IT Pros Outline Azure Virtual Desktop Practices and Complaints in New Research
Use of the Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) service is poised to grow, according to recently released industry research among IT professionals.
The study, “Azure Virtual Desktop Adoption Trends,” indicates that 58% of respondents said they have AVD deployment plans to complete within the next two years. However, only 26% of participating respondents had already deployed AVD.
The report surveyed more than 500 IT professionals between February 2022 and April 2022 about several aspects of using Microsoft’s AVD service. The report was compiled and produced by eG Innovations, based in Iselin, New Jersey, an application performance monitoring solution provider and AVD TechFest, a Netherlands-based conference organizer.
The report’s findings are summarized in this eG Innovations blog post, which includes a download link to the full report. Most IT professionals interviewed for the study were based in North America (36%), followed by Asia (26%) and Europe (19%).
The AVD deployments covered by the survey were not large, with 73% of respondents indicating that they had fewer than 1,000 users. The study authors surmised that “AVD is likely attractive and accessible to organizations that have traditionally been considered too small to adopt Citrix/VMware VDI on-premises.”
DVA pain points
The biggest “challenge” associated with AVD deployments was the end-user experience (22%) and the cost of using cloud services (22%). Security issues come third with 16%. The study’s authors judged the security concerns to be “relatively low”, suggesting that IT professionals have confidence in the AVD service. Only 12% said the AVD migration effort was too high.
Slow application performance tops the list of AVD performance complaints with 47%, followed by slow connections (40%), video call issues (31%), USB device support ( 31%) and keystroke latency (28%). The report’s authors opined that “latency, connection, media playback and other issues may be caused by infrastructure levels, not the digital workspace itself” and recommended monitoring. end-to-end for these issues.
There was also a lot of computer grunt reflected in the AVD surveillance survey. The report found that 48% of respondents said there was a need for “end-to-end AVD monitoring, including session hosts, control plane, [and] Azure AD.” IT pros also said they want a single console to monitor Citrix, VMware and AVD (43%).
AVD Implementations and Tools
As befits a survey of IT professionals, the study asked many questions about AVD tools and cloud costs.
Most respondents (52%) used Microsoft’s native Azure stack for AVD services, but 34% used Citrix VDAs on Azure “with Citrix brokerage and HDX as the communication protocol.” 14% used AVD with VMware Horizon. Users of Citrix and VMware solutions tend to have more AVD end users, according to the study.
AVD monitoring was mostly performed using the combination of Azure Log Analytics and Azure Monitor (54%). 46% said they use Citrix or VMware tools for AVD monitoring.
Use of Microsoft’s Azure Monitor tool, while prominent among survey respondents, came with many “challenges.” It was considered expensive (30%) and monitoring costs were difficult to estimate (30%). Respondents disliked having to manually configure alerts (26%) and they disliked the lack of pre-built dashboards (21%). They also complained about having to write Kusto queries to get reports (19%).
Windows File Server was the most used AVD storage option, with 49% of respondents. 32% used Azure Files for storage and 13% said they used Azure NetApp Files.
The most popular AVD VM deployment used by respondents was the “4 vCPU, 16 GB RAM” option, followed by the “8 vCPU, 16 GB RAM” option. Surprisingly, most respondents indicated that they used laptops (72%) and PCs (60%), rather than thin clients (39%) with the AVD service.
Graphics processing units (GPUs) for rendering acceleration and enhancement were used by 61%, which the study authors considered high. “We suspect organizations have some GPU-enabled VMs, but not all,” they explained.
IT professionals surveyed primarily (38%) used Microsoft’s Virtual Desktop Optimization Tool to create AVD images. Other notable tools used include Citrix Optimizer (19%) and VMware OSOT (18%).
The profile management tool used overwhelmingly by respondents was Microsoft’s FSLogix, which comes with AVD subscriptions.
The report offered a detailed picture of the authentication methods used with the AVD service, namely:
- 50% used Active Directory plus Azure Connector
- 18% used Azure Active Directory Domain Services
- 14% used Azure VM domain controllers
- 11% did not know
- 7% used Azure AD joined VMs
The report’s authors shared their view that the first option listed above, namely using Active Directory plus Azure Connector, requires component monitoring “to optimize user login times.” They also noted that organizations can typically use Azure Active Directory Domain Services to support “legacy applications in the cloud that cannot use modern authentication methods.”
Respondents mostly relied on GitHub (31%) for automation and scripting solutions. Other technologies used include JSON scripting (22%), Terraform (20%), WVD Admin (18%), and Nerdio (17%), among others. Microsoft’s favorite Bicep project, used with Azure Resource Manager templates, was not widely used (3%) by respondents.
Not just AVD
Respondents used other remote desktop solutions in addition to AVD. For example, 43% said they also use Microsoft RDS (Remote Desktop Services), 31% use Citrix Cloud, 31% use Citrix Virtual Apps, 30% use VMware Horizon, and 21% use Amazon Workspaces.
AVD is Microsoft’s Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) service that allows organizations to remotely access desktops and applications from Microsoft’s servers. It was launched more than two years ago and renamed from the name “Windows Virtual Desktop”. There’s also a new Windows 365 desktop-as-a-service offering that Microsoft launched commercially last year, but it wasn’t featured in this study.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media’s Converge360 group.