Two Approaches to Desktop Virtualization

By Doug Lowe

There are at least two distinct approaches to implementing desktop virtualization. The first approach is to simply create a separate virtual machine for each user and provide a way for the users to efficiently connect to their virtual machines. This approach is usually referred to as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). VDI solutions are usually built using traditional virtualization products such as Microsoft’s Hyper-V or VMware’s ESDi hypervisor.

The second approach is to use a single server that is designed to support multiple users and provide a way for each user to connect to his or her session on the server. This approach is often called terminal services, because it’s based on the terminal services role that is a standard part of all versions of Windows Server.

Technically, with Windows Server 2008, Microsoft changed the name of Terminal Services to Remote Desktop Services to emphasize the role of Terminal Services for virtualizing desktops. The IT industry is pretty reluctant to change its phraseology, however, so most IT professionals still call it terminal services even though that term has been obsolete for almost a decade.