What is the Difference Between VDI and VM?

Did you know that 92% of businesses are right now using some level of virtualization?

A landscape facing several workplace disruptions in functioning patterns can use remote working to resume business operations. However, how can we complete business-critical operations without the ability to securely communicate with data or use shared resources?

Virtualization is the key technology offering us the feasibility of business continuity even through different types of disruptions. However, many face the dilemma of using Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) or virtual machines (VM). For this reason, we have explained the difference between virtual desktop interfaces and virtual machines.

Understanding Virtual Machines

If a physical machine is a computer we use at our workplace, a virtual machine is a virtual computer we use for work. This is a file that acts as a computer. That means any VM contains its memory, RAM, CPU, storage capabilities, and network interface. So, if you are using virtual machines, you are running a computer on a computer.

For instance, you can easily host your Linux virtual machine on a Windows server.

However, here the trick is to use a hypervisor to imitate actual resources needed by a VM, including hard disk, processing, network interfaces, etc. Using a hypervisor, this technique helps us use the physical hardware resources for different virtual machines. Ideally, we have the power to run many virtual machines on a computer using different operating systems. On the outside, you are using the same computer, but it is hosting different computers.

The above infrastructure doesn’t indicate that there would be a performance lag in all the machines. Every virtual machine is identical to the actual OS of the machine.

Further, this ability of virtual machines helps us take backups, create a disaster recovery shadow unit, or test various operating systems.

Understanding Virtual Desktop Interface

Virtual desktop interface or VDI is a different technology where we virtualize the entire desktop. In the above case, we are creating virtual machines inside a machine. In this case, we are using the power of virtual machines to handle virtual desktops. The hosted desktop provider deploys the entire desktop on a server, including applications, OSs, and data. From this server, virtual units or thin clients are deployed for end-users.

The significant difference between virtual network interfaces and virtual machines is the ability to use VDI remotely. We can open hosted desktop VDI on any device through an internet connection. Unlike how we access virtual machines, cloud VDI helps you leverage your resources on any portable device. For example, you can use your mobile phone to open your virtual desktop and use it.

Some components of the VDI are:

  • Similar to virtual machines, we use hypervisor in VDI to share physical resources and turn them to thin clients.
  • The hosted desktop provider also uses a connection broker to authenticate every user accessing virtual desktops. When we have different pools of virtual desktops, a connection broker helps us authenticate the user and direct them to the right virtual desktop.
  • Another device used to balance the load in various devices is the load balancer. This load balancer divides the entire load between different hosts to offer optimum performance to every user.
  • Lastly, there’s client software that connects endpoints to the business’s cloud server. This software can access remote desktop protocol, PC over internet protocol, and independent computing architecture.

How VDI and VM are Intertwined?

It is evident from the above discussion that virtual machines and virtual desktop interfaces are closely intertwined. If we didn’t have the virtual machine concept, we would not have VDI as well. There are hosted desktops because virtual machines are making it possible. We are ideally using VDI through virtual machines that open on our end devices.

Let’s explore some valuable benefits of virtual desktop interface:

1. Secure Functioning

The virtual desktop interface is secure, more than your office desktops. While VMs also have the same level of security, but only to an extent.

If you open a thin client on an end device, you would see a virtual machine accessed over a network. So, this VM is not even on the end device. Your virtual machine is safe if the end device is broken, lost, injected, or suffers wear and tear.

To add to this, the hosted desktop provider uses a series of security measures:

  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Internal and external firewalls
  • TLS 1.3 and 256-bit encryption
  • Intrusion Detection and Prevention

2. Cost-Effectiveness

Virtual desktop interface improves your costing, here’s how:

  • You don’t need to keep repurposing or repurchasing PCs. You can enhance the configuration of thin clients and keep using your hardware for longer.
  • There are reduced costs of managing the IT staff.
  • A virtual desktop interface decreases the cost of setting up an entire infrastructure for remote working.

3. Resource Management

With a hosted desktop provider, you can easily manage your resources. In-house, if your virtual machines need more space for optimum performance, what would you do?

You would purchase the relevant hardware to increase your storage.

However, in the case of a virtual desktop interface, you can make a call and improve your resources and performance. If in the future you no longer need these resources, you descale to manage your resources efficiently.

4. Better Communication

With the virtual desktop interface, all your applications and data are in a central location. Communication through such a network is hassle-free. If more than one colleagues need to work on one report, they can use their thin clients to review and make changes in real-time.

In the office, this situation means sitting together at one desktop reviewing the report or risking sharing data over the internet.


Both virtual desktop interfaces and virtual machines are different concepts, but they are closely connected. Without VM, VDI can’t survive, but the reverse is possible. Even when you don’t have VDI or cloud-hosted desktops, you can still use VMs on your office PCs. However, to use the benefits of VDI, as explained above, we need virtual machines.

Find the right hosted desktop provider, check their technical aptness in the field, and use this valuable technology to enhance the operational efficiency of your business.

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