Today we are launching a four-part blog series on desktop virtualization. Desktop virtualization is an essential IT service for most organizations, regardless of their size. There are a number of reasons for deploying desktop virtualization, such as the ability to run Windows apps on a variety of devices and simplifying the installation and management of resources in your environment. So, if you haven't already, you need to plan, deploy, and manage a desktop virtualization solution for your organization.

The goal of this  blog series is to provide you with valuable information about desktop virtualization, including planning, deploying, and managing your solution. I'll give you a high-level overview of how to create your own desktop virtualization solution by using Remote Desktop Services server role in Window Server 2012 R2, Microsoft Azure, and other Microsoft products and technologies.

I invite you to watch this quick video in which The Master of Mobility discusses desktop virtualization.

Now that you got a taste of what Microsoft desktop virtualization can do. Now, let’s dive more deeply into the key benefits that Microsoft’s desktop virtualization solution can provide.

Desktop virtualization: four benefits

So what’s all the excitement about desktop virtualization? Why should you care? How will it help your organization? More important, how will it make managing your users and their devices easier and reduce your effort (and stress)? These are all great questions, and they’re at the heart of this blog post.

Here four  key benefits that come from using desktop virtualization:

  1. Run Windows apps on a variety of devices. This is a great benefit! Imagine users accessing their Windows apps on any device. It doesn't matter if you’re talking about Apple iOS devices, Android devices, Windows devices, or Windows Phones. Desktop, laptop, tablet, phablet, or smartphone … For Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives, this is a huge win!
  2. Simplify installation and management. As an administrator, you can use wizard-based setup and deployment for multiple scenarios. Rather than managing each user device, you manage a centralized desktop virtualization infrastructure. You use a single integrated console to manage roles, servers, collections, users, and virtual machines (VMs). Need to deploy a new app to certain users? Easy! The apps you deploy in your desktop virtualization infrastructure are immediately available to the users you specify! Need to retire an app? Simply remove it, and it’s retired from users’ devices. Need to update a device? You get the picture. This centralized management model means that you make a change in one place rather than in thousands of places (devices).
  3. Easy access to a rich user experience. Users need to do very little to leverage the power of desktop virtualization. Users simply browse to a web site and install the Remote Desktop Client on their device. It's that easy!
  4. Strengthen data security. What’s the biggest security risk with BYOD and mobile devices? Hands down, the biggest risk is the data stored on the device itself. However, with desktop virtualization, corporate resources are NEVER stored on the device, instead the resources are centralized in your infrastructure (either on premises or in the cloud). Also, you can centrally manage user sessions to enforce your security requirements so that each user session is "locked down" to your specifications, without any device dependencies.

Now that we've look at the benefits, let's look at the Microsoft products and technologies that you will use to create your desktop virtualization solution.

Deployment models

You can create your desktop virtualization solution on premises, in the cloud (by using Microsoft Azure), or with a combination of both (hybrid). This freedom allows you to choose the deployment method that best meets the needs of your users and your business model. Table 1 lists the deployment models and provides guidance for selecting each.

Table 1. Remote Desktop Services deployment models

Deployment model

Purpose of this model

On-premises

Creates a built-to-order Remote Desktop Service infrastructure to enable access to remote applications and desktops for your users.

Cloud-based

  • RDS in Azure: provides Remote Desktop Services as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), which enables access to session-based desktops hosted in the cloud.
  • Azure RemoteApp: delivers remote applications from the cloud to users on a variety of devices.

Hybrid (on-premises and cloud-based)

Enables access to remote desktops hosted from within your intranet and the cloud.

 

In my next blog, I'll talk about how to deploy your desktop virtualization solution on premises, in the cloud, or with a combination of both, but before we disucss that, I’ll like to tell you more about the products and technologies you’ll need to create your desktop virtualized solution.

Microsoft desktop virtualization products and technologies

Here is a list of the five Microsoft products and technologies that you’ll need to create a desktop virtualization solution:

  1. Window Server 2012 R2. The Remote Desktop Services server role in Windows Server 2012 R2 is the backbone of your desktop virtualization solution. Table 2 lists the Remote Desktop Services role services that you will use and provides a brief description of each.

Table 2. Remote Desktop Services role services

Role service

Description

RD Virtualization Host

Integrates with Hyper-V to deploy pooled or personal virtual desktop collections within your organization.

RD Session Host

Provides RemoteApp programs or session-based desktops. Users can connect to RD Session Host servers in a session collection to run programs, save files, and use resources on those servers.

RD Web Access

Provides users access to remote apps (RemoteApp) and Remote Desktop Connections. RD Web Access provides a customized view of RemoteApp programs and session-based desktops in a session collection, and RemoteApp programs and virtual desktops in a virtual desktop collection.

RD Connection Broker

  • Allows users to reconnect to their existing virtual desktops, RemoteApp programs, and session-based desktops.
  • Enables you to evenly distribute the load among RD Session Host servers in a session collection or pooled virtual desktops in a pooled virtual desktop collection.
  • Provides access to virtual desktops in a virtual desktop collection.

RD Licensing

Manages the licenses required to connect to a RD Session Host server or a virtual desktop. You can use RD Licensing to install, issue, and track the availability of licenses.

RD Gateway

Enables authorized users to connect to virtual desktops, RemoteApp programs, and session-based desktops on an internal corporate network from any Internet-connected device.

 

For more information about each of these role services, see Remote Desktop Services Overview. You can also review the Remote Desktop Service Component Architecture.

  1. Microsoft Azure RemoteApp. Microsoft Azure RemoteApp enables your users to access apps similar to RemoteApp deployed on-premises with Windows Server 2012 R2. Azure RemoteApp is a solution to enable remote use of apps instead of publishing an entire desktop environment without having to pay for  on-premises infrastructure costs.

Azure RemoteApp has the following advantages:

  • Scale. With Azure RemoteApp, you can quickly scale up or down to meet the dynamic business requirements without large capital expenses or management complexity.
  • Access. Users can access Azure RemoteApp from a variety of devices that has an Internet connection, without requiring remote access to your organization's intranet.
  • Security. Your corporate applications are centralized in the Azure cloud, not on mobile devices that may be lost or stolen.
  1. RDS in Azure (IaaS). In addition to providing VMs that run the Remote Desktop Services roles, Azure provides other infrastructure components, such as storage, virtual switches, virtual networks, and load-balancing. I'll talk more about these infrastructure components in my next blog post.
  2. SQL Server. If you need highly available desktop virtualization services, or you need to scale out to a large number of users, you might need to install a dedicated SQL Server system or clustered SQL Server systems running in an AlwaysOn Availability Group for the RD Connection Broker role service. I'll talk more about this in my next blog post about desktop virtualization deployment.
  3. System Center 2012 R2. You can use System Center 2012 R2 components (such as System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager and System Center 2012 R2 Operations Manager) to help you deploy and manage your virtualized desktop environment and the apps that run in it. I'll mention more about this in my next blog post about managing desktop virtualization.

Summary

We’ve only scratched the surface about how Microsoft Remote Desktop Services and Microsoft Azure can help you create your own desktop virtualization solution. In my next blog, I'll talk about how to plan and deploy your desktop virtualization solution--on premises, in Microsoft Azure, or with both. See you then!

NEXT BLOG POST IN THIS SERIES: Deploying desktop virtualization (Coming June 4)