Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) is a powerful remote access solution optimised for delivering Office 365 applications and much more, using the only true multi-session Windows 10 experience. Here we will explore Windows Virtual Desktop features and benefits, along with some technical considerations.
Windows Virtual Desktop
Microsoft have developed a platform which provides users with the ability to access a true multi-session Windows 10 and Office 365 virtual desktop and app experience which can be accessed from any device.
This technology has been in preview for the past several months but as of Monday 30th October 2019 has been officially released offering a brand new Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure experience (VDI). If your Business is looking for a more efficient, productive and secure approach to virtualisation, Windows Virtual Desktop provides for a fully managed solution within the cloud which works with all of your current apps and your devices. It provides for full feature native support features for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, as well as HTML5 so you can access your remote desktops and apps from almost any modern browser.
Getting ready for Windows Virtual Desktop
Here are the key requirements when considering Windows Virtual Desktop.
You will need Azure Active Directory
A valid subscription assigned for the user to access the Windows Virtual Desktop. Either a Microsoft E3/E5/A3/A5, Microsoft 365 FA/Business, Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5, Windows 10 Education A3/A5 or Windows 10 VDA per user
The Windows Virtual Desktop device must be joined to your Azure AD but not via Azure AD-Join
Virtual Desktop only should be running either Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session, Windows Server 2016 or Windows Server 2019
The Windows Virtual Desktop device should be on the same subnet to the virtual network in Azure AD
Azure AD and the Windows Virtual Desktop device should be configured within the same region
In addition, you will also need to decide
a. User Profile type (Light, Medium, Heavy or custom)
b. Total quantity of Users
c. Spec (i.e quantity of virtual CPUs (VCPUs) , and RAM)
d. Disk type (HDD or SSD)
What are the key Benefits:
Create a full desktop virtualisation environment within your Azure subscription without having to run any additional Gateway Servers
Publish as many host pools as you need to accommodate the variable workloads
Bring your own image for production workloads or test from the Azure Gallery
Reduce costs with pooled, multi-session resources.
Provide individual ownership through personal (persistent) desktops.
It provides a Multi-session Windows 10 deployment that delivers a full Windows 10 with scalability
Virtualize Office 365 ProPlus and optimize it to run in multi-user virtual scenarios
provide Windows 7 Virtual Desktops with free Extended Security Updates (until January 2020)
Bring your existing Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and Windows Server desktops and apps to any computer
Virtualize both desktops and apps
Manage Windows 10, Windows Server and Windows 7 desktops and apps with a unified management experience
Windows Hello for Business is supported
Containerized User Profiles (FSLogix) with fast VHD load times
Uncompromised Office 365 Email and Calendar performance (Real-time Outlook search)
Users have the freedom to connect with any device over the internet and for a business perspective, you don’t have to worry as much about the device that’s connecting so long as the network connection is secure.
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NOTE: With the new Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session capability (exclusive to Windows Virtual Desktop and Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) role on Windows Server), you can reduce the number of virtual machines and operating system overheads whilst providing the same resources to your users. Linux support will be available in the near future to connect from.
Why use Windows Virtual Desktop in my Business?
With Windows Virtual Desktop requiring less IT management overheads, this approach separates your operating systems, data and apps from local hardware which can be quite appealing especially knowing that 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 WVD can provide Security, help with Mergers and acquisitions, short term employees, contractor and partner access, BYOD and mobile, Call centers, Brand workers, as well as help with specialised workloads such as legacy apps and software development testing. This allows you to take a secure and efficient approach to centrally managing your PC and devices state without compromising your user productivity within your organisation. Should your business be using Windows 7 desktops, WVD offers a unique advantage of allowing you to run them in the cloud for up to 3 years without having to pay for extended security updates all past the January 2020 end of support date.
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Let’ss now have a closer look at Windows Virtual Desktop, with security, host pools and app groups.
Windows Virtual Desktop Security:
Windows Virtual Desktop Security uses reverse connect technology which eliminates the need to open inbound ports directly into the WVD which reduces the risk of attack. You can fully utilise and control the environment using Azure AD Security Services via Azure MFA and/or CA. WVD 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. This means providing an added layer of security permitting who/which departments are connecting to a specific WVD as a multi-session provides concurrent interactive sessions for multiple users at anyone time, whereas a single allows for just 1 connection at anyone time. For example you may have a WVD which hosts an application which only one department within the business should have access to, therefore you would want to provide multi-sessions to the WVD but only for the department in question.
What are Host Pools:
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. Host pool operations can be categorised into two types:
Personal – individual user will get their own session host
Pooled – Multiple users are allowed to login into any session host within the pool
What are App Groups:
App group is a logical group which 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 full desktop
Desktop – Users have full desktop access
When a host pool is created, by default system generates a desktop app group called “Desktop Application Group”. A host pool can only have one desktop app group but it can contain multiple remote app groups.
Windows Virtual Desktop is the modern desktop experience redefined, a Windows 10 desktop experience from any location and any device. Improving on the traditional Remote Desktop Services or Terminal Server approach, which are based on Windows Server, WVD is the best virtual desktop experience, delivered on Azure.
Further information on Windows Virtual Desktop is on the product page.