Anyone trying to answer the question of how does virtualization work is bound to come across one of the most critical components of VDI, namely the connection broker. Here’s the easy & comprehensible overview of what it is, and how it helps regulate enterprise resources when you transition towards a virtual desktop environment.

What is a Connection Broker in VDI?

A Connection broker lies at the nucleus of every hosted desktop environment and is the component responsible for assigning resources to end-users, as well as regulating their experience. A connection broker is where all the decisions are made in terms of who will get to access what and how, from a virtual machine to any other resource. In essence, this is the software tool that ties together resources, whether physical or virtual.

Tasks that typically fall under the connection broker’s domain include:

  • Providing the ability to end-users to connect to a specific virtual machine (VM) or terminal services server. This is typically done according to predefined policies or other criteria set by the administrator. Think of your hosted environment as a busy junction and the connection broker as the traffic squad.
  • Tracking the connection status of a virtual machine and handling its reassignment in the event of the current user disconnecting. The broker also acts as a failover manager, redirecting the user to a new resource in case of failure.
  • Managing display protocols such as RDP, PCoIP or ICA.
  • Integrate with authentication systems and SSL VPNs

Methods of Connection Brokering in VDI

In order to assign a VM to a specific client, the connection broker first identifies that client. This identification can be via three methods.

Active Directory Based

In this case, the connection brokering can be done by utilizing the user’s group associations in a directory service, for example Microsoft Active Directory. The user is allowed to roam between multiple client devices but the connection broker will perform the same task across all of them. For example, an employee could be accessing their virtual desktop through a thin client while at work, and then connect to the same virtual desktop via some other device from home.

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Device Based Connection Brokering

In this scenario, a specific VM is tied to a specific device, and the same VM will be connected to irrespective of the user. The identification of the device can be done through its MAC address or DNS name. A common use case for device-based brokering is a school computer lab. The same virtual desktop will be assigned to the device irrespective of the student utilizing it. Or another use case could be that of a contact center, where multiple agents are utilizing the same device across different shifts.

VDP User-Based Connection Brokering

Take the example of a large organization where the IT staff, responsible for overseeing virtualization, are not given access to the Active Directory. How would they go about managing VDI in this scenario? The solution lies in user-based connection brokering, where users are created manually within the Connection Broker on an as-needed basis and assigned virtual desktops. Think of this as creating your own Active Directory on a very small scale.

Types of Resource Allocation in VDI

Dedicated Allocation

In the dedicated resource allocation scenario, a particular virtual or physical desktop is assigned specifically to a user or device by the administrator. No matter where a user logs in from, they will always get their allocated resource. An appropriate use case for this is when a specific user has special requirements in terms of the virtual desktop, for example an employee with personalized settings on their physical desktop that need to be replicated unerringly to their virtual desktop.

Shared Allocation

In the shared resource allocation scenario, groups of users or pools are associated to groups of virtual desktops. When a user belonging to the pool requires a desktop, any available virtual desktop is automatically allocated to them. This allows the Administrator to increase user uptime by creating a pool of more resources than is needed. In case a failure occurs, you always have a free VM to connect to.

Spare Allocation

If the administrator is deploying a dedicated allocation strategy, anything can go wrong. Hence, spare VMs are ready in case of a failure to replace the corrupted one. For example, a specialized user can always have a spare backup Virtual Machine to connect to in case their primary one fails.

VDIworks’ Multi-Dimensional Solution

In addition to covering all other bases of end-to-end VDI, VDIworks Virtual Desktop Platform (VDP) also combines connection brokering that is capable of successfully implementing configuration settings and policies in a multi-user, multi-device environment. Choosing VDP to fulfill your VDI needs means choosing a partner that makes your transition to virtual desktop infrastructure hassle-free and systematic.