Getting started with VDI

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Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is a server-based computing model that allows you to deliver a desktop image—over a network—to an endpoint device. Users can then access the operating system (OS) and applications on that endpoint. Endpoints may include PCs, thin clients, or mobile devices. The potential benefits of using VDI include data protection, better support for remote workers, and the ability to keep older machines in service longer.

The Zoom application can be used with Citrix, VMware, or Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) VDI solutions and can be delivered to a thin client. The different download packages can be found on this page along with links to installation guidelines.

This article covers:

Prerequisites for getting started with VDI

  • Organizations using Citrix XenDesktop or VMware Horizon server published desktop, or Windows Remote Desktop
  • Citrix Workspace, VMWare Horizons, AVD client or Windows remote desktop client
    Note: Citrix Workspace app from Microsoft store is not supported.

How to get started with VDI

Understand VDI installation and connectivity

The VDI Client Host Installer is a .msi file type that can be deployed through standard software and device management tools. The plugin installers are available as a .msi for Windows, .pkg for Mac, and .deb, .rpm or a zipped package for Linux platforms, and can be similarly deployed through device management software. For details, visit the VDI installation and connectivity page.

Note: The VDI Client and plugin are two separate programs with their own respective physical install locations.

Understand Zoom application installation in VDI

Installation of the Zoom application in a VDI environment requires administrator privileges and two installation steps:

  • The software must be installed within the Virtual Desktop, typically within the image on the VDI server.
  • The Zoom Media Plugin is installed on each of the thin clients accessing the VDI.

More detailed installation instructions can be found on the support pages for Citrix or VMware.

Notes:

  • For VDI optimization, the VDI Client (Host Installer) must be installed on the virtual desktop being accessed by a user, and the VDI plugin must be installed on the remote device or thin client.
  • Running Zoom as a published application by itself is currently not supported. We do support running Zoom within a Windows Desktop running as an application.
  • RDP remote desktop is supported with the AVD plugin for Windows and the iGel plugins.
  • VMware client connect with an RDP protocol is not supported, but using VMware Blast or PCoIP protocol is supported.

Understand supported infrastructure and minimum software requirements

The Zoom VDI Client runs exclusively on Windows-based operating systems and requires Windows Server 2012 at minimum for server deployment. Windows 7 and later are supported for VDI media offloading with the Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) (formerly Windows Virtual Desktop) plugin if connected through Windows RDP. For details, visit the Supported VDI software requirements article.

Understand VDI releases, features, and downloads

The VDI Client is similar to the Zoom client in almost every way. It includes features such as optional end-to-end encryption, gallery view, speaker view, language interpretation, breakout rooms, screen sharing, Zoom Phone, and more. To see the list of VDI feature comparisons, please visit the VDI client features comparison article.

Occasionally, due to a staggered release time between the standard meeting client and VDI Client, there may be feature disparity until a new VDI release is available.

Note: Some VDI features are limited in use.

To stay up-to-date on VDI releases and features:

Understand VDI backwards compatibility

VDI plugins are not backwards compatible with older versions of the Zoom Meeting client. The plugin must always be equal to or lower than the VDI Client’s version number. Keep the VDI and plugin version numbers equal or near-equal for feature parity and product improvements.

Follow the VDI backwards compatibility page to access both Zoom Client and VDI release content.

How to get started with VDI optimization

The VDI plugin optimizations exist for two Zoom products today: Zoom Meetings and Zoom Phone. While all supported plugins offload and optimize Zoom Meetings media, Zoom Phone media optimization is continuing to expand.

Understand Zoom Meetings optimization for VDI

In the optimized experience, the VDI Client and plugin both create a seamless experience by rendering the Zoom meeting in layers, superimposing the plugin’s media on top of the VDI Client’s Zoom placeholder. This experience is synchronized between the plugin and VDI Client using the VDI software provider’s existing virtual channel.

Connection modes

The VDI Client supports three different connection modes with the Zoom meeting infrastructure. The most common mode is the Direct Optimized experience, where both the VDI Client and plugin establish unique connections to Zoom and independently render their own portion of a Zoom meeting for a seamless experience.

The VDI Client is also capable of working in alternative connection modes — UDP/Channel Optimized, and Fallback Mode — to fit varying workflow or security needs.

Understand Zoom Phone optimization for VDI

Similar to the optimized meeting experience, the VDI plugin offloads Zoom Phone media on select operating systems and virtual desktop agents. This creates a richer quality experience through a direct network connection to the plugin and processes the media on the local machine.

Frequently asked questions about VDI optimization

How does Screen Sharing work with VDI?

Screen sharing for VDI users is handled differently depending on whether the user is sharing their screen from a virtual desktop or receiving a share session from another participant while using a virtual desktop.
When another participant shares their screen during the meeting, the video from that participant is sent to the virtual desktop, and, by default, forwarded to the VDI plugin. Forwarding to the VDI plugin is designed to optimize the rendering of all video, meeting, and shared sessions on the thin client. It is possible to disable that behavior through a registry key, however, if there is a need to render the shared session on the virtual desktop.

