Teradici recently announced support for Azure Stack Hub, making them the first third-party virtual desktop provider to support Azure Stack Hub as a platform. Azure Stack has changed a lot since I wrote about it in 2018 around the use of certified hardware. Teradici has also been evolving with a new addition to their remote protocol with support for new features such as Dynamic Network Adaptation, and new multi-codec support.
So, we thought we’d take a closer look at what’s new with Azure Stack Hub and the combination with Teradici.
What’s new in Azure Stack Hub
Azure Stack Hub (formerly known as Azure Stack, before Microsoft renamed the entire hybrid offering as part of the Azure Stack portfolio) is Microsoft’s on-premises cloud platform, and has been on the market for over two years now. Azure Stack Hub is a locked-down cloud platform that is based upon Windows with Hyper-V and provides a management plane and services/API’s similar to public Azure. (You can read more about Azure Stack Hub architecture and setup here.)
Azure Stack Hub aims to provide somewhat similar capabilities in terms of services and management with Public Azure, but so far has not been able to provide that many new capabilities. However, Azure Stack Hub was never intended as a real alternative to Azure, except for use cases where Azure could not be used; it could also provide a somewhat similar platform, or at least some form of consistency.
Use cases could be disconnected scenarios or compliance demands where we needed to have all data residing within our own datacenter. I’ve even seen Azure Stack deployments in factories in distant locations where there is limited or no internet connectivity, which has then been used for collecting and analyzing data at the edge using the built-in capabilities.
The platform also got a lot of publicity during last year’s Microsoft Ignite keynote where they mentioned that they are working on a new Azure Stack Hub offering which will provide GPU capabilities like the N-Series virtual machines enabled by NVIDIA V100 GPUs. Also, with Microsoft being awarded (for now) the JEDI contract, one can only speculate that Microsoft will need to focus and invest a lot more time in developing Azure Stack Hub further with new capabilities and scalability.
Microsoft has also announced support for running Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure Stack Hub, meaning that we will be allowed to run multi-user Windows 10 VDI sessions on Azure Stack Hub. It will be the only licensed platform to run multi-user Windows 10 outside of Microsoft Azure. We should note that the management and data component will still be running on Azure, which means that WVD will likely never work on fully disconnected scenarios.
Now during the time it has had in the market, Azure Stack Hub has sparked little interest from EUC vendors around delivering native virtual desktops on the platform. Meanwhile, other vendors have been focusing on building out support for the native public cloud platforms, such as GCP, AWS, and Azure.
I was curious when Teradici announced that they were the first third-party provider to support the delivery of virtual desktops on Azure Stack Hub with their Cloud Access Software.
Teradici also mentioned that they intend to support the GPU edition of the Azure Stack Hub once that is released, as well, which will allow customers to utilize the PCoIP protocol for GPU-based workloads on Azure Stack Hub.
Because Teradici did not build any custom integration, they released their software in the syndicated marketplace, so operators had an easy deployable template. This also makes it easier to do automated deployments using the automation layer that Azure Stack Hub provides.
It should be noted that Teradici has a component called Cloud Access Connector which supports brokering and provisioning of machines against Microsoft Azure, but this is not yet available for Azure Stack Hub.
Where this could be useful
So why did Teradici invest in Azure Stack Hub? Essentially, for preparation for what’s to come. First, to support businesses that have invested into Azure Stack Hub for compliance and governance demands. Secondly, to support those businesses that are using the platform for applications that have certain regulatory/security requirements, which now can be delivered in combination with Teradici.
Many companies have already invested into the platform, but moving forward and with the development that Microsoft will be making into the platform I believe that more customers will be looking into Azure Stack as their main platform for use cases where public Azure cannot be used. With the combination now with Teradici it will make it easier for customers to utilize Azure Stack Hub more effectively to provide VDI as a workload, and combining this with support for using multi-user Windows 10 will make it even more compelling.
Another target is for MSPs, which deliver Azure Stack to their customers. They can now finally have a VDI solution as part of their offering, since this has been a missing link for some time.
Also looking back at those deployments in factories where they would use Azure Stack for collecting and analyzing data, combining that with a supported rugged thin client and with a VDI session using PCoIP would provide for a good use case for locked VDI platform combined with at edge computing.
However, I would like to see Teradici build more integration into Azure Stack Hub in terms of provisioning to ensure a streamlined deployment of VDI sessions. I’m curious to see what they have in store moving forward.