At its core, a hosted virtual desktop (otherwise known as an HVD) is exactly what it sounds like: a full, thick-client user environment that is run as a virtual machine on a server and that can be accessed remotely from any computer or device with an active Internet connection.
By making hardware and software resources available in a way that is independent from a single workstation or even location, you’re allowing your workers to be as productive as possible regardless of where they happen to be. This is especially critical now, given that most people are going to be working from home for the foreseeable future.
But if you really want to make sure you’re creating the right hosted virtual environment for your employees, there are a number of important things you’ll want to keep in mind.
HVD: Empowering Your Remote Employees Through the Power of Modern Technology
When building this type of infrastructure on your own, the two main solutions you’ll be able to choose between come down to AWS Workspaces and Microsoft’s Azure Virtual Desktop. In terms of cost, know that Microsoft makes the claim that Azure Virtual Desktop is less expensive than Amazon’s solution, although this will obviously vary a great deal depending on the scale of your deployment. Generally speaking, if your company already relies heavily on Microsoft Windows licenses, Azure’s VDI solution would likely be the way to go from a financial perspective.
This is because of the Azure Hybrid benefit – something that allows you to continue to make the most out of your current on-premises Windows or SQL Server license investment, all while migrating the rest of your enterprise onto the Azure platform. In other words, it’s a way to buy a Azure Windows virtual machine without actually having to pay for the Windows operating system portion of the equation. Doing so could potentially save you as much as $0.5154 per hour, per virtual machine as per Microsoft’s own documentation on the matter, so it’s easy to see why this is something at least worth considering. Note that you’ll need at least four virtual machines in your environment.
For the sake of comparison, the “Value” plan in AWS Workspaces (which gives you one vCPU with 2GB of memory, an 80GB root volume and 10GB of user volume) comes in at $0.22 per hour. Note, however, that monthly pricing of $25 is available. This is also for Windows-based environments. The Value bundle in Linux, which is identical in every other way, brings those costs down to $0.17 per hour or $21 monthly.
One area where AWS Workspaces does come out ahead, however, comes down to the maturity of service. Amazon’s solution first debuted all the way back in 2014, whereas Azure Virtual Desktops didn’t launch until 2018. This means that Amazon’s infrastructure is far more developed (and arguably stable), although it’s not like Microsoft is a distant second. Still, it’s something that you should definitely consider depending on the size of your remote workforce and how well you think you’ll need to scale moving forward.
One factor where both solutions are ultimately equal comes down to security – obviously a major concern for any business owner out there. Both AWS Workspaces and Azure Virtual Desktop offer a variety of different security layers and redundancies that make sure that even if one should fail, you’re still protected against the type of threats that you’re likely to face. Comprehensive backup solutions also come with both options. Microsoft does offer free security updates for some of its products, though, which could again potentially put it slightly ahead if you’re already heavily invested in the company’s ecosystem.
Depending on the industry you’re operating in, you may also have certain compliance-related rules and regulations you have to adhere to. While both Microsoft and Amazon have extensive lists of compliance certifications, Microsoft’s is certainly longer – which could mean the difference in some situations. Having said that, Amazon is always working on lengthening that list and there’s no indication that this won’t one day be yet another area where the two services result in a draw.
When it comes to actually choosing which one of these solutions is best for your business, the most important thing for you to understand is that no two companies are created equally. Every single use case is unique unto itself, so don’t go looking for some mythical “one size fits all” solution. You need to start with your needs as a business and consider what you need the platform to be able to do in terms of your remote workers. Only then will you be able to make the best possible decision for your employees.
Case in point: if your business is already mostly running on Windows servers and you don’t actually have a cloud environment already, it’s difficult to beat the price of Azure when your existing Windows licenses are factored into the equation. It’s simply not a benefit that Amazon is going to be able to beat and if cost is your number one deciding factor, congratulations: your decision has been made.
AWS Workspaces does have some pretty significant advantages of its own, however, that are more than worth considering. In addition to being platform and language agnostic thanks to Linux, AWS Workspaces are also flexible and instantly scalable. All of this enables rapid deployment, something that is especially important given that so many of your employees have likely been working remotely already. Yes, Azure is highly available and does have good scalability itself – but AWS Workspaces does come out on top to that end, however slightly.
Regardless, what you’ll be left with is an infrastructure that allows you to not only meet the unprecedented challenges of today, but to also better prepare yourself for the ones that may be lurking around the corner tomorrow. Costs will be cut because you’re only paying for what you use and rather than buying laptops for every employee, they can use their own thanks to the secure and forward-thinking environment you’ve created. With the right technology partner by your side like HI-TEX Solutions, everything can also be constructed to take advantage of your specific strengths and nobody else’s – thus creating a significant competitive advantage for you in the marketplace as well.
HI-TEX Solutions: The IT Managed Service Provider and Partner You Need Right Now
At HI-TEX Solutions, we fully understand why it’s more important than ever to allow your workers to remain as productive as possible from literally anywhere – especially given everything that is currently going on in the world. That’s why we’re proud to help organizations like you not only architect and deploy a VDI environment, but manage it on an ongoing basis too. In the end you’ll be left with something that functions exactly the way your on-premises infrastructure does, all in a way that has been “right sized” to address both your performance and cost needs.
If you’d like to find out more about our robust and versatile cloud transformation services, you can do so by clicking the following link. Likewise, if we can answer any of your questions in our capacity as a Microsoft Certified Partner and AWS Certified Partner, or if you’d just like to speak to someone about your own needs in a bit more detail, contact us today.