Why Azure Virtual Desktop is the go-to solution for remote working
Sean Roberts General Manager, Public Cloud
Remote working became a necessity overnight for countless businesses in 2020. Almost a year on, the number of permanent remote workers looks set to double in 20211. This change has led to a subsequent increase in demand for desktop as a service (DaaS), with the market set to reach $3 billion in revenue this year2.
When faced with an urgent need to secure a newly remote workforce, many businesses turned to Azure Windows Virtual Desktop (AVD) (formerly known as Windows Virtual Desktop). Usage of the service increased threefold in the final week of March 20203. Having only been made available in late 2019, the service quickly became a go-to solution as working from home became the norm.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) technology is not new. Since the 1990’s, VDI has been used to solve the problem of providing a consistent working environment for employees, regardless of location or what device they were using. Many organisations have struggled with the ‘Thick vs. Thin’ debate, trying to strike a balance between the two models based on the needs of their business. AVD is going a long way towards making this problem redundant, providing a seamless user experience without sacrificing resources or data access.
Why, over many other options, has AVD proved to be so popular? Let’s break down the key areas to consider when transitioning to remote work, and how AVD looks to meet these demands.
Speed and simplicity
The nature of the pandemic means organisations were under pressure to make the transition to remote work as quickly as possible. AVD allows any application that runs in Windows 7 or 10 to run in its environment, and makes familiar productivity applications such as Microsoft 365 and Teams available to users.
Solving issues around speed and simplicity can also go a long way in addressing historic problems around onboarding and in particular with technology equipment and applications set up. The average cost per hire in the UK stands around £3,000, and a poor onboarding process can lead to higher turnover and wasted resources. 69% of employees4 who have a positive onboarding experience are more likely to remain at an organisation for over three years. However, a Gallup study found only 12% of employees strongly believed their organisation has a great onboarding process5.
AVD can help speed up this process. Most of us have experienced delays and frustrations when starting a new role due to a lack of access to certain devices or applications. AVD helps address this issue by providing all the application and security services needed for new employees to hit the ground running. Crucially, these steps to ensure the onboarding process begins smoothly can contribute towards greater initial productivity and employee satisfaction.
Equally, remote work with third parties is well-suited to AVD. Speed and simplicity are essential when bringing in an external party for a particular project or business initiative, given the often-limited timeframe. As AVD runs on the Microsoft Azure cloud, businesses are able to scale capacity elastically to give these short-term employees quick access to an organisation’s corporate desktop environment, and easily remove them once the project is completed.
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) provide similar opportunities for AVD. An M&A can be challenging and stressful period, particularly for a remote workforce, requiring a lengthy integration of systems and processes. AVD allows new employees to quickly be granted access to company applications, and start collaborating on joint, secure infrastructure. These steps ensure business continuity for employees and clients alike during the M&A, and puts the organisation on secure footing for the post-M&A period.
One of the biggest concerns with transitioning to remote working is employee data security and the ability to keep the desktop up to date with the latest security patches. Cybersecurity attacks have grown both in prominence and sophistication, with businesses rightly concerned over maintaining security standards whilst working from home.
This is an area where AVD really comes to the fore, building on the same security principals native within Microsoft Azure, utilising tools such as Conditional Access and Reverse Connect technology ensures highly secure, performant environment. Azure itself has more compliance certifications than any other cloud service provider, whilst Microsoft has over 3,500 security experts dedicated to keeping the platform secure. Organisations can make use of the centralised control mechanisms that come with Azure, such as its Azure Active Directory and Security Centre.
The potential for data leaks is another pressing concern in the remote working world. With GDPR fines as high as €20 million or 4% of global annual turnover, whichever is higher, it’s no wonder businesses are anxious to plug any security gaps across their remote workforce.
AVD goes a long way in giving organisations the necessary governance and control to minimise such risks. It allows for users to be treated as ‘thin clients’ meaning there is no confidential data stored locally on a device. Instead, everything is stored centrally in the cloud, helping to negate the impact of inevitable individual security errors when working remotely.
One of the reasons AVD has grown in popularity is its comparatively simple and affordable cost structure. Using AVD can greatly minimise hardware expenditure, as there is no need to purchase fully serviced personal computers for remote use. It is also tailored to meet the increasingly popular ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) trend that was taking off long before the pandemic began. This growth is showing no sign of slowing down in 2021, and as part of Microsoft’s wider remote working infrastructure, AVD helps meet this demand with a system that can be used on almost any device.
Resource allocation is another key expenditure point for businesses. For example, graphic design teams require large amounts of GPU power in order to complete certain projects, but will rarely require such power around the clock, with natural peaks and troughs in demand. AVD allows organisations to leverage GPU power in public cloud, meaning resources can be allocated more precisely dependent on the immediate needs of designers.
Even as we emerge from the pandemic, remote working is going nowhere. Many organisations are opting for a hybrid approach, and ensuring this transition is as seamless and cost effective as possible will remain a high priority. AVD has already proven itself as a leading solution to this challenge, and as it continues to evolve, we can expect it to remain as the go-to system for organisations looking to secure a remote workforce quickly and affordably.
Follow this series to understand more about how AVD can benefit your business and unlock the potential of your users. For more insights on AVD click here.
1 Survey from Enterprise Technology Research
2 IDC Worldwide Desktop-as-a-Service Software Forecast, 2017-2021, Robert Young, June 2017, IDC
3 Microsoft update on cloud services continuity, 28th March 2020.
4 New Hire Momentum: Driving the Onboarding Experience Research Report’, survey by Human Capital Institute and Kronos
5 State of the American Workplace’, report by Gallup