Azure Virtual Desktop: What is and How to Get the Most Out of It?

For those navigating the challenges of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), balancing the needs of remote workers with the need to manage IT costs is a common struggle. Meet Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop, a robust cloud-based platform created for providing virtual desktops and apps. By using AVD, businesses can expand the reach of Windows desktops and apps through the cloud, ensuring scalability and adaptability. Additionally, AVD allows you to give remote users access to virtual desktops from anywhere and on any device. This guide will delve into how to fully utilise Azure Virtual Desktop, sharing valuable insights and strategies to deploy and manage virtual desktops.

What is Azure Virtual Desktop?

Azure Virtual Desktop is a groundbreaking desktop application virtualization service deployed in Azure Cloud as a virtual machine. It opens doors to streamlined Windows virtual desktop environments, providing the convenience of remote access across various devices. At the heart of AVD’s structure are several key elements:

  • AVD Session Hosts: These virtual machines in Azure serve as access gateways for users to reach their virtual desktops, applications, and resources. The ability to adjust host capacity efficiently to meet user needs is a significant advantage.
  • Host Pools: Acting as pools of identical session host VMs, host pools enable resource allocation to users in a structured way. They can be customized to support different workloads, improving performance where necessary.
  • Microsoft 365 Integration: AVD’s seamless connection with Microsoft 365, especially when combined with FSLogix profile containers, delivers users a smooth desktop experience, blending conventional familiarity with cloud-based innovation.

This setup facilitates the creation of multi-session Windows 10 and Windows Server-based remote desktop session hosts (RDSH), meeting diverse operational needs. The Azure portal allows simple provisioning and scalability of host pools, showcasing the efficiency and adaptability of AVD. By choosing Azure Virtual Desktop, businesses reduce the complexity of managing infrastructures and leverage Azure’s robust scalability to offer virtualized desktops and apps with a consistent, device-flexible user experience.

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Benefits of a Virtual Desktop Azure (Windows Virtual Desktop)

The array of benefits that Azure Virtual Desktop offers is not only vast but also crucial for businesses aiming to enhance their IT infrastructure while promoting remote work efficiency.

Access your desktop and applications from virtually anywhere

With AVD, you can access virtualised Windows 11 and Windows 10 desktops and apps with security and reliability. This capability allows users to enjoy a seamless, high-performance computing experience from anywhere, provided they have an internet connection. Azure’s robust security features ensure that your organisation’s data and applications remain protected, even as your workforce accesses them from various devices and networks. This combination of flexibility, reliability, and security positions Azure Virtual Desktop as a top-notch solution for organisations looking to support a modern, agile workforce.

Creating scalable environments

Organisations can easily adjust their resources to suit their specific business needs. With Azure Portal as a centralised management hub, you can set up virtual network configurations, manage user access, install or uninstall desktop apps, and implement robust security measures. By using Azure Virtual Desktop, operational efficiency can be significantly improved, resulting in savings on infrastructure, desktop management, and other support expenses. This flexibility ensures that businesses can respond to changing demands without requiring extensive physical infrastructure, providing a versatile and cost-efficient virtual desktop solution.

Modernize your Citrix and VMware virtual desktop infrastructure

To enhance and modernise current desktop and app virtualization environments, businesses can smoothly integrate Azure Virtual Desktop with Citrix DaaS (Desktop as a Service) for Azure or VMware Horizon Cloud Service on Microsoft Azure. These partnerships combine the flexibility and scalability of Azure Virtual Desktop with the advanced management capabilities and additional features of Citrix and VMware.

By deploying AVD into these environments, organisations can utilise the best of both worlds—improved security, comprehensive management tools, and an exceptional user experience, all while maintaining the robust framework of their existing Citrix or VMware setups. This approach not only simplifies the management and deployment of virtual desktops and applications but also empowers businesses to leverage Azure’s global reach and advanced security infrastructure, ensuring a scalable, secure, and efficient virtual desktop solution that is tailored to meet the diverse needs of today’s workforce.

Data Security

The key reason organisations opt for Azure Virtual Desktop is data security. In fact, 84% of IT leaders in 2020 expressed concerns about cloud security during the shift to remote work (source: Leftronic). Azure Virtual Desktop utilizes a distinctive reverse connect transport technology to set up remote sessions, offering a more secure method than traditional approaches.

This method eliminates the need for open inbound ports at the firewall level, significantly reducing the vulnerability to cyber-attacks. Together with Azure’s integrated security measures, such as multifactor authentication and role-based access control, AVD ensures that organisational data and resources stay safeguarded, even in a growing remote work setting.

Reduce Costs

Current owners of Windows or Microsoft 365 licenses have the opportunity to use Azure Virtual Desktop and are charged based on their usage. This eligibility allows them to save on infrastructure costs by adjusting the size of virtual machines (VMs) and utilizing the VMs efficiently with Windows 10 and Windows 11 multi-session capabilities. Moreover, the centralized management service provided through the Azure portal reduces the overhead costs linked to traditional desktop management and IT support.

