For years, companies have been using remote desktops, commonly known as terminal servers or “Remote Desktop Services” or simply “RDS”, for their daily business activities. Simply put, people can login to a virtual desktop from their own computer or yours, and they have access to all their applications and data in a secure container that you control. You can learn more about remote desktops on the Accellis blog.

Why should you care? Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) is significantly better in performance, cost, security, and manageability than its older brother RDS. If you need virtual desktops or are the refresh point on your terminal server/RDS, you need to keep reading.

What is Azure Virtual Desktop?

Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) is a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) that operates in the Azure Public Cloud. In contrast to RDS, AVD makes it easier for users to access their desktop from their devices of choice and it outperforms RDS in every segment. It is easy to deploy, easy to manage, and easy for your employees to use. And, it solves a lot of legacy tech problems.

Why is Azure Virtual Desktop superior to legacy virtual desktops?

AVD is important because it allows companies to manage and serve services and applications that were previously impossible to manage and serve in RDS, such as:

  • Using Teams instant messaging, video and voice calling
  • Use your telephony provider’s VoIP software phone client (some restrictions apply)
  • Better redirect of cameras and microphones from your local device
  • More stable printing and VPN connections
  • Use full OneDrive and SharePoint online sync
  • Greatly improved Outlook search and Windows folder tree indexing
  • Improved security through reverse connect technology
  • Tons of highly technical features we can use to create a much more stable, better performing VDI experience for users (i.e., in how we deploy images, applications, user profiles, etc.)

In short, it solves all the problems stemming from the modern world we live in where remote work is now a necessity, while improving greatly on the old problems traditional virtual desktops suffered from. As it is cloud-based, AVD is easier to scale and can be more cost-effective than RDS. And your commitment is greatly reduced since you commit day by day, not five years at a time

Finally, AVD allows more flexibility for companies to customize their user experiences for different types of employees. For example, your frontline or customer support teams may have one set of software, graphics, and security needs where back office staff have different needs. Managing that in AVD is much easier and more cost effective.

What do you need to know about AVD?

AVD has two predominant models.

  • Pooled desktop in which users share a server at any given point in time and this server hosts multiple virtual desktops. This model provides less control over each user’s experience, but it can provide the best economics.
  • Personal desktop in which each user gets their own right-sized server and this server hosts only that user’s virtual desktop. This model provides greater control over each user’s experience, but it can come at a premium.

AVD is an Azure product and must be provisioned and managed there (meaning you can’t run this on your own servers or in another public cloud). It also requires a Windows 10/11 Pro entitlement. This is free if you have a Microsoft 365 Business Premium (or higher) license, which most professional organizations have anyway. Finally, while you commit to AVD day by day, vs when you run RDS you have to buy all the equipment and make multi-year commitments, keep in mind that there are some technical considerations for larger organizations around the need to make certain reservations.

Want to learn more about AVD?

If you are hosting terminal server/RDS or are just interested in learning more about Azure Virtual Desktop and its benefits, reach out to your IT service provider, internal IT team, or contact Accellis to help you get started.


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