For any product to reach a critical mass of popular appeal, it requires the right balance of timing and innovation. Take the cases of video call platforms (such as Microsoft Teams) and hand sanitizer, for each, world events played a major role in these products taking on a whole new place in our everyday lives. Other times, it’s the evolution of superior technology that leads to the breakthrough. LaserDiscs didn’t catch on the way many thought they would, but the smaller, sturdier, and far superior DVD revolutionized home entertainment media and the industry around it.
Similarly, I believe there is a convergence of both timing and technology occurring right now that will catapult the virtual desktop to a place where people will hardly remember what their work life was without it. If you don’t yet have something like Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) in your organization, I believe now is the time to give it a serious look.
The virtual desktop offers a cloud-enabled pay-as-you-grow service that provides desktops to remote users using a secure protocol. The advantage of this approach is that it doesn’t require huge amounts of infrastructure (picture rows and rows of servers) running on-premises. By subscribing to a service such as AVD, you don't have to worry about things like a remote access gateway or enabling remote desktop web service, all of that is managed in Azure by Microsoft.
Why a virtual desktop is key in 2021
The multi-session functionality
When they launched the latest version of AVD, it included the capability to have multiple enterprise users all running off the same machine. This is what I like to call the puppy-monkey-baby of operating systems because it provides the best of everything. One of the previous problems with using a remote desktop service (RDS) workload, where you had a single server hosting multiple users, was the compatibility issues that commonly arose on the server. With AVD, users are given a native Windows 10 desktop, not a Windows 10 desktop experience. It’s these small changes that make a huge difference in the user experience.
Another benefit of the multi-session capability lies in the significant cost savings to be found. In a pay-as-you-go model with Azure, you’re paying for time and compute resources used on every device that's running. So, if we look at the cost to run 15 individual dedicated devices for users, those costs are going to be drastically higher than if you had those same 15 users running a shared device in a multi-session environment. Being able to manage your consumption in Azure is where the real financial advantage comes into play.
This advantage is compounded when you factor in auto-scale where AVD can actually turn those devices off after peak hours and back on as and when needed. Shutting machines down in off-peak hours when not required further reduces your Azure usage costs.
Enhanced security for remote work
Improved functionality is only half the equation. Just as important are the external factors that are driving the demand for what AVD can deliver. The work-from-home boom we have witnessed over the last year forced organizations to find a way to grant employees access to files and platforms from outside the protective firewalls of the office network. To solve this problem of access, most organizations implemented a VPN solution. But as is often the case, solving one problem only creates another. In this instance, that problem was VPN-related vulnerabilities, and the bad actors were only too happy to take advantage in the form of cyberattacks.
AVD enables all the access your staff need without opening the door to your infrastructure to potential threats. Because the desktop is virtual and hosted in Azure, it is fully protected no matter where or what device the user is working from. This makes it so much easier to grant access to corporate resources without having to worry about VPN security.
You likely already have access to it
With the recent trend in migrating workflows to the Azure Cloud, many organizations have already been switching to an Office 365 environment. If your is one of them, you may not be aware that with your 365 subscription comes access to AVD. Anyone who’s currently running an E3 or an E5 Office 365 environment is already entitled to start accessing AVD.
The ease of this transition was evident in the last academic year when universities were scrambling to provide remote access for students. Most of their students were already equipped with an A3 student license which entitled them to access the AVD workload, so it was just a matter of having everything ready to go in Azure. This turned out to be a brilliant play for them.
I should point out that AVD works well with Citrix and Microsoft, who have been working for more than 25 years on creating a “better together” solution when it comes to products and platforms. And with Compugen receiving the Citrix Platinum Plus Certification in Canada, along with Microsoft’s Azure Virtual Desktop Advanced Specialization, we are well equipped to assist if you need. If you would like to find out more about how AVD can help the evolving needs of your organization, please reach out and we’ll chat, or register for our free webinar here.