Since its release last year, Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) has been gaining traction across multiple organizations, 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 March, WVD has become a solution that organizations started looking at for their company's needs as most of the global workforce had to suddenly work from home.
This demand for WVD has brought up the same questions from these companies: What is WVD? How do I implement it? Will it work for my organization? What other services does it need for it to work efficiently?
This post will serve to answer these questions and clear up what Windows Virtual Desktop is and how your organization can benefit from it. In the coming weeks, we will create a series of blog posts around MSIX, WVD, and the related Microsoft technologies to make it all work.
What is Microsoft's Windows Virtual Desktop?
According to Microsoft, "Windows Virtual Desktop is a desktop and app virtualization service that runs on the cloud." The cloud Microsoft is talking about is Azure, and running WVD on Azure gives the following benefits:
- A scalable multi-session Windows 10 (full) deployment
- Virtualization of Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise
- Windows 7 Virtual Desktops with free Extended Security Updates (for enterprises that haven't migrated to Windows 10)
- Bring your existing Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and Windows Server desktops and apps to any computer
- Virtualization of both desktops and apps
- Ability to manage Windows 10, Windows Server, and Windows 7 desktops and apps with a unified management experience
Along with the features listed above, running WVD on Azure also comes with Microsoft's security protocols and elements to help create a secure network that is always being updated with the latest in security enhancements.
How Does WVD Benefit Your Organization
One of the main benefits of WVD 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 dial in and have their same desktop experience with all its functionality and personalization.
By using WVD, an enterprise can realize cost savings in several ways. First, hosting on Azure greatly reduces the infrastructure needed, mainly servers and the rooms to house them in. Also, with employees being able to work from anywhere, the amount of office space needed is less, especially when options for shared work spaces, like WeWork and Regus, are available.
Labor savings will also be significant since you won't need as many full-time employees to maintain a vast infrastructure. Also, a part of labor 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.
For companies that will allow employees to bring their own device (BYOD), the budget for new devices can be reduced since those companies are relying on the employee.
Scalability and Security
A company that wants to grow quickly can do so with WVD. Massive rounds of hiring don't need to be hindered by new infrastructure setup or device procurement in a BYOD setting. For company-issued devices, the processes of creating an image, app packaging, and app deploying aren't necessary. Conversely, an organization that is going through a re-organization or layoffs can easily downsize the amount of users on WVD, and if it was a BYOD environment, it isn't stuck with devices and servers that will become outdated soon.
Since the desktop on WVD will always be up to date, it will have the latest in security features that Microsoft has to offer. Traditionally, a larger company would defer security updates or take time to fully roll them out, leaving users vulnerable for attack.
Issues With Moving To WVD
Before you can fully move your organization onto WVD, you need to 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 Access Capture has automated the process. See this post for more info. Also, to efficiently run MSIX in a container (VHD), you need to configure and enable AppAttach, which we will detail in a future post.
An issue that could bring your company's workflow to a halt is having the cloud you are hosting on go down. This has happened to Azure. However, Microsoft guarantees 99.9% uptime, and long outages are rare. Also, if a user is in an area with no internet or a slow/unstable connection, they will not be able to access the apps that they need.
There is also the issue of being heavily or fully reliant on Microsoft. You can certainly move the majority of your apps to a WVD environment, and many are already compatible for that. However, becoming a full part of the Microsoft ecosystem will make the transition easier and the addition of any new app more efficient.
As working from home and BYOD become the new norm, Windows Virtual Desktop will serve a familiar and efficient UX, while maintaining high levels of security and cost savings for the company. The issue of near-total reliance on Microsoft might hold some organizations back, but the benefits outweigh the negatives.