As businesses worldwide look to adapt to ongoing remote and hybrid work environments and ever-evolving cyber security threats, Virtual Desktops are being adopted at an increasing rate – with Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktops emerging as one of the most popular options.

But despite accelerating digital transformation and changing operating environments, many organisations are still unsure about making a move to Virtual Desktops and whether they can deliver ROI and long-term benefits.

After all, we are creatures of habit – and moving away from the desktop experience we’ve enjoyed for years (even decades!) can be unnerving.

To help organisations better understand Azure Virtual Desktops and how they can be implemented for maximum benefit, we’ve put together a guide answering all the most common Virtual Desktop questions and concerns.

Starting with the basics

What is a Virtual Desktop?

Think of your own personal computer that has your desktop set up the way you like it – all your applications, documents and files in the right place. But it’s only accessible on one computer.

A Virtual Desktop enables you to access your ‘desktop’ from any device. Because it’s stored in the cloud, not on a physical machine, you can access it from any device connected to the internet, from anywhere at any time. Never again will you have to carry your laptop around with you!

What is an Azure Virtual Desktop?

Azure is a cloud service by Microsoft, which has become one of the leading cloud service providers worldwide. It acts as an online storage and computing service that lets businesses run their applications, store data, and more without needing their own physical servers.

Azure Virtual Desktop is run and stored on Azure Cloud Services. Because of this, it integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft products and services, which ensures a smooth user experience and simplifies IT management.

What are the key benefits of an Azure Virtual Desktop?

  • Cost-efficiency– Azure’s pricing model allows organisations to pay only for what they use, which can be more cost-effective than maintaining traditional on-premises infrastructure.
  • Flexibility- Azure supports hybrid environments, enabling organisations to extend their on-premises infrastructure to the cloud. This flexibility allows for a gradual transition to the cloud or the ability to maintain a hybrid setup for specific use cases.
  • Scalability – Azure provides highly scalable and flexible solutions, allowing businesses to easily adjust their virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) based on changing needs.
  • Security – Microsoft invests heavily in security and compliance. Azure Virtual Desktop benefits from Azure’s multi-layered security, including advanced threat protection, encryption, and compliance with various international standards and regulations.

How popular are Virtual Desktops?

Studies show that approximately 50% of enterprises and 24% of small businesses globally utilise desktop virtualisation. Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop is the leading choice among DaaS solutions, with nearly 20% of users currently using it or planning to adopt it.

Adoption rates for virtual desktops in Australia specifically are experiencing significant growth, driven by the increasing need for flexible and secure remote working solutions.

The ROI for virtual desktops can be substantial, driven by significant cost savings, improved productivity, and enhanced security. Organisations that invest in virtual desktop infrastructure often see a payback period of less than two years, with continued savings and productivity gains thereafter.

The top five most common questions about Azure Virtual Desktops

1. What are the initial steps to set up Azure Virtual Desktop?

There are several steps to setting up a Virtual Desktop. To ensure minimum time and maximum benefits, it’s worth working with an experienced IT provider to help you carry out the initial setup up.

  • Assessment and planning: Evaluate business requirements (including number of users, types of applications, etc.), plan the architecture and determine the best configuration.
  • Preparing Azure Environment: Set up an Azure subscription, create a resource group to organise all resources, and set up or configure Azure Active Directory (AAD).
  • Network setup: Create or select an existing virtual network and set up network security groups (NSGs) and firewall rules to control access and enhance security.
  • Create host pools & configure session hosts: Create and define a host pool based on user needs. Configure VMs, including size and type. Install and configure necessary applications and ensure they are properly set up for the users.
  • User access configuration: Assign users to the host pool and create application groups for desktops and individual applications.
  • Client setup: Guide users in installing the Azure Virtual Desktop client on their devices and provide training and support to them.
  • Security & compliance: Implement MFA for enhanced security. Ensure all security and compliance requirements are met, including data encryption and backup policies.

2. How secure is an Azure Virtual Desktop?

Azure Virtual Desktop is designed with multiple layers of security to ensure the protection of data, applications, and user identities, including (but not limited to):

  • Data encryption
  • MFA
  • Compliance certifications (including GDPR, HIPAA, and ISO/IEC 27001)
  • Threat detection and response
  • Endpoint security
  • Regular updates and patching
  • Backup and disaster recovery

3. What kind of businesses are best suited to Virtual Desktops?

Virtual Desktops can be adopted by organisations of any kind and size. While the advantages can be achieved by anyone, they can be particularly beneficial for businesses that have remote workers, are growing rapidly and require more scalability, or have more stringent security requirements.

4. How do Virtual Desktops support remote work?

Azure Virtual Desktops enables remote working by providing a secure, scalable, and flexible virtual desktop infrastructure that allows users to access their desktops and applications from anywhere. It also makes it easier to add (or remove) users quickly without having to set up and maintain physical infrastructure – all while ensuring data security, integrating with collaboration tools, and simplifying IT management.

Virtual Desktops empower employees to work productively from anywhere while supporting businesses in reducing the resources and costs associated with IT infrastructure.

5. What are the costs associated with Azure Virtual Desktops?

The costs associated with Virtual Desktops can vary based on several factors, such as the number of users, the configuration of virtual machines, storage requirements, and any additional services utilised.

Because of Azure’s pay-as-you-go model, usage costs can be considerably lower than physical workstations. Other costs you will need to consider include:

  • Virtual Machine costs
  • Subscriptions and licenses (including Azure, Azure AD, Microsoft 365)
  • Storage costs
  • Networking costs
  • Any additional security, monitoring or management services

The desktop of the future

We imagine that the adoption of Virtual Desktop will continue to accelerate over the coming years as more businesses look to better support their teams, achieve greater flexibility and cost efficiencies, and move forward with digital transformation projects.

When working with the right partner, the move to Azure Cloud Services and Virtual Desktop can be a smooth and relatively quick process that delivers speedy ROI. This enables organisations to optimise their work environments without significant interruption or long-term investment.

If you’re looking for ways to futureproof productivity and better deliver hybrid or remote capabilities for your business, Azure Virtual Desktop could be a great option. VITG has helped dozens of businesses migrate to and manage an Azure Virtual Desktop, transforming their operations. For more information about Virtual Desktops and our support services, click here.

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