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What is Azure Windows Virtual Desktop – and how should you use it?

You may already be aware that many organizations are currently leveraging virtual desktops. Right now, they are becoming increasingly popular, when much of the workforce is remote. The fact is, the way we work is rapidly evolving. An increasing number of companies are adapting to these changes and cutting costs with Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD).

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However, remote work isn’t the only use case for this solution. Windows Virtual Desktops offer an easy and secure way to give your entire team secure access to the information and applications they need on their devices. This saves time, resources and boosts employee efficiency.  

Want to know if WVD is right for you? We can help you decide. Keep reading to find out if your organization should be using Windows Virtual Desktop. 

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What is a virtual desktop?

A virtual desktop is a full desktop that runs on a remote server. This enables you to securely access work applications and data from wherever you are and on any device. It expands the possibilities beyond the physical desktop screen in the office. 

Windows Virtual Desktop is a desktop app and visualization service that runs on the cloud. It provides all the benefits you might expect from a virtual desktop while offering the same tools and resources your employees already use. 

Benefits of a virtual desktop

You may be wondering: How do I determine if my organization will benefit from a virtual desktop solution? If all of your staff have work laptops and you can secure and manage their access to the information and applications they need, using a virtual desktop may not be necessary for your organization.

However, for many companies, their specific needs are best managed with a virtual desktop. If any of the following apply to you, it’s worth considering WVD.

Your staff need to work remotely

Your team need to be able to work from home, when travelling, on customer sites or in the office and have the same user experience wherever they are. You need to manage and secure access to company data and applications.

Simple security management

When you have contractors or part time staff that need access to information, security can become a concern. Windows Virtual Desktop makes it easy for you to provide controlled and secure access to your data and applications. Additionally, your full-time employees can use their home PC (or Mac) to connect to their work virtual desktop. This keeps all your corporate information secure. 

You have an occasional need for PCs

Don’t waste resources on setting up several physical machines if all of your employees don’t need a dedicated PC. WVD makes it possible to deploy virtual PCs when you need them. As your needs change, you can add or remove virtual desktops to meet the needs of your workforce. 

You need different types of PCs for different teams in the business

You can deploy different virtual desktops to different user groups. This way, users are only able to access the apps and information they need to do their work. They won’t see information that they don’t need, and you can give them the computing power that they need for their work.

What makes Azure Windows Virtual Desktop different?

In the past, virtual desktop solutions have been complex and expensive. They were difficult for companies to set up and manage. A large server infrastructure was necessary to run virtual desktops. As a result, most small and medium businesses didn’t have the resources to manage virtual desktops in-house. Azure Windows Virtual Desktop makes this accessible and affordable for all businesses.

WVD is different from other virtual desktop solutions because it is:

Simple to deploy and configure 

Now, managing Windows Virtual Desktop is easier than ever before. In the Azure Portal, you can deploy and manage virtual desktops and apps, assign users and have access to monitoring and diagnostics. All of this is available to you in a single interface. 

Cost effective 

WVD can save your organization money, because you only pay for virtual servers when your virtual desktops are on. In addition, when using Windows Virtual Desktop, there is less infrastructure required to run a distributed team. 

Easy to scale 

You can quickly provide full Windows 10 desktops with all your business applications to your users. You can also increase or decrease the number of virtual desktops you use as your workforce changes. 

Flexible

Like with all Microsoft Cloud Services, there are no contractual commitments with WVD. The service itself is also more flexible than other available options because it allows you to choose to give your employees the entire desktop experience or only offer specific virtual apps. It’s also the only virtual desktop interface that offers Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session.

How much does Windows virtual desktop cost? 

The monthly cost will depend on the number of users, the software that they need and their usage patterns. This is what the costs will typically include: 

A domain controller 

This will manage user access and the Session Hosts. If simplicity is a priority for your organization, one option is to use Azure Active Directory Domain Services. You can learn more about AD and Azure AD here

Session hosts 

You will need session hosts to host the virtual desktops. The session host is an Azure Virtual Machine (server) and you can have one or many of these. Typically you will assign a number of users per session host, so for example if you assigned 6, this means that 6 users would have their Virtual Desktop sessions on the same server. So in this example, if you had 30 users then you would need 5 session hosts. Note that you only pay for the session hosts while they are on.

Storage for user profile disks 

Your user profile is stored centrally and is attached to whichever session host you are allocated to – this means that your desktop and your data looks the same regardless of which session host you are allocated to that time. This user profile uses FSLogix and needs to be stored somewhere, for simplicity we recommend Azure Files.

Licensing

To use Azure Windows Virtual Desktop, you will need licensing for: 

  • Office with Shared Computer Activation (if you are using the Office suite)
  • FSLogix 
  • Windows 10 Enterprise

Your organization may already have access to WVD with a Windows or Microsoft 365 license. For example, the licensing for Office, FSLogix and W10 Enterprise is all included in the M365 Business Premium plan. If you are using a lower plan, then you can upgrade your license and pay the additional amount.

If you want to get an estimate for your organization’s particular requirements, please contact us and we can provide this for you. 

Who should use Azure Windows Virtual Desktop? 

This solution is suitable for businesses of all sizes. Azure WVD is particularly useful for organizations who need their staff to work remotely, or that use external consultants, or that have a varying need for numbers of desktops and types. If you’ve thought about using a virtual desktop in the past and cost or complexity was holding you back, now is the time to consider it. 

The best part? If you work with us to implement Azure WVD, we provide free guidance on the Azure and Microsoft Office 365 elements. That means all the IT knowledge you need to implement and manage this environment are traditional desktop management skills.

If you’re interested in WVD and want to understand how it could work for you and what it would cost, contact us for a free discussion with one of our Certified Azure consultants.

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