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Microsoft Brings Windows Virtual Desktop Closer into Azure Fold

After staying mostly under the radar since its launch last September, Microsoft's Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) service is poised for a significant revamp.

A so-called "spring update" that aims to turn WVD into a true Azure service is now available in preview, Microsoft announced this week.

WVD is a virtual desktop infrastructure service for remotely accessing client desktops and applications. Organizations using WVD can access true Windows 10 or Windows 7 operating systems and applications, which run on virtual machines housed in Microsoft Azure datacenters. It typically requires having Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 licensing to use the WVD service, per the pricing page.

Despite its origins on Azure, WVD wasn't quite a true Azure service, according to Microsoft. The spring update preview, which is now available via the Azure Portal, aims to change that situation. It's enabling WVD "objects" to become resources within Azure Resource Manager (ARM). ARM is a Microsoft management solution that's used across various Azure cloud-based services.

The switch to using ARM resources with the WVD spring update preview is expected to make things easier when deploying and managing the WVD service -- at least for new WVD tenancies. However, organizations already using the WVD service likely will have to roll up their sleeves and make various configuration changes, as described in the announcement, if they want to take advantage of enhancements enabled by the spring update preview.

One good bit of news is that organizations can now use the Azure Portal to make those WVD configuration changes. However, they'll first need register the WVD ARM resource provider in the Azure Portal to get access.

"As WVD is now an ARM object you need to register the Windows Virtual Desktop ARM Resource Provider," the announcement explained. "This enables you to interact with the service that orchestrates WVD within the ARM service."

Benefits of ARM Integration
WVD tenancies will get some benefits from WVD becoming an ARM service with the spring update preview. It'll be possible to publish applications to Azure Active Directory groups, for instance.

In addition, IT pros will be able to use the Azure Role Based Access Control (RBAC) service for controlling access to IT organizational resources. Additionally, as mentioned above, the integration with ARM lets IT pros use the Azure Portal to manage a WVD tenancy.

The integration with ARM is also generally positive in terms of WVD tooling support. ARM provides a common API for Azure PowerShell, Azure Command-Line Interface and REST clients, in addition to the Azure Portal, making them all work similarly, according to Microsoft's "What is Azure Resource Manager?" document.

Another benefit of the ARM integration is that it permits WVD tenancies to have a "dedicated scale-out capability" for WVD host pools.

Options for monitoring the WVD service also expand with the ARM integration. Instead of having to use "either PowerShell or another Diagnostics App Service Web App" to monitor WVD, organizations can use Log Analytics in the Azure Portal and run Kusto queries. The results can be integrated into Power BI reports, as well.

Organizations having "data sovereignty" concerns about where the WVD service stores data will be able to select regional locations, starting with the spring update preview. This ability to designate the "service metadata storage location" for WVD is just at the beginning stages, though. It'll kick off in the United States first, followed by Europe and other regions later, the announcement indicated.

Seasonal WVD Updates
The announcement noted that even though Microsoft is calling this release the WVD spring update preview, that's a somewhat artificial designation since Azure services get updated on a continual basis and "Azure does not have versions." Nonetheless, Microsoft may stick with this seasonal update naming convention for future WVD releases.

"Expect future continuous updates to be dropped into platform in the future in a similar manner, with some larger updates getting some kind of seasonal naming," the announcement explained regarding coming WVD updates.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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