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VDI on Azure

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

December 18, 2019

Topics: Azure NetApp Files Advanced4 minute read

For more than a decade, desktop virtualization has been a hot topic throughout the virtualization industry. Organizations view desktop virtualization in cloud computing as a way to control costs and use limited resources to manage large-scale desktop infrastructures while increasing security and deployment efficiency. The old—VDI—has become new again with the introduction of Microsoft Azure’s digital workspace offering: Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD). This blog explores how to amp up Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure.

Brad Anderson, CVP, Microsoft 365 and Julia White, CVP, Microsoft Azure describe Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop,  a Microsoft 365 service that allows customers to run a desktop experience on Azure, as a renaissance in desktop virtualization. It is the only cloud-based service that delivers a multi-user Windows 10 experience that’s both optimized for Office 365 ProPlus and includes free Windows 7 Extended Security Updates. With Windows Virtual Desktop in Azure NetApp Files, you can deploy and scale Windows and Office on Azure in minutes, with built-in security and compliance measures.

Combining Azure NetApp Files and Microsoft Desktop Virtualization

The criteria for determining the success of any Microsoft virtual desktop implementation—be it in the cloud or on premises, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, or Virtual Desktop Service—must include the end-user experience. Storage is often the leading cause of dissatisfaction in the implementation process. Backed by industry-leading NetApp All Flash Array technology, Azure NetApp Files addresses this storage pain with elegant simplicity. With nearly three decades of experience as a market leader in the enterprise-class storage sector, NetApp has provided storage services for virtual desktops since 2006. Now, those offerings have made their way to the cloud.

Another determinant of project success is solution cost. The original promise that virtual desktops could save companies significant money proved incorrect. Storage has often been the most expensive part of the virtual desktop solutions—be it VDI or Virtual Desktop Service.  The fixed capital cost of storage—capex for physical servers, leases for data centers, among other things—was burdensome. Capex woes stacked on top of underperforming, overly complicated, feature-limited, and expensive technologies such as VSAN and other storage services, including Storage Service Direct,  to create an unsatisfactory experience.

Two Knobs: Complete Cost Control

With Azure NetApp Files, two knobs (Capacity and Service Level) place cost control directly in the administrator’s hands. Select the service level that’s right for you, whether you’re questing for cost-capacity optimized, cost-bandwidth optimized, or a hybrid of the two; that’s knob 1.  Further fine tune storage-spend with knob two; select the amount of bandwidth needed at any given time by adding or removing capacity on the fly, adjusting according to your performance and cost control needs.

FSLogix Profile Containers

Microsoft Azure recommends using FSLogix profile containers as the user profile solution for the Windows Virtual Desktop Service. FSLogix profile containers store a complete user profile in a single container and are designed to roam profiles in non-persistent remote computing environments like Windows Virtual Desktop.

When you sign in, the container dynamically attaches to the computing environment using a locally supported virtual hard disk (VHD) and Hyper-V virtual hard disk (VHDX). These advanced filter-driver technologies allow the user profile to be immediately available and appear in the system exactly like a local user profile. To learn more about FSLogix profile containers, see FSLogix profile containers and Azure NetApp Files.

Placed on top of Azure NetApp Files, FSLogix profile container profiles are rapidly accessed at user login.  As an easy-to-use, Azure-native cloud service, ANF helps customers to quickly and reliably provision—and access—enterprise-grade SMB volumes for their Windows Virtual Desktop environments. To learn more about Azure NetApp Files, all you need to do is ask, “What is Azure NetApp Files?

What Does ANF Bring to Windows Virtual Desktop?

Simple to Manage: Azure NetApp Files is built as a simple to consume Azure-native service with the power of ONTAP’s reliability features. This simplicity enables customers to quickly and reliably provision enterprise-grade SMB volumes for their WVD environments

Lower TCO: Azure NetApp Files is targeting the most demanding, mission-critical applications and workloads with key requirements that typically require advanced data management capabilities. ONTAP’s capabilities in this space—with time and space efficient snapshots and cloning, on-demand capacity and performance scaling, and efficient replication—are unmatched in the industry.

windows virtual desktop on azure

Enterprise Performance: High-performance, All-Flash ONTAP enterprise systems have now been built into the Azure DCs and fully integrated into the Azure SDN and ARM frameworks. Now customers can get on-premises-like performance with selectable bandwidth and sub-millisecond latency. Azure NetApp Files is the shared storage necessary for the most demanding enterprise workloads like ERP, SAP (HANA), and Windows Virtual Desktop environments.

Maximum Compatibility: Azure NetApp Files supports all industry-standard protocols and capabilities in the enterprise file sharing space, including full SMB3 protocol support, as well as support for Azure Active Directory Domain Services, Native Active Directory Domain Services (non-AADDS), and NTFS ACLs.

Learn More About the Benefits

For more information on Azure NetApp Files and Windows Virtual Desktop, please see the Microsoft documentation “Create an FSLogix profile container for a host pool using Azure NetApp Files”.

Senior Cloud Solutions Architect, NetApp Cloud Data Services