How to Reduce VDI Cost

Bradon Rogers

VDI satisfies very specific IT and security needs. For everything else, it’s time to consider a more modern alternative that is redefining workplace efficiency.

How to Reduce VDI Cost

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) explained

A virtual desktop is a user interface that allows people to interact with a virtualized environment, where the desktop operating system and applications are hosted on a remote server rather than on the local machine. This setup enables users to access their desktop and applications from any device with internet connectivity.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, or VDI, refers to the technology used to create and manage virtual desktops. VDI hosts desktop environments on a centralized server and deploys them to end-users on request. This infrastructure supports multiple virtual desktops which can be tailored to individual users while being managed centrally by IT administrators.

How VDI Works

VDI operates by running desktop operating systems and applications within virtual machines (VMs) on a centralized server. When a user logs in, the VDI system assigns a virtual desktop from the pool of VMs, connecting them through a thin client or a web browser. The user interacts with this virtual desktop as if running on their local machine, though all processing and data storage happen on the server.

Why businesses use VDI

VDI gained traction as a technology that provided end users a streamed, self-contained computing environment, regardless of their device, delivered from a centralized data center. This approach gained popularity with IT and security teams, as it offered centralized management and access controls for a distributed workforce

Given the different needs between IT and security teams, it was the “least common denominator” they could agree upon. IT teams could put applications in the hands of their users, while cybersecurity could feel comfortable keeping data in the organization’s control. 

The onset of remote work made the strategy much more widespread, given that many organizations already had VDI infrastructure and experience. To many, it was the only imaginable avenue to empower the needs of the organization. The resulting downside? Most organizations are often upside down in their VDI investment (given that the costs are exceptional) and it seems there is ubiquitous disdain for the experience across practitioners and users. 

The downside of VDI

In most organizations, we see 80–90% of the applications being used are web-based external or internal applications. The remaining 10–20% are a combination of command line or thick application needs. Sure, VDI may be valuable for certain situational needs. But if an organization can reduce its dependency — and subsequent cost — of VDI by 80% or more, it seems foolish not to consider. Even if the reduction is, say, only 50%, that can be a huge win for the organization.

Most importantly, to allow such a small footprint of resources to negatively impact the user experience for everyone needing application access is simply unnecessary. This is particularly true given not all users use or need VDI in the same ways, so even targeted reductions or eliminations can be very valuable. In the eyes of most practitioners who live with this frustration every day, a transformational change is needed.

That’s not to say that desktop virtualization could or should go away tomorrow. However, it is clear that organizations and users are hungry for avenues that help them reduce their dependency upon such application delivery experiences. 

The enterprise browser: a modern way to reduce VDI

The inherent challenges with desktop virtualization stem from the very thing that made it appealing in the first place: a safe way to give audiences access to critical applications they need. At the time, there were IT and security benefits to moving the computing layer to the cloud or on-premise servers. 

But end users paid the cost with unavoidable latency and performance penalties. The solution to this dilemma is to shift as much compute back to the endpoint as possible, and restore a natural end user experience, all while delivering applications safely to the appropriate audiences. 

Today, we have an alternative to desktop virtualization that does just that. Enterprise Browsers present a more user-friendly, lightweight option while still meeting the needs of most enterprises. 

  • Secure application access. If the primary requirement is to provide employees with a secure and controlled environment for accessing web-based applications (internal or external), command line needs, or remote desktop needs, an enterprise browser is a fitting choice.
  • Endpoint security enhancement. Organizations looking to enhance endpoint security by protecting users, applications, and devices from potential threats can benefit from an enterprise browser.
  • BYOD policies. In environments where employees use personal devices for work, an enterprise browser can offer an application delivery experience without the invasiveness of other technologies. They can even provide a perfect level of privacy, allowing the user to continue using their browser of choice for personal and non-critical work needs. Most importantly, it can ensure protection for the organization’s key applications and data at the time of engagement.
  • Compliance requirements. Industries with strict regulatory requirements, such as finance and healthcare, can deploy enterprise browsers to secure application access and comply with industry regulations. The audit perspective from the physical position of the browser at the presentation layer is exceptionally rich and highly unique.
  • Resource-constrained environments. In situations where deploying virtual desktops might be resource-intensive, using an enterprise browser on existing devices can be a more practical solution.
  • Single client experience. In situations where you may still require VDI for a specific application need, the Enterprise Browser can be the singular client for web application access and for rendering VDI needs over HTML5 within the browser. Given that all major VDI players support this today, it can be your single natural interface to all applications.

How to mitigate and eliminate VDI expenses with an enterprise browser 

By delivering and securing applications directly through the browser, an enterprise browser significantly reduces the infrastructure complexity and costs associated with traditional VDI deployments.


Traditional VDI requires robust server infrastructure to host desktop images and applications. Plus, to manage the connections and maintain availability and performance, VDI solutions often require sophisticated load balancers. And in persistent VDI environments, the storage costs can be immense. These influences, while critical, add to the complexity and cost of VDI. An enterprise browser shifts the workload to the last mile within the browser, reducing the need for virtualization infrastructure.

Maintenance and administration

Maintaining VDI can be costly due to the need for extensive infrastructure maintenance and VDI  administration — including patch management, hardware upgrades, and support for end-user issues. An enterprise browser eliminates maintenance costs associated with traditional VDI systems because it requires no additional hardware. It also lowers administrative costs by centralizing controls within the browser, reducing the need for multiple security tools and streamlining policy management.

Licensing costs

VDI solutions and their backend systems can have substantial licensing fees. This includes the VDI platform and any extra licenses for the operating systems and apps used in VDI sessions. And these subscription costs only continue to grow. An enterprise browser can reduce the need for VDI by 80-90%, saving money on licensing costs.

Endpoint controls and management

Ensuring secure and compliant endpoint interactions within a VDI session often necessitates additional endpoint controls and management solutions. These solutions require their own licenses, infrastructure, and administrative overhead. By reducing the number of virtual desktops in your environment, you will directly reduce the number of agents and management tools deployed to those virtual desktops.  

The Island approach to enterprise browsers

Island's enterprise browser offers a compelling alternative to virtual desktops by providing robust, built-in protections against common web threats, advanced data control capabilities, and streamlined management tools that are easy for IT teams to deploy and maintain. 

No backhauling traffic. No servers to maintain. No frustrated end users. At a fraction of the cost. All built into a Chromium-based browser end users can deploy and use with zero training. Island simplifies administration and delivers a smoother, faster, and more secure user experience, tailored to meet the demanding needs of modern enterprises.

The right choice for you

Ultimately, the right solution is the one that allows you and your IT team to work smarter, not harder. Whether you want to empower a third-party business process outsourcer to function as your call center, significantly simplify your contractor onboarding process, or enable a fully secure BYOD program, the Enterprise Browser can help you reduce your dependency on VDI while fully balancing security and productivity with a vastly better user experience.

Further reading

Revolutionize the way you secure and enable work with an enterprise browser. 
Discover its benefits, key features, and real-world applications.

Bradon Rogers
Head of Presales, Customer Success and Product Marketing

Bradon Rogers leads Island’s customer relationships as Head of Presales, Customer Success and Product Marketing. With over 20 years’ experience in the cyber security industry, Bradon previously served as head of global sales engineering at Mimecast, senior vice president of sales engineering and product marketing ad D2IQ, and senior vice president at Symantec, where he led worldwide sales engineering and product marketing following its acquisition of Blue Coat where he held a similar role. Bradon has also held similar executive and technical leadership roles at leading global cyber security companies like McAfee, Secure Computing and CipherTrust.

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