Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) is Microsoft’s VDI solution for standardizing Windows 10 workstations natively in Azure. It is the ONLY solution that offers true Windows 10 desktops virtualized to the machines. You cannot get this experience in Microsoft Remote Desktop Server, Citrix, AWS, or any other virtualization technology. It offers a robust desktop experience complete with Office 365 support. Some of the key features of Windows Virtual Desktop:
Mobility – WVD works over regular RDP channels when you’re on your work’s network, but it also has the capability of streaming the desktop over HTTPS, port 443. It uses a high compression technology to ensure that streaming a lot of these desktops will not incur a lot of egress charges in Azure. That means your users can stream the desktops from a public computer or even their phone in a pinch!
Security – WVD connects into your Active Directory or Azure Active Directory to authenticate users. That means your native security for your company works with the service running for WVD. This is a great solution for setting up contractor access. Even if they bring their own device onto your network, you can still give them access to log into an imaged, controlled computer running in your environment. You don’t have to worry about what is or isn’t installed on their computer; they are running on one of your computers that you can completely wipe away when the contract is finished.
Stability – The WVD solution from Microsoft is backed by the standard SLA’s of Microsoft Azure. Their award-winning service provides the stability that outmatches any data center in the country. With Microsoft’s built-in services such as load balancing and automatic brokering and gateways, there are less systems to worry about connectivity issues to. Correctly configured, Microsoft provides an uptime SLA of 99.99%. That’s 8 hours MAXIMUM per year that the service could be down before you start getting money back!
Scalability – WVD can automatically scale different machines in separate pools based on utilization. For instance:
- Accounting needs a small machine with a few accounting apps, they would be in one pool
- Designers need GPU-heavy machines, so they are in a different pool
Whenever someone in accounting logs in, it assigns them to the accounting pool. If they are the last person in the threshold, it will automatically scale and spin another machine up waiting on the next person. When someone logs off, if the number of people using the desktops in the pool falls below the set threshold, the extra machine shuts down so as to keep incurring cost for usage. The more expensive GPU-heavy pool is not altered at all.
If you think about this, in an on-premise environment, you would have to know how many people *could* connect at any given time and purchase and provision hardware for the scenario that people could be connecting. You’re overprovisioning hardware based on a what-if. The beauty of WVD in Azure is that it takes care of all of that for you. You only pay extra when the extra servers start up and run due to heavier loads. As mentioned before, the built-in load balancing can be configured per your preference to breadth-first (put one user on the first machine, 2nd user on the 2nd machine, 3rd user on the 3rd machine, 4th user on the 1st machine, etc. until the limit is hit and a new machine is added) or depth-first (put 5 users on the first machine, 5 users on the 2nd machine, then 5 users on the 3rd machine and then a new machine is added). This can all be performed automatically and the user (and likely the system admins) do not even have to know it happened!
Flexibility – WVD offers the flexibility you need in order to make the virtual desktop experience as close to what you are currently doing as possible
- If you have your own “golden image” that you use for computers in your environment, you can prepare those as images for WVD and upload them.
- There are multiple technologies offered to handle user profile state such as Azure File Share, OneDrive for Business, or FSLogix so that your profile data is accessible from any of the machines in the pool
- WVD offers pooled desktops where people share one standard image, but that may not meet every need. In the same service, you can have personal desktops assigned to individuals so that they have their own computer that doesn’t get recreated each time they connect, but still is a virtualized desktop.
- Can use Azure Updates Management to automate updates to WVD desktops. And if you weren’t aware, this service can also automate updates to your servers you already have in Azure
- You can use SCCM to manage the desktops just as if they were physical machines in your environment
Licensing – With Microsoft’s new Microsoft 365 licensing, as long as you have an E3 or E5 license (or an F1 for frontline workers), your WVD licenses are covered! If not, and you are still on a Software Assurance plan, you can take advantage of the Hybrid Use Benefit to bring your own licensing to the solution. Paired with Reserved Instances, this solution could really save a ton of money over having your own systems in your data center, and expensive hardware given out to each individual of your company.
Management – Simple PowerShell commands can have you up and running in no time and can be configured to automate future pools and machine configurations as well as user assignments. Need a user interface?
Microsoft is working on a user interface to manage WVD machines. This is expected to be out later this year. Until then, there are plenty of third-party tools in the Azure Marketplace that will help you manage your virtual machines. One example of a management tool that’s out there is Nerdio’s solution. You can either get their standard offering and point it to your Azure, or there is an Azure Marketplace solution called “Nerdio Manager for WVD” that can handle everything from creating the pools to assigning users to updating images for the WVD solution. Of course, Dalechek Technology Group would love to be your partner in managing and maintaining your WVD experience, so you don’t even have to worry about it!
We at Dalechek Technology Group believe that Microsoft really hit the nail on the head with their offering of WVD. If you’ve followed their plans for VDI solutions, you know that for a while it was shaky. They experimented doing much like all other solutions do – setting up RDS on a Windows Server environment and handing out sessions from there. However, none of those were really the same feel as what your people are used to having as their work desktop experience. Microsoft offering their Windows 10 desktop operating system as a poolable desktop experience is really a game changer! And remember, you can only get it in Azure! Reach out to us to find out more.