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Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) Guide for the Remote Workforce

Azure Virtual Desktop is a relatively new service provided by Microsoft to help streamline the virtualization of desktops and applications, providing users with the same experience as dedicated hardware. It’s a cloud-based solution using Virtual Machines with centrally managed desktops, reducing IT overload.

Technology is rapidly evolving nowadays, with much of the workforce going remote. To swiftly adapt to the exponentially growing marketplace trends, companies need to leverage new cutting-edge frameworks like Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD). Also, these tech-driven applications help secure access to information that employees need on their devices.

The platform is a managed virtual desktop service incorporating many cyber security capabilities. The built-in advanced security features help reduce risks associated with remote working, saving your organisation’s critical data from malicious activities over the internet. Also, the secure cloud-based solution adds an extra layer of protection to your network infrastructure. 

Companies utilising cloud products can easily integrate Azure Virtual Desktop to attain maximum benefit from Microsoft products. Manage end-to-end Azure Desktop deployment with Azure services from virtually anywhere. If you want to include Azure Virtual Desktop in your organisation, our experts can help you set it up.

What is Azure Virtual Desktop?

Azure Virtual Desktop by Microsoft, also known as Windows Virtual Desktop, helps enable secure remote workplaces by expanding work possibilities beyond the physical screen in offices. Virtual desktops run on a remote server from where employees can access applications from wherever and on any device. It offers the same tools and resources that employees use within their official workplace premises.

Azure VD platform is highly robust as it has built-in security protocols that provide defence mechanisms to the end-users of an organisation. The framework has revolutionised the way companies used to work – providing a highly convenient and protected option that reduces overall costs and expenditures.   

Infrastructure and components of Azure Virtual Desktops

To better understand how a Virtual Desktop works, we need to get some insight into its infrastructure, also known as Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). The name refers to the virtualization of Virtual Machines (VMs) to manage these screens. The users can easily access the Desktops from remote locations and devices with all the processing on a host server. 

The users usually connect their instances via a connection broker, a software layer acting as an intermediary between the user and the server. Most of the time, VDI is deployed in the company’s data centre and falls under the supervision of IT experts. Although VDI can be hosted in the cloud, it poses limitations on its infrastructure with all the essential benefits it provides for AVDs.

The Virtual Desktop components are the different parts of a setup that work together systematically and are related to each other. Given below is a list of these components:

  • Each of the AVD tenants can have one or more renter groups.
  • These tenant groups own host pools consisting of Azure Virtual Machines. These VMs are registered as hosts for Azure Virtual Machines by operating WVD agents.
  • Each host pool can either have personal virtual machines assigned to individual users or pooled to ensure access to users belonging to an app group.
  • These app groups consist of logical isolations of Desktop applications and Remote Applications. The logically separated sessions assist users that belong to different workspaces to optimally utilise the app and desktop features according to their requirements. 
  • The host pool operates on two load-balancing methods to ensure sessions are distributed adequately across Virtual Machines. In the breadth-first load-balancing methodology, distributed user sessions are hosted in the pool based on equality. The load-balancing limit threshold is totally exhausted in the depth-first approach before the connections are redirected to a new session.

How do Virtual Desktops operate?

Earlier Virtual Desktop solutions were very complex and costly, and hence their deployment and management were laborious. Companies required large server infrastructures to make the VD perform seamlessly over their network infrastructures. Therefore, most small to medium-sized businesses felt reluctant to invest in this tech, given how they worked on tight schedules and resources. 

With Azure VDs, everything is more accessible and affordable. The systems are easy to deploy and configure hence, many small-scale companies are also ready to invest in this technology. Given below is a list of simple and easy steps on how to operate these virtual screens:

  • Using a remote desktop gateway, the user establishes a connection with AVD from any compatible device.
  • The Azure Active Directory initiates a session by generating an access token managed by a WVD panel.
  • The WVD agents running on session hosts initiate a reverse connection via the control panel.
  • After the gateway confirms a connection, authentication takes place using the AD domain for the client. If the user uses a trusted device to connect, the credentials can be stored in the database for faster access.
  • Lastly, the local domain credentials examined by the FSLogix service (a profile management technology) help mount a virtual hard disk for the user’s profile on the session host.

Why should you move to the Cloud?

Deploying remote desktops is the next step toward digital transformation. Just like scaling web-based applications helps promote remote workplaces, integrating virtual desktops to the cloud also provides the same potential and flexibility employees crave. When you have all the applications on a centralised cloud, you free up your dependency on rigid hardware.  

Microsoft Azure cloud solution for nonprofits is specially built to cater to the tight budget requirements of these organisations. The cloud is an integrated suite of solutions, including Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Microsoft Teams, and Power Platform, designed to meet the challenges faced by nonprofit organisations. 

Through the power of Microsoft Cloud and the technology stack, you can accelerate innovation and help personalise the custom needs of your organisation. The platform promotes engagement between supporters and employees while also aligning the needs of the staff to deliver measurable responses and programs.

