Azure Virtual Desktop: A Comprehensive Guide

Azure Virtual Desktop

Virtual desktops have gained immense popularity, especially with the rise of remote work. This revolutionary way of working has prompted many organizations to embrace Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD), formerly known as Azure WVD. AVD not only enables remote work but also provides a secure and easy way for teams to access information and applications on their devices, resulting in improved efficiency and cost-cutting measures.

What is a virtual desktop?

A virtual desktop is a complete desktop running on a remote server, allowing you to securely access work applications and data from anywhere and on any device. It goes beyond the limitations of a physical desktop screen and provides the flexibility to work from various locations. Azure Virtual Desktop (Azure VD) is a cloud-based desktop app and visualization service that offers the same tools and resources your employees are already familiar with, enhancing their work experience.

Benefits of a virtual desktop

If your organization has work laptops for all staff members and can effectively secure and manage their access to information and applications, a virtual desktop may not be necessary. However, if your company falls into any of the following categories, AVD is worth considering:

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1. Remote work requirements

If your team needs the flexibility to work from home, while traveling, on customer sites, or even in the office, AVD ensures a consistent user experience regardless of their location. With AVD, you can effectively manage and secure access to company data and applications.

2. Streamlined security management

When dealing with contractors or part-time staff who require access to information, maintaining security can be a challenge. Azure WVD simplifies this process by providing controlled and secure access to your data and applications. Additionally, your full-time employees can use their home PCs (or Macs) to connect to their work virtual desktops, ensuring the security of your corporate data.

3. Occasional need for PCs

If not all your employees require dedicated PCs, setting up multiple physical machines can be wasteful. With Azure WVD, you can deploy virtual PCs when needed and easily adjust the number of virtual desktops based on your workforce requirements, eliminating unnecessary costs.

4. Different PC requirements for different teams

Azure VD allows you to deploy various virtual desktops tailored to different user groups. This ensures that users only have access to the apps and information necessary for their work, enhancing productivity. Additionally, you can provide each team with the computing power they need to excel in their respective roles.

What sets Azure Virtual Desktop apart?

Historically, virtual desktop solutions have been complex and expensive to implement and manage. The infrastructure required to run virtual desktops posed challenges for small and medium-sized businesses. However, AVD breaks this barrier by offering the following advantages:

1. Simple deployment and configuration

AVD’s management has never been easier. With the Azure Portal, you can deploy and manage virtual desktops and apps, assign users, and access monitoring and diagnostics all from a single interface, streamlining the entire process.

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2. Cost-effective solution

AVD helps you save money by only charging for virtual servers when your virtual desktops are in use. Additionally, AVD reduces the infrastructure needed to support a distributed team, further optimizing costs.

3. Scalability made easy

Distributing full Windows 10 desktops with all necessary business applications to your users has never been more convenient. With AVD, you can effortlessly adjust the number of virtual desktops to match your workforce fluctuations, ensuring optimal resource allocation.

4. Unparalleled flexibility

As a Microsoft Cloud Service, Azure WVD offers contractual commitment-free usage. It provides the flexibility to choose between the entire desktop experience or specific virtual apps, empowering you to customize the virtual desktop interface according to your organization’s unique needs. Azure VD is also the only virtual desktop interface that offers Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session.

How much does Azure Virtual Desktop cost?

The cost of Azure Virtual Desktop varies depending on the number of users, required software, and usage patterns. Typically, the costs include:

– Domain controller

This component manages user access and the Session Hosts. For simplicity, you can use Azure Active Directory Domain Services as one option. AD and Azure AD details can be found here.

– Session hosts

Session hosts are responsible for hosting the virtual desktops. Each session host is an Azure Virtual Machine (server), and you can have multiple hosts based on your needs. Typically, a number of users are allocated per session host. For example, if you assign six users per session host, and you have 30 users, you would need five session hosts. It’s important to note that you only pay for the session hosts while they are in use.

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– Storage for user profile disks

User profiles are centrally stored and attached to the assigned session host, ensuring consistent desktop and data accessibility across sessions. FSLogix is used for user profile management, and Azure Files is recommended for storage simplicity and efficiency.

– Licensing

To utilize AVD, specific licensing is required:

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

Organizations with Windows or Microsoft 365 licenses may already have access to WVD. For instance, M365 Business Premium plans include licensing for Office, FSLogix, and W10 Enterprise. If using a lower plan, you can upgrade your license to incorporate the additional features.

Contact us for Azure Virtual Desktop pricing

To receive an estimate of Azure WVD pricing tailored to your organization’s requirements, feel free to reach out and contact us.

Who should consider Azure Virtual Desktop?

Azure Virtual Desktop is suitable for businesses of all sizes. It is particularly beneficial for organizations requiring remote work capabilities, businesses utilizing external consultants, and those with varying desktop requirements. If cost or complexity has been a barrier in the past, now is the perfect time to explore the potential of Azure VD. As Azure Gold Partners, we provide free guidance on Azure and Microsoft Office 365 elements when you partner with us to implement AVD. This means you’ll have all the necessary IT knowledge to successfully implement and manage this environment, even with traditional desktop management skills.

If you’re interested in Azure Virtual Desktop and want to understand how it can work for you, including AVD pricing, reach out to us for a free discussion with one of our Certified Azure experts.

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