When the virtual desktop user shares their screen, the shared session is sent from the virtual desktop to the Zoom cloud where it is forwarded to all of the other participants. For the video content in the shared session, the VDI plugin is not used. Audio is sent from the virtual desktop to the VDI plugin where it is mixed with the user’s audio and sent to the Zoom cloud and sent to everyone. This behavior is why there is a Share sound option as a check box in the Share selection dialog box. By default, older releases of the VDI Zoom Meeting client did not display this option, but it could be enabled through a registry key. In recent releases (5.9.0 and higher) the option is enabled by default.

Is local screen sharing processed on the VDI server?

Yes, initiating screen sharing from the virtual desktop requires the VDI server to process local and outbound screen sharing data. Since virtual desktops are provisioned with virtual CPU cores, some of the offloading to a GPU that can be done with real hardware is not an option for the virtual desktop. To address those performance challenges, the VDI Client is optimized to reduce the frame rate of screen sharing to five frames per second to maintain server performance.

For deployments where there is a desire to increase the frame rate to the highest possible rate that can be supported by the virtual desktop, the registry key EnableOptimizeForVideo can be enabled. The actual frame rate that is achieved is dependent on the number of cores provisioned to the desktop and other factors, such as the media being shared and the application used to present the media.

For customers with concerns about virtual desktop performance, the capture rates can be reduced through the registry key ShareCaptureFps to optimize server performance.

What is the difference between a Direct Optimized and UDP/Channel Optimized connection?

A Direct Optimized connection allows both the VDI Client and the plugin to maintain independent connections with Zoom’s cloud infrastructure. Both the plugin and VDI Client are taking optimal data routes for the best user experience.

The UDP and Channel Optimized connection for the VDI Client can be used in circumstances where a business would like to maintain control over their media data flow between the VDI Client and plugin. This configuration does not allow the plugin to have a direct connection to the Zoom cloud infrastructure. Instead, all audio, video, and screen sharing data goes through the VDI server, and the VDI Client delivers data to the plugin through an encrypted out-of-band SRTP UDP connection. In the event an out-of-band UDP connection fails, the client will fail over to the VDI vendor’s channel connection, such as the ICA channel.

How is the out-of-band UDP connection established?

The out-of-band UDP connection is established between the VDI Client and plugin, using UDP ports 17000-18000 by default. This encrypted connection is confirmed through the

already-encrypted virtual connection between the plugin and VDI Client (e.g., an .ica channel), where encryption keys are exchanged between the endpoints and the connection is confirmed. If a UDP connection cannot be established, the connection will fail over to the virtual connection channel.

The UDP port range can be adjusted through registry keys under the UDPPortBegin and UDPPortEnd keys between the values of 1000-65000 if necessary. The total range must be at least 100 ports, which means the lowest possible valid range is 1000–1100 and the highest possible range of 100 is 64000–64100.

Note: The UDPPortBegin value cannot be higher than 64000.

Organizations that use the Windows Defender Firewall with customized port ranges require advanced configurations.

Note: Zoom recommends reserving at least 8 ports per user if multiple users share the same host machine.

How does the virtual connection failover work?

In the event a direct connection or UDP connection cannot be established between the VDI Client and plugin, the connection will fail over to the virtual connection used by the virtual desktop agent. These connections have limited bandwidth available and will likely impact media quality.

Can I force the UDP/Channel Optimized connection?

The VDI registry keys allow for enforcing various connection methods using the

DisableMMRDirect, DisableICABridge, and DisableUDPBridge keys.

  • DisableMMRDirect will disable direct connections from the plugin to the meeting server and automatically attempts UDP Optimized mode.
  • DisableICABridge will disable the virtual channel connection failover between the plugin and VDI Client if a direct connection or UDP Bridge cannot be established. If no connection is established, Fallback Mode will be used. This key also disables the VMware Blast channel.
  • DisableUDPBridge will disable the ability to form an out-of-band connection between the plugin and VDI Client and force connection attempts to the virtual connection if a direct connection cannot be established. If no connection is established, Fallback Mode will be used.

How is VDI traffic protected?

All in-meeting traffic is secured with 256-bit AES-GCM encryption for UDP connections, regardless of optimization configuration. Failover media connection methods utilize TLS 1.2 encryption.

All communication between the plugin and VDI Client is encrypted through the intrinsic virtual connection, or an out-of-band UDP connection.

What ports are required for using the VDI Client?

No special networking configurations are required for meeting connectivity with the VDI Client over the standard client. Networking configuration rules are available in the firewall and proxy configuration guide.

See UDP Connection Establishment for port requirements for Direct and Channel Optimized modes.

Windows Defender Firewall considerations

The VDI Client MSI package opens UDP ports 7200-17210 in the Windows Defender firewall during installation for plugin connectivity. Companies that use the Windows Defender firewall and customize the UDP port range using registry keys must update these parameters in the Windows Defender firewall to maintain functionality.

How to get started with VDI statistics in the Zoom desktop client

The VDI tab is only displayed when a compatible VDI plugin has been installed and detected in the remote client.

If you are using the Zoom meeting client for VDI and the VDI tab is not displayed, check your remote client to confirm you have a VDI plugin installed. The plugin version must be equal to or less than the version of the VDI meeting client. Group policies may also specify a minimum version of the VDI plugin that is required. Check with your local help desk for assistance.

For details, please visit Accessing VDI statistics.

How to troubleshoot VDI

The following articles can help troubleshoot specific issues related to the VDI client, plugins, and integrations:

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