VDI comes in many forms, but they all depend on a good foundation. Ignoring the actual VDI software, endpoints and feature sets, the cornerstone of VDI is the operating system or hypervisor that its running on. The two camps are versions of Linux – VMware, Citrix, Virtual Bridges, 2X and Kaviza and on the other side, Microsoft and Parallels.
On the first, Linux, side VMware and Citrix have proprietized Linux code to allow VDI and discrete platforms to be built on its foundation. You pay for VMware seat licenses and also VDI seat licenses. Citrix bundles the two together, but it adds up to a license fee. Virtual Bridges uses most flavors of Linux. It leverages its KVM capability. KVM is not the acronym for Keyboard, Video and Mouse of yesteryear but Kernel (based) Virtualization Machine. In other words, the super stable Linux kernel plays gatekeeper for VDI instances. As Linux distros are free, you only pay for VDI seat licenses. If you don’t like free, the companies will be happy to sell you a support contract for their Linux distribution.
Most VDI implementations are built on either VMware or Citrix Xen platforms. Why? I suspect because of the many companies have an existing VMwre or Citrix infrastructure and will build on those, and that VMware and Citrix’s marketing budgets are big so when you see anything about VDI, it likely that VMware and Citrix will be talked about.
On the other side is the giant Microsoft that is determined to corner the market. Their product, Hyper-V (in my opinion) is a distant third has some adherents. I don’t care for it. Interestingly, Parallels works on both Windows Servers, its foundation for Windows XP and 7, and Linux. You select the VDI operating system, which dictates the platform… Windows Server 2008 running Windows 7, Windows 2003 Server running Windows XP and Linux VDI instances on Linux distros. It’s an unusual, but very nice product.
So which way should you move into the VDI world with? I can’t say, as that’s a consulting job to work from a company’s needs and goals backwards to find the right product, and not from the vendors point of view… pitching the same product so that it “fits” every need. One shoe size doesn’t work in VDI.