For organizations with intensive or varying workloads, the pay-as-you-go pricing model offers additional financial flexibility, ensuring they pay only for the resources they use. This cost-effective approach to virtual desktop infrastructure enables businesses to significantly reduce their overall IT expenses while taking advantage of the advanced features of Azure Virtual Desktop.

How Does The Azure Virtual Desktop Work?

Fueled by Azure, Azure Virtual Desktop stands as a service for virtualising desktops and apps, operating in the cloud via installed virtual machines. It delivers user-friendly and secure virtual desktop infrastructure for your team. Azure Virtual Desktop isn’t just another Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solution; it embodies a blend of years of tech progress with Microsoft cloud know-how and security strengths. Let’s break down its essential elements:

Virtual Desktop

Fundamentals of Azure Virtual Desktop

  • Architecture: Azure Virtual Desktop operates on Microsoft’s Azure platform, making the most of its extensive infrastructure. The virtualized Windows desktops and apps service runs on instanced virtual machines, offering organisations a cloud-based virtual desktop experience.
  • Supported Operating Systems: Azure Virtual Desktop’s adaptability shines through in its OS support. Depending on the setup, it can run Windows 11, Windows 10 multi-session, Windows 10 or 7, and even Windows Server editions like 2021 R2, 2016, and 2019.
  • Client Support: The Azure Virtual Desktop client support is truly outstanding. Whether it’s Windows Desktop, macOS, Android, iOS, Web, or the Microsoft Store Client, AVD ensures smooth accessibility.

Why Choose Vantage for Your Azure Virtual Desktop Needs?

At Vantage 365, we’re all about helping businesses like yours tap into the power of Microsoft 365 and transform digitally to keep up with today’s fast-paced world. And honestly, we think Azure Virtual Desktop is a game-changer for a lot of businesses. Why? Our team, loaded with experience and a knack for crafting unique solutions, has seen its impact firsthand.

Curious if Azure Virtual Desktop could be a fit for your business? We’re just an email (hello@vantage365.co.uk) or a phone call (01384 593720) away. Reach out, and we’ll have a friendly, no-pressure chat about it. We’ll share why we’re big fans of Azure Virtual Desktop and help you figure out if it’s the right fit for your business. We promise only to recommend what we truly believe will bring real value to your company.

FAQs

What are the client licensing requirements for Azure virtual desktop?

To get started with Azure Virtual Desktop, users will need one of the licenses listed below: Microsoft 365 E3, E5, A3, A5, F3, or Business Premium; or Windows 10 Enterprise E3 or E5. Each of these licenses grants the permission to use Azure Virtual Desktop services at no extra cost.

However, it’s important to remember that charges for running virtual machines and using associated Azure services will still be applicable. Organizations should review their current licensing agreements and seek advice from a Microsoft representative to confirm they have the necessary licenses for their specific AVD setup.

What are the server licensing requirements for azure virtual desktop?

For Azure Virtual Desktop, there isn’t a traditional “server” licensing requirement, as AVD is provided as a fully managed service on the Azure platform. However, certain usage scenarios, like using Windows Server operating systems in the virtual desktop deployment, do need appropriate licensing. Organizations intending to use Windows Server OS with AVD must possess valid Windows Server licenses, which may be included in their existing Microsoft agreements.

These usually involve Software Assurance or a subscription licence. Since licensing can be intricate, particularly in hybrid or multi-cloud environments, it’s recommended to discuss your organization’s licensing situation with a Microsoft Azure expert to ensure compliance and efficient cost management.

Who should use Azure Virtual Desktop?

Azure Virtual Desktop offers the perfect solution for companies looking for flexibility, scalability, and secure remote working options. It’s especially useful for businesses with a dispersed workforce, those needing specific Windows legacy applications, and firms adhering to stringent compliance and security protocols. Educational institutions can also reap the benefits of AVD by equipping students and staff with accessible, high-performance computing resources.

For businesses embracing digital transformation or transitioning to cloud-based infrastructure, Azure Virtual Desktop plays a crucial role in facilitating this change. Essentially, any organisation aiming to boost its IT efficiency, support remote work effectively, and streamline operations should consider harnessing the power of Azure Virtual Desktop.

How much does Azure Virtual Desktop cost?

The Azure Virtual Desktop pricing largely depends on the resources your organisation uses, following a pay-as-you-go pricing structure. This means the total cost will be influenced by various factors, such as the number and type of Azure virtual machines you deploy, the storage amount used, and the bandwidth consumption. Furthermore, while the AVD service itself doesn’t result in extra charges if you have the appropriate Microsoft 365 or Windows 10 Enterprise licences, you need to consider the Azure resources the virtual desktops use.

Microsoft provides a pricing calculator on its website to help estimate these costs more accurately. It’s also worth exploring options like reserved instances, which can offer savings over time for consistent usage patterns. Seeking advice from a Microsoft Azure partner can offer personalised insights and help optimise costs according to your specific use case and requirements.

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