New, smooth and easy desktop virtualisation on Azure for service providers
In September 2018, Microsoft announced the next step in desktop virtualisation: Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), a new desktop solution on Azure. At Insight we are very excited about the new opportunities that WVD offers for service providers in terms of pricing, end user experience, agility and more. WVD will have a major positive impact on the organisation of service providers and will help them upgrade their older Windows versions or move their physical hardware to the cloud in a smooth and natural way. We would like to explain the reasons why we think this is now an opportunity for service providers to easily deploy Windows Virtual Desktop and be successful in the Azure cloud.
Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure
Windows Virtual Desktop is a comprehensive service that allows service providers to deploy and scale virtualised Windows desktops and applications in the Azure cloud in a minimum of time. It is in public review now and global availability is planned in the second half of calendar year 2019. According to Microsoft, WVD is “the only virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) that delivers simplified management, multi-session Windows 10, optimisations for Office 365 ProPlus, and support for Remote Desktop Services (RDS) environments.” For most service providers, desktop as a service is an important engine for delivering applications to end users, mostly built on either RDS or Citrix. That is good news, because RDS support is included in WVD, and Citrix has been authorised by Microsoft to sell WVD and to integrate it with their Citrix Cloud services. Why is WVD such an interesting offering for service providers?
Unique multi-session virtual desktop experience with Windows 10
With Windows Virtual Desktop it is now possible to use Windows 10 Enterprise to allow multiple users in a way that was only possible on Windows Server. With WVD and Windows 10 multi-session service providers can give their end users the only multi-session Windows 10 desktop experience with the same look and feel and same programmability as before with local apps, but now virtualised in the cloud, highly scalable, always up to date, and available on any device.
Rich Office 365 experience for end users
Microsoft rewrote parts of the core for this version of Windows 10 and laid full focus on Office 365, to deliver the most productive virtualised experience for end users. There used to be limitations with previous multi-session environments in supporting the productivity and latency of apps like Outlook or One Drive. This has been overcome in WVD with the acquisition of FSLogix, a next-generation app-provisioning platform that reduces the resources, time, and labour required to support desktop and app virtualisation. FSLogix technologies enable faster load times for non-persistent users accessing Outlook or OneDrive with the same user experience as if it were local apps.
Flexible and scalable, Azure-only
Windows Virtual Desktop is a fast way to implement new customers. Wizards in the Azure portal are ready for use and very easy to use. There are no infrastructure costs, no calculations as to whether the current hardware is sufficient or not: Azure is always flexible and can be scaled as needed. The costs and time-to-market have fallen enormously. Competitors born in the cloud who have no legacy from their data centres immediately benefit from it: they can just take out a contract and start selling. This could pose a threat to more traditional service providers, but with WVD that is absolutely unnecessary. Although WVD is Azure, and Azure only, it is a major driver for service providers to really adopt the cloud in their business strategy. Not with a thunderbolt, but through a gradual approach.
Cost reductions and free infrastructure by Microsoft
Many service providers are now confronted with the issue of either refreshing (or extending) their local infrastructure or migrating their hardware to the cloud. Refreshing usually means high investment costs and related management costs for keeping the infrastructure up and running. Windows Virtual Desktop enables service providers to continue their virtual desktop offering in the cloud with the associated cost-effectiveness of cloud computing (Pay As You Go). And there is more: WVD is delivered by Microsoft for free. Other than with RDMi (Remote Desktop Modern Infrastructure), where the infrastructure was still hosted by the service provider, now Microsoft hosts the entire infrastructure for partners using a Windows10 license.
New way of licensing
In relation to costs and price, Microsoft comes with a new way of licensing for Windows Virtual Desktop. In the past, service providers had to buy Windows user licences for the server, but also had to buy Microsoft Remote Desktop (RDS) Client Access Licences (CAL) for each user with a desktop. Many licences were needed to get the service working. With multi-session Windows 10, service providers take out a contract with a reseller like Insight, buy a Windows 10 licence, which is about a 6 dollars per user and that’s it. No additional licences are needed; only the compute is paid for.
Windows 7 and other versions
Windows 7 will go end of life in January 2020. Microsoft has announced that service providers who currently only have Windows 7 and cannot upgrade for whatever reason, can upload their system to Azure as a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and receive free extended security updates for another three years. The local PC can be virtualised and executed as a VDI while the transition to WVD is planned. WVD can also be set up with Windows Server 2012 R2, 2016 or 2019. In that case, however, the CALs still apply as before, but there is the opportunity to successfully connect users to their Windows desktops and start using WVD.
Windows Virtual Desktop and Microsoft 365
A few years ago, Microsoft launched Microsoft 365, a complete solution including Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security. Now Microsoft has also added Windows Virtual Desktop, combining the full virtualised desktop experience with built-in security, protection, and management of data and apps on Azure. We expect a major shift for service providers towards the sale of Microsoft 365, which includes the entire package in one go. As the Office 365 periodic table shows, there is a wealth of applications in addition to the stand-alone Office 365 suite that can be connected for productive work environments, including tasks, bookings, scheduler, power apps, etc. Here is a great opportunity for service providers to use all the functionality of Microsoft 365 and to combine apps to add value to their end users so that they can be successful in their work.
Insight can help
The availability of Windows Virtual Desktop, whether or not in combination with Microsoft 365, really opens the way for service providers to reconsider their business and now make a serious step to the cloud. Fortunately, you don't have to do it alone. We understand that you have questions. Or a need to discuss opportunities or get advice. In these cases, it is good to know that Insight is always there to help. A dedicated team of cloud consultants is ready to invest all their expertise and knowledge with you to help you on your way or take the next step in Azure. The special Insight Cloud Journey is a customised cloud adoption programme that is fully tailored to your business needs. Manage today, so that you can transform for the future. Do not hesitate; contact us now.