By Sai Tayi, NetEnrich
When Microsoft released Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) last September, it brought an offering to the market that opened the door to a variety of opportunity that until that point had been lacking. In particular, Windows 10 enterprise subscribers no longer had to use remote desktop servers to connect to their Windows desktop virtually.
No one could have predicted back in September just how important that would become in just six months when virtually every office-based organization across the globe suddenly had to start working from home in March of this year. This transition – in many cases happening overnight – meant that having secure remote access to company files and applications became critical and remains so.
Fast forward to today and WVD has proven more significant than any of us could have imagined after its launch in September. As COVID-19 means most offices remain shuttered and teams continue to work remotely, how is WVD being used, and what benefits is it presenting its users?
In any typical organization today, we usually see between 60 to 70 percent of staff with a dedicated laptop or similar that has direct access to company applications. That usually leaves 30 percent of staff who need some kind of VDI connection to access company applications.
With the sudden onset of remote working thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, this number has risen significantly in a very short space of time, which means massive numbers of people suddenly having to access company applications remotely. Companies already working with WVD have found that they have the scope to make this switch effectively and easily.
The platform enables remote team members to use either a company device or their own device to access their day-to-day files and applications, which is critical given the current circumstances, particularly with the switch to remote working being so sudden in many cases.
People who don’t have a dedicated workstation and are either sharing a company device or using their personal device for work purposes won’t necessarily have relevant company applications on the device they’re using. WVD enables real-time access to multiple users, which for an enterprise-grade company is a necessity in the current environment, and is likely to remain so as the “new normal” unfolds and teams remain remote rather than returning to the office.
Applications like Sage or QuickBooks can be accessed by any staff member at any time via a WVD platform and updated in real time, without the application having to be installed on their local or personal device. Users can log in to such applications and keep on updating there. The sessions can be shared among multiple users and they can access the single instance, enabling them to do their job seamlessly.
In terms of the benefits of WVD, one of the key advantages is the simplified management of the WVD setup. Microsoft controls many of the management responsibilities of WVD, such as managing the infrastructure on the backend. This includes elements like WVD pools, allowing for minimal infrastructure management from users.
Another benefit for organizations of WVD is enhanced security. The platform comes with single-sign-on and multi-factor authentication, both of which are easily enabled. It also offers role-based access depending upon the user profile, allowing organizations to choose which applications each user can access once they log on to that WVD session.
Further security measures include sessions being completely isolated between users, so that even if two users are logged in at the same time to the same applications, they will have different, isolated sessions. This is important because one user may have individual files open via their connection, while a second may have confidential company data accessible via their connection. These are kept separate by an architectural concept called multi-session VDIs. And because the same VDI is shared across multiple users, there’s a question this raises as to whether users can access each other’s files or screens with WVD. The answer is no; the sessions are completely isolated.
One of the other key benefits of WVD is loading time. Long loading times are a complaint that we hear often, but with WVD, login is very fast. We all know that often when accessing a remote server, it can take several minutes or longer to connect, and that can prove frustrating, especially for users who may be connecting remotely to multiple servers or multiple locations. WVD brings fast login and load times, which helps users seamlessly switch between multiple applications.
A further benefit of WVD is the licensing arrangement. With the platform already being Office 365 enabled, and also offering cloud-based mobile device management system Intune, users find the pricing is very cost-effective - it's important how much at the end of the month you're paying to the vendor. It’s a very cost-effective offering when compared to hosting a server and managing it.
About The Author
Sai Tayi is a solution architect at NetEnrich.