From ‘Windows’ to Azure Virtual Desktop – vision adapts to hybrid work demands

By August 5, 2021 September 8th, 2021 No Comments

The downstream impacts of COVID-19 show up in some unexpected ways, like Microsoft’s announcement that Windows Virtual Desktop is now Azure Virtual Desktop. Organizations around the world had to make an abrupt shift to supporting remote work, and it turns out that Azure Virtual Desktop is ideally suited to providing a secure, scalable, and easy-to-manage Windows 10 experience from the Cloud. According to Microsoft, the name change is to support a broader vision and changing customer needs as remote work evolves into a hybrid working model that gives users the seamless experience they expect.

Inviso’s history with Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) goes back to its early days in private preview. Our work on AVD has certainly transformed over time – not only do we have increasing customer interest, we’re seeing that AVD is solving a broader set of problems. It’s a valuable solution for any organization that needs to quickly ramp up a remote infrastructure. Once the global pandemic hit, companies big and small had to go remote on a moment’s notice – that’s where Azure and AVD come into focus. They quickly provide a scalable solution, so companies of all sizes can provide a remote infrastructure in a secure manner, connected over the public Internet.

Azure scalability solutions meet demands, big or small

For instance, Microsoft asked Inviso to help a government organization to pilot AVD as a replacement for Citrix and to enable 100 users to work remotely. The customer had tried to deploy the solution on their own but ran into some challenges and needed an experienced partner to support the project.

Inviso’s approach was to streamline the process. First, we helped them optimize the implementation. They had several departments, each with their own set of operating systems, applications, etc., so we helped them create the necessary resources in a scalable manner. We piloted a small set of users on each environment for testing. As soon as the customer was satisfied with the experience, it was just a matter of rolling out AVD to their entire user base since the environment was built completely on the Azure platform and is highly scalable.

We also supported an Arizona college to set up their classroom labs in an AVD environment, so their students can access materials remotely. Our role was to guide and educate them through the process, helping them to get the basics in place and be available for additional on-call support. In both of the latter use cases, our team augmented and trained existing IT staff at these organizations, but sometimes customers need a deeper level of support.

Interior Woodworking Specialists is a premier architectural firm that relies heavily on high-end workstations. Maintaining the equipment for remote drafters proved to be costly and labor intensive, and variations in software and update versions impacted productivity. The Inviso team moved them to AVD, where they enjoy a low-cost, modern drafting environment in the Cloud, and we continue to support them with a managed service to optimize cost and performance.

Reduce costs with Windows 10 multi-session on Azure Virtual Desktop

One of the reasons we recommend AVD is because it’s the only place where users can take advantage of Windows 10 multi-session, which is part of the AVD release. Typically, a Windows 10 operating system allows only one user to connect to a machine at any point in time; if another user tries to connect, the existing user must disconnect or the new user will get denied. Previously, an IT team might address this problem with a Windows Server operating system, but those server operating systems don’t typically contain desktop features like Windows  Store, Cortana, etc. With Windows 10 multi-session, as the name implies, multiple users can connect and access the familiar Windows 10 environment and the common desktop features they expect.

Our Inviso team maps a customer’s specific needs to build the right size and scope of a virtual desktop environment without it being overprovisioned. One of the big advantages to multi-session is that users can stack on a single VM to reduce costs but still provide a user-friendly, familiar Windows 10 experience that’s critical to maintaining productivity. Interior Woodworking Specialists run high-end CAD software that requires powerful GPUs and graphic cards. A single-workstation-per user model resulted in underutilization because all that power was only required while performing certain functions. We set them up to leverage virtual machines in Azure that have high-end graphics cards as a shared resource. As their workflow ebbs and flows, the scalability really pays off.

Users who want the added protection of Microsoft Endpoint Manager can also leverage integration with AVD to help manage and operate their deployments efficiently and accelerate the move to a secure remote or hybrid work solution. Whether users connect from their phone, home computer, or wherever they might be, the experience is a consistent, secure environment.

Flexibility key in current, future hybrid work models

We can see a future where even more device-independent scenarios come into play. At Inviso, remote work is nothing new; we have teams that are geographically diverse. We set up AVD-based environments for new hires waiting for devices to be shipped to them, and they can log in and have access to a consistent desktop environment right away.

The ability to leverage a virtual desktop environment provides the flexibility we need to keep users happy and productivity high. Our users need only public internet access and they can connect from anywhere in the world. On the back end, our IT team can give users the comfort of a familiar environment while still maintaining security baselines.

Hybrid work models really benefit from AVD. We’re talking to customers who are exploring restructuring their physical office, in some instances even removing assigned physical desks to go into more of a hoteling experience. We can work with them to set up an environment where traditional cubes become generic hotel spaces, so that anyone can drop in and sign in, always accessing their personalized desktop environment. That’s a big advantage.

Inviso Team

Author Inviso Team

More posts by Inviso Team