Before the days of cloud computing, virtual desktops were deployed by running VDI pods that end users would connect to and share the pod’s resources to run the operating system and business applications. This method of VDI often resulted in a poor experience for the end users due to the performance impact of sharing resources, and a costly endeavour for companies having to update the pod’s architecture as applications became more resource intensive. The move to cloud computing has vastly improved the VDI experience for end users and businesses alike, as there is no need for expensive, outdated on-premises hardware.
Azure Virtual Desktop (formerly Windows Virtual Desktop) is deployed through Azure and allows end users to access Windows 10 desktop and apps from anywhere, on any device. Regardless of the size of a business, Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) has a host of benefits and provides a comprehensive solution, especially as businesses are planning a hybrid workplace model. Below are some of these benefits.
We offer an Azure Virtual Desktop Proof of Concept service so that you can explore whether it’s a good fit for your organisation without the financial investment of a full deployment. Further details can be found here >
The benefits of Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)
Flexibility & mobility
One of the key benefits of AVD is that it allows users to access everything they need to work from anywhere on any device. This opens the possibility of implementing Bring You Own Device (BYOD) programmes as employees can use a Windows, Mac, iOS or Android device and still have the same experience as if they were using a corporate issued Windows PC. This is especially beneficial when considering a hybrid work environment: employees are able to work from anywhere with no loss to productivity or computing power.
It can be difficult to manage IT hardware and devices as they need to stay up to date and there needs to be more devices than employees, in case a device fails. As a result many organisations have devices not in use that still need to be replaced when the technology becomes outdated. With WVD the device cost can be much lower as devices do not need to have high specifications. If a device can run HTML, it will be an effective work device for most users. With a BYOD programme this further reduces costs as there is no initial device cost for the business. AVD also reduces costs as there are no additional licence fees. It’s all included in your existing Microsoft 365 licence.
Azure Virtual Desktop has built-in security features that keeps data safe no matter where an employee is working. As the name suggests, AVD is hosted on Azure so all data is stored in the cloud instead of the local desktop. Multifactor authentication is easy to deploy within Azure creating an added layer of security to prevent a security incident. Defender ATP also provides in-depth threat and vulnerability management to ensure the virtual desktop stays secure and identifies threats before they become a problem.
Virtual Desktops can be managed from a single point, making it significantly easier for IT administrators to patch and update all machines at the same time. This is an added benefit for hybrid working as devices can be updated and fixed without needing to be physically with the device. The benefit of centralised management extended to disaster recover too, as all data is stored on the cloud so if something does go wrong the IT administrator can restore to a clean desktop image to ensure business continuity.
Business needs change over time, both in relation to the number of devices in use and the level of computing power needed per device. If a company were to hire multiple temporary workers during a busy period, this would traditionally mean buying a new device and licence for each employee. AVD makes it simple to deploy new virtual machines in minutes without needing to invest in new hardware. Session hosts can also be scaled automatically to balance loads to give a better user experience for those using more computing power whilst optimising their session host VM costs.
New name, new features, new pricing options
With the recent announcement from Microsoft that Windows Virtual Desktop is now Azure Virtual Desktop, come new features. These include:
- Improved support for Azure Active Directory (AAD), and that will be in public preview soon
- Automatically enrol virtual machines with Microsoft Endpoint Manager
- Ability to manage multi-session Windows 10 Enterprise VMs with Microsoft Endpoint Manager
- Streamlined boarding experience for Azure Virtual Desktop in the Azure portal
- New QuickStart option for setting up virtual machines that will let users deploy them in a few minutes
And in the pipeline:
- Future support for single sign-on, FIDO2 authentication, and more…
New pricing options for remote app streaming to external user
Microsoft also announced a new pricing option for Azure Virtual Desktop. Organisations can pay a monthly fee per user to make their apps available through Azure Virtual Desktop, instead of paying for more than what they need. This allows companies to make software available to external users as a streaming service, with each user covering their own costs.
While this new option will launch in full on January 1, 2022, Microsoft is launching a promotional campaign. From July 14 through the end of the year, companies can make apps available to external users at no extra cost. Please get in touch if you would like to find out more.
Virtual desktop technology has evolved extremely rapidly and the modern AVD is worlds apart from the original VDI pods of a decade ago. AVD is now an integral part of many businesses, both large and small as it reduces expenses, provides flexibility, and simplifies management. This technology is becoming even more prevalent with hybrid working becoming the new normal.
If you want to find out how Azure Virtual Desktop can benefit your business and save you money, book a discovery call to discuss further >