Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) or what was previously known until June 7th 2021 as Windows Virtual Desktop is a powerful Microsoft Azure cloud based remote access solution. It’s optimised for delivering Office 365 applications as well as many other features and it uses the only true multi-session experience.
Here we’ll explore Azure Virtual Desktop features and benefits, along with some technical considerations.
Microsoft has developed a platform which gives users the ability to access a true multi-session Windows experience with the Microsoft Office 365 Apps as a virtual desktop.
As well as the virtual desktop experience, users can also make the most of an app experience which can be accessed from any device with internet access.
If your business is looking for a more efficient, productive, and secure approach to virtualisation then Azure Virtual Desktop provides for a fully managed solution. This is within the cloud and it works with all of your current apps and devices.
As well as this, Azure Virtual Desktop provides full feature, native support features for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android in addition to HTML5. . . so you can access your remote desktops and apps from almost any modern browser too.
Getting Ready for Azure Virtual Desktop
Before making the decision to deploy Azure Virtual Desktop there are some key prerequisites which are needed
- You will need an Azure Tenant with a valid subscription
- You must join the device to your Azure AD but not via Azure AD-Join.
- Virtual Desktop only should be running either Windows 11 Enterprise multi-session, Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session, Windows 7 Enterprise or Windows Server 2019 / 2016 / 2012 R2.
NOTE: Windows 8 and 8.1 are not supported
- The Azure Virtual Desktop device should be on the same subnet to the virtual network in Azure AD.
- You should configure the Azure AD and the Azure Virtual Desktop device within the same region.
You will also need to decide on:
|User Profile type||Light, Medium, heavy|
|The total quantity of users|
|Virtual Machine location||UK South/UK West/North Europe/West Central US etc|
|Availability Options||resiliency options|
|Image type||Windows 11 Enterprise|
Windows 11 Enterprise with Microsoft 365
Windows 10 Enterprise
Windows 10 Enterprise with Microsoft 365 Apps Windows Server 2019 Datacentre
|Virtual Machine Size||Spec – quantity of virtual CPUs (VCPUs) and RAM|
|Number of VMs||Total quantity to create within the Host Pool|
|Disk Type||Premium SSD|
Azure Virtual Desktop – Key Benefits
With Azure Virtual Desktop, you can create a full desktop virtualisation environment within your subscription. You can do this without having to run any additional Gateway Servers!
You can also publish as many host pools as you need to accommodate variable workloads. In addition to bringing your own image for production, workloads or tests from the Azure Gallery.
Ultimately, a virtual desktop will help reduce costs because of the pooled, multi-session resources. It’ll also provide individual ownership through personal (persistent) desktops and a Multi-session Windows deployment that delivers full scalability.
With Azure Virtual Desktop, you can bring your existing Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and Windows Server desktops and apps to any computer whilst virtualizing both desktops and apps.
On top of this, you can manage your Azure Virtual Desktop (and apps) with a unified management experience and AVD also supports Windows Hello for Business.
With regards to User Profiles, FSLogix can be setup to provide a mechanism for user accounts to roam when connecting to different hosts enhancing the user experience by providing an identical user profile no matter which Virtual Desktop the user logs onto within the Host Pool.
Why use Azure Virtual Desktop in my Business?
Azure Virtual Desktop requires less IT management overheads, therefore this approach separates your operating systems, data and apps from local hardware. This is appealing for many businesses because the risk of confidential information being left on a personal device is greatly reduced.
Deploying a Virtual Desktop Experience like Remote Desktop Services (RDS) has traditionally been expensive, complex and time consuming.
Using AVD can provide security, help with mergers and acquisitions, short term employees and contractor and partner access. Additionally, it can help with BYOD and mobile, call centres, brand workers, as well as with specialised workloads. Such as legacy apps and software development testing.
Azure Virtual Desktop Security
Azure Virtual Desktop Security uses reverse connect technology. Which eliminates the need to open inbound ports directly into the AVD. This reduces the risk of attack. You can fully utilise and control the environment using Azure AD Security Services via Azure MFA and/or Conditional Access.
Azure Virtual Desktop also has a role based access control to simplify the risk of incorrect access being assigned. You can also isolate a user’s session in both single and multi-session environments.
Consequently, this means providing an added layer of security, permitting who or which departments are connecting to a specific AVD. A multi-session provides concurrent interactive sessions for multiple users at a time. Whereas a single allows for just 1 connection at any one time.
For example, you may have a AVD that hosts an application. But only one department within the business should have access to it. Therefore you’ll want to provide multi-sessions to the AVD but only for the department in question.
What are Host Pools?
A Host pool is a collection of virtual machines which will serve the users as session hosts. Each machine in the pool should have the same OS and configuration. There are two categories of Host pool operations:
- Personal – Individual users will get their own session host.
- Pooled –This will allow multiple users to login into any session host within the pool.
What are App Groups?
App group is a logical group that includes applications installed in host pool’s sessions hosts. There are two types of app groups:
- Remote Apps – Users can launch published apps without launching a full desktop.
- Desktop – Users have full desktop access.
Azure Virtual Desktop – Summary
In summary, Azure Virtual Desktop is a modern desktop experience redefined to a Windows desktop experience from any location and any device. It improves on the traditional Remote Desktop Services or Terminal Server approach which are based on Windows Server.