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Azure Virtual Desktop and Deploying Windows 11 at Scale

Today’s IT leaders are currently faced with the fact that the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system, which accounts for 68% of global PCs and is foundational for business productivity, will reach its end of support in October 2025. When major disruptions in the IT world approach, strategic-minded CIOs and similar IT leaders look at them as opportunities to enhance productivity, secure their operations, and streamline their IT operations. Although I discussed Windows 11 migrations in a previous blog post, one option that I find is often overlooked but should be seriously considered today is using virtualized desktop infrastructure (VDI)—and specifically VDI solutions built on Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop.

What is VDI?

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a technology framework enabling multiple users to access and operate a desktop environment from a remote server at scale. This desktop environment is hosted on a centralized server in a data center or cloud platform, such as Microsoft Azure, and delivered over a network to end-user devices. With VDI, a business IT team can deliver the experience of using a local desktop PC to employees on low-power devices while enjoying the streamlined operational processes and IT management that comes with centralized computing and data storage.

Overcoming VDI’s Past IT Deployment Hurdles

Ask anyone who’s been in IT for more than a decade what they think about virtualized desktop infrastructure and they will either:

  1. Tell you a horror story about a VDI rollout gone wrong or
  2. Give you multiple academic reasons why it doesn’t work.

It’s no secret that in the past, VDI was hampered by a lack of high bandwidth/low latency network infrastructure. If a VDI user experienced lag or stuttering due to poor network connectivity, then they complained to IT about their virtual PC. On top of that, the upfront investment in data center infrastructure and complex software setup required to deploy VDI made it cost-prohibitive for many small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs). You might think that the 2020 health crisis would push SMBs to use VDI to allow remote work, but IT departments soon discovered how consumer-grade bandwidth can often fall short for a good VDI experience.

In the meantime, the difficulties that used to deter IT leaders from using VDI solutions have been solved by technological improvements, making Azure Virtual Desktop a strong option for deploying Windows 11. With AVD, organizations can take advantage of the versatility, security, and cost efficiency of VDI, while giving their users a better desktop experience, no matter where they are.

What is Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)?

Azure Virtual Desktop is a comprehensive desktop and app virtualization service hosted on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform. It allows businesses to deliver a full Windows operating system experience to their users from anywhere, on any device. The Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop solution stands out due to its scalability and security along with deep integration with Microsoft 365 for enterprise robust management tools.

Azure Virtual Desktop: Your Pathway to Windows 11

Azure Virtual Desktop is not just a desktop and app virtualization service; it’s a transformative platform that enables businesses to deploy Windows 11 across their organization seamlessly. With AVD, you can provide your employees with the latest Windows experience, enhanced security, and anywhere access to their desktops and applications, all while benefiting from the pay-as-you-go pricing and security capabilities of Azure’s global infrastructure.

Why Choose AVD for Your Windows 11 Deployment?

Deploying Windows 11 with AVD offers unparalleled benefits, ensuring your business stays ahead of the curve:

  • Scalability: Effortlessly scale your deployment to meet your organization’s needs without the upfront costs of traditional hardware upgrades.
  • Security and Compliance: Leverage Azure’s built-in security features to protect your data and meet compliance standards.
  • Cost Efficiency: Optimize your IT spending with Azure’s flexible pricing models, including options for reserved instances.
  • Simplified Management: Centralize your desktop management, streamline updates, and maintain consistency across your organization.
  • Future-Ready: Prepare your business for the future of work with a platform that supports remote and hybrid work models.

Comparing AVD to Competing VDI Options

When considering how AVD stacks up against other VDI solutions for deploying Windows 11, the advantages become clear:

FeatureAzure Virtual Desktop (AVD)Competing VDI Options
Integration with Microsoft EcosystemSeamless integration with Windows 11 and Microsoft 365.May lack deep integration, affecting user experience and productivity.
Session CapabilitiesSupports Windows 11 multi-session, maximizing resource efficiency.Typically limited to single-session, increasing resource and cost requirements.
Pricing ModelFlexible, with cost-saving options tailored to usage patterns.Often rigid, leading to potential overprovisioning and higher costs.
SecurityAdvanced security features built into Azure, providing a robust defense layer.Security capabilities can vary, potentially requiring additional solutions.
Management and DeploymentStreamlined through the Azure portal, simplifying the deployment and management of Windows 11.Can involve complex management and deployment processes.
Remote Work EnablementDesigned for the modern workplace, ensuring secure and efficient access to Windows 11 from anywhere.Remote access capabilities and performance can vary significantly.

It should be noted that AVD is different from the Microsoft Windows 365 Cloud PC solution my colleague Josh Morganthall covered in a previous blog post. Generally speaking, AVD is more flexible and scalable. This makes AVD suited for complex and highly customized VDI deployments. It requires more management but offers greater control and potential cost savings for organizations invested in the Azure cloud and can efficiently manage their Azure resources. Windows 365 Cloud PC is less customizable than AVD, making it suitable for businesses that need standardized virtual desktops at a fixed per user/per month rate.

Because cost optimization is crucial for any business with cloud-based IT resources, I recommend CIOs work with their CFOs to establish a financial operations (FinOps) team for managing their cloud costs.

Ready to Transform Your Business with Windows 11 and AVD?

When you work with Blue Mantis to adopt Windows 11 with AVD, you benefit from our experience and skills to make the change easy. Our team will support you in each stage, from initial planning to full-scale deployment and ongoing management. We also have a specialized Cloud FinOps team that offers continuous cloud cost optimizations services that routinely saves our customers tens of thousands of dollars on annual cloud costs.

Don’t wait until the deadline approaches. Get ahead by deploying Windows 11 with Azure Virtual Desktop today. Connect with Blue Mantis to schedule an assessment of your current IT environment to see how we can help your business achieve a seamless transition to Windows 11, enhance your security posture, and embrace the future of work.

Jeremy Bello

Senior Solutions Architect, Microsoft

As a Senior Solutions Architect specializing in Microsoft technologies, Jeremy leverages his extensive background in virtual desktop infrastructure, data center virtualization, cloud architecture, and networking to devise creative solutions for intricate business challenges that are practical, effective, within budget, and that meet client goals.

Jeremy began his career in IT as a printer technician, then worked his way up to server administration, and then later moved on to consulting roles, applying his business and technology acumen to client business challenges. 

Most recently, he spent eight years expanding a Managed Technology Services provider, playing a key role in strategic planning across the organization. Under his direction and the direction of his leadership peers, the company grew both organically and through multiple acquisitions.