E-BOOK

Why and when to use Azure Virtual Desktop

Supporting the workforce used to be so straightforward. Employees worked at the office. Seasonal staff reported in-person. Contractors used IT-sanctioned software, and new teams were issued corporate devices immediately following a merger or acquisition. Most users were on the corporate network, and the few who weren’t relied on a virtual private network (VPN) when accessing sensitive data remotely.

Today, things look a lot different. More people are working from home than ever before, and many connect to public Wi-Fi on a regular basis. They use unsanctioned apps on corporate laptops, and access sanctioned ones on personal devices not managed by IT.

These remote work environments can be great for productivity. But without a way to streamline IT, they also create significant complexity.

That’s where Azure Virtual Desktop comes in.

Microsoft’s desktop as a service (DaaS) offering lets organizations provide virtual apps and desktops in the cloud for a simpler, more secure way to support the modern workforce. It allows IT to support new uses cases quickly and easily while providing a highly reliable digital workspace experience for users.

There are numerous advantages to supporting the modern workforce with Azure Virtual Desktop. Before you get started, however, there are also several caveats to consider. How will you ensure virtual desktops perform fast for users with slow or unreliable internet connections? What will happen if there’s a sudden surge in demand and you need to rapidly deploy hundreds or thousands of new instances? Is the built-in security enough to support your hybrid workforce, or are more advanced features needed for different scenarios?

Keep reading for answers to these questions and others like them—and to see how you can open the door to new opportunities by leveraging Azure Virtual Desktop together with Citrix.

01

The many benefits of Azure Virtual Desktop and Citrix

Azure Virtual Desktop allows organizations to securely deliver virtual apps and desktops to any device, including unmanaged and BYOD ones, from Microsoft’s Azure public cloud. This DaaS platform is unique in that it lets businesses take advantage of Azure exclusive features. With Windows 10 enterprise multi-session, for instance, multiple users can connect to a single virtual machine to ensure a consistent experience and reduce IT costs.

But the benefits don’t end there.

By deploying Azure Virtual Desktop with Citrix, many organizations are discovering new ways to maximize ROI in the era of remote and hybrid work. Some are depending heavily on contractors and seasonal employees, while others are becoming more distributed through mergers and acquisitions. In each of these scenarios, IT must provide the resources people need to do their best work—from any location, on any device, at any time.

With Azure Virtual Desktop and Citrix, organizations can support a wide variety of use cases by providing secure remote access to corporate apps and data—all while simplifying IT and lowering infrastructure and licensing costs. For example, you can:

Leverage existing datacenter investments alongside virtual machines with hybrid and multi-cloud deployment options.

Burst to the cloud as needed to maximize current datacenter investments with flexible IT management.

Meet emerging business needs in minutes or hours, instead of weeks or months, with cloud-based deployment tools.

Maintain a secure environment with adaptive security and performance settings—no manual updates and patches needed.

Balance on-premises and cloud deployments to optimize operating expenses with dynamic workload management tools.

80
%

of businesses plan to embrace hybrid work models

52
%

of companies are increasing their use of interim workers

46
%

of organizations need company-wide disaster recovery plans

Citrix and Azure Virtual Desktop can help you open the door to new possibilities in each of these areas—and many more.

02

3 common use cases for Azure Virtual Desktop

When deployed within your Citrix environment, Azure Virtual Desktop can help you unleash a whole range of new possibilities for your business. But how can you know when the time is right? If any of the following scenarios sound familiar, that’s a strong indicator it may be time to modernize your environment with Azure Virtual Desktop and Citrix.

The challenge: You need to support an increasingly hybrid workforce, with many employees spending some or most of their time working remotely.

With Azure Virtual Desktop and Citrix, you can: deliver a secure, consistent digital workspace experience to any device, on any network.

If your organization is in the midst of changing where, when, and how people work, you’re far from alone. Within just a few years, more than 90% of infrastructure and operations (I&O) organizations will have the majority of staff working remotely.1 And eight in ten companies across industries plan to embrace hybrid work to capitalize on the benefits it can drive.2

These flexible models can be a great way to attract talent, boost productivity, and gain a competitive edge. But the transition comes with its fair share of challenges, too. To be productive and engaged, your users need the same consistent experience no matter where they work or which devices and networks they’re using. And they need to be able to access digital resources without exposing your organization to increased cybersecurity risk.

With Azure Virtual Desktop, you can give every user secure one-click access to apps and desktops from anywhere.

