Category Archives: WVD

Windows Virtual Desktop goes GA

Windows Virtual Desktop is now General Available

Awesome news today: Windows Virtual Desktop is now General Available!

Introduction

Last year at Ignite 2018, Microsoft announced Windows Virtual Desktop (shortened to WVD) as the new name for RDmi, which was still in Private Preview at that time.
You can read my announcement blog here: https://www.cloud-architect.be/2018/10/01/rdmi-has-evolved-into-windows-virtual-desktop/

The next milestone was the Public Preview of WVD, announced on March 21 2019 by Julia White & Brad Anderson (here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2019/03/21/windows-virtual-desktop-public-preview/).
This step made it possible for everybody to start testing WVD, give feedback & suggestions to the Product Team.

During the Public Preview, the WVD Service (containing the Broker, Web Access, Gateway & Diagnostics services) was running in the East US for all regions.
This could result in higher latency (Round Trip Time or RTT) if your workload was running in your closest region, as all traffic was flowing through the gateway in the East US.

But as we got closer to the GA launch, we noticed a drop in RTT during our sessions in our Validation Hostpools.
This could only mean 1 thing: the WVD service was running in West Europe!

General Available

As of today, Windows Virtual Desktop is General Available (GA) for everybody.
This means you can start running your Production Workload with the full support of Microsoft on the WVD Service.
(Important: Microsoft will not give you by default support on your own workload, only on the WVD Service)

And as suspected, the WVD services are running in all commercial Azure Regions as we have suspected with the drop in RTT.

What’s coming?

At the moment, the MetaData of all WVD activities is still transmitted to the US that the moment. This will change in the coming months.

Microsoft will also add more clusters and Gateways in all regions over the coming months.

But that’s not all. Microsoft also announced features that are coming up later. Check out the video (link below) from Microsoft Mechanics on YouTube to learn more

Current feature set

The Feature set of WVD today is very clear:

  • It subtracts the Broker, Web Access, Gateway & Diagnostics services from your Azure subscription, making it Multi Tenant in comparison to RDS
  • It enables Reverse Connect with only outbound connections from your deployment
  • It enables you to take advantage of Azure AD, with features like Conditional Access, Multi Factor Authentication (MFA), etc
  • More PaaS! Compared to a RDS 2019 deployment, Microsoft goes even further with PaaS enablement. The entire WVD Service is a Azure PaaS service for you to use!

Licensing

Microsoft added some additional licenses, entitling you to use the WVD service for free.

OSRequired license
Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session
Windows 10 Enterprise
Microsoft 365 E3/E5
Microsoft 365 A3/A5/Student use benefits
Microsoft 365 F1
Microsoft 365 Business
Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5
Windows 10 Education A3/A5
Windows 10 VDA per user
Windows 7 EnterpriseMicrosoft 365 E3/E5
Microsoft 365 A3/A5/Student use benefits
Microsoft 365 F1
Microsoft 365 Business
Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5
Windows 10 Education A3/A5
Windows 10 VDA per user
Windows Server 2012 R2, 2016, 2019RDS Client Access License (CAL) with Software Assurance

Check the FAQ of this page for further and the latest updates:
https://azure.microsoft.com/en-gb/pricing/details/virtual-desktop/

FSLogix

Microsoft acquired FSLogix November last year to enhance the Office 365 virtualization experience, especially when running WVD!
Because now you have great technology available for your Profile Management.
With FSLogix enabling faster load times for user profiles in Outlook and OneDrive, Office 365 ProPlus will become even more performant in multi-user virtual environments.

And the best part: it’s also free for all WVD entitled users!

With the launch of WVD, Microsoft also did a update of FSLogix to version 1909. Check the details in the Links section at the end.

These are the Licensing requirements for FSLogix

  • Microsoft 365 E3/E5
  • Microsoft 365 A3/A5/Student use benefits
  • Microsoft 365 F1
  • Microsoft 365 Business
  • Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5
  • Windows 10 Education A3/A5
  • Windows 10 VDA per user
  • Remote Desktop Services (RDS) Client Access Licence (CAL)
  • Remote Desktop Services (RDS) Subscriber Access Licence (SAL)

The license that pops out is the SAL license. This means you can use FSLogix for almost any RDS & WVD deployment, on Azure, On-Prem or other Clouds

Is everything included in WVD?

This is an important topic! There are 2 things you need to know:
(ok, there are more, but these are the most important ones)

  • In the licenses above, you only get the usage of the WVD service.
    It does NOT include your Azure usage from your SessionHosts, AD deployment (Azure VM with Windows AD Role and AD Connect or Azure Active Directory Domain Services), File server (or Azure File Share), etc!
  • With simply deploying WVD, you will not be ready. You need to do a lot more than just deploy and lean back.
    You will need to
    • Validate your AD & Fileserver setup
    • Maintain your Azure Tenant & Subscription
    • Setup a backup strategy
    • Think about your updates (Software, Windows, Office, etc)
    • Cost management
    • Much more

Microsoft relies on Partners for this.
The company I work at, ASPEX, is one of those partners.
We developed a solution for provisioning WVD in an easy way, using the Best Practices from Microsoft & Azure, and our years of experience as a Hosting Partner and working on WVD from the beginning!

