Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solutions are becoming popular within higher education organizations to provide students and staff with the ability to work on and off-campus easily and smoothly.

The solutions can be used in conjunction with one another to create an optimal work and study environment. These types of solutions are especially important in the current climate as universities look to move towards a hybrid of working both on and off-campus. We’ll have a look at BYOD and VDI, the pros and cons of using VDI as a BYOD solution, and how VDI works alongside BYOD solutions.

What are VDI and BYOD?

BYOD policies allow students to use personal devices to access university resources, apps, and software. This means that students can use the same personal device whether they are on or off-campus and pick up working where they left off. Students are able to work on a device that they feel comfortable with.

VDI technology provides users with access to a virtual desktop using cloud-based technology. This software is able to recreate the desktop experience wherever they are, giving both students and staff the same experience they would have using a physical computer based on the university campus. The VDI desktop can be configured to suit their needs, when persistent VDI is implemented, even further replicating the experience they would have from a physical desktop workspace. Non-persistent VDI does not allow the same customization but still provides students with the ability to replicate a desktop they might find on campus on a physical machine.

It means that there will be no gap in their studies, even if they cannot be in a classroom environment, and helps to facilitate remote work, allowing students to study wherever and whenever they want.

Using VDI for BYOD software access

What are the pros of using VDI as a BYOD solution?

  • Simplify management
  • Centralized management
  • Improved security
  • Streamline licensing processes
  • Mobile Device Management
  • Better student experience

Simplify management

Desktop virtualization can help to simplify BYOD management for IT departments as updating and altering user profiles is easier and it means looking after fewer physical machines, without the need to procure more. With this kind of BYOD solution, the student is responsible for the care and maintenance of their own device, saving costs and time for universities.

Centralized management

VDI also helps to centralize the management of apps, data, and desktop storage and management. VDI delivers apps and data to student-owned devices, and the information is stored on the cloud, rather than on the device itself. This means that the student can, should they choose, move between using different devices seamlessly, whether they are studying from home or in a traditional classroom environment. There is no transition necessary.

Improved security

With this particular solution, improved security is provided. This is both because there is no concern about leaving physical machines unattended and switched on when nobody is around and the data is not stored on a students’ mobile device. Should their device be lost or stolen, the student will not lose any work and will easily be able to switch to a different device and start working immediately. There are a number of security concerns when it comes to a BYOD strategy and VDI can help to mitigate some of the risks.

Streamline licensing processes

Combining VDI and a BYOD policy can also help to streamline software licensing, which can result in less expense and difficulty for IT admin.

Mobile Device Management

VDI can be used for Mobile Device Management. The solution will increase the flexibility of being able to provide students with remote access, which is essential, particularly as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Better student experience

Most importantly, using VDI alongside a BYOD program will provide a better overall student experience. This helps students to feel more engaged and means they can stay up-to-date with their studies and coursework, even if they cannot always be on campus with peers and tutors.

What are the cons of using VDI as a BYOD solution?

While virtualization provides an excellent solution and carries many benefits but it does also have a few cons when being used as a BYOD solution. These should be carefully considered before a VDI solution is implemented.

  • Requires network connection
  • Single-point-of-failure
  • Heavy server infrastructure demands

Requires network connection

VDI requires end-users to have a network connection of their own, rather than relying on connections they have as standard on campus. While many students and staff do have an internet connection, this may not always be the case. Should the end-user not have a working internet connection for any period of time, this could impact their ability to work.


Almost anywhere that a network connection is required, is reduced to a single-point-of-failure; only one thing needs to go awry and the whole system ceases to work. ISP service interruption? VDI will stop working. Physical damage to campus network infrastructure? VDI will stop working. Local power cut? EVERYTHING will stop working!

Heavy server infrastructure demands

VDI is a powerful and capable technology, and with it come some demanding hardware requirements. With VDI, all of your apps are executed server-side. Everything is being run and operated on on-premise or hosted servers with no actual computing occurring on the end-device. It is clear how this can need some serious power and drive up costs.

Before VDI deployment takes place, IT departments should ensure that they operate effectively and well for all users at all times. Failing to do this could result in a poor student experience and dissatisfaction.

How does VDI work alongside BYOD solutions?

Using VDI and BYOD alongside each other provides greater control over user desktops, applications and resource usage. It means that IT departments are better able to assess student and staff needs and how they use the resources provided, without needing to spend time maintaining machines on campus.

With VDI in place, if students open the virtual desktop on campus, it will look and operate in exactly the same way as when they use it on their own device. This helps students to have a more streamlined experience on their own device without interrupting their workflow.

VDI also enables higher education organizations to fully roll out a BYOD solution without the fear that students are missing out on any of the elements they would experience by using a traditional desktop, as they would find on campus.

Some useful & related reading..

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