Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) Part 2

Welcome to part two of our WVD discussion. If you recall, part one introduced the solution and some of its basic features and benefits. In this post, we will dig deeper into what the technology brings to the table.

Why Windows Virtual Desktop?

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) was initially thought of as a complex technology because of difficulties with implementing and managing its components. In a typical setup, IT must oversee a large amount of computing infrastructure. This includes VMs/servers, networking systems, endpoint devices, and load balancers. Moreover, high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) strategies should be devised for employees to remain productive in the event of natural disasters or system outages. To top it all off, virtualization was initially costly in terms of hardware and software licensing. In many cases, real-world deployments failed to meet user expectations because of their inability to deliver the consistent performance that companies ask for. Fortunately, VDI has gained traction today, thanks to the efforts of trusted vendors like ClearCube who apply an innovative approach to address unique business scenarios with customized solutions. 

Where does this leave us with Windows Virtual Desktop? If you recall, the platform enables enterprises to run Windows-based VDI in the Azure cloud with multiple Windows 10 users active all at once on the same VMs. Each individual’s information is also kept separate from every other user. So, the big question: what does this mean for businesses?

Before answering this, let’s have a look at all the components that come with Windows Virtual Desktop.

Technical Checklist

The following is a list of Windows Virtual Desktop features and functionality. This is by no means exhaustive, as Microsoft consistently works on revamping the service. 

  • Licensing, gateway, brokering, and diagnostics resources are offered as a service in Azure. IT does not need to deploy and maintain any on-premises infrastructure.
  • The service can employ Azure AD as the identity provider. This brings extra security controls, including conditional access or multifactor authentication (MFA).
  • Access to Azure AD-joined VMs will be granted using Azure AD identities after an employee initiates a connection with the service. The user will not be asked to enter credentials when connecting to the VM in setups where ADFS is utilized for SSO.
  • Organizations having Windows 10 Enterprise E3 Per User licenses or better, or RDS CALs can leverage the platform at no extra cost. They only need to deal with Azure storage/compute and network usage billing. 

Bringing Customers To Azure 

Here’s some food for thought. WVD is designed to encourage enterprises to embrace Azure for improved flexibility, security, business agility, analytics support, and Apps management. Let’s go over the factors that encourage this.

Windows-virtual-desktop-and-azure-benefits-

  1. Licensing 

New licensing systems decrease complexity and offer generous cost savings. To begin with, businesses do not have to deal with separate Windows Server licensing agreements. Secondly, one receives Windows 7 extended support without needing added end-of-life support payments. 

The WVD service features usage rights included in Windows E3 and Office 365 Pro Plus licenses for the sole multi-user cloud VDI. This is where you need not pay for hardware dedicated to your clients. 

The ESUs for Windows 7 comes at no cost, provided you are not going to complete migration by Jan 2020. As a result, businesses managing legacy apps that only run on Windows 7 continue to benefit from shifting to cloud-based VDI as part of a wider digital transformation initiative. 

  1. Simplified & Secure Access

WVD consists of the managed control plane service and the OS licensing itself. It does not cover your Azure resource consumption expenses that are user, application, and Azure region dependent. The free control plane, the software responsible for organizing the formation and management of app and desktop session hosts, authenticates users and decides where to route their desktop connections. So, businesses need not set up VMs for functions such as diagnostics, web access, request brokers, and application gateways. 

  1. Efficiency

WVD resides with integrated Microsoft components like Office 365 and your OneDrive data in Azure to deliver fast response time and efficiencies.  

  1. Flexibility

From a business perspective, WVD has a lot to offer. The solution brings new use cases, such as supporting gig economies in which businesses contract with independent workers for short-term projects. Contractors can implement BYOD policies and establish secure connections to the Azure cloud to access the data and apps they need for carrying out their tasks. 

  1. Resources

Multi-session Windows 10 efficiencies and support for Windows Server RDS desktop and apps come with minimal resource consumption. 

  1. Simplified Administration

Microsoft does the heavy lifting of the solution, relieving you of all responsibility related to provisioning, managing, maintaining, and patching infrastructure roles. WVD is a fully managed service, and with Azure being a scalable platform, you can deploy Windows VMs seamlessly while benefiting from networking, computer diagnostics, and storage capabilities.  

  1. Support Cycles

A major advantage of Windows 10 multi-user is its frequent release cycles. Although Windows Server 2013, 2016, and 2019 versions support enterprise workloads, remote desktops must update more regularly than every three years. This is necessary if one expects to maintain feature parity with a physical desktop setup. 

  1. Windows 7 Support 

As discussed, the EOL date for Windows 7 is Jan 14th, 2020. This offers an opportunity for you to migrate to WVD and extend your security updates for free.

  1. Shortcomings In Windows Virtualization

Although concurrent multi-user desktop sessions were previously possible with Windows Server, some major features of Windows 10 have always been inaccessible on the Server edition. Also, remote desktop virtualization on Windows Server often presents compatibility issues with time and mission-critical apps that otherwise run smoothly on standard Windows 10. This leads to unpredictable performance and unnecessary downtime. Finally, with updates appearing just once every three years as opposed to every six months, the overall UX is not up to par. 

