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Azure Virtual Desktop


The unsung hero of digital transformation in 2021


What is Azure Virtual Desktop?

Azure Virtual Desktop is Microsoft’s desktop and app virtualisation service that runs on their public cloud.
If any part of that sentence doesn’t make sense to you, we recommend starting with our starter guide to desktop virtualisation
If it does, great! Here’s a quick snapshot of what you can do with Azure Virtual Desktop:
  • Connect to, and manage your cloud-based applications and desktops (including Windows 10, Windows 7 and Windows Server) from any device or browser
  • Set up a multi-session Windows 10 deployment for a scalable Windows 10 desktop
  • Create Windows 7 virtual desktops using Microsoft’s free Extended Security Updates, and
  • Bring your existing Remote Desktop Services and Windows Server desktops and apps to any computer

Why is Azure Virtual Desktop so popular in 2021?

It supports hybrid work 

Based on this 2021 Microsoft survey of 31,000 workers, the future workplace will be a hybrid one.  66% of surveyed decision-makers are considering an office redesign to accommodate hybrid work better - cloud-computing with Azure Virtual Desktop can power that.
With it, workers can stream access to a desktop as powerful as what’s on their head-office desk from any location or device. 

Easy upgrade for legacy systems 

Across all sectors, legacy IT is a challenge for security, productivity and makes new technology adoption difficult.  The biggest barrier to upgrade is the huge upfront cost required to buy new hardware.
Cloud computing through Azure Virtual Desktop is an easy way to upgrade without that huge, one-off fee. Instead, organisations can access a modern, powerful desktop and spread the cost with a lower, flat monthly payment (more on that below).

Cut hardware overheads with BYOD 

Cloud computing with Azure Virtual Desktop offers organisations all the benefits of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) computing model without the typical risks.

Suppose colleagues connect to a virtual desktop on a personal device.
They’d get to use a work device they prefer. Their employer would get to cut hardware spend, software licencing costs and time spent managing business-owned devices - all without losing the ability to control access sensitive data centrally. 

It's a green technology

Besides being more resilient and efficient, cloud computing can help cut an organisations carbon footprint drastically.
By hosting your infrastructure with Azure, all of your computing power would come from data centres that have been 100% renewable since 2014.

This could have positive impacts outside your organisation too —in the UK, commuting accounts for 5% of our total carbon emissions.  By creating an infrastructure that supports remote work, you’d help your workforce commute less and drop their carbon footprint.

It's a gateway for better security 

Just by upgrading to a modern Windows 10 virtual desktop, users benefit from comprehensive data protection without any sacrifice to productivity.  These include built-in security tools like:
  • BitLocker: military-grade encryption that protects sensitive data when devices are lost or stolen.
  • Windows Information Protection: data protection that prevents accidental leaks to unauthorised users, apps or websites.
By hosting that desktop on Azure cloud, a team of 3,500 Microsoft Cybersecurity experts will actively spend their day keeping your data safe.

Most organisations have access to it already

Not enough people know this, but Azure Virtual Desktop is included for free as part of certain Microsoft Enterprise License Agreements.
What you pay for is the compute power you use when connected to a Virtual Desktop.

As complex as that might seem, Microsoft has created a pretty comprehensive pricing calculator to make cost forecasting easier for you.  With it, you can get a pretty accurate estimate of your monthly costs based on your planned usage.  

Who would benefit most from Azure Virtual Desktop in 2021?


Organisations struggling with high cloud costs

In 2020, 26% of organisations accelerated their cloud migration strategy faster than planned.  Hasty adoption means that 30-35% of cloud spend in 2021 was typically wasted on unnecessary capacity and resources. Because of this, cost savings are a huge cloud priority for organisations in 2021.
Most don’t realise that Azure Virtual Desktop is included for free as part of most Microsoft Enterprise License agreements.  With Windows Virtual desktop and the support of cloud specialists, the average organisation could have had the same cloud performance for 30% less money in 2020

Environmentally conscious organisations

Asides from the obvious moral and ethical advantages to lowering the environmental impact of your organisation, there are commercial benefits too.  Environmentalism can help you qualify for accreditations like a B Corp certification, which sends a clear message to funders, employees and suppliers about your business. 
The high bar set for impact and transparency can help attract top talent and ethical consumers, whose spending reached a record high of £41bn in the UK alone.

Organisations focused on modernisation

Maintenance aside, legacy technology is costly.

  • 48% of UK employees waste 3 hours or more per day battling inefficient systems.
  • Over half of UK employees are dissatisfied with workplace technology, affecting morale and output.
  • 45% of customers are confident that digital channels will be their main channel for contacting brands going forwards.  Tolerance for a poor digital experience is falling, and the cost of not providing quality digital support is high. One bad review can cost an organisation up to 22% of potential customers.
To stay competitive, organisations can use Azure Virtual Desktop to create better user experiences, attract quality talent and boost productivity without having to pay a huge, one-off infrastructure refresh fee.

Organisations that need more flexibility

Flexibility in movement or capacity. Without it, organisations can struggle to respond to demand peaks or support colleagues in working as effectively as they can.
The NHS has invested heavily in cloud computing to offer new mobility freedoms to healthcare workers and make more advanced care possible outside of hospitals.
Workplaces are also rethinking the way we work. High productivity is masking how close to burnout many in the workforce are.


With Azure Virtual Desktop and Azure, organisations can onboard new staff fast to cope with peak demand and create a hybrid-working model to help people balance their working lives. 

How could Azure Virtual Desktop transform your business?

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