Cloud-based DaaS offers remote workers several advantages. This Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop (formerly Windows Virtual Desktop) guide evaluates the platform and its features.
The unprecedented conditions are surrounding COVID-19, and the global pandemic that accompanied it have led many companies to find ways to accommodate an increasingly remote and virtual workforce. Some organizations have found that work productivity in a virtual system is the same, if not better. Even after the end of this pandemic, these companies take over platforms such as Desktop as a Service and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) in the future.
Cloud-based DaaS and VDI services offer by several providers, including Microsoft, through its Azure cloud platform. For example, Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop provides free assistance to specific Microsoft 365 and Azure subscribers. Licenses for specific Azure virtual desktops are also available at a price that varies based on the location of the server and the type of virtual machine.
There are many advantages to Azure Virtual Desktop, but there are also a few caveats to be aware of before your company decides to adopt the platform. As with any business decision, forward-looking planning and analysis is required and is highly recommended.
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What is Azure Virtual Desktop?
Leveraging the power of Microsoft cloud services, Azure Virtual Desktop is an instantiated virtual machine that hosts a desktop and application virtualization service that runs in the cloud. Azure Virtual Desktop provides a virtual desktop experience and remote applications for any device. In addition, depending on the configuration, the platform can merge Microsoft 365 and Azure to provide users with a Windows 10 multisession experience that contains scaling and decreased IT expenses.
Azure Virtual Desktop configures Windows 10 Enterprise, Windows 7 Enterprise, or Windows Server 2012 R2, 2016, 2019. Unfortunately, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 are not supported.
Below are the remote desktop clients support Azure Virtual Desktop:
- Windows desktop
- Mac OS
- Microsoft Store Client
Importance of Azure Virtual Desktop?
Whether out of requirement or as part of an overall product strategy, the modern workforce is increasingly remote and mobile. So, To access the systems and applications, they need for their work. Employees are increasingly dependent on cloud platforms and virtual machines that can be accessed anytime and with any device.
Azure Virtual Desktop gives employees access to a Windows virtual machine that runs all of the applications a typical IT-trusted Windows machine would run for your business. By leveraging Azure’s cloud infrastructure, organizations can configure Windows 10 multisession deployments optimized to run in multi-user virtual scenarios.
From an employee’s point of view, their Azure virtual Desktop is the same as a traditional PC on their Desktop. However, from a business perspective, the cost of buying, configuring, deploying, and securing physical hardware saves by having Microsoft and Azure manage these specifics in the cloud.
Benefits of Azure Virtual Desktop
Willingly or by chance, if your employees are working remotely, sensitive company data is likely to be transferred at some point and stored locally. Even with best security practices, this transfer of sensitive information is risky. Add to that the variability of employees using their own devices and personal networks for their work activities, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Therefore, it enables employers to deliver virtual machines configured precisely. As they need them and are securely instantiates in the Azure cloud. Essentially, sensitive corporate data is never transferred outside of the corporate control structure, as all data transfers occur only between Azure cloud instances. Additionally, information is protected by all types of built-in security protocols in the Microsoft Azure cloud. With Azure Firewall, Azure Security Center, Azure Sentinel, and Microsoft Defender ATP.
In Azure Virtual Desktop, access to desktop instances controls by conditional access protocols, including multi-factor authentication. Additionally, azure infrastructure can be provisions to enable role-based access control (RBAC) and detect threats using Azure Security Center. Azure Virtual Desktop certified according to ISO 27001, 27018 and 27701, PCI, FedRAMP High for Commercial and HIPPA.
If your corporation already subscribes to Microsoft 365 or an enterprise version of Windows, Azure Virtual Desktop can be used to set up a free desktop instance for each user. Therefore, your remote users can access a pre-built virtual machine running Windows from anywhere, anytime, from any device at no additional cost.
Because Azure Virtual Desktop manages through the Microsoft Azure portal. Your business can scale desktop instances to meet business needs on the fly. For example, administrators can increase virtual processors, add virtual RAM, allocate more virtual disk space, etc., with a few mouse clicks and an administrator login account.
Who are Azure Virtual Desktop’s main competitors?
Competition between cloud providers in the virtual office space is fierce, involving dozens of different companies, many of which are large and well-known. Prominent competitors include usual prime suspects from Amazon AWS Cloud Services and Google Cloud Platform. Therefore, the top participants are Citrix and VMware. Other smaller contestants offer specialized office services for engineers, architects, artists and scientists who require certain functions.
Here is a shortlist of virtual office competitors:
- Amazon workspaces
- Citrix managed desktops
- Cloudize the Desktop as a service
- dinCloud dim workspace
- Develop intellectual property
- Itopia Cloud Automation Stack (CAS)
- MTM Technologies AnywhereApp
- VMware Horizon Cloud
- Nutanix XI frame
- Cloud V2
Therefore, With all this competition, Microsoft will continue to pressure to keep costs and fees down for its Virtual Desktop service. So, This competitive pressure explains why Microsoft is ready to offer its Virtual Desktop free of charge. To existing customers who already have Microsoft 365 or Enterprise versions of Windows.
How do I get Azure Virtual Desktop, and when will it be available?
Azure Virtual Desktop is accessible through the Microsoft Azure portal. So, For current subscribers to Microsoft office 365 and Enterprise versions of Windows, desktop instances are available for each user at no additional cost. Non-subscribers must pay a subscription fee determined by the virtual machines’ specifications for each desktop instance.
Note: Microsoft will be offering free access to Azure Virtual Desktop from July 14, 2021, until the end of the year.
Likewise, Subscribers to these existing services have free per-user access to Azure virtual desktops running specific operating systems:
Windows 10 Enterprise Multi-Session or Windows 10 Enterprise
Windows Server 2012 R2, 2016, 2019
RDS Client Access License (CAL) with Software Assurance
Therefore, For businesses without an existing subscription, an Azure Virtual Desktops price on Azure depends on the specifications chosen for each desktop instance. For example, a usage-based representative with two processors, 8 GB of RAM, and 50 GB of storage costs around $ 137.29 per month. An Azure Pricing Calculator offer is significantly more than a Microsoft 365 Business Premium subscriber who pays $ 12.50 / month/user. Of course, prices can and will change over time.