The Advantages of Using a VDI Workstation

POSTED BY APPANNA GANAPATHY

If you’re running software across multiple operating systems, how do you go about testing it? Do you build and test the software on the latest operating systems currently running in-house and hope for the best? Or, perhaps, do you have separate hardware boxes for each operating system against which you test?
Both these options are bound to cause more trouble than it is worth in the long run. Instead, what you need is a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) workstation, which allows you to set up multiple virtual machines on a single piece of hardware or server. You can then swap between multiple operating systems and report which versions of the software your PCs are supporting.
 
If this sounds interesting, the first thing a VDI workstation requires is an x86-64 computer system, one that runs the 64-bit version of the x86 instruction set. The 64-bit system is required to access a larger memory space than a 32-bit system can, making it easier to swap between multiple operating systems, each of which needs its own large memory space.

 

Reduced downtime on support calls
 
Assuming you have a machine that supports a VDI workstation, after installing the software, you would create a new virtual machine running on your local computer with whichever operating system you choose for multiple machines. You can then test any application you want to see how it reacts in the new environment. Want to test the minimum memory requirements of your applications?
 
All you would need to do is tweak the allocated memory until you find a size that fails. When handling a support call with a customer, just create a new virtual machine with the equivalent environment of the customer and try to replicate the problems the customer is having in his or her own environment, reducing downtime.

 

Cost-saving
 
Budgets are tight for any business and you don’t want to have to buy additional hardware against which to test your product. Fact is, with the help of a VDI solution you can run virtual machines in the cloud by making real machines available remotely and then splitting up their resources across multiple virtual machines. With the VDI solution, developers and quality assurance engineers will be able to connect remotely. You can have one virtual machine running a database server, another running the web server and yet another running some other aspect of the system – all aspects of a multi-tiered environment, each in its own environment.

 

In the classroom
 
A favourite use of a VDI workstation is in training departments. Create a canned virtual machine environment for each student. Let students connect from their own laptops, if they so choose. When the class is over, there is no need to reconfigure the machines. Just start with fresh instances of the virtual machines for each student. Having more students than machines is no longer an issue – while there is a theoretical upper limit to the number of students you can support for most classroom usages, that limit won’t be approached. And if you do reach the limit, just enable another real computer to host multiple virtual environments.
 
It is that simple. In the early days of setting up training environments, you typically had to manually go from machine to machine with a CD to reconfigure each workstation. Now, just have the students’ virtual machines automatically expire when the class is over. You don’t even need to manually kill it.

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