Microsoft announced a new Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) service on Microsoft Azure last week, and as one of the leading Microsoft Cloud Solution Providers (CSP), Workspot announced Day 1 support for WVD. We achieved our CSP designation more than a year ago, and we have continued to deepen our engagement with Microsoft product, technology and field teams as we help companies make the move to Azure. Microsoft recently awarded us the 2018 US Partner Award for Partner Seller, underscoring our innovative use of Microsoft technology and our proven ability to make our joint customers successful.
Against that backdrop and with so much experience delivering virtual desktops from Azure, I’d like to share the top 6 reasons why we believe Azure is the best platform for Windows virtual desktops.
1. Strong Authentication Using Azure Active Directory
Most enterprise customers are standardizing on Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) authentication for accessing SaaS apps. Windows Virtual Desktops provide deep integration with Microsoft’s cloud identity stack. Workspot customers are leveraging Azure AD based multi-factor authentication (MFA) today. The Microsoft Authenticator mobile app is used to unlock the Workspot Client to access virtual desktops on Azure. Azure AD enables single sign-on to devices, apps and cloud services from anywhere. Deep integration with Azure AD enables the CIO to enforce the same security policies for apps, such as Office 365, and virtual desktops on Azure.
IT can also configure conditional access policies to restrict access to cloud desktops based on the risk profile of the remote users.
2. The Physics of VDI has Changed
The traditional VDI deployment model centralizes virtual desktops at one location. All users globally would connect back to the desktops hosted in the primary data center. This was acceptable 10 years ago when applications running in the desktops required low latency connections to the database driving the application. However, this centralized VDI architecture typically resulted in performance bottlenecks due to high latency with cross-continent internet traffic, and that means unhappy users sacrificing productivity. Not anymore.
The new model is “distributed VDI.” Use multiple Azure regions – there’s more than 54 at your disposal – it’s like having 54+ data centers! Move desktops close to users in those regions. The Azure backbone can be used for traffic between desktops and applications. This enables access to internal applications still hosted in the on-prem data center but improves network performance because the traffic is mostly on the Azure backbone. Only the “last mile” traffic is going on the public internet from the end user to a local Azure region gateway configured by Workspot. Hub-Spoke or SD-WAN network topologies are used to treat the various Azure regions as “branch offices” in the cloud. This new distributed VDI model, with desktops provisioned across the globe in minutes, empowers the CIO to easily address concerns related to downtime of a single, central data center, and it provides much better performance to end users. Burstable desktop capacity offered by vendors like Workspot can enable the IT team to easily address unplanned demand for more cloud desktop capacity as well as respond to regional disasters.
Workspot customers typically deploy desktops in the Azure region with the closest proximity to their users, thus providing them a connection with the lowest latency and best overall experience. Workspot’s unique cloud-native architecture makes it dead simple for CIOs to adopt multi-regional deployments on day 1.
Workspot deploys virtual desktops across the 54+ regions of Azure around world.
Want to see where the closest Azure region is for your virtual desktops? Get an instant picture here.
3. Blazing Fast Access to Office 365
100% of our enterprise customers are doubling down on Office 365. Blazing fast access to Email, OneDrive, SharePoint, Intune, and Microsoft Teams is only possible if the virtual desktops are placed close to these cloud applications. Workspot testing shows that virtual desktops on Azure offer stellar network performance: very low latency (less than 5 ms) and amazing bandwidth (more than 450 Mbps download and 150 Mbps upload speed) for accessing Microsoft SaaS applications. This kind of performance is not even possible with physical PCs. We encourage you to download a 100MB file from OneDrive using Workspot Desktop Cloud on Azure!
4. Azure Security Center
Azure agent for Windows enables deep integration with operating system events for security and compliance. Azure Security Center provides insights about the security profile for all the assets running on Azure based on the events collected from the guest operating system. Companies opting for Azure desktops will be able to use the monitoring tools built-in on Azure to get a unified view of all security alerts. In addition, the alerts are ranked based on the severity and when possible related alerts are combined into a security incident based on IT policies. The CISO’s team can now work in conjunction with the VDI team to monitor the overall security posture of virtual desktops. Microsoft Threat Protection for Office 365 and Azure can be accessed from a single dashboard.
New features such as Secure Score are not available on any other cloud platform.
Workspot’s battle-tested network security automation can be leveraged for getting virtual desktops up and running on Azure in less than a day. The Hub-Spoke network architecture on Azure enables separation of concerns for the various teams but gives full security control to the central network security team. There is just no better way to run Windows workloads securely in the cloud. Period.
5. Predictable Cost
Compute, storage, networking, VDI core software, VDI remote access gateway software, VDI monitoring add-ons and Windows VDA licenses are some of the cost points to manage for the overall TCO of an on-premises VDI deployment. Conversely, Workspot support for Windows virtual desktops on Azure provides simple, flat-rate pricing!
According to Microsoft’s announcement, Windows 10 multi-user functionality will only be available on Azure. Workspot supports both persistent and non-persistent desktops and will support Windows 10 multi-user functionality on Day 1. The ability for CIOs to use multi-user licensing, plus have the transparent, flat-rate pricing Workspot offers can result in very attractive pricing for virtual desktops on Azure.
6. Rock Solid 99.95% Reliability
In our conversations with customers, we have come across very few IT teams who diligently track the metrics related to service availability and overall cost for their internal VDI stack. CIO’s don’t have a good way to determine the reliability of their on-prem deployment. Quarterly maintenance activities, including applying critical security patches, implementing annual VDI software patches, and performing hardware upgrades typically require hours – if not days – of service downtime, and they consume significant IT resources.
The reliability of cloud virtual desktops is a function of two main factors: the reliability of the infrastructure layer and the reliability of the control/management layer that deploys your virtual desktops. With Workspot on Azure, customers leverage a highly available cloud-native architecture that achieves greater than 99.95% control plane availability. Azure guarantees at least 99.9% uptime SLA to customers. CIOs need to ensure that the business desktops used to drive the cumulative productivity of the company are designed to handle network, regional, geopolitical and even cloud disruptions from a design perspective. The right architecture and building blocks will ultimately determine the success of your cloud journey, so be sure to dive deep with the vendors you consider for running your Windows virtual desktops.
Workspot provides our customers with transparent uptime and reliability reports on a daily basis. As it should be.
We are excited to announce Day 1 support for Windows Virtual Desktop and look forward to helping customers embrace the scale, security, and cost benefits of Azure and Microsoft 365.
Watch the Microsoft & Workspot on-demand webinar for more details about how our innovative Cloud PC solutions deliver business agility that has never been possible.