What is Azure Virtual Desktop & How Can It Benefit My Business?
By Kazim Somji, CTO
June 2, 2021
The global pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we work. It’s also exposed significant security gaps and generated a spike in cyberattacks. If you’re looking for a safe, secure and efficient way for your employees to connect from wherever they’re located, Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) is a good solution.
In this blog post we look at what AVD is, how it can benefit your business, and what to do next if you think it’s your best solution.
What is Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)?
With increased rates of remote and virtual work, companies are investing in cloud-based solutions – like Desktop as a Service (DaaS) and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) – to foster productivity and minimize cybersecurity risks. Microsoft AVD (formerly called Windows Virtual Desktop or WVD) is one of these options.
Offered by Microsoft through its Azure cloud platform, AVD is included for eligible Azure and Microsoft 365 subscribers. At its core, AVD is a desktop and app virtualization service that runs on the cloud using instanced virtual machines. Depending on how it is configured, it can run Windows 10 multi-session, Windows 10 or Windows 7, as well as Windows Server 2012 R2, 2016 or 2019. Most major Remote Desktop clients support it including Windows Desktop, Web, macOS, iOS, Android and Microsoft Store Client.
When you run AVD on Azure, you can:
- Deliver Windows 10 with scalability by setting up a multi-session Windows 10 deployment
- Achieve a unified experience to manage Windows 10, Windows Server and Windows 7 desktops and apps
- Virtualize desktops as well as apps
- Deliver Windows 7 virtual desktops with free Extended Security Updates
- Bring existing Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and Windows Server desktops/apps to your employees on any computer
- Optimize Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise, enabling them to run in multi-user virtual scenarios
Azure Virtual Desktop Benefits
Azure Virtual Desktop is considered by many as the best virtual Windows and Office experience delivered on Azure. Here’s why:
- The only multi-session Windows 10 experience – Always up to date, AVD allows you to access the fully managed, rich Windows user experience from any end-user device platform. Plus, it offers your choice of virtualized OS, including Windows 7, and technology like Cortana, Edge, desktop search and Microsoft Store. With AVD, you retain complete access control for optimal security and costs. Create persistent and non-persistent environments, and virtualize entire desktops or select applications only.
- Provides a superior user experience – Optimized for Office 365 ProPlus, AVD delivers a great experience in a multi-session environment on any device. Its new container technology means quick load times and high-performance for Outlook, OneDrive, Cortana, Search and Skype.
- Ability to deploy and scale in minutes – Wishing for a unified administrative interface to manage users and security? Now you can get it through the Azure Portal. With options to use familiar tools like Rest API & PowerShell to customize setup, deployment and UI, you can dynamically scale virtual machines using either breadth-first or depth-first load balancing.
- Enhanced security and control – Always up to date and secure, AVD is built in Azure and connects seamlessly with Microsoft 365. That means you’ll benefit from integrated security and management of M365 and partner solutions.
- Migrate RDS & Windows Server desktops/apps to Azure – With AVD, you can bring your existing Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and Windows Server desktops and apps to any computer. Additionally, you can reduce costs through unified management and deployment experience for Windows Server, Windows 10, and Windows 7 desktops and apps, as well as benefit from free Extended Security Updates for Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 desktops and apps.
- Economics that make sense – Want to make the most of your investment? AVD lets you enable a multi-session Windows 10 experience, simplify your licensing, and reduce labor costs by moving from Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to Platform as a Service (PaaS).
- Robust partner ecosystem – Microsoft is known for its extensive partner network and AVD is no different. Choosing AVD means you’ll have no troubles finding the best partners to help with your deployment and provide management services.
Is Azure Virtual Desktop Right for Your Business?
To help guide organizations in their selection, Microsoft has put together the following questions. Take this self-assessment to see if AVD is a good fit for your business:
- You need the ability to add users quickly and easily.
- You need to scale efficiently on demand.
- Your end-users need a seamless rich client experience with Outlook, Search, Cortana, OneDrive, and Skype.
- You need to manage different deployment types across different deployment planes.
- You need to bring Remote Desktop Services (RDS) to your users.
- You need to support both persistent and non-persistent environments.
- You need integrated security and management (e.g., Microsoft 365, AAD).
- You need to run Windows 7 legacy applications post upcoming Win 7 EOL.
- You are in a regulated industry and need to meet strict compliance requirements.
- Your virtual desktop journey requires reuse of existing investments (e.g., Citrix).
- You want to reduce management and deployment costs for Windows Server.
If you can relate with most of these statements, AVD is probably right for your organization.
Want to Get Up & Running with Azure Virtual Desktop?
Although AVD is powerful and beneficial for many organizations, getting up and running takes time and consideration. With many moving pieces, it’s helpful to choose a partner who has proven experience managing seamless AVD deployments.
At WatServ, we help companies deploy AVD through our Secure Workspace Premium solution. Specifically, we offer:
- Management of Azure resources related to Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)
- AVD tenant administration
- AVD resource group
- AVD storage account
- AVD administrator user management
- Azure Active Directory Domain Services AVD Components
- Azure multi-factor authentication
- Backup and disaster recovery
- Deployment of AVD maintenance and administration
- User profile management (FSLogix)
- Management of app groups
- User assignments
- Policy management
- Host pool configurations
- Load balancing and publishing of resources
- Image development
- Image OS and AVD patch management
Our Secure Workspace Premium solution also:
- Provides an enterprise-level messaging platform (Exchange Online);
- Fosters content collaboration (Teams & SharePoint);
- Manages and secures endpoints associated with the end users; and
- Provides central management and deployment of Line of Business (LOB) and SaaS apps, Microsoft Apps, and Windows updates and security policies.
WatServ is an IT solutions provider that helps organizations digitally transform through cloud technologies and managed services.
Serving clients as a trusted advisor since 2006, WatServ provides experience-tested, strategic solutions across all stages of the digital transformation journey. Clients choose WatServ to migrate infrastructure and applications to the cloud, secure critical data, implement disaster recovery, deploy virtual desktop, enable data-readiness for productivity solutions and manage IT environments.
Our clients span a broad range of industries, and we’re a global supplier of IT services for many Brookfield Portfolio Companies. To help our mid-size clients, we provide scalable offerings that simplify cloud adoption and drive business optimization. For enterprise clients, we co-create cloud solutions that enable stability and efficiency for complex IT tools and processes.
With more than 15 years of experience, WatServ has a track record of delivering quantifiable business results and a superior client experience. Ranked as one of Canada’s Top 100 Solution Providers for the last three years in a row, WatServ is always on.