One thing that we cannot deny is that remote work is a huge topic in business circles everywhere. It’s something that plenty are trying to evaluate so they can see whether it would be good for them or not. Although opinions and experiences may vary, there’s no denying the potential advantages that remote work could offer businesses. But, for you to get the most out of it, you need solutions with a proven track record. This includes Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD). It’s a solution that can offer employees greater flexibility in how they do their work. Additionally, it provides you with a solid business continuity strategy. Today, we’ll be discussing AVD and what you need to know about it.
Azure Virtual Desktop
A virtual desktop offers you the full desktop experience while running on a remote server. This means that you can access work applications and other organizational resources while working remotely. Azure Virtual Desktop is an app and virtualization service that runs on the cloud.
With this Azure cloud-based service, businesses can offer their employees an efficient and secure way of working remotely. It also allows for capabilities to deploy and manage desktops without too much difficulty. Some of the things you’ll get when running AVD include the following:
- The ability to set up a multi-session Windows 11 or Windows 10 deployment that can give you the full Windows experience and scalability.
- Presenting Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise and optimizing it to run across multi-user virtual scenarios.
- Bringing your existing Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and Windows Server desktops along with apps to any computer.
- The ability to virtualize not only desktops but apps as well.
- Provides you with a unified management experience that simplifies the management of desktops and apps from different Windows and Windows Server operating systems.
Importance of remote work
Understandably, plenty of businesses may ask themselves why they would even need to be considering remote work. If what you’re currently doing is working well, then why change it right? Although this assertion may be true, we only have to look back a couple of years to a situation where people couldn’t go to work and were required to stay home.
In these kinds of scenarios, being able to leverage virtual desktop services means employees can remain productive, and your business suffers significantly less.
In addition, the greater flexibility that remote work can offer employees is something that can contribute to increased job satisfaction. Employees who have the option for a better work/life balance are likely to be more efficient in how they do their jobs.
Furthermore, this can also change the way businesses operate for the better. You can have the option of hiring people from anywhere, giving you access to the best talent available.
Features of Azure Virtual Desktop
There’s no question that there are several benefits that businesses can gain from utilizing virtual desktop services. But why pick Azure Virtual Desktop? After all, it’s not even the only option that Microsoft offers.
However, AVD does have several features that can make it the remote work solution of choice for many businesses. It’s going to provide you with the following capabilities:
- It allows you to create a full desktop virtualization environment in your Azure subscription. And you won’t need to run any gateway servers to do it.
- You can accommodate your diverse workloads by publishing host pools as and when you need them.
- Bring along your own images for production workloads or test from the Azure Gallery.
- The option to have pooled, multi-session resources is going to enable you to cut down on costs. Clients will benefit from Windows 11 and Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session capabilities, exclusive to Azure Virtual Desktop or Windows Server. By giving you this option, AVD allows you to massively reduce the number of virtual machines and operating system overhead. Additionally, it continues to provide the same resources to your user.
- You’ll also get personal (persistent) desktops, and this will provide you with individual ownership.
- There is an auto-scale feature that allows you to automatically increase or decrease the capacity based on variable factors. These include changing certain days of the week or a specific time of day. And all of which can help you keep expenditures under control.
DEPLOYMENT AND THE MANAGEMENT OF VIRTUAL DESKTOPS AND APPLICATIONS
- You can create application groups, assign users, and publish resources by using the Azure portal, Azure CLI, PowerShell, and REST API for configuring the host pools.
- Reduce the number of images by publishing a full desktop or individual apps from a single host pool, creating individual application groups for different sets of users, or even assigning users to multiple application groups.
- In addition, Azure Virtual Desktop also recommends the use of built-in delegated access to assign roles and collect diagnostics to understand various configurations or user errors.
- Another recommendation for environment management requires the use of built-in delegated access. This assigns roles and collects diagnostics to understand various configurations or user errors.
- Whenever issues arise, and you need to troubleshoot errors, you can use the new diagnostics service.
- Lastly, only the image and virtual machines should be managed and not the infrastructure. It’s not going to be necessary to personally manage the Remote Desktop roles as you do with Remote Desktop Services. Instead, just manage the virtual machines in your Azure subscription.
- As soon as users have been assigned, they can launch any AVD client to connect to their published Windows desktops and applications. This scenario allows you to connect from any device using either a native application on your device or the Azure Virtual Desktop HTML5 web client.
- Furthermore, you can eliminate the need for opening inbound ports by securely establishing users through reverse connections to the service.
