Azure Virtual Desktop 2020 “Spring Update” – What This Means for Nerdio

2020 AVD spring update

Today marks a new milestone in the evolution of Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD).  The 2020 “Spring Update” release of AVD adds exciting functionality to this very popular Azure offering.  Much of the new functionality comes from customer feedback and is welcomed by many. 

Here are some of the new features you’ll find in the 2020 AVD Spring Update: 

Azure Resource Manager (ARM) Object Model

This is a significant “back-end” change in the architecture of the AVD service, which brings with it lots of new capabilities.  AVD will now be a “first-party” rather than a “third-party” Azure service.  Here is what it practically means: 

  • There is no longer a need to register the AVD application in the Azure AD tenant.  AVD is now just another Azure Resource Provider (like compute, network, and storage) that is registered in the Azure subscription. 
  • Standard Azure roles (e.g. Owner, Contributor, Reader, etc.) can now be used to manage AVD objects.  Roles like “RDS Owner” and “RDS Reader” are no longer used in the new version.  This allows for role-based access control to AVD deployments using existing Azure architecture. 
  • And now this is the BIG one… Because 2020 AVD Spring Update is now integrated with ARM, it supports native Azure AD users and GROUPS.  You can assign one or more Azure AD groups (in addition to users) to an application group and entitle all members of these groups to access desktops and RemoteApps.  This means that when group membership changes outside of Azure/AVD the users automatically get added or removed from AVD resources.  This was the single biggest request from customers who are deploying large AVD environments. 

Native Azure Portal Management Blade

Partially as a result of the ARM object model update, many aspects of AVD can now be managed via the native Azure portal.  You can create host pools, manage workspaces, add hosts and configure application groups without PowerShell, which was a big limitation in the previous release.  The new AVD Azure portal management will simplify the process of deploying a new environment and simplify many common user session management tasks like log off and disconnect. 

Preview of upcoming capabilities  

In addition to the new ARM object model and Azure management portal, Microsoft has announced the public preview of a few highly anticipated features such as MSIX AppAttach and Teams audio/video integration.  As these features enter General Availability, they will further increase the value of Windows Virtual Desktop as a complete cloud desktop platform. 

Nerdio has been hard at work alongside the Microsoft product team innovating on top of the great work the AVD team is doing.  Since AVD launched in general availability last October, our MSP partners have done well over a thousand customer deployments using Nerdio Manager.   

On March 10th, we launched Nerdio Manager for Enterprise (NME), a revolutionary product that helps government, education, and Enterprise customers deploy, manage and auto-scale large AVD environments.  In less than two months, Nerdio Manager was used by some of the largest global organizations in over 300 AVD deployments across many hundreds of thousands of users.  The largest of these organizations had over a million objects in their Azure AD.  Nerdio Manager was also extremely well received by the most prominent EUC implementation partners and dozens of them have adopted NME as their primary deployment and management tool for AVD. 

As an ISV partner in the Microsoft ecosystem, Nerdio’s job is to add significant customer value on top of Microsoft’s native technology and Nerdio Manager does just that.  NME extends the native AVD functionality with capabilities that increase the value of Azure Virtual Desktop and lower the operational and management costs for the customer.  At Nerdio, we believe in earning our customers’ business every single day.  NME provides measurable value during deployment, initial configuration, ongoing management, and day-to-day service delivery. 

Nerdio Manager for Enterprise delivers benefits in three categories: 

  • Operationalize large AVD deployments through a powerful and intuitive UI used by engineering and help desk staff to deploy the environment and provide ongoing user management.  Capabilities like desktop image management, performance monitoring, and user session control eliminate the need for complex scripting and speed up response to end-users.  With NME, users can be up and running in under 2 hours. 
  • Reduce Azure costs with schedule and event-driven autoscaling.  Azure compute and storage costs can be reduced by up to 75%.  Additional savings result from consolidating user management and monitoring tools and eliminating third-party apps.  End-users can also control the state of their personal desktops powering them on and off as needed, further reducing Azure compute costs. 
  • Reinforce existing security policies, compliance, and address data residency concerns.  Nerdio Manager is deployed as an all-PaaS, secure Azure application inside a customer’s own subscription in a geographic location of their choice.  No user data ever leaves the Azure environment and there is no third-party access to the deployment.  Organizations can leverage NME’s role-based access control to delegate administration to different groups of users with the appropriate level of access.  This allows service delivery and engineering teams to securely perform their work without exposing the system with unnecessarily elevated privileges. 

What Makes Nerdio Manager for Enterprise Unique

Having delivered on our promise to earn our customers’ business each and every day with unique features like advanced auto-scaling, desktop image management, dynamic host pools, and 2-hour deployments we’re not about to stop or slow down.  Nerdio is regularly releasing new, significant and exciting functionality based on customer feedback.  Our Product Roadmap is full of high-value features like Azure AVD cost modeling and auto-scale savings reporting, deployment automation for Azure NetApp Files and Azure Files with AD integration, Ephemeral OS disks, Desktop Image versioning, Role-based access control, and much more.   

Security and data privacy remain front-and-center priorities.  Nerdio Manager for Enterprise’s unique deployment model (Azure application rather than a multi-tenant management platform) sets us apart from every other AVD management product on the market.  This unique deployment model has been extremely well-received by even the most security and compliance-conscious organizations in the world who require complete control and visibility of all applications connecting to their environment.  No other WVD management platform vendor can come even close in terms of security, compliance and data residency posture. 

Nerdio Manager for Enterprise will continue to be a platform for all-things-AVD with tight product integrations with many third-party AVD solutions that are often deployed together.  NMW will be the central management console for these products and apply its simplicity and automation across the AVD ecosystem.  Stay tuned for the announcements and functionality coming soon.