You might have heard that Microsoft is providing free licenses for Microsoft Teams in reaction of the COVID-19 virus (Link: hhttps://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2020/03/05/our-commitment-to-customers-during-covid-19/ttps://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2020/03/05/our-commitment-to-customers-during-covid-19/), but what happens if your IT infrastructure and daily business require you to use applications, which can´t be managed or accessed from Microsoft Teams?
For this reason, I want to present you a solution to keep your business up and running from everywhere, available at any time and scalable and adoptable to your needs!
I´m talking about Microsoft´s answer to classical VDI solutions, called Windows Virtual Desktop.
Microsoft describes the service as desktop and application virtualization solution, which provides a fully scalable multi-session Windows 10 deployment. In addition to that it fully supports the complete Office365 Pro Plus suite (including OneDrive AND Microsoft Teams) to be run in “multi-user virtual scenarios”, which means that multiple users can operate on the same virtual machine.
But what does that exactly mean? And how to adopt quickly to make your business run from everywhere?
In this article series I will focus only on the technology Windows Virtual Desktop (hereafter described as “WVD”) itself, other security solutions or configurations like site-to-site VPN creation from your on-premises environment will NOT be covered but can be retrieved from the links mentioned in this article series. The scenario and IT infrastructure described is fictive and just represents an idea, of how WVD could support you being productive with the complication’s companies have to face currently.
Chapter 1: The infrastructure / general situation
Nowadays, a lot of SMB´s rely on a basic setup, which is built on PC´s and Laptops in an environment where classical server infrastructure is virtualized on platforms like VM Ware or comparable solutions. To connect to their on-premises environment requires a secure infrastructure to protect from vulnerabilities from the outside world and to establish a secure tunnel between the corporate owned device and the local IT infrastructue. This will be most likely realized via a VPN connection.
A classical scenario could look like this:
- The company hosts all data on-premises and has physical access to servers and clients.
- The users can connect securely to resources through VPN
- Depending on the sizing of the firewall and corresponding licenses, new hardware AND/OR licenses need to be bought. (High cost combined with less flexibility because you´re depending on partners and resellers as well as logistic companies)
- The IT administrator needs to prepare each computer by himself, which means that there could be different software and security patches installed per device (high effort in maintaining the environment, especially when employees work from home).
- Complicated support scenario for the helpdesk workers when connecting to clients out of reach. (Low support flexibility because software may need to be bought)
- Microsoft Teams itself doesn´t cover all possibilities to give home workers a full work experience with fast performance.
Chapter 2: Windows Virtual Desktop may be the solution
With the possibility of hosting pooled and personal desktops on Microsoft Azure, WVD offers a highly scalable solution of hosting desktops and/or applications for your environment. With pre-defined images from Microsoft (e.g. Microsoft Windows 10 Multi-User with Office365 Pro-Plus pre-installed) you don´t need to take care of managing different software patch levels as you have the possibility to maintain a single image and deploy it to your Host Pool. In addition, WVD offers a solution to deploy Apps only and make them feel like they were installed on your local computer. If you are not able to configure a consolidated image for your whole company, WVD offers the possibility to create multiple HostPools to support departments with more specialized software which shouldn´t be installed on the standard desktop.
But now, let´s talk about user experience.
Chapter 3: The end-user experience
As a first step, the end user is required to download the Microsoft Remote Desktop application from the Microsoft store (Link: https://www.microsoft.com/store/productId/9WZDNCRFJ3PS). A Microsoft account isn´t mandatory for downloading the application.
Once this is done, the user opens the application and clicks on “Add” to get access to the provisioned resources by the IT department to his client. Now the user can distinguish between two options:
- Desktop (Connects directly to a PC)
- Remote Resources (Provides access to WVD and shared applications hosted in WVD)
In our case, we select Remote Resources and enter the URL for the Windows Virtual Desktop feed. To do so, please copy and paste the following URL:
Confirm the setting by clicking on “Find feeds”.
In the next step, you need to authenticate to Azure to confirm your user credentials and access the resources that have been provided to you by your Administrator.
Once this is done, the user sees the shared desktops and applications from within the Remote Desktop app.
To enter the desktop, please double-click the icon for your resource.
After a few seconds you´re successfully connected to the environment and you´re able to setup my profile like you want to have it.
Thanks to single sign on (SSO), we can directly start working with our favorite Office applications like Outlook, or OneDrive.
This was my first article about Windows Virtual Desktop. Like I mentioned before the scenario and schemas are completly fictive and just represent an example of how Windows Virtual Desktop can be used in your environment. This article just covered the point how to access the Desktop itself, if everything has been setup for you.
If you are interested about how to set this up for your environment, stay tuned for the next article about to come in the following days!
If you want to know directly more about this technology, feel free to contact me on LinkedIn via personal message!