Microsoft announced the Public Preview of the Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) Spring Release. There are two major features and several useful updates in this release. Perhaps the biggest change is that the WVD components are now being delivered as true Azure Resources with management and integration moving under the control of Azure Resource Manager. ARM based components are the core of Azure— they allow the various Azure services to work together and security roles and permissions can be applied consistently to ARM components. This change not only makes WVD management easier and more reliable, but it also allows WVD to interact with other Azure services such as Log Analytics.
The most visible change is that basic WVD Host Pools can now be created using the Azure portal. The portal also shows basic information about the Host Pools, App Groups, and Workspaces (which replace WVD Tenants). Setup of needed supporting components, including VNets, Images, FSLogix containers—a data component to store user data—and Active Directory access are all still manual processes, but but the addition of visibility of WVD components within the Azure portal is a solid improvement.
The release also highlights several enhancements that build on WVD’s best-in-class security environment. WVD now supports the ability to restrict traffic outbound from WVD session hosts, which prevents unexpected outbound communications to unknown endpoints. This will defeat a number of popular malware “phone home” techniques that allow attacks to spread and communicate updates back to bad actors. WVD now also supports additional Azure AD features, including new Conditional Access options and the assignment of App Group membership to Azure AD security groups. Adding these changes to the unique Reverse Connect session approach results in a clear advantage in maintaining a secure end user environment, especially as remote session gateways from traditional VDI vendors continue to be popular targets for malware attacks.
NetApp’s Virtual Desktop Service (VDS) supports the WVD Spring Release with our 5.4 release. VDS manages the ARM WVD edition with the same rapid, automated deployment of not only the WVD components but also the required associated components, including:
- Azure VNet and subnet creation
- UI based Windows 10 custom image creation and management
- Active Directory integration for WVD domain join and DNS configuration, including complex or policy restricted domains
- Data layer creation and configuration for WVD, including automated deployment of Azure NetApp Files (ANF) capacity pools and volumes
- Automatic creation and configuration of FSLogix containers
- Automated host pool state management and troubleshooting
- Automated application installation, update, patching, and deletion
VDS also can import WVD components that were created using other deployment techniques. The VDS application automatically identifies which WVD Workspaces and Host Pools are under management and provides an Import option for the Host Pools it doesn’t recognize. Once the import process completes, the Host Pools can be managed using the full VDS feature set.
VDS 5.4 also supports autoscaling and scheduling WVD Host Pool session servers using the same event driven scaling mechanism that has saved customers significant Azure expenditures in the last year. The integration between VDS And Cloud Insights also provides a data visualization and control feedback loop for WVD administrators. Dashboard tiles that measure Azure costs, session server utilization and performance, and end user experience are all part of the basic Cloud Insight deployment. Administrators can create their own dashboards, drawing data from the Azure API, the VDS API, and the VM onboard performance data set.
The Modern Workplace can leverage an array of best in class solutions from the NetApp Cloud portfolio, which include:
1. Azure NetApp Files (ANF): Fastest Cloud File system on Azure and built VDI-ready for user profile and business application data
2. Global File Cache (GCF): Local file cache for VDI profiles and user data that is perfect for ROBO requirements
3. Cloud Insights (CI): Monitors your VDI desktops to measure metrics like cost by department, session server consumption, and end user experience
4. SaaS Backup (SB): Backup SharePoint, Office365 and Outlook/Exchange email for rapid restore of each VDI user and utility
Windows Virtual Desktop continues to evolve and add to its feature set. The cloud family of services from NetApp, including VDS, ANF, GCF, CI, and SaaS Backup will continue to add automation and management capabilities to the virtual desktop experience, ensuring a great user experience, cost efficiency, and unmatched environment security.