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Since its release in September 2019, Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) has gained traction across multiple organisations, mainly those looking to provide a better user experience for their employees, have the latest security and feature updates, and reduce costs across their IT environment.
Especially since the first wave of lockdowns in March 2020, Windows Virtual Desktop has become a solution that organisations started looking at for their company’s needs as most of the global workforce had to work from home suddenly.
This is a question that we field regularly with users of Microsoft 365 Business solutions. It all comes down to applications! The desktop applications a customer may want to access may not just be Microsoft Office Suite applications. Commonly there are applications such as Accounting, ERP, Development and bespoke client-based solutions that you cannot deliver to your end-users using traditional Microsoft 365 Business solutions.
In a conventional network, these would reside on servers and desktops in your organisation. If your users use Microsoft applications and services – consider Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium. This will satisfy the end-user requirement and provide the flexibility required to work from any location.
For such requirements, there is Windows Virtual Desktops.
So what is WVD? How can you implement it? Will it work for your organisation? What other services does it need for it to work efficiently? Let’s dive in and answer these questions one by one.
According to Microsoft, “Windows Virtual Desktop is a desktop and app virtualisation service that runs on the cloud.” The cloud Microsoft is talking about is Azure, and running WVD on Azure gives the following benefits:
Learn more about what it takes to migrate your business to the Azure Cloud with our 101 Guide.
One of the main benefits of Windows Virtual Desktop is that a user can access their desktop from anywhere they have internet access, using their company-issued device, a shared work computer, or their own device. So an employee who finds themselves stuck in a remote location would be able to remotely access their same desktop experience with all its functionality and personalisation.
By using WVD, an enterprise can realise cost savings in several ways. First, hosting on Azure significantly reduces the infrastructure needed, mainly servers and the rooms to house them in. Also, with employees working from anywhere, the amount of office space required is less, especially when shared workspaces, like WeWork and Regus, are available.
Labour savings will also be significant since you won’t need as many full-time employees to maintain a vast infrastructure. Again, a part of labour savings will come from needing less help desk support staff. This is because desktops are created virtually with the latest versions, so there are no issues with installation or older versions. They are also simpler to lock down and enforce endpoint policies that lower the attack surface for hackers.
For companies that will allow employees to bring their own device (BYOD), the budget for new devices can be reduced since they rely on their devices.
A company that wants to scale quickly can do so with Windows Virtual Desktop. The alternative is also valid. If your company goes through busy periods and requires additional staff, you only pay for the use of those desktops as and when they are needed. This is particularly useful for Arts organisations and productions companies where contractors will use their own devices (BYOD).
Since the desktop on WVD will always be up to date, it will have the latest security features Microsoft offers. Traditionally, a larger company would defer security updates or take time to fully roll them out, leaving users vulnerable for attack.
Before you can fully move your organisation onto WVD, you need to either migrate your traditional apps to cloud-based alternatives or have all of your apps in a digital format with a proper signature. This requires taking all of your EXEs and MSIs and converting them into MSIXs. Microsoft has provided tooling to do this manually, but Spector can assist with that process.
It may seem rare, but it does happen. If your users are in an area with no internet or a slow/unstable connection, they will not be able to access their desktop and the apps they need. It is important to profile your user base in advance.
You will also need to address the topic of peripheral technologies that standard desktops have access to. For Example:
Printing – this can be resolved by using IP printers.
Scanning – as with printing, scanners can be set to send jobs to email or file locations.
Speakers, microphones, and webcams – this is more challenging. Even with the Windows 10 Enhanced Media pack, we recommend that all MS Teams conferencing and telephony take place outside of a Windows Virtual Desktop. We tend to deploy conferencing and telephony apps on the local desktop or device as the end-user experience is way better.
Hardware license keys and other USB devices – you will need to research this, as it is dependent on the device and licencing.
As working from home and BYOD become the new norm, Windows Virtual Desktop will deliver a consistent and secure working environment for your staff. For more information or a demonstration of Windows Virtual Desktop, please feel free to contact us.
Our team will be happy to demonstrate how everything works and guide you through the usability process in a free Discovery Call. Your business could benefit from this and many other technological advancements while still saving costs.
For more tips and information about Cloud and Remote Working, check our dedicated Blog section with several articles about the topic. We’ve helped thousands of customers move to remote working after the Covid 19 pandemic and would be happy to assist your business.