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Before adopting Windows Virtual Desktop, organizations must consider whether they will be able to deploy, manage and support Windows Virtual Desktop in-house, or if they will need to enlist the help of a managed service provider.
Deploying and managing this massive and complicated technology is a major undertaking, and outsourcing WVD management to managed service providers (MSPs) can significantly ease the burden of management for smaller IT departments, inexperienced admins or short-handed virtual desktop management staffs.
In-house management or MSP for WVD
Once an organization chooses WVD as its preferred desktop virtualization setup, its IT admins and executives must make a decision of either in-house and MSP management. Organizations that want to deploy Windows Virtual Desktop need to realistically assess whether their IT staff has the necessary skills and resources required to manage it. If an organization's IT staff lacks the required skills or does not have enough time to deploy and manage the Windows Virtual Desktop environment, then it may be better to outsource those tasks to an MSP.
It can take hours and hours to work through the Windows Virtual Desktop deployment process, though the exact amount of time required will vary depending on how experienced the admins are. Admins should also plan to spend additional time on ongoing tasks such as managing host pools as well.
Checklist of must-have skills for WVD management
There are a wide range of skills required to successfully deploy Windows Virtual Desktop. Some of these skills include expertise in the following areas:
- Active Directory, including Azure DirSync
- Windows 10 Enterprise
- User profile management
- Windows file shares, including Azure Files
- Firewall management
- Kerberos Key Distribution Center Proxy Protocol
- Remote Desktop Gateway
- Azure Monitor
How to choose an MSP for WVD
If an organization decides to outsource its Windows Virtual Desktop initiatives, the next step in the process is to select an MSP. It is worth noting that every MSP is different, so organizations must find one with services that closely align with the their needs. Here are some factors that an organization should look for when evaluating MSPs:
The administrative interface
Some MSPs handle all the Windows Virtual Desktop-related management tasks on behalf of their customers. However, others may provide their customers with a simplified management console that allows the customer's IT staff to manage the Windows Virtual Desktop environment without having to deal with the complexities of Azure directly. Organizations should consider whether they want a simplified management experience or if they would prefer that someone else handle all the management tasks.
It is also important to be aware of any limitations that an MSP imposes. Some MSPs, for example, will limit the number of pools that they allow customers to have. Others might limit the number of organizational units (OUs) that an organization can have in its Active Directory. Similarly, MSPs almost always have rules about the operating systems and versions of those OSes that they will allow customers to run on the virtual desktops.
If an organization outsources its virtual desktops to an MSP, then it is important to make sure that the MSP will be able to handle any support issues that come up. Nearly all MSPs that offer Windows Virtual Desktop services do assist with a support service, but it is important to make sure that technical assistance is included with purchase plan and evaluate what level of service it provides.
Many MSPs will also provide patch management services for Windows Virtual Desktops. It is important for an organization to establish upfront whether the MSP or in-house staff will be responsible for patching so that virtual desktops are not accidentally left unpatched.
In a VDI environment, MSPs typically deploy virtual desktops from a custom image. Some MSPs will create a similar image and use it for the deployment of Windows Virtual Desktops. Other MSPs will only deploy Windows Virtual Desktops from a generic image. If an organization has special needs pertaining to the configuration of its Windows desktops, then the organization should verify that the MSP is able to create custom deployment images on its behalf.
Organizations that are considering outsourcing their Windows Virtual Desktop deployment and management to an MSP should check what the provider offers in terms of scalability. More specifically, organizations need to know the maximum number of virtual desktops the provider will support, the procedure to deploy additional virtual desktops, how long it will take to deploy additional virtual desktops and what those additional virtual desktops will cost. Some providers require virtual desktops to be purchased in bulk, so an organization that needs to add a single virtual desktop could end up paying for dozens of virtual desktops.
Organizations should establish who is responsible for deploying and maintaining desktop applications. Some providers will only support specific applications or may limit the number of applications on a desktop. Similarly, there are providers that charge an additional fee for each application.
MSP options on the market
There are numerous MSPs that can assist organizations with their Windows Virtual Desktop management and initiatives. Here are a few MSPs on the market:
Dalechek is an MSP that provides a wide variety of IT outsourcing services, including Windows Virtual Desktop. Dalechek offers many services, such as image management, application provisioning, desktop pool management, incident management, patch management and monitoring.
Lunavi is an MSP, but it also offers a variety of other IT-related services. Some of these ancillary services include data center colocation and application development. While Lunavi does handle basic Windows Virtual Desktop management tasks such as deployment and provisioning, this vendor focuses heavily on helping organizations migrate from their existing on-premises VDI offerings.
Nerdio is an MSP that specializes in Microsoft Azure. Nerdio's approach is to simplify all the various tasks associated with managing a Windows Virtual Desktop environment. In fact, the vendor offers its own custom administrative interface called the Nerdio Manager for WVD. This interface gives admins a way to retain control over their Windows Virtual Desktop environment without having to directly deal with the complexities of Microsoft Azure.
Atmosera offers a Windows Virtual Desktop rapid deployment for organizations with between 25 and 500 users. In addition to its deployment services, Atmosera assists with ongoing tasks such as backups, license management and patch management.