Azure Virtual Desktop & Microsoft 365

Azure Virtual Desktop is a desktop and app virtualization service that runs in the cloud.

Here’s what you can do when you run Azure Virtual Desktop on Azure:

  • Set up a multi-session Windows 10 deployment that delivers a full Windows 10 with scalability
  • Virtualize Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise and optimize it to run in multi-user virtual scenarios
  • Provide Windows 7 virtual desktops with free Extended Security Updates
  • Bring your existing Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and Windows Server desktops and apps to any computer
  • Virtualize both desktops and apps
  • Manage Windows 10, Windows Server, and Windows 7 desktops and apps with a unified management experience


Why Choose Azure WVD for Desktop as a Service?

As a DaaS offering, Azure VD is highly cost-effective compared to scaling up a traditional virtual desktop environment in your own datacenter. With the business disruption during COVID-19, companies were trying to find ways to extend their remote work infrastructure while keeping their operating expenses low. Companies already on a Microsoft ecosystem, such as Windows 10 Enterprise or Microsoft 365, had additional incentives to make the shift.

Another driver for Azure VD during this time is that it lets organizations control apps and data while allowing their employees to access those resources from their own devices. This is something that a traditional VDI/RDS environment can also provide; however, the cost advantage of Azure VD, when combined with security and control, creates a winning combination.

If IT decision-makers consider the end-user benefit, another reason to choose Azure VD is the superior experience of Windows 10 and Office 365 that it can provide. The right user experience increases productivity. You don’t want to frustrate your valuable employees with a clunky experience while they work from home.


The Azure Advantage

With Azure VD, the infrastructure and management components of a traditional on-premises virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) disappears into the cloud—just like a dinosaur-shaped cloud merges back into indescribable formations on the backdrop of the beautiful blue sky on a sunny day. Thanks to this merging, Microsoft is taking back critical components of a traditional VDI, such as brokering, load-balancing, compute, storage, and diagnostics, from your plate—which will let your precious IT talent focus on other strategic areas with growth potential.

Hosting your desktops on Azure also means you get Azure’s state-of-the-art security features. Microsoft claims that Azure is considered as the most secure public cloud platform, and Azure VD provides the best DaaS security model for customers.

With Azure VD, users can only access the virtual machines by going through the Azure Active Directory authentication system. This means companies can use multifactor authentication and conditional access according to their needs and depending on the employee profile. Also, Azure uses reverse connect technology that lets you run a virtual machine (VM) without keeping any inbound ports open. This means that the VMs on Azure VD are not exposed to the Internet directly.


Windows 10 Multisession

Unlike the traditional RDI, Azure VD allows multiple sessions on a VM of Windows 10. This means that an organization can have multiple users access the same virtual machine while reducing costs on maintaining multiple VM licenses. Also, these sessions are isolated from each other, which gives higher security and privacy.


FSLogix Profile Containers

The FSLogix piece solidifies my above point about the superior Windows 10 and Office experience on Azure WVD. Microsoft acquired FSLogix a few years back and integrated its profile container technology into its Azure and Microsoft 365 ecosystems. With FSLogix profile container technology integrated to Azure VD, Microsoft has revolutionized the way the end user experience works in non-persistent virtual machine sessions. An Azure VD user profile will follow a user even if they do not use the same virtual machine session every time that they access the Azure VD Virtual machines.

The integration of FSLogix containers also significantly impacts how your Microsoft Apps and OneDrive experience work with Azure WVD. FSLogix with Azure VD can provide you the most productive Microsoft Apps (formerly Office 365 ProPlus) experience. The FSLogix technology on Azure VD also allows OneDrive sync when the user roams through non-persistent sessions.


Access Azure WVD from Any Operating System

Another reason why Azure VD wins the end-user is by the flexibility that Microsoft offers for Azure VD across diverse Operating Systems. A user can access Azure VD Windows, macOS, iOS, or Android. The client OS flexibility of this sort goes a long way to BYOD scenarios that companies may want to use while they extend their remote work footprint.

The growth drivers for Microsoft products are not just better technology; it’s also how Microsoft makes it easier for existing customers to adopt those technologies and how they use their partner ecosystem to help customers solve business problems using those technologies. In the Azure VD, Microsoft makes the adoption easier for you by making the Azure VD license free with most Microsoft 365 licenses and Windows 10 Enterprise Licenses. The cost savings alone can be a significant driver for companies on Microsoft software Ecosystems to adopt Azure VD. Not to mention, Windows 7 EOL customers get free Extended Security Updates on Azure VD. As a Gold Microsoft partner with a services practice and expertise in Azure, Connection can help your organization adopt the Azure WVD model. As an Azure Managed Service Provider, we can also manage your Azure WD environment for you. Reach out anytime to one of our Account Managers with any questions about desktop virtualization.


What are the caveats of Azure Virtual Desktop?

The primary caveat to consider when deciding whether to deploy Azure Virtual Desktop for a remote workforce is the quality of network connections. No matter how well you plan and design your virtual desktop instances, they are only worth the effort if your employees have the ability to effectively reach the cloud. Slow internet connections, intermittent connections and no internet connections are all a real possibility, and all must be mitigated for cloud-based virtualization to work efficiently.

Beyond the technical aspect of network connections, employers must also consider how much employee training will be necessary. Tech-savvy employees and IT pros will likely have no trouble connecting to Azure and Azure Virtual Desktop servers, but some employees may need at least some instruction to complete the connection. Who will provide that help, how will they provide it, what if it is not effective? These questions must have acceptable answers.

Other questions to be answered include, once in operation, how will employees ask for additional resources if they need them? Will there be a ticketing system with IT department personnel responsible for their resolution? Is that infrastructure in place? Setting up procedures to handle the maintenance of a Azure Virtual Desktop system should be completed before deploying the actual virtual instances.


Application and desktop considerations

Some personas might have a dependency on legacy solutions, which are not compatible with Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session. In these cases, some personas might require dedicated desktops. This dependency might not be discovered until deployment and testing.

If they’re discovered late in the process, future iterations should be allocated to modernization or migration of the legacy application. This will reduce the long-term cost of the desktop experience. Those future iterations should be prioritized and completed based on the overall pricing impact of modernization versus the extra cost associated with dedicated desktops. To avoid pipeline disruptions and the realization of business outcomes, this prioritization should not affect current iterations.

Some applications might require remediation, modernization, or migration to Azure to support the desired end-user experience. Those changes are likely to come after release. Alternately, when desktop latency can affect business functions, the application changes might create blocking dependencies for the migration of some personas.

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