Why choose Azure Virtual Desktop?
As previously mentioned, AVD is not the only virtual desktop solution available for businesses to choose from. We’ve already discussed what AVD is and what features it can bring to your organization. But some may still be asking why this particular solution. The reality is, there are several reasons why you may want to choose AVD as your flexible remote work solution of choice.
SEVERAL USE CASES
AVD allows you to take advantage of several use cases to get the most out of your subscription. Arguably, the biggest of these benefits is that remote workers will get virtual desktops that they can securely access from anywhere using your existing Active Directory for authentication.
Additionally, if you want to publish legacy applications to certain users, you can install them on an AVD host and publish them to those users. To ensure a truly comprehensive remote working experience, you can deploy an AVD host in various regions across the world, thus enabling you to support your users globally.
DEVICE REFRESH EXPENDITURE
From our experiences of using personal devices, most of us are already aware that every few years, we’ll need to upgrade our devices. At a certain point, our devices will stop getting updates, the hardware will slow down, the battery may need replacing, etc. As one can imagine, the cost of refreshing devices for a business is going to be significant.
This is why taking advantage of solutions like AVD and shifting your computing model to the cloud can help businesses start reducing the money spent on hardware. With this solution, your business can use any number of devices, from tablets, laptops, and other mobile devices, for work-related purposes. Not only that, but even some so-called outdated devices may potentially be used to access virtual desktops.
Additionally, Azure Virtual Desktop is a cost-effective alternative to scaling a traditional virtual desktop environment within your own data center. This reduction in expenses leads to better ROI.
AVD can be an invaluable tool as well for companies because of how it lets organizations control various apps and data while still allowing employees access to those resources on their own unique devices. This means that you can also offer your workers greater flexibility in how they work. And you can still retain overall control and keeping security standards high.
Although you could expect some of these benefits from a traditional VDI environment. The service you get from Microsoft comes at a better price point with better security.
Anyone looking to migrate to the cloud will want to know how secure the platform is going to be. Fortunately, for Azure Virtual Desktop clients, you can rest assured that you’ll get the identity management, backup, and database security benefits that the Microsoft Cloud provides.
We already know that Microsoft spends over a billion dollars a year in developing its industry-leading security measures and has a few thousand security experts working hard to enhance the security of the Microsoft ecosystem. As a result, employees will get to have virtual desktops that they can access in a highly secure manner, regardless of where they’re working.
Another great reason to choose Azure Virtual Desktop is that it will allow IT admins to only manage users, applications, and virtual machines without having to worry about the RDS infrastructure. This is because the latter will be managed by the AVD service.
Therefore, since RDS components like Gateways, Brokers, and Licenses are provided by the AVD service, the task of managing them is undertaken by AVD.
Furthermore, clients will be happy to learn that the AVD infrastructure is set up in such a way as to provide a simplified experience, with everything being centrally stored, managed, and secured.
So, what the virtual desktop environment gives you is an easier management system where there is no need to install, update, and patch applications. In addition to the above, the need for backing up files or scanning for malware on individual client devices is negated.
One of the great features of WVD infrastructure is its multi-session environment. This is something that goes a long way in drastically reducing the resources that are required when using single-user methods. With single-user sessions, there are two main disadvantages that can arise.
Firstly, when the machine is not running at peak, a lot of resources are going to waste, and secondly, when multiple users are working on single-user sessions, this is going to be extremely demanding in terms of resources.
Getting set up
As we look at setting up Azure Virtual Desktop for your business, there are few requirements that you’ll need to consider before proceeding:
- You need to have an active Azure account and subscription.
- You need access to a global administrator Azure AD role within the Azure tenant that you plan on using.
- Lastly, for your Azure subscription, you need to have a contributor and a user access administrator.
- Log in with your administrator account in the Azure portal. Then, search for Azure Virtual Desktop and select it.
- Proceed to set up host pools that contain virtual machines, application groups to assign the Remote Apps to users, the workspaces as logical groupings of application groups, scaling plans, and users to scope access to running AVD resources.
- Select ‘Getting started‘ in the top left area and then check that the correct subscription is selected.
- Then, for the identity provider, you’ll find that using an existing on-premises active directory or an existing Azure AD Domain Services instance is something that will be presented as a different option.
- Select Azure AD domain services for identity service type.
- Create a resource group with a unique name.
- For the location, select a region that is closest to your users.
- You can use your account for the Azure admin username if it has the necessary permissions to deploy resources and to grant access to them.
- Enter a password for the account.
- Use the next account to join virtual machines to the domain.
- Go to the virtual machines tab and create your first session hosts.
- The users for each virtual machine will determine whether you want more than one user simultaneously logged into a single VM. The multi-session capability, unique to Azure Virtual Desktop, is going to help you save costs and is compatible with both Windows 11 or Windows 10 client operating systems.
- You also have the option of a single dedicated virtual machine for one user at a time.
- Next, from Image, you can select from a number of supported Windows client and server virtual machine images for AVD.
- In addition, you have the option to create and manage your own virtual machine images. You can also choose them in addition to the standard gallery images.
- When it comes to virtual machine size, you can choose from hundreds of supported VM sizes in Azure.
- Once you have configured host pool VMs, create an initial user assignment for this host pool in the assignments tab.
- Once the core steps have been completed, the user will validate everything. You can then create all the necessary resources for AVD.
- With this done, several resources and services will deploy including:
- * 4 new Azure resource groups.
- * Azure AD domain service that will be used for authentication.
- * Storage account to store data.
- * FSLogix profile containers to support multi-session environments.
- * Host pool and virtual machines.
Accessing your virtual desktop
Once your virtual desktops have been set up, users will want to know how they can access them. For virtual desktop services to provide an attractive option, they need to be easy to access. Azure Virtual Desktop allows users additional access their virtual desktops with any modern device as long they have internet access.
This also means that it won’t matter what operating system you are using. Users can stick with the devices they prefer and don’t need to purchase new devices to access AVD.
For the best experience, however, Microsoft recommends using the Remote Desktop client app. Fortunately, this app is available on multiple platforms, including Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. Apart from this app, users may also access their virtual desktops using any modern HTML5-compatible browser.
Using the web client, users can access any session desktop or remote application inside of a browser window or tab. Also, be aware that the app you use to access RDS is a different one from the AVD remote desktop client. All this means is that you need to verify that you download the right version of the app.
Furthermore, users can access full desktop sessions and individual published applications when using the Remote Desktop client. This will be in addition to the automatic addition of remote apps and desktops to the local computer’s Start Menu for easier access.
Enhance your business operations
Azure Virtual Desktop will not only give you an alternative technology solution. But it can also enhance the way your company operates. Plenty of businesses are looking at ways to increase revenue streams. And virtual desktops can help you achieve that by extending productivity to employees’ PCs, phones, tablets, or browsers. These devices might not be under the direct control of the IT team. Moreover, of the measures that Azure puts in place, users will have highly secure access to organizational resources from their various devices.
Another great thing that AVD will help you with is the level of support that end users will receive. When businesses are migrating workloads to the cloud, users are going to need increased support for a low-latency, optimized experience.
Fortunately, with AVD, you get a business-critical platform, and a cloud adoption plan can directly or indirectly impact cloud adoption for all the concerned workloads.
Run a greener operation
In today’s marketplace, it should not be news to anyone that our environment has suffered significantly. All of us to pitch in to start addressing the issues. Regardless of where you may stand on the matter, eco-friendly operations matter. One thing you can’t deny is that plenty of people are now choosing which businesses they deal with based on how sustainable they are.
We’ve already talked about how using virtual desktops will impact your device refresh cycle. However, needing to purchase fewer devices also means that your business will produce less electronic waste.
Because of the use of Microsoft’s highly efficient data centers, your business can potentially cut down massively on energy consumption. Coupled with the fact that you can have some employees working remotely, the total energy savings will be significant, especially when you also factor in commuting to work.
With virtual desktop users being able to work remotely, your business can improve productivity and efficiency. Users can access their virtual desktops wherever they are, allowing your business to run more sustainably while simultaneously increasing productivity.
When looking at remote work, we need to consider that there are plenty of advantages that both employer and employee can gain from this. Considering how virtual desktop services have grown in popularity over the last few years, businesses should at least be looking at these solutions to see what they can bring to their organizations. If there’s anything we’ve learned in that time, it’s that we need to be prepared for the worst. Otherwise, businesses may be forced to shut down.
The freedom and flexibility that a service like Azure Virtual Desktop can offer employees is something that can massively boost staff morale. Virtual Desktop users can maintain high levels of productivity whether they are in the office or working remotely.
In addition, Azure guarantees you industry-leading security measures, meaning that businesses don’t need to worry about where their employees are working. Ultimately, AVD can be the solution to take your business to the next level.