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Windows Virtual Desktop legitimizes virtual desktops on Microsoft Azure, which could send ripples throughout the desktop-as-a-service market.
Microsoft announced Windows Virtual Desktop last month. The Microsoft desktop as a service (DaaS) offering, which will be in public preview before the end of the year, will allow organizations to use full Windows 10 and Windows 7 virtual desktops hosted by Microsoft. Not only will Windows Virtual Desktop allow IT to integrate data from products such as Active Directory, but it will also enhance the appeal of Microsoft Azure.
Nerdio, based in Chicago, helps organizations deploy virtual desktops in the private cloud or on Azure. In this Q&A, CEO Vadim Vladimirskiy shares his thoughts on Windows Virtual Desktop, including how it will stand out from the competition and what it means for Microsoft's channel partners.
What are your initial thoughts on the Microsoft DaaS offering?
Vadim Vladimirskiy: Microsoft legitimizes virtual desktops as first-class citizens of Azure. We now have a real desktop operating system.
You're not limited to running a server OS with a desktop experience. There's going be a real desktop running in Windows 10 with multi-tenant capabilities where you can have one Windows 10 machine supporting multiple concurrent users having the same Windows desktop experience that they would on a physical desktop device. [Microsoft is] putting its stamp of approval on that type of a model.
How will Windows Virtual Desktop stack up against the competition?
Vladimirskiy: [It's] a fairly significant threat to the existing market by providing the plumbing and hosting of virtual desktops. Anybody in that space -- like AWS that has WorkSpaces, but also smaller vendors that specialize in desktop hosting -- are going to need to have some strong differentiation and value-adds that make their service more valuable -- things like special compliance functionality, additional security layers, [and] managed services on the desktops.
What makes the Microsoft DaaS offering appealing to potential customers?
Vadim VladimirskiyCEO, Nerdio
Vladimirskiy: The fact that it's in Azure is the biggest differentiator. The location of the hosting and the global footprint is an advantage. If you have offices around the world, if you are hosting in the private cloud, there is an owned data center generally that has some users connecting from far away and some users that are connecting from closer.
The end-user experience varies significantly depending on where they're connecting from. With Azure having so many local regions, you have the ability to place those desktops closer to where the users are so they can hop onto the Azure backbone locally to them and start using their desktops, which can improve the user experience.
The remaining services are ... [delivering desktops] in a mass market approach similar to AWS WorkSpaces, where it's a server operating system made to look like a desktop that's being provided in a multi-tenant environment. Windows Virtual Desktop is different because it's running Windows 10 rather than running the server OS, which is going to eliminate application compatibility issues that may exist with server OSes.
The providers offering private cloud-type desktop hosting where they're already using Windows 10 as the operating system usually [require] a significant minimum number of users to make that model cost-effective because there is dedicated hardware involved.
Now you have a multi-tenant hosting environment like Azure that has fairly competitive compute costs. Microsoft is not going to have that [minimum user] threshold, so smaller organizations can take advantage.
What could prevent Microsoft DaaS from gaining traction in the market?
Vladimirskiy: If this is built for really large deployments, then the complexity of actually standing it up, provisioning it, managing it -- even if from a licensing and operating system perspective all the pieces are there -- could be a hurdle for customers who don't have Azure expertise in-house.
It's important that there are tools that wrap around the technology that make the process of standing up and managing the environment easier. Also making sure it can be cost-optimized in terms of auto scaling so desktops can be dialed up and down based on user demand.
How does Windows Virtual Desktop affect Microsoft's channel partners?
Vladimirskiy: [Citrix] already uses Azure for the compute of hosting Citrix Cloud. Citrix is going to layer on additional enterprise features -- things like accelerators, the proprietary ICA [Independent Computing Architecture] and HDX protocols, profile management, application layering -- that are sitting above the actual plumbing that runs those desktops.
There's still a lot of value to add beyond the hosting, which is what [Windows Virtual Desktop] is unlocking. It's allowing you to use Azure to host the operating system, but there's still a tremendous opportunity for partners to add value on top of that.