However, for the hybrid workforce in particular, there is one important consideration to keep in mind. Flexible work policies and hybrid schedules means users will frequently work on networks you have no control over. Slow connections, congested networks, and internet outages are all a very real possibility. And they can have a big impact on productivity and engagement.

By running Azure Virtual Desktop in your Citrix environment, you can make sure the experience is the same even in the presence of packet loss, high-latency, and jitter on broadband wireless and mobile networks. Exclusive HDX technology ensures crisp graphics and crystal-clear video even over challenging connections. Apps continue to load fast, and unified communications platforms like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Cisco Webex all perform without stops and starts. It all occurs within a secure virtual environment with zero trust security to continually verify and authenticate users. So sensitive data is protected, and employees have everything they need to be productive.

1Gartner 2Citrix

The challenge: You need a more secure, simple way to support:

  • Temporary employees
  • Part-time employees
  • Newly acquired employees
  • Seasonal staff
  • Contractors

With Azure Virtual Desktop and Citrix, you can: get new users up and running within minutes, without adding extra costs or complexity.

When it comes to surviving and thriving, business agility is critical. After all, you can’t stay ahead of competitors when it takes weeks or months just to onboard new users—let alone provide a superior work-from-anywhere digital workspace experience. From contracting accountants during tax season to hiring extra help as needed, there are numerous instances where secure, seamless access to corporate resources is essential. More than half of surveyed companies are increasing their use of interim workers, and 40% plan to make temporary jobs a permanent part of their workforce models.3 For the typical enterprise, that represents hundreds or thousands of new technology users.

Factor in the complications that can occur during a merger or acquisition, and the number of users in need of fast access increases even more. Throughout each of these transitions, you need a way to rapidly provision cloud apps and desktops to contractors, seasonal workers, and newly acquired employees—without compromising security.

With Citrix and Azure Virtual Desktop, you can roll out new deployments in hours or days, instead of weeks or months, while avoiding many of the complexities and costs that come with traditional desktop management.

For example: With Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, you can spin up dozens or hundreds of Azure desktops in a matter of minutes—and close them down when they’re no longer needed. You pay only for what you use, without having to worry about expensive hardware that sits idle during down times.

Better yet, hybrid and multi-cloud deployment options let you leverage new cloud-hosted apps and desktops right alongside any on-premises workloads…all within the same management console. You can scale quickly to keep business moving forward, without the need for costly capital investments along the way.

3PeopleReady

The challenge: You need to improve your business continuity and disaster recovery plans

With Azure Virtual Desktop and Citrix, you can: continuously protect against cybersecurity threats while allowing people to work where, when, and how they need to.

Power outages, political events, pandemics, inclement weather…these and other unplanned disruptions can hit at any time. And they can impact where, when and how work gets done—both suddenly and significantly. At the height of the global COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, 69% of employees worked from home4 (compared to just 6% before5). Yet only 12% of businesses were highly prepared for the impacts of coronavirus.6 And when it comes to disaster recovery, just 54% of organizations currently have a company-wide plan in place.7

If you’re looking for a way to address these challenges head on, Citrix and Azure Virtual Desktop can help. As part of business continuity and disaster recovery plans, Citrix and Azure Virtual Desktop let you establish remote work as the norm—rather than the exception—so teams can continue business as usual in a wide variety of circumstances. People will always have the resources they need to do their best work, no matter where it happens. And they’ll be able to do it without exposing your network to cybersecurity threats.

With options to add extra layers of security to your Azure Virtual Desktop deployment, you can reduce your attack surface and continuously protect against malware, ransomware, and other cybersecurity threats. For example:

  • Innovative keylogging and screenshot protection, as well as app session watermarking, can be used to prevent data loss.
  • Session recording can be used to intelligently record and play back user sessions for troubleshooting
  • End-to-end analytics can be used to proactively detect and respond to unusual activities and anomalies within your Azure Virtual Desktop subscription.

In addition, Citrix Autoscale lets you intelligently power machines up or down based on load levels and scheduling—or prioritize on-premises resources and then burst to the cloud when needed for business continuity or disaster recovery. Together, these features ease the burden of supporting secure remote work in times of disruption.

4Global Workplace Analytics 5NCCI 6Gartner 7Security Magazine

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03

Getting started with Citrix and Azure Virtual Desktop

Whether you need to support an expanding hybrid workforce, plan for seasonal surges, or simply want to strengthen your business continuity and disaster recovery plans, Citrix and Microsoft can help. With Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, you can take advantage of the benefits outlined above—plus many more. This turnkey DaaS solution lets you roll out fully managed apps and desktops in minutes so you can scale quickly and cost-effectively—no matter what challenges may come your way.

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