All these problems can be solved with WVD which provides a better service by delivering Windows 10 as the multi-user host.  

Optimizing Your WVD Deployment

Enterprise VDI ecosystems are intricate as they consist of workloads that need to remain on-premises for security, regulatory, or availability purposes. So, organizations need a modern desktop and application solution which can tie together these delivery systems in order for them to function as a whole. WYD takes IT to another level by helping businesses reduce the costs and complexity associated with all these factors and overall desktop lifecycle management.

There are three possible ways to leverage your enterprise WYD deployment:

A. Accelerating Adoption

Use your existing control plane to enable easy adoption and straightforward workload balancing with your current delivery infrastructure. Notably, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop Services are optimized for WVD, and you can choose this platform for simple, out-of-the-box Windows Virtual Desktop support.

B. UX Monitoring & Management 

Create a plan to integrate end-to-end UX into all delivery systems. Note that optimizing both network and endpoint devices is especially important where comprehensive collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams are concerned. Once you introduce these new delivery models, you can use the monitoring tools to compare and contrast costs next to performance. 

C. Endpoint Strategy Assessment

Revisit endpoint management and make the most of new developments in hardware and software Thin Client solutions. Simplify administration at the device level via a modern edge device OS and reduce your attack surface by working with high-performance endpoints. Utilize management platforms to attain an in-depth and insightful view from endpoint systems.

End UX

Here is a simple way for team members to access their WVD apps and desktops. It is a matter of opening a browser, connecting to WVD farms, using Azure AD credentials for authentication, and streaming a RemoteApp or a desktop session. Microsoft ensures that the Office 365 ProPlus Apps function with minimal latency to support operations which call for near real-time access to rapidly changing data. 

Notably, IT can populate employees’ local Start menus with RemoteApp and Session shortcuts to facilitate a seamless WVD architecture.

What You Receive As A Cloud Desktop Customer

Cloud desktops are very popular among both small and large businesses, thanks to the wide range of benefits it brings. This includes flexibility, scalability, easy manageability, anytime and anywhere secure access, improved collaboration, and centralized data backup. WVD is no exception as it introduces clear advantages, including:

  1. Low Barriers To Entry

Getting started with a cloud desktop platform is simple if we put hardware into perspective. Also, like most cloud services, there is little or no-premises infrastructure to invest in, and no expensive hardware to maintain. 

With WVD licensing, things become even easier. Being a bring-your-own VM service, it enables you to get up and running once you create and populate your virtual machines. 

  1. Adjacent Resources

The idea is to keep your business data close to your application. If your information is in the cloud, your desktops can be right next to them. This prevents latency issues and guarantees consistent user productivity with fast performance. 

  1. Cost Savings

Nobody is interested in hardware that becomes obsolete quickly. You can easily take care of this with WVD and eliminate an upfront CapEx outlay. It is merely a matter of converting desktop computing CapEx into OpEx which translates into reduced desktop TCO.  

Multi-session virtualization also greatly decreases whitespace. If we look at single-user environments, you have to pay for both the resources you consume and any overhead you do not. When it comes to multi-session environments, you can have as many users as you wish on a virtual machine. 

  1. Security

As we know, WVD leverages reverse connections which means there are no inbound ports open, and you receive end-to-end encryption. Moreover, WVD is multi-tenant with an architecture of multiple instances including brokers that can be shared between customers. So, there is no cause for concern if there are other customers in your AD, and Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) provides the Single Sign-On (SSO) feature. 

Quick recap: the security and management efficiencies of Microsoft 365 are built-in natively. This includes conditional access (CA), integrated management, and data loss prevention. 

  1. Load Balancing

WVD Windows 10 multi-user supports Breadth-first and Depth-first load balancing techniques to ensure optimal resource utilization in the cloud environment. 

a.Breadth

Based on Reserved Azure instances (IaaS), this is the default mode. It allows you to spread users evenly across your VMs. 

b.Depth

This is optional for pay-per-use VMs and fills up the first virtual machine up to a configurable number of users before spinning up another one, and so forth. The process is automated and you can configure it using different ARM templates. Then, you can define thresholds for when to provision or decommission VMs. 

  1. Deploy & Scale 

ClearCube offers Thin Clients that support Windows 10 IoT, allowing employees to access all types of virtual workstations and cloud deployments with flexibility and scalability. Keeping this in mind, IT can facilitate either the complete virtual desktop experience or specifics apps with WVD. When you deliver virtual applications to our Windows 10 IoT Thin Client endpoints, they are integrated effortlessly. The scalability of the Azure platform makes it possible to deploy either in a matter of minutes.

Up Next 

Till now, we have discussed the features, benefits, and technical details of Windows Virtual Desktop. Stay tuned for part 3 in which we will cover the pricing information of the solution. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us anytime. The ClearCube team is always happy to help.

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