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When Your Desktops Go Virtual, Don’t Forget About Security

From the experts | Posted on May 4, 2012 by Stephen Perciballi

The right VDI security achieves the costs and efficiencies your enterprise is looking for.

As server virtualization continues to go mainstream, achieving significant savings by optimizing resource utilization, many organizations are taking the lessons learned and benefits achieved and setting their sights on an even bigger challenge and opportunity: the desktop.

Desktop virtualization – or VDI for short – combines the robust virtualization technology from server virtualization with advanced session management and innovative network protocols to provide a user experience very similar to working on a dedicated desktop PC. But, with server hardware shared by multiple desktops (all completely isolated from each other), overall resource utilization is much more efficient – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Additional benefits include:

  • Streamlined deployment helps users become productive sooner, as new virtualized desktop deployments are as easy as creating a copy or clone of that base image and spinning it up as a new instance on the VDI host system
  • Extended endpoint hardware refresh cycles since all operating systems and applications are run on powerful central servers and hardware performance on actual desktop PCs is minimized
  • Easier regulatory compliance because with VDI all systems are centralized in the data center
  • Easier desktop backups since they’re no longer dispersed on desktop computers everywhere
  • Easier maintenance with patches, new software deployment and even adding RAM or hard-disk capacity done at the central server level
  • Better data protection because confidential or sensitive data is no longer on dispersed endpoints but resides on a central server which never leaves the secure boundaries of the corporate data center.

Speaking of security, while all VDI desktops need some, requirements vary significantly depending on the use case. Why? On one side, you may have a knowledge-worker scenario with long-lasting sessions on dedicated, persistent desktops with access to critical corporate data and full access to the Internet.

And on the other side, you have desktops that need to be re-created on the fly as multiple users log in. This wide range means you need comprehensive protection and cleaning capabilities or an agent-less solution with basic anti-malware protection but not a lot of management overhead.

The dynamic nature of the desktop requires a combination of technologies to effectively protect virtualized deployments including:

  • Preventing exposure to threats with cloud-based security
  • Detecting malicious files at the endpoint in real-time while maintaining system performance and keeping a small footprint
  • Shielding vulnerabilities before patches can be deployed
  • Regular full-system scans to detect and remove malware that might not have been detected earlier

A variety of virtualization security solutions now exist to effectively secure your desktop virtualization deployment, regardless of your scenario. This is key to maintaining performance and productivity without compromising the privacy and security of either the system or user. The right VDI endpoint security also ensures the cost and efficiency advantages organizations are adopting desktop virtualization for in the first place.

To read more about today’s biggest virtualization challenges, download our whitepaper.

You might also enjoy a related Post on our Advisor blog: Virtual Desktops Get the Security Once-Over From Trend Micro & VMware.

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