How Azure Virtual Desktop benefits Remote workplaces

A Virtual Desktop is a lot more secure compared to other remote working arrangements. It provides fast and easy access to documents and applications. Since the business only needs to virtualize one desktop for many employees, it significantly reduces IT support overhead. The platform decouples apps and data from employees’ hardware, and they can easily stream critical data from a secure cloud server.

Let’s delve into some of the benefits of Azure VD for remote workplaces:

Fully-managed solution

Earlier, IT teams used to create desktop virtualization by setting up gateways, brokers, load balancing, etc. It was a tedious task, and even after that, the systems weren’t as robust or reliable as they wanted them to be. With a fully-managed Virtual Desktop, many configurations are managed by the platform, making the process a lot smoother.

Although the deployment of AVD is easy and quick, you still need an expert IT team to supervise the changing configurations, stay compliant, software updating, etc. The VD on Azure also allows users to customise VMs based on their workloads to attain maximum productivity.

Multi-platform native support

Sometimes all systems in the offices are running on Windows Operating System, but employees’ devices might be running on another OS. This can cause a lot of hindrance in work. Hence, with AVD, compatibility with multiple Operating Systems is no longer a pressing issue. The framework has fully-featured native client support for not only Windows, but also macOS, Android, iOS, and HTML5.

Additionally, the performance of virtual desktops is impeccable and gives the same look and feel as local apps. The layouts, controls, and personalization options are all the same across the different platforms. Employees can also benefit from the cloud as it enables apps like Outlook to open up with all the data preloaded as soon as the employee logs into the application.

Reduction in cost and IT overhead

Companies usually assign dedicated laptops to all employees, and these systems aren’t as secure as they might sound. Even with malware protection software and strict firewall policies, critical company data is stored on hundreds of separate hard drives – posing a risk of data theft and loss.

Each company laptop becomes an IT asset falling under the organisation’s responsibility. Therefore, each employee needs IT support and oversight, which can become costly and laborious. VD can avoid all such problems as employees can use their laptops and reduce expenditure costs to a great extent.  

Advanced security

Data protection has become more crucial than ever especially if it contains employees’ personal information. Companies must be proactive rather than reactive since paying for data leaks is far more expensive than deploying security protocols. Azure Virtual Desktop helps businesses do just that as it is one of the most secure cloud platforms available today.

The remote servers for virtual desktops are running on Microsoft Azure. Hence it is almost guaranteed they are more secure than the on-premises solutions, mostly deployed by SMEs. The desktops do not allow employees to download data on their devices, eliminating data exfiltration threats. 

Scalability and reliability

With on-premise solutions, many businesses struggle with scalability and reliability issues. A cloud-based remote framework like Windows Virtual Desktop offers incredible scalability and affordability. The Azure-based solution ensures that performance consistency is maintained irrespective of geographical location. Administrators also choose data centres closest to end-users when forming desktop sessions to reduce latency.

 

When should you opt for Azure Virtual Desktop?

In times of a pandemic, many businesses had to shift their employees to remote workplaces. Therefore, WVD became an obvious choice due to its easy and basic deployment capabilities, and all the feature requirements became the most ideal and effective solution. 

Given below are four scenarios in which companies may choose to deploy remote IT infrastructures:

Escalating IT expenditures

One of the most common reasons for rising IT costs is the staff going remote during an emergency. As employees shift to a new workplace environment, additional licensing fees to add security capabilities and high demand for IT support can add more expenses to your organisation. 

Virtual Desktops can solve all these issues as it removes the need to buy additional licences for each employee. Hundreds of workers can use the same desktop but with different dedicated profiles, reducing cost overhead as the IT team will only have to manage the central virtualization. The only main cost associated with WVD is the cost to run Azure’s Virtual Machines.

When facing capacity constraints

If your company is growing at an accelerating pace and you keep adding new employees each month, a virtual desktop can help in the efficient management of available resources. Each new employee needs careful handling, and WVD can help you do that. Also, the desktops provide a centralised management platform and a highly expandable backend which helps minimise downtime.

Already using Microsoft Products

If your organisation is already using Microsoft 365 products, it is obvious to use the Windows Virtual Desktop. Since licensing is already with the original Microsoft package, there’s no additional cost associated with using the VD. 

An added advantage is the seamless integration of AVD with all other Microsoft 365 products, simplifying management and promoting consistency across the entire platform. Also, SMEs can greatly benefit from this venture as it saves them the hassle of deploying expensive hardware tools to meet their demands.

Encourage growth of your remote workforce

The Azure Virtual Desktop solution is an all-in-one package deal for many organisations who need their staff to work remotely, use external consultants, or have fluctuating needs for several desktops. Although moving to cloud-based solutions and deploying VDs takes planning and investment, the results have shown a remarkable increase in the productivity and efficiency of many organisations. We can see growth on both sides: end-users and IT maintenance.

Microsoft 365 solution coupled with some of Azure’s cost-efficient frameworks is a cherry on top for businesses looking to invest in one fully integrated solution. The approach saves time and allows enterprises to spend time on more significant aspects of the product development lifecycles.

If you want to invest in this remarkable new journey, now is the right time to start. Get in touch with our team of expert Azure consultants today.

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