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Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) is a desktop and app virtualization service that runs on Microsoft Azure. Evolving from on-premise based desktop virtualization technologies, WVD provides organisations the ability to build virtual desktop infrastructure in the cloud. Unlike on-premise based virtualization, WVD can be built extremely small and scaled out as needed.
As with traditional desktop virtualisation, Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) provides users with a domain-joined virtual computer. However with WVD, the user profile and user apps are not part of the core OS image. The user’s profile and apps are stored in containers and “attached” to the OS at logon or app deployment. This not only reduces consumption of space on the OS drive, but also allows for a consistent user experience regardless of the virtual machine infrastructure being logged in to.
Traditionally, with virtual desktops, administrators would need to provide each Windows client OS its own unique virtual hardware. Whilst customers can still do this in WVD, with the introduction of Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session capability, WVD can now also host multiple users on the same Windows 10 virtual machine. This allows for not only cost savings in virtual machine costs, but also opens up opportunities for additional business benefits such as desktop disaster recovery (DR).
Clients can connect up to WVD desktops through a traditional remote desktop client, but they can also utilise the WVD HTML5 web client capable on running on any device. Once logged in, their user profile and apps are attached to the OS which provides a seamless user experience regardless of the back-end virtual infrastructure. For those more resource intensive users, IT administrators can provide a dedicated VM with larger capacity.
Being on the Azure platform, businesses can take advantage of cloud based features to automatically shutdown PCs, scale out the WVD environment for emergency scenarios or even provide a controlled and secure access to 3rd parties that need access to company resources.
The adoption of WVD involves implementing a number of steps. The first step is to validate the pre-requisites which involves checking that the customer has the relevant client licenses, has an on-premise Active Directory, and is synchronising this to an Azure AD subscription. After this, customers will need to make sure their network is connected to Azure and a domain controller is visible in the Azure network.
Finally, it’s a matter of configuring the WVD environment such as: deciding the types of hardware configurations and host pools needed, choosing a supported OS and its configuration, configure apps and app groups and publishing to end users.
Businesses are challenged these days to provide flexible end-user computing services with seamless integration for users, whilst maintaining ever-increasing security and disaster recovery needs but reducing administration and up-front costs. These challenges are even greater when businesses need to rapidly scale their end-user compute capacity and provide access from anywhere in emergency situations.
Organisations are also challenged with providing access to on-premises desktop services or sensitive applications for a wide range of users, all whilst maintaining strict access and security controls.
Traditionally, each one of these scenarios may have required a different solution which would not only increase costs and complexity, but would also require a lot of IT administration to manage and maintain.
WVD provides all of the advantages of virtual desktops with none of the up-front scale or hardware commitments that a traditional virtual desktop environment would need. This alone provides a great reduction in cost, complexity and IT administration. Windows 10 multi-session allows multiple users to log into a single host to save costs and provide rapid scaling capabilities.
Having the user profiles and client apps containerised and attached also provides users with a consistent desktop image. And with full control of the virtual desktop environment, organisations can control, secure and manage access to corporate resources anywhere there’s an internet connection.
By utilising WVD, you can integrate a number of other Microsoft cloud technologies seamlessly such as Conditional Access (with Multi Factor Authentication) or periodically shutdown hosts to provide greater security and cost savings.