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Microsoft's Windows Virtual Desktop has seen much interest since it launched last year, but the complexity of deploying and managing it has been a sticking point.
The Chicago-based IT services company Nerdio -- through its new Nerdio Manager for WVD -- is hoping to address that pain point, touting its product as an easy-to-use but secure way to handle WVD environments.
The firm announced the platform, which has deployment, management and autoscaling functions, this week.
"As WVD was developed, we were working alongside Microsoft, building that product into our technology," he said. "[We] saw a tremendous, tremendous spike in demand from our partners who wanted to try and deploy WVD for their customers. Since then, we've done probably close to 1,000 customer deployments of WVD for customers of all sizes."
Easing pain points
The manager platform, Vladimirskiy said, provides a UI for WVD's functionality, making some of the environment's more complicated tasks a good deal easier. One of the difficulties with a WVD deployment is PowerShell scripting, a Microsoft programming language used to manage the desktop-as-a-service environment.
"Right now, in order to stand [a deployment] up, you need a lot of [Microsoft programming language] PowerShell scripting," he said. "You need a lot of heavy-duty engineering work to go into standing up even a pilot environment."
As a system administrator might not be familiar with PowerShell, they may have difficulty operating a system dependent upon it.
"If you want to [deploy] with native WVD generally, reading documentation and doing the deployment could take weeks, if not months in some cases," Vladimirskiy added, saying the task could be completed in under an hour with the Nerdio manager.
When conducting deployments, Vladimirskiy said, the manager provides a digital guide to walk administrators through the setup. It also simplifies the deployment process.
"It will prompt them [for] the fileshare path, where the profiles are going to be stored, your active directory credentials ... all the type of stuff you would normally have to do through command lines" and requires good knowledge of the programming language, he said.
Even beyond deployments, Vladimirskiy said, an administrator requires PowerShell knowledge to handle day-to-day management tasks on WVD, such as creating tools, managing resources and shadowing user sessions to troubleshoot. These processes are likewise simplified with Nerdio Manager for WVD, he said.
Security and scale
Vladimirskiy also cites security as a key feature of the Nerdio platform. He said the software ensures that a company's data remains within a company's Azure subscription.
""[With] most of the products that allow you to manage WVD ... the way they work is they have a vendor-managed control plane that integrates into a customer's Azure environment. ...We've heard from customers that they were uncomfortable giving a third party access to their environment," he said, adding that the WVD manager was built as an Azure application.
Nerdio's manager, Vladimirskiy said, deploys from the Azure Marketplace directly into an enterprise's Azure environment, ensuring that company, alone, controls access to its data.
Vladimirskiy said the manager automatically increases or reduces the number of session hosts and virtual machines needed to keep the WVD deployment up and running. Administrators, he said, could even schedule this scaling effect, if there is a regular event in which additional virtual machines are needed.
"You can tell the system, if everyone starts work at 8 a.m., then by 8 a.m. Monday through Friday, there should be a certain number of session hosts and virtual machines ready to go by that time," he said. "As users are logging into the system ... the system will automatically scale out by adding more [virtual machines]."
As users start to log off at the end of the day, he said, the system would automatically begin reducing the number of virtual machines in use.
A positive experience
Lei Zhou, a solutions architect at Computer Concepts Ltd., has been using Nerdio Manager for WVD in his work with the New Zealand-based IT services firm. He said he'd been investigating WVD since its earliest stages and was familiar with its complexities -- especially its reliance on PowerShell.
"When we wanted to implement [WVD], we needed to upskill our service desk to understand all the PowerShell commands for WVD," he said. "[It was] a lengthy process for the training."
Training also delayed matters when Computer Concepts deployed WVD for its customers, Zhou said. The firm would have to teach its customers' IT team -- a process that could vary wildly based on team's level of expertise with PowerShell.
Nerdio's platform, Zhou said, enabled users to deploy and manage WVD without having to deal with PowerShell, as tasks were handled through the UI. This, he said, made things faster and easier.
"It's super user-friendly -- you don't need a user manual to operate it" as long as an administrator has some experience with enterprise software, he said.
Zhou spoke highly of the product's activity logging as well, providing step-by-step detail into what a user has done.
"When our engineering team has an issue, they can go right into the details and understand what went wrong," he said. "It makes the support engagement back to Nerdio a lot more efficient."