Confused by Azure Virtual Desktop Changes? Here’s Your Guide

In the ever-evolving world of cloud-based services and desktop virtualization solutions like Citrix and VMware, changes are inevitable – especially as the old guard of virtual desktop companies and solutions are acquired, consolidated, or deprecated. But when those changes come with a dose of unnecessary confusion, it can leave end users scratching their heads. Such is the case with Microsoft’s decision to deprecate its Azure Virtual Desktop “Classic” offering (while keeping Azure Virtual Desktops). As you try to adapt to shifts in the virtual desktop environment and in Windows desktops altogether (including Windows 10 and Windows 11 issues), let’s try to navigate this terrain together.

A Tale of Two Desktops

Microsoft, eager to provide an integrated workspace on Microsoft Azure to help enable hybrid and remote work, has perplexed its users by offering two distinct products named Azure Virtual Desktop.

  1. Azure Virtual Desktop Classic (AVD Classic): Operating outside the Azure Cloud and detached from the Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), this version with a separate management GUI isn’t aligned with typical Azure virtual machines (VMs). It is not part of the Azure Portal and isn’t addressable with the Azure Resource Manager (ARM), Microsoft’s main deployment and management service for its cloud.
  2. Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD): Fully integrated with Microsoft Azure, this version can run Windows Server-based operating systems and is more adapted to multi-session workloads. This used to be called Windows Virtual Desktops (WVD), for those keeping track.

Then, there’s also Windows 365 Cloud PCs, another virtual desktop infrastructure/remote desktop offering from Microsoft that aimed to provide virtual access to desktop apps. While this solution majorly operates on AVD, its endpoint-focused experience contrasts with AVD’s more rigid, enterprise-centric design.

Decoding the Decision

Why retire AVD Classic? This move aligns with Microsoft’s attempts to create a more unified operating system experience. It represents what Microsoft sees as a step forward in terms of streamlined workloads and improved scalability for remote desktop services (RDS).

But Wait, Aren’t Virtual Desktops Dying?

Understanding Virtual Desktops (VDI)

Over three decades ago, VDI transformed the landscape of organizational desktop computing. At its core, VDI virtualizes the entire Windows-based desktop environment, encapsulating the operating system, applications, and user configurations. The remote access capabilities mean that users could now retrieve their familiar desktop environment from anywhere.

However, VDI introduced several challenges:

  1. Resource Intensiveness: Hosting and maintaining virtual machines for every user, typically within on-premises data centers, demands vast computational resources, escalating both capital and operational costs.
  2. Complexity: The setup, management, and regular maintenance of VDI demand specialized skills, with IT teams shouldering responsibilities for every virtual desktop.
  3. Scalability Limitations: Adapting VDI infrastructure to changing demands or unanticipated spikes in remote usage can be both cumbersome and expensive.

The Move to Desktop as a Service (DaaS)

In light of VDI’s limitations, DaaS emerged as the next logical evolution. Marrying Windows virtual desktop solutions with cloud capabilities, DaaS seemed to promise enhanced flexibility and scalability.

Benefits of DaaS:

  • Scalability: DaaS supports rapid scaling to meet changing workforce demands without heavy infrastructure investment.
  • Cost Savings: By shifting infrastructure responsibility to third-party providers, DaaS models enable a reduction in capital expenditures.
  • Accessibility: With an internet connection, DaaS ensures users can access their desktops from virtually anywhere.

However, DaaS isn’t without its legacy challenges:

  1. Resource Utilization: Just like VDI, DaaS necessitates full virtual desktop instances for every user, leading to similar resource inefficiencies.
  2. Operating System Dependency: DaaS often ties users to specific operating systems, undermining application accessibility across different platforms.

Rethinking the Virtual Desktop: The Rise of Virtual App Delivery (VAD)

Amidst the cloud migration trend and growing demand for more efficient, user-centric solutions that provide a better desktop experience, the traditional virtual desktop paradigm itself is undergoing a seismic shift. The focus is now on providing all employees with access to business applications without the constraints of the underlying operating system. Enter Virtual App Delivery (VAD) technologies like Cameyo.

