What is Microsoft Virtual Desktop | 5 Tips to Understanding Virtual Desktop Computing

Windows Virtual Desktop | Virtual Computers

If you haven’t already heard of Virtual Desktop computing, you will. Those of us who remember (vaguely) the days of mainframe computers might remember the concept of a virtual terminal. In those days, the terminals were extremely simple, with green text on a black screen.  The mainframe computer-managed scores or hundreds of these terminals.

Today we need a lot more complicated system than the old “green screens.”  There have been some moves towards this kind of capability.  Virtualization with VMWare and HyperV are forms of the old “terminal” model but are generally limited to servers.  There has been Citrix and Remote Desktop Services (used to be Terminal Services) which are also similar.  The problem has been that desktop and laptop computers are just more convenient than using these technologies.

In the last couple of years, there has been a major breakthrough in this area.  Windows Virtual Desktop is a technology from Microsoft that allows one computer (a server) to run multiple copies of Windows 10 simultaneously. The idea of this virtual desktop computing model is to swap out the high-end computers we use day to day, for “dumb terminals” that access our Windows 10 in the cloud.

Here are 5 things to understand about Windows Virtual Desktop

Virtual Desktops are usually implemented along with Virtual servers and Office 365.  In those environments, your server and stored files on network drives are all in a single virtual environment.  Here are some of the advantages.

  1. Adding a new desktop for a new employee is easily done the same day – sometimes within the hour.
  2. Even high-end software like SolidWorks or Pro Engineer can run in a WVD environment.
  3. The computer hardware is often provided (excluding monitors) with the subscription
  4. The hardware is always up to date.  There is no “replacement” cycle every 3 to 5 years
  5. Your office becomes virtual. People can work from anywhere they have internet, with no performance impact

Keep in mind that this is also a very effective way to work remotely and allow remote access to all your applications and data.

How does this really work?

Without getting too complicated, you run a pretty beefy server and install a special copy of Windows 10. You then “spin up” as many desktops as that server can handle.  A server with 48 Gb of Ram would comfortably run 13 of these desktops without too much trouble.  The users are sharing the CPU and RAM with everyone. There are efficiencies because RAM usually used for basic functions isn’t duplicated on every computer.

The really amazing thing is that you can even run your CAD workstations with this model.

This must be slower than having computers at work, right?

Not really. In the real world, there are a lot of bottlenecks when you use a computer.  The network speed between your computer and the server is a big one.  So is the speed of your own computer’s CPU and RAM, as well as hard drives.

Servers are WAY faster than regular users’ desktops. They have much better hardware with much better speeds.  The Windows Virtual Desktop is running on a server.  The file server is attached more or less physically directly to that server.  The speed of the network between the two is 10x or 100x what you would find in a typical office.

How much does this Cost?

Let’s compare 2 situations so we can do an apples-to-apples example.

Example EnvironmentWindows Virtual DesktopTraditional Environment
Active DirectoryAzure B2ms ServerDELL R460 Server with HyperV
8Tb SSD File StorageAzure DS11v2 with 8Tb E60 SSD DrivesDELL R460 Server Virtual
50 DesktopsAzure E4sv3 Servers (up to 4)Dell Inspiron Desktops
MS OfficeMicrosoft 365 PremiumMicrosoft 365 Premium

If we add up the costs of the two sides we get the following:

The Windows Virtual Desktop environment comes to about $9,200 a month managed by your partner.  The desktop “dumb terminals” are included, but Monitors are extra.

The DELL environment runs at about $175,000 in the first year, and about $75,000 a year per year after that.  I am using about $75,000 of annual management costs for the environment including cloud backups. That’s based on a pretty standard Managed Services arrangement or hiring a full time network administrator.  The WVD environment is managed and the break even will be somewhere around year 4 or 5 – which is when you’ll need to replace the desktops and servers again.

If you want to buy hardware, never maintain it and run it into the ground, then Windows Virtual Desktop won’t make sense to you.  if you want an ultra high performance system that you never have to worry about, that costs about the same as buying all the hardware yourself – then you’re probably better off with the Windows Virtual Desktop.

Want to learn more?

Are you are interested in learning more about Windows Virtual Desktop for your Waterloo region based company? Give us a call and we can help you understand the choices. MicroAge Kitchener Cloud Services team are experts with Microsoft Azure and WVD.  We are Azure experts and resellers in Kitchener and as such can provide significant price benefits over the standard cloud.  We can take care of every detail of your cloud migration, and provide you with clear, easy-to-understand pricing. MicroAge has been hosting customers in the Azure cloud for over 5 years now.  We understand how it can fit your business and offer our advice for free.

If you are looking for help with any IT Service need in these cities:

  • Brantford
  • Cambridge
  • Elmira
  • Fergus
  • Guelph
  • Kitchener
  • Waterloo
  • Woodstock

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Give us a call at 226-336-6259 or contact us at today to discuss your needs.

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FAQ Windows Virtual Desktops

Q: What is Windows Virtual Desktop

A: Windows Virtual Desktop is cloud based a desktop and app virtualization service. You run Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure which allows you to run a full Windows 10 desktop environment with scalability, and provides access to Windows 7 virtual desktops with Extended Security Updates included.

Q: What is Microsoft Azure

A: Microsoft Azure is the Microsoft Cloud infrastructure environment.  It is made up of server “farms” located in about 40-50 data centers around the world, with 2 in Canada and a 3rd opening soon.  Microsoft Azure is a subscription service in which you can “rent” computer power in the cloud.

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As service providers to more than 300 companies, the dedicated professionals at MicroAge are second to none when it comes to managed services. By improving efficiency, cutting costs and reducing downtime, we can help you achieve your business goals!

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