Azure Virtual Desktop: what is it & how does it work? A comprehensive guide (2021)

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Want to be able to work with your favorite Microsoft tools anytime, anywhere? Then the Azure Virtual Desktop (formerly: Windows Virtual Desktop) workstation solution is ideal. This unique cloud service provides users with a virtual desktop experience within a Windows 10 environment. 

More than 20,000 companies had signed up for the preview phase of this new technology. In September 2019, the time had come: Windows Virtual Desktop was then officially launched.

Did you know. At ASPEX, we helped develop and improve Azure Virtual Desktop worldwide.

Since then, WVD has been an indispensable tool for growing businesses. However, thanks to the corona crisis, interest in this convenient workspace solution has risen sharply. A lot of companies are considering making the switch to the cloud.

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But what does Azure Virtual Desktop actually have to offer? You’ll soon find out in this blog article. In it we take a closer look at how WVD works and its advantages. Enjoy the read!

What is Azure/Windows Virtual Desktop?

Let’s start at the beginning; what exactly is Azure Virtual Desktop? Well, Azure Virtual Desktop is a way to access a virtual Windows operating system. Specifically then Windows 10. 

This virtualized Microsoft environment is offered in the cloud (over the Internet). The big advantage? You can log into your familiar Windows 10 desktop environment on any device

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Your programs, documents and operating system are not on your device, but on the cloud server. In fact, you can compare the principle of Azure Virtual Desktop to how we accessed our corporate data in the past, namely through a traditional VPN solution

This makes it possible to grant mobile workers remote access to the internal company network. However, WVD offers a lot more benefits. We will discuss these in more detail later in the article. 

Specifically, WVD is a service for virtualizing computers. This service is offered on the Microsoft Azure Platform: Microsoft’s cloud computing platform.

How does Azure/Windows Virtual Desktop work?

How does such a virtual desktop work? Well, it’s very simple. Basically, you’re only three clicks away from a virtual desktop experience. First, you will need to press the power button on your laptop. 

After that, you’ll need to log yourself in via the computer’s login screen. You will need your username and password for this. Finally, you need to log in via the Azure Virtual Desktop login screen

In no time, your desktops, applications and documents will be virtualized within a Windows 10 environment. From any location or device. As a result, you have your documents at hand anytime, anywhere.

What are the benefits of Azure/Windows Virtual Desktop? 

Compared to a cumbersome, traditional VPN solution, Azure Virtual Desktop offers many advantages. We’ll discuss the most important ones.

#1 WVD is flexible and scalable

By moving your IT infrastructure to the cloud, you choose a solution that grows with your business and employees. With Azure Virtual Desktop, you pay per month and per employee. 

You don’t have to cough up huge sums for IT infrastructure that can only be used in part. You only pay for what you need.

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This is not the case with a VPN solution. You buy a firewall or router that depends on the size of the organization. If your organization grows, you have to buy additional space. If your organization shrinks, part of your infrastructure will remain unused. 

With WVD, this is much simpler. Is your company starting a growth spurt? Then Azure Virtual Desktop simply grows with you: you can add a user with a few clicks. Both scaling up and down is very simple.

#2 With WVD you profit from free Windows 7 updates

As mentioned earlier, WVD is a system for virtualizing Windows operating systems, including Windows 7 and Windows 10. 

However, Windows 7 is an outdated operating system. General support for Windows 7 with security updates and other updates ended on January 13, 2015. 

In turn, the extended support with necessary security updates ended on January 14, 2020. However, some companies are still running on a Windows 7 environment. 

However, on the Azure Virtual Desktop platform, these users can benefit from extended (and free) security updates until January 2023. This buys Windows 7 users time to migrate to a Windows 10 environment.

#3 With WVD, hardware investments are no longer necessary.

If you choose a VPN solution, you need a router or firewall. So you’re bound to have additional hardware. With Azure Virtual Desktop, this is not the case. Everything runs in the cloud via the Microsoft Azure Platform. The only thing you need is an internet connection

Moreover, with WVD you don’t have to invest in powerful laptops. You no longer have to consider the size of your working memory or the power of your processor. All the programs you need are in the cloud.

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From accounting packages to complete ERP systems: such software is installed centrally in the cloud on the WVD environment. Your laptop? In principle, nothing is expected of it. 

So you can save a lot of money on the purchase of work laptops if you opt for Azure Virtual Desktop. Moreover, your investment in hardware (laptops) will also last longer. 

The Microsoft Azure Platform doesn’t age and is always up-to-date. The age of your work laptop is therefore less of a factor. Even with a 10 year old laptop you can work perfectly.

#4 With WVD you have access to your company data from anywhere

The corona crisis caused us to start teleworking massively. That was adapting for employees, but also for companies. Before the corona crisis, 57 percent of Flemish companies offered the possibility of working from home. In the meantime, that number has risen to 88 percent.

If you have a portable laptop, commuting between the office and your home workplace is no problem at all. If, on the other hand, you have a fixed (desktop) computer, this is less obvious.

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Even if your server or firewall is limited to a fixed location, working remotely is difficult. Azure Virtual Desktop offers a solution in that case. The only thing you need is an Internet connection. 

The result? Employees can access the documents and data they want anytime, anywhere. Whether they are working from home, on the road, abroad or in the office. 

Your workplace is no longer limited to your spot in the office and you have all the business applications at your fingertips whenever you want.

#5 All your data & files are safely stored in the cloud

Working in the cloud is not only convenient, but above all safe. Are all your data and documents on a hard drive? Then you can hope that you never lose your laptop. In that case, lost laptop means lost data. 

Azure Virtual Desktop offers more security in such situations. Your laptop no longer has any local data on it. Your data is stored in the cloud, which means you can always access it, no matter what happens to your devices.

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Is your laptop stolen? Then step into your local electronics store and easily buy a new laptop. You can then easily continue working by logging in via the Azure Virtual Desktop login screen. Your files are not lost. The same applies in case your laptop or hardware crashes.

In addition, Azure Virtual Desktop is regularly subjected to security audits. Logging in is done via two-step verification. So someone with bad intentions can’t just go and get your personal files.

#6 WVD makes the onboarding of new employees more efficient

As mentioned earlier, you can add a new user to the Azure Virtual Desktop platform with just a few clicks. This makes the onboarding of new employees a lot more efficient. 

For example, no software packages need to be installed on the employee’s computer. This saves a lot of time for both the IT department and the new employee. 

The only thing your new employee needs are login details. After that he/she has immediate access to the necessary documents and data.

PS: you can easily specify which employee has access to which files or data. It is not an all-or-nothing solution. On the contrary: a cloud solution is very modular.

Conclusion

Does it tickle your fancy to make the switch to Azure Virtual Desktop, but you don’t know where to start? Then feel free to contact us. After all, migrating your IT systems is an exciting operation. 

At ASPEX, we take this off your hands. As a specialized IT company, we have been assisting companies with the migration of their systems to the cloud for over 15 years.

Also, if you still have questions about Azure Virtual Desktop, feel free to contact us. We will be happy to assist you!

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