Comparing Azure Virtual Desktop and Cloud Desktops

With an estimated 95% of enterprise organizations now using cloud services and one-third of IT budgets dedicated to the cloud on average, it’s clear that cloud computing has become indispensable to modern operations. And for good reason. The cloud typically brings cost savings, agility and scalability over traditional IT solutions.

At the intersection of cloud migration and hybrid/remote work, organizations often start looking for ways to keep end users productive even when they’re off-network. For many, that means leveraging cloud services like Azure Virtual Desktop (or AVD) to make the familiar desktop experience more mobile.

The catch-all term for this is cloud desktop. But not all cloud desktops are the same. They can take very different approaches to digital workspaces, which likewise has a big impact on the user experience and resource investment.

Let’s start by looking at Azure Virtual Desktop as one example of cloud desktops. Then we’ll use that as a jumping-off point for exploring more secure & economical approaches to cloud desktops. 

The path from VDI to Azure Virtual Desktop

Like many cloud-based remote desktop solutions, Azure Virtual Desktop is a close cousin of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). 

VDI is a legacy desktop virtualization model that uses virtual machines (VMs) to recreate a complete Windows desktop environment on remote endpoints. These endpoints can be full-fledged PCs or even zero or thin clients, which are low-spec machines that are entirely dependent on the virtual desktop environment. Classic examples of this VDI model include VMware and Citrix.

The operating system—generally some version of Microsoft Windows—is central to VDI’s approach to remote desktops. This is because VDI basically tries to replicate an entire PC on another machine. As part of this process, the remote user connects to a high-performance centralized server, typically located in an on-premises data center, via Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Services (RDS) protocol. The remote desktop client then functions more or less like an interactive window onto a desktop session that’s taking place elsewhere. All the actual computing is performed on the host server.

Although it obviously leverages the popular Microsoft Azure cloud service in lieu of an on-premises instance of Windows Server, Azure Virtual Desktop still leans heavily on the legacy VDI model. AVD is oriented toward providing Windows desktop sessions that mimic the full operating system experience for end-users. That might not be all that surprising when you consider that AVD was previously known as Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD). But by clinging to the Windows desktop environment, it also means that AVD is taking its quirks, security concerns and complexity into the cloud along with it.

What are Windows-independent cloud desktops?

In contrast to AVD, there are cloud desktop solutions that decouple themselves from the operating system and take a more platform-agnostic, app-focused approach. A good example of this is Virtual App Delivery (VAD).

Rather than importing the baggage of Windows into the cloud, VAD allows end-users to connect with specific applications from their remote device. However, it’s important to note here that VAD is distinct from remote app streaming, which is a virtualization method that actually relies on much of the same infrastructure as VDI. Some organizations only discover that once it’s too late.

A VAD solution like Cameyo enables remote users to securely access all of their Windows applications, internal web apps, and SaaS apps via any HTML5 browser for a truly Windows-independent cloud desktop. Whether they’re on an Android smartphone, a Windows 7 PC, a Mac laptop, a Chromebook or a BYOD iPad, all it takes is a couple of clicks before users are working with standard versions of their essential desktop apps. And with Cameyo PWAs, your users can access apps directly from their taskbar just as if they were installed locally. It’s the ultimate in flexibility and scalability for the dynamic workplace.

All that makes Cameyo’s VAD platform ideal for organizations of any size that need to give their people the ability to access all of their apps—including legacy Windows apps—from any device. It certainly explains why the nationwide Community Hospital Corporation (CHC) chose Cameyo over Windows-based cloud desktop solutions to modernize its environment and replace classic VDI.

“It wasn’t until I saw Cameyo in action that it fully clicked that I did not need to present the entire Windows desktop,” said Brian Stopinski, Corporate IT Operations Director, CHC. “There’s unnecessary stuff the user doesn’t need which actually complicates their workflow.”

How Cameyo’s cloud desktop stacks up to Azure Virtual Desktop

On top of all that, Cameyo is incredibly easy to configure. IT staff don’t need extensive certifications or have to spend time wrestling with the Azure Portal, Azure Active Directory and obscure APIs to get business-critical Windows apps in the hands of their users. After installing Cameyo, most organizations can get their first published apps up and running within minutes. CHC had their Cameyo applications fully operational in under an hour.

That streamlined management ties into another advantage of Cameyo’s VAD platform: cost-effectiveness. Providing your entire user base with a full virtual Windows desktop environment can start to add up, especially when you factor in the overhead associated with managing virtual machines and risky VPNs. AVD pricing can also be tough to decipher because of all the variables like storage, performance and additional features. With Cameyo, you simply choose the hosting option that suits you best, and from then on it’s straightforward per-user, per-month pricing that covers all associated RDS CALs and usage fees.

No matter what applications your people need access to – even specialized software like AutoCAD or the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite – Cameyo can easily make that available to your users on any device, including Chromebooks.

You don’t have to guess which cloud desktop will be right for your end users. Sign up for your free trial of Cameyo today to test it risk-free in your own environment. And if you’d still like a little more info on how VAD excels over legacy VDI and Windows-based cloud desktops, request a demo to have an expert walk you through how Cameyo can best work for you.