How to setup simple Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) with Cloud A & Chromebooks

These days many organizations are looking to leverage VDI solutions to maximize the value of the cloud.  Here are a few of the key benefits to this approach:

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  • Dramatic cost savings: Because the endpoint is essentially not much more than a very thin client that resembles a dummy terminal from years gone by you can go with cost effective low horsepower devices. Entry level Chromebooks are under $200 and they work great for this purpose because they are durable,  replaceable, lightweight, and don’t have moving parts (SSD instead of HD).  They can also run for over eight hours on a single charge.
  • Increased Security: You can’t really install software on a Chromebook so there is no risk of malware such as viruses, trojans, or key-loggers. If you use third-party vendors, contractors, consultants, you can use locked down Windows environments and still allow them to work immersed in your environment the way you require.
  • No More Desktop Support: This approach allows you to have complete central management of all your desktops and as a result, control and monitor everything installed and used on all the images.
  • Corporate Data never leaves the Network: Mobile workers benefit as sensitive data is stored on the server in the data center and not the device. If the device is lost or stolen, the information isn’t on the device so it’s not at risk.
  • OS migrations: Imagine how simple it will be the next time you need to roll out the latest Windows OS. Not only do you not need physical access to the end users hardware ever again, there is also no need to upgrade hardware to meet memory or disk space requirements. With VDI, you can just push out a Windows image and you are done.
  • Scaling up and down on Demand: You can create a series of VDI snapshots to meet all of your company needs. If your company is seasonal, you can have extra images to handle the increased employee traffic when you need them. When you are don’t need them, you just turn them off.
  • Snapshot Technology: With VDI, you have the ability to roll back desktops to different states. This is a great feature, and it allows you to give a lot of flexibility to your end users.
  • It’s Environmentally Friendly: A thin client VDI session will use less electricity than a desktop computer. Using VDI is a way to reduce your carbon footprint on our planet and save your company money in power costs.
  • It’s BYOD on Steroids: With VDI, you never have to worry about hardware ever again. No matter if it’s a Chromebook, a notebook, an old PC, Macbook, or Linux, etc. As long as you can connected to the Internet your users connect right through to the corporate Windows environment, networks, and data they need.

Getting Started: 

Depending on the size and complexity of your organization, there are an infinite number of ways to design your VDI network.  For this post we are going to use a very simple architecture for illustration purposes.  For more complex environments you may want to consider the value that products like Citrix or the services of an expert cloud solution specialist can bring to the table.

Here you can see via the Cloud A network topology view that we’ve setup two groups of servers on separate networks each with their own router.

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The Default network is the one we have setup for our VDI instances (we have 3 but you can have as many as you like).  If you want to know how to setup this type of infrastructure in more detail please have a look at the blog post we did on that here.

Once your have setup your cloud infrastructure, you can then connect to it via some form of Remote Desktop solution.  In order to do so, you will want to ensure you have properly configured your instances to have external IP addresses and have updated your security profile to allow RDP connections so that you will be able to connect to your private VDI cloud.

Configure the Chromebook

At this point connecting to your VDI cloud to a Chromebook is as simple as installing a Chrome extension, such as the one that you can find here:

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When you launch the App you will see a login prompt that has all the same fields as the native RDP client does:

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Congratulations!  You are now using Windows on A Chromebook via your own private VDI Cloud.

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