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Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Customize a virtual desktop environment with applications that best support your business requirements

In September 2024, rates will change for several technology services provided by University IT. View proposed FY25 rate changes.

Simplified Ordering for University IT Technology Services Coming Soon

November 13, 2023

The Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) service provides the virtual desktop environment and applications that best support your business requirements. 

Two VDI service options — cloud and on-premise — are available with standard, advanced, and custom configurations for CPU, RAM, and disk space. The VDI service team works with you to develop a custom desktop image that includes required applications; all Essential Stanford Software (ESS); drivers for local peripherals (printers, scanners, etc.); and BigFix software for updating and patching the software. BigFix administrators have the option of continuing to manage their own devices in their BigFix zones. 

VDI provides significant cost savings through reduction in support costs. With VDI, you can order as many virtual desktops as you need, and connect to them from anywhere in the world.


The VDI service team develops and provides ongoing management of a "golden" desktop image that meets your business requirements. This image includes the operating system, all required applications, and integration of the your networked peripherals, such as printers, scanners, copiers, etc., into the VDI image during the initial setup phase.

Browse the feature descriptions for both cloud and on-prem service options below to help you decide what may best suit your needs.

Feature Cloud On-prem
Anytime, anywhere access: Access your work files and applications from any device or location. You can also securely access shared resources, such as Public Access Terminals (PATs), digital kiosks, and lab machines.  
Cost savings: Because the server bears the processing load, you can access your virtual desktop from older devices, thin clients, or even tablets, reducing the need to purchase new and expensive hardware.
Security: VDI data lives on the server rather than on your device. This means your data is protected if your device is ever stolen or compromised.
Centralized support: The service team centrally manages patches, updates and  configurations for all the virtual desktops in a system.
Software: The service rate includes licenses for the operating system, Microsoft Office, and Stanford Essential Software.
Scalability: The cloud platform provides flexible resources, allowing you to easily scale up any new resource.  
Cloud storage: Access cloud storage solutions, such as Google Drive/OneDrive, to securely manage files from anywhere.  
GPU computing: For compute (GPU) capability needs, cloud VDI offers a robust, ideal environment.   
File share mounting: If a file share needs to be mounted and files must be continuously copied to and from that share (requiring you to move large amounts of data in/out of your cloud account), the on-prem service is a more cost-effective solution.  

Horizon on Azure vs. Windows 365

The table below shows a feature comparison for the two cloud platforms: Horizon on Azure (UIT's preferred cloud platform for VDI) and Windows 365.

Feature Horizon on Azure Windows 365
Per user assignment
Pooled desktops  
Multiple desktop assignment to single user  
Active Directory group assignment  
Display auto adoption/scaling  
URL redirection  
Admin management interface  
Works with Zero client  
Browser access
USB redirection
Camera redirection Only on Windows endpoints

Designed for

Stanford faculty and staff


Clients must have their own local IT support or contract with University IT’s Computer Resource Consulting group (CRC) to provide desktop support.

Data security

The VDI service may be used with information of all risk classifications, as defined by the Information Security Office. Usage with Moderate and High Risk Data, such as Protected Health Information (PHI) or student records, must be consistent with Stanford University policy and all applicable regulatory requirements (e.g., HIPAA, FERPA).


See the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure service rates page

Get started

How to Request New, Change or Cancel Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Service 

Get help

Support is provided during normal business hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

For after hours support (including weekends), please call 725-HELP (4357).

Last modified March 6, 2024