Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) is one of the most transformative and rapidly growing services on Azure. I’m going to do an entire series about Azure Virtual Desktop that focuses on some of the high level initiatives that AVD can contribute to and enable, as well as some deep dives into how it works and some advanced scenarios. For this post, let’s start with what Azure Virtual Desktop is and some high level benefits.
What is Azure Virtual Desktop?
Azure Virtual Desktop is a service on the Azure cloud that enables organizations to run Windows desktops and applications on the Azure compute platform and provide secure remote access to users. You can think of it like running a PC in the cloud that you can connect to from any device. At its core, AVD is virtual machines running in Azure combined with the management services that enable a seamless user experience and streamlined operational tooling. For those familiar with other Virtual Desktop (VDI) services, AVD is most similar to Remote Desktop Services (RDS) but also bears resemblance to Citrix. Here is a simple diagram of the key components of Azure Virtual Desktop for you to be aware of.
Armed with that basic understanding of AVD, I’m going to run through some of the key benefits and talking points of this service. In future posts I’ll expand these ideas to speak more in depth about how AVD helps to align with these initiatives within your organization. Many of these benefits align with the benefits of using cloud technologies in general.
Agility is a key benefit of using Azure Virtual Desktop in an organization. AVD enables organizations to rapidly provision new user desktops. Because these virtual desktops run on the Azure cloud, deployment can take minutes or hours instead of weeks for a traditional desktop purchase. This can enable your organization to rapidly on-board or off-board employees in a predictable and efficient manner.
Because of the global scale of the Azure data center network, organizations can scale AVD to any number of users. You can easily scale by tens, hundreds, or even thousands of desktops within hours. And this is possible across different regions all over the world.
AVD takes advantage of the reliability of the Azure compute and storage platforms. Because of this, it is straightforward to meet very high uptime and availability demands. You get this reliability without having to engineer complex designs or systems. You also don’t have any maintenance to perform on the core components that enable connectivity and management.
Azure Virtual Desktop works well no matter what your performance needs are. Some organizations need to provide a call center with access to a single low performance app. Others need to provide high performance computing (HPC) to a handful of data scientists. Another organization needs heavy graphics processing for engineers or designers. With AVD it is simple to provide the right performance by selecting the appropriate size of virtual machine. No matter what your need is, Azure Virtual Desktop is able to provide consistent performance to meet your demands.
Some organizations have very strict compliance requirements that mean data or applications must remain on premises. Others have ultra low latency requirements for use cases like video editing. Azure Virtual Desktop can work in a hybrid model that meets these requirements as well. The virtual machines themselves can run on premises on Azure Stack HCI while the operational and management components run in Azure. This enables organizations to meet their location requirements. AVD can also utilize a technology called FastPath so that after a connection has been allowed, users connect directly to the virtual desktop without having to traverse the internet. This enables very low latency connections from users to their desktops.
The deployment and architecture of Azure Virtual Desktop are very flexible. It is possible to deliver a full Windows desktop, or only a single application. It is also possible to have many users share a single virtual machine or to have a virtual machine individually assigned to users. This gives admins a lot of flexibility to tailor the solution to fit the needs of their users and their organization.
AVD also enables flexibility for your users. Because the desktops are hosted in the cloud, they can be accessed securely from anywhere. There is also a way to connect to AVD from almost any device. This means users can get work done from anywhere with an internet connection.
Security is one of the key benefits of using Azure Virtual Desktop. The core components that enable users to connect are all managed and secured by Microsoft. This gives me a high confidence in the security of the platform itself. Also, because connections are authenticated and authorized by Azure Active Directory, all the great security controls that come with AAD are available to secure AVD as well.
There is really a lot to love about the Azure Virtual Desktop service and I’m sure that is why it is being rapidly adopted by organizations across the spectrum. I’m excited to dive deep into some of the topics in future posts to enable you to see in detail how this service can help you align AVD with your high level IT initiatives.
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I am a leader and solutions architect with over 10 years of hands on experience in private, public, and hybrid cloud technologies, networking, security, and data center management. My passion is to help clients gain agility and accelerate their business through IT modernization using cloud technologies.
I have consulted for some of the largest universities and corporations in the world on topics such as Azure Architecture, Infrastructure as Code, Azure Virtual Desktop, Application Hosting, Network Security, Identity Management, and much more.
Finally, I am actively involved in Christian ministry as a teacher and I strive to reflect the character of Jesus in every area of life.
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