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VDI on Azure

VDI on Azure (Azure Virtual Desktop): Complete Guide

What Is VDI on Azure?

VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) on Azure refers to the deployment and management of virtual desktops using Microsoft Azure's cloud infrastructure. VDI allows organizations to create virtualized desktop environments that can be accessed remotely by users on various devices, such as laptops, tablets, and thin clients. By implementing VDI on Azure, businesses can take advantage of the scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness of the Azure cloud platform for their virtual desktop needs.

The primary solution for deploying VDI on Azure is Microsoft's Azure Virtual Desktop or AVD (previously known as Windows Virtual Desktop or WVD). Azure Virtual Desktop is an application and desktop virtualization service Azure customers can use to access Windows apps and desktops from anywhere, using any device.

This is part of an extensive series of guides about managed services.

In this article, you will learn:

Azure Virtual Desktop Features and Capabilities 

Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) offers a variety of capabilities to help organizations deploy and manage virtual desktops and applications. It allows for setting up multi-session deployments on Windows, which enables multiple users to connect to a single virtual machine (VM) simultaneously, reducing costs and simplifying management.

AVD also includes optimization for Microsoft 365 applications, providing a high-performance and productive user experience. It enables organizations to make their existing Windows Server desktops and remote desktops available on any machine, reducing the need for on-premises hardware. 

Creating scalable environments
Azure Virtual Desktop enables setting up scalable virtualization environments by providing a cloud-based infrastructure that can easily scale up or down based on demand. AVD supports the deployment of virtual desktops and applications from the cloud, providing a flexible and scalable solution for remote work. It allows organizations to provision virtual machines and storage resources in the cloud, which can be easily scaled up or down to meet changing business needs. 

Deploying and managing virtual desktops
AVD makes it easier to deploy, manage, and access virtual desktops by providing multiple options for configuration and management, including the Azure portal, CLI, or REST API. These tools allow administrators to automate and streamline the deployment and management of virtual desktops and applications. 

AVD also enables displaying the whole desktop or specific apps remotely, giving users flexibility in how they access their virtual desktops and applications. It provides delegated access, allowing administrators to manage environments with role-based access control. 

Finally, troubleshooting is made easier with the diagnostics service, which provides detailed information on performance and usage metrics. AVD also eliminates the need to manage infrastructure, allowing organizations to focus on their core business objectives rather than worrying about infrastructure maintenance.

Azure Virtual Desktop Architecture and Components 

The diagram below depicts the typical architecture of an Azure Virtual Desktop.


Image Source: Azure

The application endpoints reside on your on-prem network. By using Azure ExpressRoute, the on-premises network can be extended into Azure. Azure Active Directory Connect (AD Connect) integrates the customer's Active Directory domain services with Azure. The control plane in Azure Virtual Desktop is responsible for managing web access, diagnostics, extensibility, the gateway, and broker components, including any REST APIs.

The customer is responsible for managing Azure AD and AD DS, as well as Azure subscriptions, Azure files, Azure NetApp files, virtual networks, and the AVD workspaces and host pools. You can increase capacity by using multiple Azure subscriptions in a hub-and-spoke architecture and connecting them with virtual peering.

Tutorial: Create and Connect to a Windows 11 Desktop with Azure Virtual Desktop 

To create a Windows 11 desktop using Azure Virtual Desktop, the following prerequisites must be met:

  • An active Azure account and subscription are required to use Azure Virtual Desktop.
  • A VNet (Virtual Network) must be created in the desired Azure region to host the virtual machines that will run the desktops.
  • A user account must be assigned to the VM user login or admin login RBAC (Role-Based Access Control) role, which provides permissions to manage the virtual machines and desktops.
  • A remote desktop client must be installed on the user's device to connect to the virtual desktop.

Creating the Necessary Resources

You can use the Azure portal or PowerShell to create a personal pool of hosts in Virtual Desktop: 

  1. Go to the Azure portal and enter Azure Virtual Desktop in the search bar.
  2. Select the service to go to the AVD overview page and click on Create a host pool.
  3. Enter the necessary information under the Basics tab:
    • Subscription: Choose the subscription from the list in which you intend to deploy the host pool, workspace, session hosts, or application group.
    • Resource group: Either select an existing resource group or create a new one by entering a name.
    • Host pool name: Enter the name for your new host pool, such as aad-hp01.
    • Location: Choose an Azure region where the host pool, application group, or workspace, will be deployed.
    • Validation environment: Select No for this setting, which enables your host pool to get service updates before the other host pools in production (it isn’t necessary for this tutorial).
    • Preferred application group type: Select Desktop to designate what type of resource the users will see in their feed if they're assigned both Remote App and Desktop application groups in the same pool.
    • Host pool type: Select Personal to give each user a dedicated session host to which they will always connect. This selection will provide an option to choose the assignment type.
    • Assignment type: Choose Automatic to automatically assign the first session host available to a user when they first sign into AVD. This host will be dedicated to the specific user.
  4. Click on Next to go to the Virtual Machines tab and enter the necessary:
    • Add Azure VMs: Select Yes to add Azure virtual machines, which will show several new options.
    • Resource group: This field will automatically default to the resource group that was selected for the host pool under the Basics tab.
    • Name prefix: Enter the name for your session host, which will be used as the prefix for your session host VMs. 
    • Virtual machine location: Choose the Azure region where your session host VMs will be deployed. It must be the same region as your virtual network.
    • Availability options: Choose No dependency required to ensure that the session host VMs will not have infrastructure dependencies (i.e., be deployed in availability zones or an availability set).
    • Security type: Choose Standard.
    • Image: This should be Windows 11 Enterprise (version 22H2).
    • Virtual machine size: You can keep the default SKU or choose a different one from the list.
    • Number of VMs: Specify at least 1, up to a maximum of 400 session host VMs. In a personal host pool, every session host must be assigned to a specific user.
    • Operating system disk type: Choose Premium SSD for optimal performance.
    • Virtual network: Choose the VNet.
    • Security group: Select the Basic network security group.
    • Public inbound ports:  Choose No.
    • Domain to join: Choose Azure Active Directory.
  5. Click on Next to continue to the Workspace tab and enter the necessary information:
    • Register the desktop application group: Choose Yes.
    • To this workspace: Click on Create new to enter a new name, such as aad-ws02.
  6. Click on Next to continue to the Review + create tab. This is where you check that the information is correct (if it is correct, the validation will pass). 
  7. Finally, click Create to deploy the new host pool, application group, session host, or workspace.