Check it out here:
https://aspex.be/en/breaking-microsoft-officially-launches-windows-virtual-desktop

More Readings

In the coming days, I’ll be posting some more details on the GA, the things to come and much more.
Below, you can find some links to more readings about the Genaral Availability of Windows Virtual Desktop, but also the TechCommunity link for WVD!
I try to follow this Community and answer/help where possible.

Microsoft announcing blog post:
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2019/09/30/windows-virtual-desktop-generally-available-worldwide/

Microsoft Mechanics video:
https://youtu.be/QLDu6QVohEI

Microsoft TechCommunity:
https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Windows-Virtual-Desktop/bd-p/WindowsVirtualDesktop

Microsoft Docs on Windows Virtual Desktop:
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/virtual-desktop/

Microsoft Docs on FSLogix:
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/fslogix/
FSLogix Update :
https://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/815c5faf-109c-4bc0-8552-7d6137c91b89/release-notes-for-fslogix-release-1909-build-29720527375?forum=FSLogix

Windows Virtual Desktop Powershell cmdlets updated

Windows Virtual Desktop Powershell cmdlets updated.

Just a small update: the Powershell cmdlets for Windows Virtual Desktop have been updated & published 3 days ago, on the 17th of September.

The latest version available now is version 1.0.1288.1.

You can update your cmdlets using the Update-Module cmdlet

Or you could install the modules side-by-side using the Install-Module cmdlet with the -Force parameter

More information can be found here:
https://www.powershellgallery.com/packages/Microsoft.RDInfra.RDPowershell/1.0.1288.1

Windows Virtual Desktop running on Ephemeral OS Disks

Windows Virtual Desktop running on Ephemeral OS Disks

Windows Virtual Desktop running on Ephemeral OS Disks

Introduction

Last week, Microsoft has made Ephemeral OS Disks General Available in all Azure regions (see the blogpost)!

Some information about Ephemeral Disks (from the Microsoft Docs):

Ephemeral OS disks are created on the local virtual machine (VM) storage and not saved to the remote Azure Storage. Ephemeral OS disks work well for stateless workloads, where applications are tolerant of individual VM failures, but are more affected by VM deployment time or reimaging the individual VM instances. With Ephemeral OS disk, you get lower read/write latency to the OS disk and faster VM reimage.

The key features of ephemeral disks are:

  • They can be used with both Marketplace and custom images.
  • Ability to fast reset or reimage VMs and scale set instances to the original boot state.
  • Lower latency, similar to a temporary disk.
  • Ephemeral OS disks are free, you incur no storage cost for OS disk.
  • They are available in all Azure regions.

The big question is: Can we use this for Windows Virtual Desktop?

The answer is not that simple, but let’s have a look…

Can you run Windows Virtual Desktop on Ephemeral OS Disks?

The simple answer is YES, you can! But (there is always a but) … It really depends on the deployment of your software/environment.

As you can read in the blogpost, the OS Disk is not written to Azure Storage, which makes the OS Disk stateless.
If your application is writing data to the OS Disk, this could be an issue.

Nevertheless, if you use FSLogix for your profile management (which is highly recommended!), and you have a good Master Image with your software pre-installed, then you should be able to use Ephemeral OS Disks!

The things you have to consider:

  • You cannot stop your VM to save costs on Compute. (restart is supported)
    Cannot Stop VM
  • The VM size (cache size) determines the Ephemeral Disk size.
    For Example: a Standard_DS3_v2 gives you the option to create an OS disk up until 172GB due to the 172 Gib cache size
    Standard_D4s_v3 will be an OS Disk up to 100GB, which is not enough for a Win10 Enterprise for WVD from the Azure Marketplace!
  • Resizing the Ephemeral OS disk is not supported, only during VM creation.
  • Resizing your VM size means that the data on the OS disk is deleted and the OS is re-provisioned!

How to deploy WVD with Ephemeral OS Disk?

I did a little fork on the GitHub templates from Microsoft from the Github Repo, because of 2 reasons:

  • You need to change the osDisk property in the ARM template
    osDisk highlight in the ARM Template
  • I did not want to change the DSC configuration, only the linked template location.

You can find the changed base ARM Template here:
https://cloudarchitectstaticsite.blob.core.windows.net/wvd-ephemeral-template/mainTemplate-EphemeralOsDisk-CloudArchitect.json

And the Linked Template here:
https://cloudarchitectstaticsite.blob.core.windows.net/wvd-ephemeral-template/managedDisks-galleryvm.json

The template is not changed, except the URI to the linked template.

