise browser.