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Since the release of Azure Virtual Desktop (previously Windows Virtual Desktop), there has been much confusion around its’ features, price, and performance. Sure, everyone knew it was a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI solution), but there wasn’t much information shared besides that. This overview is for those of you who haven’t taken the time to look into or simply have chosen not to look into the information available for Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD).
AVD comes with many features and more are being added frequently.
- Set up a multi-session Windows 10 deployment that delivers a full Windows 10 with scalability
- Virtualize Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise and optimize it to run in multi-user virtual scenarios
- Provide Windows 7 virtual desktops with free Extended Security Updates
- Bring your existing Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and Windows Server desktops and apps to any computer
- Virtualize both desktops and apps
- Manage Windows 10, Windows Server, and Windows 7 desktops and apps with a unified management experience
You can see the full list of features here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/virtual-desktop/overview
While this is a basic overview of AVD features, there are more worth noting. Some of the most notable features are FSLogix Profiles, MSIX App Attach, Start VM on connect, insights solutions, Scaling plans, access from any device, and many others.
Price has been something in question since the conception of AVD. There wasn’t a straightforward answer then and there still isn’t entirely now. Pricing can vary greatly depending on the type of environment you want setup, features you need, and the type of work each user is performing. Thanks to the Azure calculator, one can estimate their usages if you know what’s required for your environment. For more detailed costs, you can use the Azure calculator here Pricing Calculator | Microsoft Azure. Here are a few important aspects that will affect the costs:
- Do you require personal or pooled environments (or a mix)? Pooled environments are going to save money over personal instances in most cases since you are sharing resources in pooled instances.
- Do want the session host VMs to be on 24/7 for constant access or use a scaling plan to ramp up or down session host VMs as needed? Or do you want to keep session host VMs off as much as possible when not in use?
- What are the user workloads like? Higher workloads are going to require larger and/or more session hosts to support the users.
- How many users? Depending on the number of users, a company may opt to go for Azure Netapp Files as opposed to Azure File Shares for the FSLogix Profiles storage for higher IOPS.
Last, but not least, we have performance. If we’re talking user performance, it really comes down to how it’s deployed. Did you size each instance right for the type of user? Did you choose the correct series instance? Did you use the correct storage accounts? The questions go on. You can see the general sizing guidelines here: https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=2100179&clcid=0x409. In general, these guidelines are a good starting point, but I have found them to be too unrealistic. Meaning, the recommendation for the number of users per vCPU tends to be on the high side. This really comes down to each environment and user using the session hosts. There are many factors that can impact performance and many ways to change it.
If we’re talking SLA’s, it’s just like most of the other services in Azure at a 99.99% SLA for the service itself. For the session host SLAs, this comes down to Virtual Machine SLAs. SLAs are going to vary depending on the resource. Each resource has its’ own SLA and those are what should be referenced.
Whether you’re looking to switch to or change your current VDI solution, make working from home easier or more secure, or looking to cut infrastructure costs, then Azure Virtual Desktop is worth the look. Hopefully, this brief overview will help you to decide on converting to Azure Virtual Desktop or at least take a closer look at it. If you have any further questions or need help deploying AVD, please contact us! We are happy to help.