How to Explain Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) to Management, Executives, Etc

I recently had a need to explain what exactly VDI is to a group of executives without getting technical, which is pretty difficult because VDI has a lot of technical complexities. This did a pretty good job of not only giving a good idea of “what” it is, but “why” we need it.

To understand exactly what Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is, we first need to take a look at why we need VDI.

Back in the 80’s and 90’s, work was a place we all went to everyday. We had a desk in a cubicle, and on that desk we had a big beige box with an even bigger beige monitor… maybe even a mouse with wheels!

Pen and paper dominated meeting rooms, and “working at home” meant taking a cardboard box full of files with you.

Over time, laptops evolved and became more popular. Instead of being tied to a desk, technology started moving around with people. Dialing-in became “a thing” and laptops allowed people to work from anywhere with a phone line and a calling card.

The Internet evolved as broadband became widely available, everyone bought a computer, and suddenly people were working at home with VPN’s and Terminal Servers.

Then the iPhone happened, followed shortly by the iPad. Suddenly “smart” devices were ubiquitous; desktops gave way to laptops and WiFi availability absolutely exploded. People were connected almost everywhere, and needed the ability to work just as effectively wherever they chose to be. They also wanted choice… the ability to choose what device they were going to use and where they were going to use it from.

Meanwhile…. Windows was still the operating system of choice for business. Thousands of critical applications wouldn’t run on anything else, and IT needed to find a way to deliver those applications to any device, anytime, and anywhere. No more beige boxes on desks, we needed to provide Windows to whatever device our customer chose.

That’s why we need something like VDI. VDI is simply delivering Windows from “The Cloud,” that nebulous buzz word we in IT like to throw around. By using cloud technology, we’re able to present Windows to any device with an Internet connection. More than that, we’re able to present your Windows, so that you get all of the same personalization and software as you would otherwise.

In short, VDI enables a personalized computing experience regardless if you are working from home, office, or somewhere else with WiFi. It’s a very effective and secure way of allowing you to work wherever you need to, with the applications and tools you require. No beige box required!

About Rebecca Harness

Rebecca Harness is a Business Information Security Officer (BISO) for a publicly-traded, global information solutions company. As BISO, she champions security initiatives and recommends strategies to mitigate risk, facilitating innovation and new product development. She’s also responsible for representing the business unit’s security program in client facing engagements, conferences, and industry forums. Prior to her current role, she was an influential cybersecurity leader for one of the world’s largest transportation providers, known for transforming information security efforts into well-orchestrated programs. There, she developed an innovative methodology for delivering key information security priorities as a service model, leading to quicker adoption enterprise-wide while significantly reducing operational costs. She also led and modernized their global, multi-brand PCI Assessment and other compliance initiatives. In the early 2000’s, Rebecca developed one of St. Louis' leading Managed Services Providers from a startup in a spare bedroom into a mature consulting company with 30+ employees and 150+ clients in the Greater St. Louis Area. Rebecca holds many certifications, including; ISACA Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA); ISC2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP); and GIAC Security Leadership Certified (GSLC). She’s also a proud alumni of Hastings College and a longtime member of the Society of American Magicians.

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