VAD advantages:

  1. Application-Centric Approach: Instead of entire desktops, VAD solutions, like Cameyo, emphasize individual application delivery, optimizing resource usage.
  2. Platform Agnosticism: VAD ensures application accessibility across multiple platforms, freeing organizations from OS dependencies.
  3. Simplicity and Efficiency: Compared to VDI or DaaS, VAD offers quicker setup and deployment. Cameyo’s VAD can be hosted anywhere – be it cloud, hybrid, or on-premises settings.
  4. Cost-Effectiveness: VAD’s app-focused virtualization offers a more cost-efficient alternative to full virtual desktops, all while providing a high-performance solution with optimization for a better end-user experience.

Reasons for the surge in VAD adoption include agility, cost savings, enhanced user experience, and simplified management.

How Companies are Ditching the Desktop

Hundreds of enterprises have made the switch from virtual desktops to Cameyo’s Virtual App Delivery solution, and more are making the same strategic decision everyday. Here are a few use cases as examples:

Village Hotels

“Our strategy as a business was to reduce cost and complexity while increasing our flexibility and productivity. We couldn’t justify making a sizable six-figure investment in refreshing the underlying infrastructure needed to run Citrix, which would have dramatically increased the complexity of our environment rather than streamlining it,” said Dan Morley, Head of IT Infrastructure and Service at Village Hotels.

“We chose Cameyo over Citrix and Azure Virtual Desktop for one key reason – Citrix and AVD were far too complex, pure and simple. And it’s not just the initial complexity of deployment, it’s also the ongoing management. We needed something that could be deployed quickly, and something that wouldn’t require tons of resources to manage moving forward. That was Cameyo,” said Morley. 

“It was a breath of fresh air to see how easy it was to deploy apps to ChromeOS via Cameyo, and to see how simple it is to manage long-term,” said Morley.

Community Hospital Corp. (CHC)

“After years of frustration and realizing that none of the traditional virtual desktop providers would work for us, we gave up on the idea. Until one day, we started talking to the Google Cloud team, and they introduced us to Cameyo,” said Brian Stopinski, Corporate IT Operations Director, CHC.

“We were still in the mindset that we needed to deliver a full Windows desktop to give our people access to their apps. So at first, I completely discounted Cameyo and didn’t think it would work for us. But we decided to do an evaluation based on Google’s recommendation,” said Stopinksi. “In our initial evaluation, I was shocked by how small the footprint was of Cameyo’s solution. All of the servers, load balancers, and other infrastructure you have to manage with Windows desktops – we didn’t have to deal with any of that with Cameyo.”

“When I first started my conversation with Cameyo, my mentality was that we had to deliver full Windows desktops. It’s simply the byproduct of 25 years of experience with Windows desktops, and I think a lot of people are still stuck in the same mentality that I was,” said Stopinski. 

“It wasn’t until I saw Cameyo in action that it fully clicked that I did not need to present the entire Windows desktop. I realized that the desktop brings a lot of inherent baggage with it. There’s unnecessary stuff the user doesn’t need which actually complicates their workflow. There’s all this white noise on the Windows desktop that doesn’t make them more productive.” 

“With Cameyo, I finally realized that the user doesn’t need to see the Windows OS. As an organization, we always ask ‘What is the value add?’ whenever we’re evaluating something new. So I applied that question to something old – Windows desktops – and it became obvious that the added value was zero.” 

“In fact, the real value add is the elimination of the Windows desktop, because I don’t have to deal with all the complexity and all of the security concerns that Windows desktops bring. I can also deliver a lower cost solution because I don’t have to license Windows OS, I don’t have to license a Windows Terminal Server, I don’t have to support all of that infrastructure just to deliver the Windows desktop,” said Stopinski. 

In Conclusion

Navigating the myriad of virtual desktop solutions from Azure Virtual Desktop’s shifting landscape to emerging technologies and advancements like Cameyo’s VAD can be tricky. But it doesn’t have to be! Here at Cameyo, we’re here to help you every step of the way – or, if you want to test it out before talking to anyone first, we’ve got you covered there, too.

To see for yourself how Cameyo can help your organization access all of your apps – including Windows, Linux, SaaS, and internal webs apps – on any device while eliminating virtual desktops, you can start a free trial to test it yourself or schedule a demo and we’ll give you a personal walkthrough and show you case studies that are relevant to your business.