How to deploy the game-changing Windows Virtual Desktop

The recent surge in ransomware and data breach incidents illustrates the vulnerability of IT workplace environments and the huge impact that these attacks can have on the entire organization. In response, companies are increasingly looking to desktop virtualization as way to run the desktop OS in a remote data center where it can be better protected against such attacks.

Historically, the implementation, operation and management of a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) has been complex, and when done incorrectly, can create risk.  In a typical VDI deployment, a significant amount of infrastructure has to be managed and maintained, including the servers/virtual machines, load-balancers, networking systems, and endpoints. VDI is costly in terms of IT staff time, hardware, and software licensing. On top of that, companies need to make sure there are high-availability and disaster recovery systems in place so that end users are still able to work in case of a system outage. And unfortunately, in many cases real-world deployments have failed to deliver the consistent performance that end users require.

But all that is about to change thanks to Microsoft’s announcement of Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD). This disruptive new service enables companies to run Windows-based VDI in the Microsoft Azure cloud, with multiple Windows 10 users active simultaneously on the same virtual machines, and with each user’s data isolated from every other user.

Why Windows Virtual Desktop is a game changer

Windows Virtual Desktop provides significant benefits over on-premises and competing cloud-based deployments:

  1. Reduces cost: Compelling new licensing models reduce complexity and provide significant cost savings. For one thing, companies don’t need to maintain separate Windows Server licensing agreements. For another, WVD includes Windows 7 extended support — without requiring added end-of-life support payments — so companies dealing with legacy applications that only run on Windows 7 can still benefit from moving to cloud-based VDI as part of a broader digital transformation effort.
  2. Provides safe, secure access in a simplified environment: A free control plane – the software that orchestrates the creation and management of desktop and app session hosts — authenticates users and determines where to direct their desktop connections. This means companies no longer must set up separate virtual machines for functions like web access, diagnostics, application gateways and request brokers.
  3. Drives efficiency with integrated Microsoft components: WVD, co-resident with Office 365 and your OneDrive data in Azure, drives fast response time and efficiencies. Microsoft will continue to optimize performance, as they own all the components.
  4. Facilitates workforce flexibility: From a business perspective, WVD opens up new employee use cases, securely and cost-effectively embracing the gig economy movement of using independent, short-term contractors, for example. With WVD, contractors can bring their own devices to the office and establish secure connections to the Azure cloud in order to access the applications and data they need to do their jobs.

How to optimize your WVD deployment

WVD is an important addition to an enterprise VDI ecosystem, a true game changer that can help companies cut the costs and complexity associated with desktop lifecycle management, as well as deliver rock-solid security.

However, enterprise VDI ecosystems frequently are complex because they contain some workloads that still need to stay on-prem for various security, privacy, regulatory, or availability reasons.  A modern desktop and application virtualization solution will need to manage all these delivery systems together as a whole.

Here are three ways to get the most out of your enterprise Windows Virtual Desktop deployment:

  1. Accelerate adoption: Start your deployment using your existing control plane to allow easy adoption and easy workload balancing with your current delivery infrastructure. While this approach comes at an additional cost, it facilitates rapid adoption.  For simple out-of-the-box WVD support, Citrix Virtual App and Desktop Services is ready for WVD from day 1.
  2. Track and manage the user experience: Add end-to-end user experience monitoring across all delivery systems — optimizing both the network and the endpoints which is particularly important when rich collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams is in use. And as these new delivery models are introduced, you can use these monitoring tools to compare and contrast cost alongside performance.
  3. Review your endpoint strategy: Use the change to revisit endpoint management and leverage new advancements in hardware and software thin-client systems. Harden endpoints to reduce the attack vector and simplify management at the device level through a next-generation edge device OS.   Leverage management systems to gain an insightful, end-to-end view from endpoint systems.

In short, WVD is a major disruptor in the desktop virtualization space and an important component to consider including in your digital workplace transformation journey.

WVD offers a secure and cost-effective cloud-based digital workplace solution. However, given the complexity of deployment, you might also want to consider partnering with an experienced managed service provider that delivers an end-to-end solution with WVD and the relevant components – and makes sure WVD meets your specific business, IT and employee needs.

Mike-Moore-headshotMike Moore leads product management for DXC’s Workplace Device Services business globally.  This service spans Unified Endpoint management, Virtual Device and Application Services, and Device-as-a-Service offerings. Mike’s passion is for helping enterprises digitalize the workplace to drive an amazing employee experience while improving company agility for their own digitalization journey.  Mike is based in California’s Silicon Valley.  @mmoore

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