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Why and when to use Windows Virtual Desktop

Organizations considering Windows Virtual Desktop should take a step back and evaluate when it makes sense to use WVD, and when to consider alternative options.

Before adopting Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop, IT pros need to determine whether this offering is a good fit for their organizations.

Microsoft and its ecosystem partners have created much hype around Windows Virtual Desktop since it released the technology in 2019. The cloud-based desktop delivery platform brings plenty of benefits. Administrators should consider why they want to use Windows Virtual Desktop, however, because there are alternatives to think about.

Benefits of Windows Virtual Desktop

So, why use Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), and how does it work? WVD is a Microsoft Azure-based technology that enables multisession Windows 10 virtual desktops to be presented to users. From an administrative view, employee access is secure, and virtual desktops are centralized. Further, the price is based on the consumed system resources, which helps with cost containment.

In addition, employees typically find that accessing and using WVD is a straightforward process; they just log in and a new desktop appears.

WVD before and after becoming Azure-native

When it makes sense to deploy WVD

A strong Windows Virtual Desktop use case is small businesses that don't have the resources to focus on IT and where cloud computing is appropriate from a cost and technical perspective. Rather than a small business owner or manager spending time deploying computers, assisting users with issues, installing and upgrading applications, and managing network infrastructure, WVD provides Windows 10 virtual desktops hosted in the cloud. Similarly, from a security standpoint, WVD provides built-in functionality and options that are not realistic for small businesses to deploy internally.

WVD is also a fine option for contractors and partners that require occasional access to centralized resources. Rather than issue a computer or VPN network access to address this intermittent use, users can access WVD desktops as necessary, which minimizes management and cost.

In addition, straightforward user compute requirements are a good reason why to use Windows Virtual Desktop. For example, customer service representatives working from home primarily accessing Microsoft Office 365 applications, including Dynamics, could benefit from secure, easy access to WVD.

A strong Windows Virtual Desktop use case is small businesses that don't have the resources to focus on IT and where cloud computing is appropriate from a cost and technical perspective.

Challenges of Windows Virtual Desktop

There are a few reasons why some organization may not use Windows Virtual Desktop. Administration of Azure and WVD may be overwhelming for those that only do so occasionally, for instance. The Azure administrative interface initially appears to be straightforward, but there are many options and intricacies, such as networking choices and resource allocations.

In addition, Azure capabilities and options are continuously improving, and staying abreast can be time-consuming. For the occasional administrator, WVD setup and maintenance requires deeper knowledge of Azure components, as well as PowerShell, which may require significant time, energy and expertise.

WVD is technically a fine option for many small businesses, but one key Windows Virtual Desktop use case is to engage a partner and consume WVD via a desktop as a service (DaaS) subscription. The cost is slightly more, but the simplicity of DaaS partners' management tools is appropriate for small businesses that want WVD but don't have the technical bodies or expertise to manage it themselves.

From a cost perspective, eligible Windows or Microsoft Office 365 licenses include WVD; however, Azure virtual machine resources and storage are billed as they are consumed. For small businesses, the complexities associated with licensing is another area where DaaS providers shine because they offer simplified billing options.

When it doesn't make sense to deploy WVD

WVD isn't for everyone, and no organization should deploy WVD without a sound business and technical requirement.

Most small businesses don't have the technical expertise or the staff to manage WVD directly -- although they are more likely to consume WVD via a DaaS partner -- and large enterprises often have more complex requirements that require a more advanced platform. In general, deploying and managing WVD directly via Azure is most appropriate for medium-sized businesses that have IT staff who can focus on it.

WVD is optimal for a single, simple virtual desktop image. Organizations that have numerous images to support various employees -- especially based on a large number of applications -- would benefit from a stronger virtualization offering.

Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) is a relatively new technology that has numerous use cases, but organizations may still be grappling with how to deploy and manage it. Some organizations may need to enlist a managed service provider (MSP) for the expertise to navigate WVD management.

Choose a Windows Virtual Desktop managed service provider

When does it make sense to use RDS over WVD?

Remote Desktop Services (RDS), as well as Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops and VMware Horizon, are valid desktop options for large organizations with numerous applications and complex requirements. These offerings also excel when users require access to virtualized applications rather than virtual desktops.

For example, if a bank requires access to peripheral devices for some users, RDS, Citrix and/or VMware can best address this scenario. Similarly, large enterprises often have more stringent controls and custom monitoring in place to audit usage and service users, and they may choose third-party tools such as ControlUp to extend the functionality of base virtualization offerings.

Why use Windows Virtual Desktop -- or not?

In its most simplified definition, WVD is an appealing technology. Before determining that virtual desktops are the best option for your desktop needs, however, conduct a thorough evaluation. If the answer is yes, then the next step is evaluating how to move forward. Options include deploying and managing WVD directly through Azure, engaging a DaaS provider, or determining that a more advanced platform such as RDS, Citrix or VMware is more appropriate for your employees.

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