MainTemplate Changes 1

MainTemplate Changes 2

 

Note:

Only the Linked Template using Managed Disks and the Azure Marketplace Gallery is available.

If you want to use a Custom Image, or Unmanaged Disk, then you will need to modify the linked templates yourself from the GitHub page.

 

How fast is it?

I did some basic tests on it, but they speak for themselves 😃

  • Deploy VM
    • Premium SSD: average: 7min 30sec
    • Ephemeral disks: average: 3min 10sec
  • Join AD
    • Premium SSD: average: 2min 40sec
    • Ephemeral disks: average: 1min 40sec
  • WVD DSC
    • Premium SSD: average: 10min
    • Ephemeral disks: average: 9min

And then a small stress test using ParkDale, again, no explanation needed 😉

  • Premium SSD:
    ParkDale SSD disk 1MB ParkDale SSD disk 64kb
  • Ephemeral Disk:
    ParkDale Ephermeral disk 1MB ParkDale Ephermeral disk 64kb

 

Conclusion

Basically, you can run Windows Virtual Desktop on Ephemeral OS Disks, but you will need to have a good Master Image available, or a good deployment aftercare script.

But if you do, you will have a very fast running Sessionhost, with no OS Disk costs!

RDmi has evolved into Windows Virtual Desktop

RDmi has evolved into Windows Virtual Desktop

RDmi has evolved into Windows Virtual Desktop

Introduction

Last week at Ignite, Microsoft announced the new name and model for RDmi: Windows Virtual Desktop or shortened to WVD (follow me on Twitter or search for #RDmiEvolved and #MsWvd)
A few things have changed since my latest blog about RDmi (https://www.cloud-architect.be/2018/03/27/rdmi-update-rdmi-compared-rds/) which I will describe below.
We already knew a few things in advance, but we were not allowed to share them in public, until now!

From DIY to PAAS

The first change is the new delivery model for WVD.
RDmi would have been a group of services that needed to be managed by yourself or your CSP/MSP like ASPEX, a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) model.
Microsoft has changed this model from a DIY service to a PAAS service, fully managed by Microsoft. You can compare it to the Azure SQL Database, where Microsoft handles the SQL Deployment.
This is the same for WVD: Microsoft handles the services, including HA, backup, etc. So the RDmi Infra Tenant services (Gateway, Web Access, Connection Broker & the new Diagnostics role) are all managed by Microsoft.

I will get into detail about the entire deployment in a future blogpost, coming soon.
You can also attend CloudBrew on 12&13 October where I will give a session about RDmi/WVD and demo this deployment.

Licensing

There was no known licensing information for RDmi, except hosting the RDmi Infra Tenant services. With the shift from DIY to PAAS, Microsoft changed its licensing model for WVD.
The WVD requires one of these licenses:

  • Microsoft 365 E3/E5
  • Microsoft 365 Business/F1
  • Windows E3/E5

For all other users/customers is no licensing information available yet. I will keep you updated about this on Twitter & my blog.

Backend Support

The WVD will support multiple experiences: Virtual Desktops & Remote Apps, but also multiple backend system:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016
  • Windows Server 2019 (now in GA)
  • Windows 10 Enterprise (more on this in next topic)
  • Windows 7 Enterprise

Especially the last OS is an interesting one.
If you host your Windows 7 Enterprise on Azure using WVD, you get free Extended Security Updates, to support your upgrade to Windows 10!

Windows 10 Enterprise Multi-Session

Another big announcement is the multi session Windows 10.
Microsoft will soon release a Windows 10 version on Azure which will support multiple concurrent sessions. This is a great step forward for hosting Virtual Desktops on Azure. Because this brings along support for Modern Apps like Edge, Cortana, the Microsoft Store & Office 365 ProPlus (like Outlook, OneNote, OneDrive) support, all combined with semi-annual updates.
Windows 10 Enterprise for Remote Sessions

I will write a blogpost in the next couple of weeks about my test results using this OS.
This will also be in the demo’s on CloudBrew!

Conclusion

WVD will be a great solution to publish desktops and applications if you have the required licenses available.
As soon as the other licensing possibilities are available, WVD will be a solution to deliver desktops and applications to your customers.

But this should not stop you from your migration to Azure now! You can already migrate to Azure, giving you a head start for WVD.
Pavithra Thiruvengadam gave a great session at Ignite about Migrating virtualization environments to Azure, mentioning ASPEX as one of the Microsoft Azure Hosting Partners!
Watch the video here: http://bit.ly/2NQGveZ

This is a short recap about WVD announced at Ignite. More detailed information and test results will be posted later on…

Blog announcement: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/microsoft-365-adds-modern-desktop-on-azure/
WVD service page: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/virtual-desktop/