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Managed Cloud Solutions

Windows 365 vs Azure Virtual Desktop

Ivan Square

Ivan Galea

Product Manager

microsoft azure

On August 2nd, 2021, Microsoft released a new managed Virtual Desktop solution, Windows 365. Now rewind a few months back and Microsoft renames their only virtual cloud desktop solution, Windows Virtual Desktop known as WVD to Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD). This change raised a few eyebrows until they announced the Windows 365 solution, then all made perfect sense. But it left everyone with one simple question “Which solution should I use?”

Main difference between AVD and Windows 365

AVD is a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) running on the cloud, providing IT admins with a platform to spin up compute resources. With the possibility of allowing simultaneous users to log in to their virtual desktop session from one single VM. AVD is quite a scalable solution, allowing the administrator to scale the cloud server up and down depending on the business needs.

Windows 365 serves the same purpose i.e. offering its users a virtual cloud PC / virtual desktop session with Microsoft native apps, user applications and line of business apps. The difference with AVD is that Windows 365 infrastructure is mainly managed by Microsoft. Why mainly? Because the Enterprise edition it provides the organisation control on the Azure network resources letting the organisation configure the Azure vNet, which includes static IPs, Azure firewall, VPNs, and more. But this network resource consumption is at an extra cost to the organisation, hence why you will, strangely enough, find that the Enterprise plans are cheaper than the Business plans.

Another major difference is that while AVD allows simultaneous users/sessions per VM, Windows 365 only allows a 1:1, this means that for every VM only a single user is assigned a license through Microsoft 365 admin portal.

Selecting the appropriate solution

Cloud Infra Medium

The solutions are not that different since they use the same platform and cloud resources. What’s certain is that one is not better than the another, but the choice is subjective, depending on the usage and the business requirement. Organisations may find that rather than having to choose, they prefer having a mix, which can really optimise performance and costs.

When users require a dedicated 1:1 virtual desktop without automatically switching the infrastructure off, then Windows 365 will suit the use case better and pan out cheaper than AVD. These 1:1 dedicated virtual desktops are used when there are compliance matters or the organisation has remote or an elastic workforce such as developers, temporary employees, or sub-contractors. They can also be utilised with third parties that require access to internal systems, this eliminates the need to ship or remotely manage hardware.

On the contrary, if the user has specific working hours through the month, AVD VMs can be automatically switched off at certain hours (such as a branch offices workforce). Then using Pay-As-You-Go VMs on AVD will be cheaper in the long run. However, the saving needs to be justified depending on the quantity of users and the hours required versus the IT admin resources required to manage and maintain the AVD infrastructure.

If the desktop usage is basic and thus does not require 1:1 performance, the VM resources can be utilised by multiple users such as call centres or other similar environments. Whilst the performance may not compare to a 1:1 session, the overall business savings using pooled resources on AVD is noticeable compared to Windows 365. The savings are even more significant when you have a scenario where your organisation will utilise pooled resources and uses auto-scaling (not to run the VMs on a 24x7). This allows the VMs to be switched off and using Pay-As-You-Go will allow the organisation to get the optimal performance and reduce running costs.

Conclusion

AVD and Windows 365 Enterprise are one and the same using the same platform and address “mostly” the same business needs. With the major difference being that AVD is completely managed and maintained by the customer and can offer simultaneous sessions over a single VM. So it boils down to the level of IT capabilities to implement and maintain the infrastructure (VDI) and the operational cost.

Windows 365 Enterprise will be more attractive to SMBs since it is less complex and requires less IT capabilities. Still, it should not be shrugged off by IT Admins or larger enterprises as there are certain use-cases showing that having a mix will optimise their operations.

Choosing the right solution for your business or your users can be challenging, and this is where you can take advantage of BMIT Technologies. Harnessing the skilled resources in Azure to offer support services, deployments, and even IT architectural design needs. Engage with us today, to achieve the required capabilities, identify the business needs and the right solution.

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