Most organizations did not see the need to prepare to have all their employees working remotely before the pandemic. As a result, most of them had to make ad hoc decisions to deliver the services and tools necessary for remote operations in the aftermath of the pandemic.
The result is straining existing infrastructure incapable of handling a fully remote workforce, which introduces security vulnerabilities.
Recovery from the present crisis will take some time, which suggests that you will be supporting a considerable number of remote employees for an extended period. In that case, securing your remote workforce with Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) is advisable. Additionally, the overload on IT infrastructure is imposing continuity of operational challenges for almost every other entity.
As such, now is the right time to consider how you deliver IT to your remote workers.
What is Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD)?
Relying on a patchwork of solutions for various employees is not feasible in today's remote working environment. The solution, in this case, is opting for WVD.
Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) is a cloud service with a combined equivalent of App Virtualization, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), and Remote Desktop Service (RDS). WVD allows you to maintain your users, desktop images, and applications without difficulties.
The solution is secure and scalable, and it ensures that your remote workers have the data and tools they need to remain productive in a remote setting. That way, your remote employees will see the file locations, applications, among other services they access when using a desktop at the office.
On the other hand, you can configure services and tools for particular users through WVD and Azure Active Directory. Delivering your Office 365 workloads via WVD is also possible.
Comparison Between WVD and Legacy Terminal Services
Such legacy services like Remote Desktop Services (RDS) are nearing their end of life, and Windows Virtual Desktop will replace them soon. Below are a few aspects to help you understand the distinct differences between the legacy service and WVD.
The poor user experience that technologies like Roaming Profiles and User Profile Disk (UPD) deliver results from underlying limitations. For instance, there is no support for OneDrive On-Demand files, Outlook search capabilities, among other features in various Microsoft products. WVD solves the problem because it has a technology known as FSLogix Profile Container.
Also, native features of OneDrive, Windows 10, and Office can run natively in a multi-user virtual desktop environment thanks to FSLogix Profile Container.
Older Microsoft desktop virtualization technologies, including RDS, face licensing complexity, which is a major obstacle. If your business relies on RDS, operators need to license a version of Microsoft Office (which happens to be part of the desktop deployment), the server operating system (for instance, Windows Server 2016 or 2019), and the RDS feature of the operating system.
The challenge here is that the licensing of the server operating system is per core. In contrast, a per-user license applies to RDS Client Access License (CAL), and the provision of Office services is via Office 365 subscriptions.
As such, most firms find the maintenance of these components over time both expensive and complex. The best part is that you do not need an Office license, operating system, or RDS when you opt for WVD. That is the case since virtual desktops running Windows 10 on Office Cloud will only require a separate subscription to Windows 10 Enterprise Edition or Microsoft 365 (Business Edition A3, E3, E5, among others).
Everything else you need is built-in. In that case, WVD becomes a free add-on to your current Office 365 membership, which attracts savings in licensing costs.
Benefits of Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD)
- Improves User Profile Storage
Shared storage for user profiles is necessary if you want to use pooled Windows 10 multi-session desktops effectively.
Since users may be accessing a different Virtual Machine (VM) every time they login into WVD, each user profile must remain responsive and available. A combination of Azure File Storage and FSLogix addresses this requirement in the best way possible.
The reason is that configuring data redundancy and Azure Storage SKU options to meet any availability requirements is possible. The storage of each user profile is on the file share, and you can mount it to the WVD host at user login. Management of profiles is through FSLogix, a technology that is simple to deploy and manage.
Also, access to profiles is directly from the remote location. So, there will be no synchronization conflicts. The other reason why FSLogix with Azure File Storage is an ideal solution for managing user profiles is that it eliminates the need for using folder redirections or roaming profiles.
- It Has a Range of Potential Uses
Windows Virtual Desktop use cases are limitless. That suggests that the solution can maximize the productivity of remote workers. Here are details on some WVD use cases.
- WVD is not for applications and enterprise users only. Software entities can also use WVD to distribute a cloud version (via a SaaS model) of their application to clients.
- You can use your existing Active Directory for authentication to provide virtual desktops to remote workers securely.
- Deployment of training and testing environments with WVD to test new policy or application settings.
- You can reduce maintenance and management by installing applications on a WVD host and publishing them to a group of users. That comes in handy when you want to publish a legacy app to a subset of users.
- Image Management
Every WVD deployment is always based on some form of VM image. That can be a "golden image" that your IT team creates to address the requirements of your enterprise or a standard Azure marketplace. Many moving parts and a lot of administrative effort go into the creation of "golden images." Additionally, maintenance and distribution of such images while keeping track of changes can be time-consuming and hectic for organizations of any size.
That is where Microsoft Azure DevOps and Azure Shared Image Gallery come into play to provide an uncomplicated and automated way to build, maintain, support, and replicate "golden images."
- Streamline Management
Since WVD manages the RDS infrastructure, you only need to manage your virtual machines, users, and applications. Also, the WVD service provides such RDS components as Licenses, Gateways, and Brokers, and they no longer require management.
You also need to note that Microsoft 365 licenses cover WVD licensing for Windows 10. WVD components are now Azure Resource Manager (ARM) resource in the latest WVD release, and you can manage them through PowerShell or within the Azure portal. By doing so, WVD will avail you of the convenience you need.
- Supports Windows 10 Multi-Session
Indeed, Windows Virtual Desktop hosts can be Windows Server 2021R2, 2016, or 2019, Windows 10 Enterprise, or Windows 7 Enterprise. As much as that is the case, the availability of the Windows 10 Enterprise Multi-Session operating system is what sets WVD apart.
This allows multiple users to log into one Windows 10 VM, and that can attract significant savings. Single users are assigned a dedicated virtual machine in standard VDI solutions. On the contrary, multiple users are assigned to a pool of desktops when using Windows 10 multi-session with WVD to encourage sharing resources.
- Secures Application and User Data
WVD keeps your virtual desktops secure and reduces vulnerabilities. That is possible since WVD leverages security solutions like Azure Security Center, Azure Firewall, Azure Sentinel, and reverse connections. You can also apply the right access controls to users and devices with Azure Active Directory Conditional Access, thanks to WVD.
Maximizing the potential of your remote workers is a priority. You can achieve that by ensuring that your remote team has the right tools to accomplish daily tasks. Windows Virtual Desktop can make that a reality while saving your entity unnecessary expenses.