Assigning Users to an Application Group

To assign users to your app group, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the overview page for your host pool and select the Application groups option.
  2. Choose the desired application group, such as aad-hp01-DAG.
  3. In the application group overview, select Assignments.
  4. Click on the + symbol to add a new user and search for their account.
  5. Select the user account you want to assign to this application group, then click Select to finish.

Once users have been assigned to this application group, they will be automatically assigned to an available session host VM based on the Automatic assignment type that was set when the host pool was created.

Enabling Connections from a Remote Desktop Client

To allow connections from any Remote Desktop client, you must add an Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) property to the host pool configuration. Here's how:

  1. Return to the host pool overview and select RDP Properties.
  2. Choose the Advanced tab.
  3. In the RDP Properties box, add targetisaadjoined:i:1; to the beginning of the existing text.
  4. Click Save to finalize the changes.

Connecting to a Desktop

You can now start connecting to your chosen desktops. It takes longer to load a desktop the first time because the profile is still being created, although future connections should be faster. Follow these steps to connect:

  1. Launch the Remote Desktop app on your device.
  2. Click on the three-dot symbol located at the top right of the screen and choose Subscribe with URL.
  3. Enter in the URL box to specify the email or workspace URL. After a few seconds, you should see a message that says "We found Workspaces at the following URLs".
  4. Click Next and sign in using the user account that was assigned to your application group. The workspace should appear with an icon labeled Session Desktop.
  5. Double-click on this icon to start the desktop session. This requires entering the user account’s password again.

VDI on Azure with Cloud Volumes ONTAP and NetApp Azure Files

NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, the leading enterprise-grade storage management solution, delivers secure, proven storage management services on AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. Cloud Volumes ONTAP capacity can scale into the petabytes, and it supports various use cases such as file services, databases, DevOps, or any other enterprise workload, with a strong set of features including high availability, data protection, storage efficiencies, Kubernetes integration, and more.

To find out more about how Cloud Volumes ONTAP can help you run your VDI environment on cloud resources, read these VDI with Cloud Volumes ONTAP case studies.

Learn more about how Cloud Volumes ONTAP helps to address the challenges of storage management in these Cloud Volumes ONTAP on Azure Customer Case Studies.

Azure NetApp Files is another file storage managed service alternative from Microsoft Azure built on NetApp technology, giving you enterprise file share capabilities that can support even your core business applications.

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Learn More About VDI on Azure

Read more in our series of guides about VDI on Azure:

Amp Up End-User Experience in Windows Virtual Desktop With Azure NetApp Files
Desktop virtualization is not a new technology but it is one that is being revamped by the cloud. While traditional VDI could be complex and pricey to deploy, services with Windows Virtual Desktop are making it easy and cost effective to deliver virtual desktops to your users.

In this article you’ll learn how Azure NetApp Files and Microsoft Desktop Virtualization work together, what role FSLogix Profile Containers play, and the benefits of using Azure NetApp Files with Windows Virtual Desktop.

Read more: Amp Up End-User Experience in Windows Virtual Desktop With Azure NetApp Files

Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure
When deploying virtual desktops, durability is essential. You need to store and maintain access to persistent user data, desktop configurations, logging, and application data. In particular, you need to be able to reliably backup your FSLogix Profile Container since this serves as a single source of truth for your deployment.

In this article you’ll learn how using FSLogix Profile Containers with your WVD deployment and Azure NetApp Files can help you ensure your data remains available and how to deploy all three in Azure.

Read more: Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure



How to Get the Lowest Overall TCO with Windows Virtual Desktop
This webinar will show you how to improve your VDI performance, scalability, and security, see a live deployment of WVD using FSLogix and Azure NetApp Files, and hear a Q&A about VDI with both NetApp and Microsoft experts.

Learn more: How to Get the Lowest Overall TCO with Windows Virtual Desktop

Azure VDI Pricing Deep Dive: How to Calculate Windows Virtual Desktop Costs
One factor that cannot be overlooked when implementing virtual desktop infrastructure and services is cost. In order to budget for a sustainable deployment and ensure that services can meet your needs you need to carefully evaluate how services are priced and how you can get the greatest ROI.

In this article you’ll learn about licensing options for WVD and how to calculate costs for WVD deployments. You’ll also see some examples of Azure VDI pricing and learn how to reduce costs with Azure NetApp Files.

Read more: Azure VDI Pricing Deep Dive: How to Calculate Windows Virtual Desktop Costs

Wondering what Azure VDI can do for your organization?

Learn about how Azure VDI was able to help Fergusen enable a remote workforce in one weekend, create on-demand data strategy, and provide speed and capability for users in our Ferguson Success Story.

If you have specific questions or want to further discuss how Azure VDI can help your organization become more secure, have faster access to storage, get the most out of your data, and support a sustainable remote work force, please schedule time to speak with one of our specialists. Schedule time here.

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