05 Feb VPN vs. VDI vs. RDS
What they are, which is better and where DaaS and virtual desktop hosting come in.
Whether you’re a new start-up, an existing business updating current teleworking capabilities or you’re just trying to catch up with pandemic-era work from home requirements, you may be weighing your options to enable remote access to your business systems. So what’s the difference between VPN, VDI and RDS? Let’s find out.
Defining VPN, VDI and RDS
VPN – Virtual Private Network
A virtual private network or VPN is a fairly old way of connecting users to a corporate network and resources such as shared folders, printers and applications. It allows users to connect their desktop to a private office network using a public network (the internet) by way of an encrypted tunnel. This allows the user’s machine to run as if it was in the office and all the processing is done on the user client (the remote worker’s PC).
VDI – Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure or VDI creates virtual machines that live on a server. VDI environments tend to be more complex than remote desktop for example and require more management. However, users are able to access these machines through their devices while the servers do the heavy lifting of processing. With VDI, users have their own dedicated virtual desktop where they can run a Windows instance that can be configured to best support their needs. This provides a more familiar user experience that performs as it would in a traditional install on their machine. More about VDI
RDS – Remote Desktop Services
Remote Desktop Services allows all users to log into a remote desktop hosted on the server. With RDS the user can log in from any machine and all users will have the same experience for the most part. This option is generally less customizable than VDI. Rather than a dedicated virtual desktop, RDS users share the same desktop. More about RDS
Which is Better VPN, VDI or RDS?
VPNs offer a relatively low-cost solution and many in-house IT shops are familiar with the technology. However, they often deliver sluggish performance as they rely heavily on the processing power of the user client and the user’s internet speed for processing. Because VPNs rely on the user client, you are limited as to what machines you can use (thin clients are pretty much off the table). Worst of all, VPNs are difficult to secure and are vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
Despite the cost and complexity of VDI, they offer significant advantages over the other two options. VDIs require a software solution like Citrix and can be more cost intensive than a VPN, but VDI offers the highest levels of performance, seamless user experience and are less vulnerable to cyberattacks. Because the processing is done on a server, VDIs work on almost any machine (Citrix offers access clients for most devices being used today, including thin clients).
The key advantage of RDS is its simplicity. RDS is a middle ground solution compared to VPNs and VDIs, in terms of cost, performance and maintenance. RDS offers high performance and security and may be less cost intensive than VDI. However, RDS does not ensure the same ubiquitous experience across devices as VDIs and is less customizable to the end user’s needs.
So which is better? It depends largely on your needs and budget. That said, we do believe that VPNs are outdated, sluggish and highly vulnerable to breaches.
Where do DaaS and Virtual Desktop Hosting Fit?
Desktop as a Service (DaaS) and virtual desktop hosting are methods for virtualizing your desktop by outsourcing the hosting maintenance to a third party hoster. Desktop virtualization is maintenance intensive. Virtual desktops of any kind take up a lot of room on your servers and properly securing them requires a lot of expertise and monitoring. Learn about benefits of DaaS
Outsourcing a third-party service provider to implement and host your virtual desktop system frees up your internal IT resources so they can focus on more revenue generating systems, like client management, customer portals and point of sale systems. For startups, DaaS allows your IT team more room to focus on innovation and getting the operation off the ground.
What’s more, security is the bread and butter of a DaaS or hosting provider–it’s essential to their business and operations. They have a team of experts and myriad monitoring solutions, so they are better equipped to manage and secure your desktop virtualization.
DaaS and VDI hosting also save you upfront expenditures if you are implementing a new system. Rather than dumping major capital expense into servers and server maintenance infrastructure, you pay a subscription fee so you can be up and running quickly at low cost. This is especially significant for startups.