Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) is the new desktop service from Microsoft. A service that will completely change the DaaS market. Or is actually already changing it. In this article I will explain what that means for Service Providers.
Virtual desktops and apps without the hard work
Windows Virtual Desktop is Microsoft's comprehensive virtualization service for desktops and apps, running completely in Azure and generally available for a few months now. Although the name may suggest it is only about desktops, Windows Virtual Desktop is much more than that: it is a groundbreaking platform to quickly deploy virtual desktops and apps for remote work. It completely removes the complexity and abstraction surrounding the infrastructure from the private data centre for Service Providers. With WVD, Microsoft handles all the laborious work related to hardware, connectivity, virtualization, performance, applications, maintenance. It also leverages IaaS from Azure for the compute part for WVD, with equal benefits. The picture below illustrates this shift for a SaaS solution, but also applies to WVD, which now is Platform as a Service, but will ultimately develop into SaaS, just like Office 365 is now.
Unique multi-session user experience
What makes Windows Virtual Desktop super groundbreaking for Service Providers is that Microsoft offers multiple sessions of an operating system to end users simultaneously with a unique user experience. Until now, you could only offer RDS with Windows Server, but that had complications when integrating with, for example, Office 365. If Service Providers wanted to deploy a full VDI with an individual, virtualized Windows environment for a better user experience, they had to have considerable resources. With Windows 10 multi-user sessions, WVD resolves this dilemma, because it is built in Azure, which makes the Windows 10 experience in Azure the smoothest package available right now.
Focus from data centre to customer
With the introduction of WVD, the DaaS market is transforming into a platform service, with the entire infrastructure being transferred to Microsoft and multi-session virtualization being better than ever. This opens new perspectives for Service Providers in how they deliver IT to their customers. It is no longer about what the customer needs within the existing infrastructure, but what best suits the customer within all the possibilities of WVD and Azure. The focus is no longer on the data centre but on the customer's business case.
“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.”
What is in it for Service Providers?
I think that Windows Virtual Desktop has a number of really attractive benefits for Service Providers. First of all, there is the cost benefit. Offering WVD is much cheaper because the management, extension and depreciation of infrastructure completely disappears. Next, the level of elasticity and flexibility which the current market demands also increases with a platform like Azure. And of course the optimization of WVD for Office 365 is a great advantage, not only for the end user, but certainly also for the Service Provider who can provide this.
And what about smaller Service Providers? They can also be more competitive with WVD in a market that is mature and increasingly commoditized. There are new opportunities to add value to customers without huge hardware investments and extend their current hosting and availability services with new or additional collaboration or productivity solutions.
However, for some Service Providers it is a disadvantage that they are no longer responsible for the infrastructure themselves. Their own, efficient way of working is taken over by a third party, which feels like they are losing control. But as Service Providers become more familiar with the cloud and develop a cloud mindset, they see the benefits of Microsoft's scale and expertise for their own solutions.
… but don’t miss the boat
I understand that some Service Providers have a wait-and-see attitude and sometimes feel pushed to the cloud. They have invested heavily in hardware and software and have often worked from their own data centre for decades. When is the right time to go to the cloud? That is different for every Service Provider. The main argument I want to convey is that Service Providers need to be aware that the market is changing. Not later, but now. See what the cloud can do for you and don't miss the boat thinking that you can beat the cloud with your own data center.
Desktop as a commodity
Windows Virtual Desktop is already changing the DaaS market. It may not be disruptive in terms of technology, but it certainly is in terms of pricing and convenience. In a few years, desktop will become a commodity, just like Office 365 (now Microsoft 365) has . This offers Service Providers new opportunities to serve their customers.
I hear from Service Providers that they spend 70-90% of their time and money managing the infrastructure. But would anyone ever have chosen IT just to keep the hardware running? Or was it because of the ambition to do new things, to innovate, to improve? For most of us the real passion for IT is in progress and development. And that's what Windows Virtual Desktop and Azure offer like no other.