I remember how excited I was when Microsoft announced a preview of Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) on Azure in 2019. I was fascinated by the early demo videos of the Windows 10 experience on Azure and thought Desktop as a Service (DaaS) would be the next big thing. Later, when Microsoft announced the integration of FSLogix with WVD, my excitement was doubled.
I kept following the Azure WVD space. I read reports that there was a steady three-digit adoption growth for Azure WVD. Then I saw a massive spike in demand for Azure WVD in March and April of this year. Our Microsoft team at Connection has been getting many customer inquiries about Azure WVD in the last two months. It seems like years’ worth demand for Azure WVD has happened in weeks.
It’s clear that the work-from-home transitions due to COVID-19 drove customers’ increased interest in Azure WVD.
But what are the benefits of this service? Let’s examine the case for Azure WVD during pandemic times and beyond.
Why Choose Azure WVD for Desktop as a Service?
As a DaaS offering, Azure WVD is highly cost-effective compared to scaling up a traditional virtual desktop environment in your own data center. 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; I will explain why further down.
Another driver for Azure WVD 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 WVD, when combined with security and control, creates a winning combination.
If IT decision-makers consider the end-user benefit, another reason to choose Azure WVD 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.
Now, let’s explore what makes Azure WVD a robust offering that could have sustainable growth even after more employees can return to the office.
The Azure Advantage
With Azure WVD, 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. (Read my post on Windows Server/SQL Server end life for more dinosaur metaphors.) 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 WVD provides the best DaaS security model for customers.
With Azure WVD, 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 WVD are not exposed to the Internet directly.
Windows 10 Multisession
Unlike the traditional RDI, Azure WVD 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 WVD, Microsoft has revolutionized the way the end user experience works in non-persistent virtual machine sessions. An Azure WVD user profile will follow a user even if they do not use the same virtual machine session every time that they access the Azure WVD Virtual machines.
The integration of FSLogix containers also significantly impacts how your Microsoft Apps and OneDrive experience work with Azure WVD. FSLogix with Azure WVD can provide you the most productive Microsoft Apps (formerly Office 365 ProPlus) experience. The FSLogix technology on Azure WVD also allows OneDrive sync when the user roams through non-persistent sessions.
Access Azure WVD from Any Operating System
Another reason why Azure WVD wins the end-user is by the flexibility that Microsoft offers for Azure WVD across diverse Operating Systems. A user can access Azure WVD 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 WVD, Microsoft makes the adoption easier for you by making the Azure WVD 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 WVD. Not to mention, Windows 7 EOL customers get free Extended Security Updates on Azure WVD. 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 VWD environment for you. Reach out anytime to one of our Account Managers with any questions about desktop virtualization.