It was bound to happen – and it just did.

Microsoft is accelerating the functionality — and adoption — of Azure and is now decreasing the barriers to using it for desktop workloads.

To that end, Microsoft has made RDS (Remote Desktop Services) Subscriber Access Licensing (SAL) available on Azure. (See the latest Microsoft Product Use Rights docs) This paves the way to use Citrix XenDesktop within Azure to provide high-fidelity cloud-hosted desktops that adapt to any device over any connection. Think: New approaches to mobility. To BYOD. To security. To availability. To business continuity.

This capability will certainly also accelerate the move – and the confidence – of deploying desktops and workspaces in the Cloud. As I mentioned in an earlier blog How Big is the Hosted Desktop Market,  there is already a modest-yet-growing set of use cases for cloud-hosted desktops. I now expect these numbers to see a jump in next year’s analyst numbers.

Deploying Citrix Products in Azure

Running Citrix (XenDesktop 7) in the Azure cloud will give customers the ability to better to manage costs, extend capacity on demand, reduce lead-time for procuring and configuring hardware, and reduce hardware sizing risk as loads fluctuate. It additionally gives service providers who host Citrix products the ability to focus on service delivery rather than managing the underlying infrastructure.

The other nice thing about Azure is it of course gives Citrix users the benefit of deploying in a cloud familiar to Windows administrators and optimized for Windows workloads.

But most of all, the dream of a high-quality, high-fidelity desktop and/or set of apps in the cloud is a reality.

To Get Started…

If you’re an enterprise interested in dabbling in this new capability — or if you’re a Citrix Service Provider — Citrix has published two new Design Guides for Azure:

And For the Bigger Citrix Picture:

You may have heard a bit about Citrix’s Project Avalon. This is our initiative to ensure that hosted desktop infrastructure (XenApp, XenDesktop) is Cloud Ready – deployable on any public or on-premeses cloud with the click of a mouse and the addition of a few simple parameters. Avalon is our vision that any administrator, whether for an enterprise or for a service provider, can tap the power of the cloud to deliver awesome hosted apps and desktops.

The ability to deploy XenDesktop into Azure is the first step to fulfill that vision. In future versions of XenDesktop, customers will find additional automation and orchestration tools for the cloud – tools that assist set-up, configuration, scaling (up, down), and even goal-based optimization. Want to deploy all or part of your compute farm in Azure? click. Want to manage different versions of XenDesktop simultaneously? click.

So getting acquitted with using Windows Azure is a critical first step for any IT administrator pursuing the vision of hosting desktops in the cloud.

Additional Resources: