Nerdio Manager for Enterprise Case Study: LexisNexis

CASE STUDY 

Learn how LexisNexis consolidated a variety of incompatible environments and siloed work into a single, cohesive solution using Nerdio Manager for Enterprise. 

About LexisNexis

LexisNexis is a leading global data analysis and information provider that offers platforms to help legal, corporate, government, and nonprofit clients better understand their markets and audiences. They also increase accessibility to legal and journalistic documents. With over 10,000 employees worldwide and customers in 160 countries, LexisNexis IT professionals manage a lot of moving parts every day. 

The Situation 

Because LexisNexis was split among multiple uncooperative environments — including RDS, VMWare ESX, and Citrix — the company was overloaded with frustrating and inefficient processes that were costing them a lot of money. LexisNexis needed to simplify their system and save on costs, and their research showed that migrating to Azure was the best way to do both those things. 

The Solution

LexisNexis engaged Coretek to design a Citrix Cloud-compatible solution using Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD), and Coretek recommended Nerdio Manager to facilitate the migration. Nerdio was able to work with the customer to deploy a pilot program to a few hundred users, running Azure alongside Citrix Cloud, within just a few days. After the successful pilot, Nerdio’s auto-scale function made it easy for LexisNexis to extend the solution to thousands of users.

 

The Results

LexisNexis now runs Nerdio Manager across their organization, enabling synchronicity and consistency and resulting in a 50% year over year cost savings. This new streamlined system has eliminated the need for expensive onsite infrastructure, solved the confusing multi-software departmental billing issues, and reduced their overall software costs. 

“LexisNexis now runs Nerdio Manager across their organization, enabling synchronicity and consistency and resulting in a 50% year over year cost savings.”

LexisNexis is currently hosting several thousand users on AVD, and with Nerdio’s help, their administrators are managing the day-to-day operations easily and efficiently, with about a 75% decrease in support needs. Most importantly, the performance of their infrastructure has improved significantly: LexisNexis’s former solution was rated at 35/100 and Nerdio Manager is running at above 90/100. 

“LexisNexis’s former solution was rated at 35/100 and Nerdio Manager is running at above 90/100.” 

DOWNLOAD THE CASE STUDY HERE

Find Nerdio in the Azure Marketplace: nerdio. co/nme

 

10 Most Common Azure Mistakes Made by Managed Service Providers (MSPs)

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There are many lists out there of common mistakes people make in Microsoft Azure. In this article, we are going to specifically focus on the ones that Managed Service Providers (MSPs) make in Azure, as they can be somewhat different and unique to this space.  

1. Selecting Nonoptimal VM Sizes for Servers and Session Hosts 

There are many use cases for Virtual Machines in Azure, but MSPs, who typically service Small and Medium Size Businesses, would probably use them for just a few purposes. Some examples of roles that virtual machines are typically used as domain controllers, file servers, application servers, database servers, remote desktop session hosts and Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) hosts. 

It is very common for someone unfamiliar with VM families and SKUs to randomly pick any VM size that is similar in core count and memory required for their needs. However, it is important to know there is a big difference, for example, between D2sv3 and DS3v2. Although VM SKUs look similar, perhaps even the same in core count and memory, it is important to understand the differences and pick the right one. Picking a non-optimal VM size can cause negative pricing ramifications and degraded performance and sometimes even both. 

Domain Controllers 

For domain controllers, it is very common to use a B-series machine since these machines provide significant value and will give you the performance a typical domain controller needs.  

File Servers 

For file servers, this can be quite tricky as CPU, core, and memory aren’t the only thing to consider. Picking the right storage type and size is equally as important when optimizing performance on a file server (more on this in point in number 3 below). A typical VM size to select might be a D2asv4 or a DS3v2 for larger premium disks. 

Application Servers 

For application servers, referring to the recommended system requirements from your vendor is your best bet. Common VM families used here are the DASv4 or EASv4 types. There is also a difference between hyper-threaded cores and non-hyper threaded cores. For example, a DASv4 machine family uses hyper threaded cores while the DS2_v2 does not. Performance on the DS2_v2 would be better since they will perform like physical cores rather than virtual cores. Checking with your application vendor to see what they recommend is the right thing to do. 

AVD & RDS 

For Azure Virtual Desktop, session hosts, or RDS servers, it’s a good idea to use a machine that has a higher CPU core count to allow some room for bursting. It is also a good idea but not absolutely required to use an E series machine. E series machines have double the memory for only 15% more cost. The memory will come in handy if you have users using a lot of browser tabs or opening a lot of Office documents. Even NV series VMs would offer a performance boost as NV VM’s have a GPU attached to the machine which could offset some load from the CPU allowing you the ability to put more users on a session host. 

2. Using a Deprecated Virtual Machine Family 

When we look at partners that inherit an Azure environment from another MSP, it is very common to come across an environment that is on the Azure Classic platform rather than the modern Azure Resource Manager (ARM) model. When we see that, there is a high likelihood that the VMs were configured a long time ago and no maintenance has been done to resize the machine to use modern hardware. Azure does deprecate VMs over time by either not offering them anymore or making the cost increase, which incentivizes you to resize to a more modern, better-performing VM that actually costs less. 

If you are inheriting an Azure environment or reviewing an Azure environment that has been built a few years ago, you may find VMs running on older VM SKUs. It is a good idea to resize them to the current VM SKUs. You’ll see much better performance and likely at a much lower cost. A win-win situation! 

3. Using Premium SSDs on VMs That Can’t Handle the Full Potential of the Disk 

Oftentimes when reviewing a quote or build that a partner brings to us, it’s common to see that premium SSDs are used everywhere. While premium SSDs are best in class in terms of speed and SLA, it is also important to consider the VM SKU being paired with the premium disk. Not all VM sizes can take full advantage of the premium disk you give it. If you look at Microsoft’s premium SSD documentation, you will notice that the larger the premium disk is, the more IOPs and MB/s throughput that disk is capable of. However, what most people don’t know is that each VM SKU can only handle a maximum IOPS and MB/s throughput. This means that if you assign a very large premium disk—let’s use a 4TB premium SSD (7500 IOPS) as an example–and pair it with a D2sv3 VM, the VM documentation shows that the VM can only take advantage of a disk with IOPS that will max out at 3200 IOPS. The VM would never be able to take full advantage of the full capability of that premium disk and you are therefore wasting money if higher performance is what you are looking to achieve. 

Make sure you select a VM that is properly sized to take full advantage of the premium disk you assign to it by picking a VM that has greater IOPs and MB/s throughput than all the combined disks assigned to that VM. 

4. Using Standard HDDs for Heavy Production Workloads 

Quite the opposite can also happen. We will see mission-critical workloads being assigned standard HDs or standard SSDs. All mission-critical workloads should be using a premium SSD disk. Your workload performance will certainly increase compared to a standard SSD or standard HDD. The rule of thumb is that if the disk serves data to an end-user, make it premium. With that said, make sure you follow #3 above and size your VM appropriately for the disk. 

5. Selecting the Wrong Tier or Azure Files and Not Allocating Enough Storage  

When using Azure files for mission-critical workloads such as hosting FSlogix profiles for RDS or AVD, I see the use of standard-tier Azure files used. The challenge will always be the speed of AVD if you select anything but premium tier storage for Azure files. However, just selecting premium is not good enough. You also must allocate a decent quoting size to get the IOPS you are looking for. Azure files’ formula for IOPs is 400 IOPS, +1 IOPS per GB you assign to the Azure files share. This means that if you want more IOPS (up to 100,000) you must allocate more GBs to the share. Performance degradation can come from not using premium tier storage and not allocating enough storage quota to your Azure files share. 

6. Forgetting to Order Reserved Instances on Virtual Machines 

Reserved Instances are an absolute must when it comes to cost control and saving money in Azure. A very high percentage of partners do not opt-in for Reservations for their VMs. Without Reserved Instances, your Virtual Machines are running at the pay-as-you-go rate, which is the absolute most expensive way to pay for Azure. I believe partners are so busy that they either forget to do it, or don’t know how to do it. If you are working with a CSP Distributor, you need to contact them to order and lock in your Reserved Instances and make sure every running VM is covered by a Reserved Instance.

7. Forgetting to Toggle Azure Hybrid Benefit 

Equally as important is purchasing the licenses required for Azure Hybrid Benefit and not forgetting to TOGGLE the switch on each VM to take advantage of AHB. Similar to Reserved Instances, partners often forget to do this as well. Renting an OS or SQL license from Azure is by far the worst way to acquire the necessary Windows licensing for your VM. 

Purchasing the licenses isn’t all you need to do. You must tell Microsoft that you own a compatible license for Azure for them to give you the appropriate discount.

8. Improperly Licensing Microsoft SQL Server 

If you have applications using SQL on Azure VMs, it is very important to understand how SQL can be licensed in Azure. Unlike on-premises where you can license SQL by the User and CAL model, you cannot do this in Azure. SQL can only be licensed under the Core model, and you must purchase a minimum of 4 cores per SQL Standard instance regardless of if your machine is under 4 cores. Core licenses are sold in packs of 2. 

There are currently two supported models of purchasing SQL licenses under the Core model in Azure: 

  1. CSP Software Subscription SQL Server 2 Core Pack (1 year or 3 years) 
  2. OPEN license for SQL Server per Core model with Software Assurance 

If you don’t have either of these two types of licenses, you may not use this in Azure. The licenses will need to be repurchased under the correct licensing program. 

It is also important to take advantage of Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server licensing. Over a 3-year term, renting the SQL Server license under the Pay as you Go model will cost you over $3,000 for a 4 Core SQL Server compared to bringing your own license under the CSP or OPEN license with Software Assurance program and taking advantage of Azure Hybrid Benefit. The drawback is that it is an upfront payment vs renting it month to month. 

9. NSG Inbound Outbound Rules 

Understanding how Network Security Groups (NSG) work is important to the security of your Azure environment. NSGs are like your stateful firewall. They can be set to ALLOW or DENY traffic to your virtual network in Azure. Most NSG’s are misconfigured, thereby giving full access to the outside world on all ports or specific ports such as 80, 443 or 3389. Hunker down and learn how NSG’s work as getting it wrong can pose a huge security risk to your network and frustrate you when traffic does not flow, you cannot connect, and cannot seem to figure out why. 

10. Not Patching your VMs Running Azure 

Believe it or not, when VM’s are deployed in Azure, there is a high likelihood the VMs aren’t patched like machines that are running on-premises. A Virtual Machine running in Azure is no more secure or less secure than a VM running on-premise. It is very important to install your RMM tools and anti-virus software on VMs running in Azure as well. Treat them the exact same way and put them on the same patch schedule as a VM running on-premise. Do not neglect your VMs in Azure as they too need to be safe and treated with care. 

Azure even has a Windows Update Manager service that you can enroll your VMs in that will help patch your machines if you don’t feel like using your RMM tool to do the job. Here is how to enroll your VM and use Update Manager.  

These are the 10 most common Azure mistakes we see MSPs make. Keeping these points in mind when you are working with Azure will help you be more successful. And, of course, we are always here to help assist you. 

Nerdio Manager for Enterprise Case Study: Grant Thornton

CASE STUDY 

Learn how Grant Thornton LLP, the sixth-largest accounting organization in the U.S., tackled a complex migration to Azure Virtual Desktop with the help of Nerdio Manager for Enterprise — their very own “Easy Button” for a challenging software. 

About Grand Thronton LLP

Grant Thornton LLP is one of the world’s largest accounting and advising firms, with over 8,500 employees, 550 partners, and annual revenue of nearly $2 billion in 2019. Founded in 1986 and headquartered in Chicago, IL, Grant Thornton LLP has 51 offices in the U.S. and hundreds of member firms across the globe. 

The Situation 

Grant Thornton LLP worked with a team of overseas developers, who needed access to the business’s files and data via a secure connection, to maintain compliance within U.S. regulations. The company had already decided to migrate to Microsoft Azure, but the environment was too complex for them to do it alone — they needed a knowledgeable partner to help them onboard. Their first step was to run a test case, migrating a limited number of users to Azure to prove out the technology and make sure it was going to be a fit. 

The Solution

Nerdio Manager provided Grant Thornton LLP with the “Easy Button” they were seeking, making AVD management painless and intuitive where before it had been inaccessibly complicated. Nerdio helped the company set up their AVD environment in just a few days, enabling them to test Azure with Nerdio Manager and get a feel for its value, which was illustrated immediately: with Nerdio, the company is saving $20,000 a month on computing and storage fees. 
The
Results

Not only did Nerdio Manager for Enterprise enable Grant Thornton LLP to onboard a new, complex system quickly and easily, but they also empowered them to provide their overseas developers with access to company data while allowing them to “lock down” the desktops for better security. The company is saving $20,000 a month by using Nerdio Manager; with 330 concurrent users, their spend is now under $3,000. The value of the Nerdio partnership is so clear that Grant Thornton LLP is now looking for opportunities to expand to more user cases on a global level. At the moment they have three countries with their own Nerdio instance, and are actively seeking more. 

DOWNLOAD THE CASE STUDY HERE

Find Nerdio in the Azure Marketplace: nerdio. co/nme

How to Reduce IT Complexity and Costs When Deploying Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)

As an IT professional or leader, you are always on the lookout for ways to make your (IT) life simpler. When dealing with Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) and Azure cloud environments, this is no different. The cloud can be overwhelming; your choices are almost limitless and there are about a few dozen other things to be aware of or to look out for. 

Being an Enterprise organization, you don’t want to get lost in the cloud services maze. You’ll come across hundreds, if not thousands of services for you to take advantage of, with new ones being added and removed daily.  

How do you know which ones you need to focus on? And once you figure that out, how will you get your IT team up to speed quickly, given a potentially steep learning curve?  

In short, it can be hard to keep up. Luckily, Microsoft and Nerdio are here to help.  

Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) 

Traditionally, building on-premises desktop infrastructures was a daunting task. There are many moving parts that tightly integrate, and mistakes are easily made. Finding people with proper hands-on experience and up-to-date knowledge is another common challenge to overcome.  

With cloud, it is no different. While cloud offers a ton of flexibility, you will still need to build and configure a bunch of backend (infrastructure) machines running various roles – amongst other things.  

These machines will take care of processes like getting your users onto the correct VMs (load balancing and session brokering), storing critical, performance-related information (database), offering your users an online portal to start their desktops and/or applications (web-interface and remote access), take care monitoring (diagnostics), and more.   

In the end, all of these machines and roles need to be maintained, patched, kept free from viruses, and so on. You probably know the drill. This is where Azure Virtual Desktop shines. 

Microsoft will build, manage, maintain, operate, etc., all of these roles and components for you. You or your IT team do not have to worry about that anymore.  

In fact, these components (web portal, database, brokering, load balancing, remote access, etc., are built as native Azure services available in all regions worldwide and can be leveraged at any time, just think of them as being “always on” – these services combined make up the actual Azure Virtual Desktop proposition.   

With that out of the way, you and your team will have time to focus on more important tasks, like taking care of your users, their applications, desktops, and data, for example.  

What About Licenses? 

With AVD, licensing has been greatly simplified as well. If you purchase or already own any of the Microsoft 365 family licenses, chances are you are entitled to use the AVD service as well, at no additional costs. The same applies to any RDS-CAL licenses you may have been using throughout the years. If you want to continue to leverage Windows Server Operating Systems to service your users, which is a very common use-case, you can continue to do so with AVD by reusing those licenses.  

This makes things simpler, but what about ongoing management, resource usage control, costs savings, and getting your entire IT team (or close to) to build, manage, and optimize Azure Virtual Desktop environments on a daily basis without them diving intothe deep unknown?  

Introducing, Nerdio 

A few years ago, Microsoft and Nerdio started a partnership, which has proved to be very successful. As you may have noticed, Microsoft has been working hard throughout the last year and a half to continuously improve their AVD service. The work that Microsoft is doing and the speed at which they operate and innovate is impressive, to say the least.  

Microsoft continues to focus on core AVD technologies like building out their central management plane within all regions globally, lowering latency, the ARM-based model, MSIX App Attach, Windows 10 Entp. Multi-Session, and much more, while also slowly enhancing the management capabilities within the Azure ARM portal. 

At the same time, Nerdio focuses on incorporating additional value on top of Azure and native AVD. It’s what Nerdio is: a AVD deployment, management and cost-optimization solution on top of Native AVD. Nerdio is all about the complicity, giving you back some of your valuable time, and shortening your time to market.  

 TRY NERDIO MANAGER FOR ENTERPRISE FREE FOR 30 DAYS

Savings and Added Efficiency  

Nerdio provides features and functionalities not found in the Azure ARM portal – again, they solely focus on innovating on top of the native Azure services, including AVD.  

Nerdio supports thousands of companies world-wide to make use of Azure Virtual Desktop Azure environments more effectively and efficiently, saving on resources and costs. From a technical (image management, autoscaling, migration, auto-deployments, configs, and more) and operational point of view. Some examples:  

  • Saving up to 75% on Azure compute and storage costs. 
  • Enabling over 80% of your IT workforce to be able to build, manage, price, and optimize Azure Virtual Desktop environments– removing the need to worry about that knowledge ever leaving your company.  
  • No steep learning curves – Nerdio will have your IT team up and running in hours instead of weeks of training (saving on human resources). 
  • Automating what would have been hours of work to just a few minutes (image, application, user, and virtual machinemanagement talks, for example), saving on time, which can be put to use more efficiently. 
  • From Greenfield to a complete Azure environment, including a working AVD deployment, in an hour. 
  • Onboarding existing customer environments, AVD or otherwise, in 10-30 minutes or less. 

Automation is great and is highly encouraged for all technically orientated IT professionals to get acquainted in some form or way, or even deep dive right into it. However, you also need to be realistic and look at it from a business perspective. Getting real hands-on experience takes a lot of time; automation and DevOps can be tricky to maintain, and it’s definitely not for everybody.  

IT Professionals 

When it comes to IT professionals, you roughly have two kinds; the tech-savvy “I really like to dig in” kind of sysadmin, and the more all-round and laid-back “I don’t want to spend my free time getting to know (new) technology” kind of sysadmin.  

The latter doesn’t mind digging in a bit and staying current in general but has no interest in going all in, all the time. He or she likes it when things are automated for them. They like to work with “to the point” graphical user interfaces – that being AVD or any other type of service/technology, like VDI in the past, for example. They’ll keep their certifications up to date but won’t become an automation, PowerShell, or scripting guru anytime soon. It’s a job they love, it gives them fulfillment, but that’s it. This will apply to 80% of the people in IT, give or take. 

The tech-savvy sysadmin likes to deep-dive whenever he or she can. They’ll probably blog about it, help others on various forums and social media, contribute to community programs, and so on – work becomes a hobby, or vice versa, in many cases. It isn’t for everyone; far from it, even. And that’s OK, too. 

The Risk 

This also imposes a risk for companies; those who are using AVD/Azure or are thinking about doing so, and those who do not. 

Most companies will have a couple of tech-savvy senior system administrators employed. Up to a certain point they will be able to automate and streamline deployments, script image updates, use various kinds of DevOps methodologies, and so on. They will have it running as smoothly as possible, they will handle all code, templates, updates, daily management tasks, you name it. 

However, what happens when something breaks and they are not available for some reason? Maybe they have some time off and are not reachable, they might become ill for a longer period of time – or even worse – what if they leave your company? The saying “putting all your eggs into one basket” comes to mind. 

Will you educate and train other employees? And more importantly, do they want that responsibility? Doing your “job” because you are asked or told to is something completely different than when it’s born from passion, as part of your day job, if that makes sense. 

What about hiring in the expertise? Sure, but they won’t know your company the way you or your former employee(s) did, they are often much more expensive, and eventually, they will leave as well. A vicious cycle. 

Managing IT resources, AVD or otherwise, should not require “special” skills or take a longer period to learn, I think most companies will agree. If anything, it should reduce your time to market and help make you (more) money. Preferably, by taking advantage of cutting-edge technology supercharging your Azure/AVD deployments.  

The goal should be to relieve individuals from unneeded stressful situations, spread the workload evenly across your team, do more with less, and save hours per weeks on common day-to-day management tasks, creating room for other types (more interesting, fun, or important) of tasks. 

Final Thoughts 

Hopefully, this has given you some insights into how Microsoft and Nerdio enable companies of all sizes to build and maintain anAzure cloud practice – within days instead of months or even longer.  

At Nerdio, we all want to make life a little easier, be more effective and efficient without losing focus on quality. Over the past year, dozens of organizations all over the globe grow their business and revenue by leveraging and applying the above.  

Bas van Kaam

Nerdio Field CTO, EMEA

You can, too. Start your free 30-day trial today!

About Nerdio 

Nerdio empowers IT Professionals to deploy, manage, and auto-scale AzureVirtual Desktop. Created to address the technical and security requirements of enterprise customers, Nerdio Manager for Enterprise is ideal for IT Professionals looking to deploy and manage large amounts of AVD environments and can be connected to an existing AVD setup or used to stand up a new AVD deployment. Nerdio Manager is an all-PaaS Azure application that runs in a customer’s own Azure subscription, making it one of the most secure and compliant solutions on the market.  Learn more at getnerdio.com/nme

4 Customer Deployment Scenarios in Nerdio Manager for MSP

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Getting started with Nerdio Manager for MSP (NMM) is easy. It is available directly from the Azure Marketplace and setting it up will take you around 30-45 minutes. Once you have NMM installed, onboarding customers or building new Azure environments in NMM is even easier. Let’s take a look at some examples.

Below we’ll handle the various customer deployment scenarios supported by Nerdio Manager for MSP. NMM integrates with various native Azure technologies making it extremely flexible and powerful at the same time.

Next to that, almost everything you can think of when building up or onboarding a (new) virtual desktop environment in Azure using NMM is done fully automatically, accompanied by a step-by-step wizard.

The learning curve is minimal, meaning, you will save on time, (human) resources, and the process will be a lot less prone to errors.

1. Greenfield Deployment in 60 Minutes or Less

Here, we assume that there is no footprint in Azure whatsoever and you are starting from scratch. When starting greenfield, Nerdio Manager for MSP (NMM) will create a new all-PaaS environment combined with Azure Virtual Desktop, plus various AVD supported services.

NMM will start by creating a new Azure Active Directory Domain Services, followed by a VNet, as you can see on the image below.

Next, the actual domain comes into play and a file share based on Azure Files technology, another native Azure service, will be created as well. Last but not least, NMM will create a fully operational AVD deployment including a Workspace, one or more hostpools, and virtual machine hosts.

2. Landing Zone in 30 Minutes or Less

Let’s assume that there is a landing zone consisting out of a traditional Active Directory or an Azure Active Directory Domain Services in place already. NMM would then be able to leverage the existing identify provider and (re)use any existing resource groups and networks available. Next, NMM provisions a new Azure Files-based file share and finally NMM will build a AVD environment just as in the greenfield example above.

3. Existing IaaS in 10 Minutes or Less

In this situation, most of the groundwork needed to run Azure virtual machines and AVD hosts is already in place. Here, NMM is able to (re)use the existing identity provider, it being a traditional Active Directory or Azure Active Directory Domain Services, just as in the previous example. It will also be able to leverage an existing VNet and file storage. And just like before, NMM will build a fully operational AVD environment just as in the greenfield and landing zone examples earlier, taking only a few minutes.

4. Existing AVD Deployment in 10 Minutes or Less

This is where NMM is a direct overlay on top of an existing AVD environment combined with identity, networking, file storage, resource groups, and any other type of virtual machines or services that might already be part of the Azure deployment.

Within minutes NMM adds an impressive set of features and management capabilities aimed at optimizing, fine tuning, and enhancing AVD and other types of IaaS based Azure virtual machines – see the “The true added value” section below as well.

The True Value Add of Nerdio Manager for MSP

Once you’ve onboarded your first couple of customers, the true added value of NMM comes to light. It is built and designed in such a way that you will be able to save, not only a considerable amount of time regarding dozens of (daily) management tasks but also on the underlying Azure compute and storage costs applicable to your AVD hosts and other Azure VM’s. Up to 70% easily.

Next to that, you will be able to leverage all sorts of best practices, recommendations, and performance optimizations getting your Azure environment in tip top shape, plus per user Azure cost reporting, together with an easy wizard driven cost estimator. We thought of everything.

Working with multiple networks, resource groups, adding in machines, creating and managing images, user, session, and Azure AD group management, backups, etc., are all done within three mouse clicks. Would you like to change a VM from a D series machine to a B series machine at night, for example? Not a problem. Want to turn it off completely and back on in the morning? Sure thing, we have you covered. Single session machines, multi-user; it is all supported.

And we’ve not even touched on the (image) management capabilities when it comes to Windows Virtual Desktop hosts, application management, MSIX AppAttach, FSLogix Profile Containers, and our unique built-in autoscaling engine that you’ve come to know through Nerdio Manager for Enterprise.  

Nerdio Manager for MSP changes the way we’ve dealt with Azure and AVD environments up till now. Make sure to check it out, you won’t be disappointed.  

Nerdio Manager for MSP Case Study: DigaCore

Digacore Case Study

CASE STUDY 

Learn how a Managed Service Provider in New Jersey drastically lowered their Azure compute and storage costs and increased their operational efficiency through rapid Azure Virtual Desktop deployments using Nerdio Manager for MSP. 

About DigaCore 

DigaCore Technology Consulting Company is a Managed Service Provider (MSP) in New Jersey that offers consulting services, cloud computing, and security solutions and delivers their proactive maintenance services through flat-rate IT support. Their market focus is small and medium-sized businesses in health care, financial services, and many other sectors. Clients count on them to have the tools and expertise to deliver, enabling them to pay attention to their business, not their technology. 

The Situation 

As the Chief Technology Officer at DigaCore, Nathan Berger had the technical ability and experience to handle Microsoft Azure infrastructure deployment and management. However, day-to-day management of that infrastructure was most often handled by others with varying job titles, levels of experience, and abilities. “Azure is great, but often too technical for day-to-day managers,” Mr. Berger said. 

The technical challenges of building a native Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) environment at scale were the first task for the DigaCore team to tackle. However, even more complicated was the management and optimization of that AVD system and its use – at scale. 

“We knew we had to get into the AVD space. It was something our clients require from us and we want to give it to them,” said Mr. Berger.

When choosing a partner and product to help them deliver that kind of service to clients, DigaCore chose Nerdio Manager for MSP. 

Business Needs 

The selection process was careful and considered. As DigaCore surveyed the landscape for solutions that would meet the need for a robust yet accessible way to manage AVD environments, they discovered Nerdio. “After a lot of research, we ended up trialing several solutions, and Nerdio Manager for MSP came out as the clear winner,” Mr. Berger said. 

“When we used Nerdio, we found its functionality – such as visualization – made it perfect for managers with less technical skill.” 

For the whole DigaCore team, implementing Nerdio Manager for MSP brought time savings, ease of use, and visibility into client activities. Nerdio Manager for MSP made it possible to deliver information and accessibility to both their full internal team as well as clients. 

More Than the Right Tech 

The technical aspects of Nerdio Manager for MSP were on the mark, but what truly set Nerdio apart was the customer service. The Nerdio team delivered for DigaCore as they tested and rolled out the solution. 

“Whenever we had questions, the Nerdio team was extremely responsive. In working with them I have a trusted vendor who has my back,” said Mr. Berger.

As one of the first adopters of Nerdio Manager for MSP, DigaCore has noted two major benefits: flexibility and speed. “I have the ability to build exactly what the customer needs as opposed to ‘one-size-fits-all,’ and I’ve also been struck by just how fast Nerdio refreshes and gives visibility into exactly what’s going on with users,” Mr. Berger says. 

The Results

One specific example illustrates the difference Nerdio Manager for MSP makes in DigaCore’s product lineup. A client had five to ten users running on a remote desktop environment. DigaCore initially chose to have those users work within an on-premises data center rather than in Azure simply because it was more accessible for their technicians to manage. Then, the client experienced explosive growth that led them from ten users to several dozen within a few weeks. The strain of scaling up was significant. DigaCore met that challenge by migrating the client to Azure, using Nerdio Manager for MSP to make it efficient and successful.

“It’s a much faster and cleaner environment for the client, and Nerdio also makes it possible to scale up to meet any demands. It won’t matter if they have ten users or thousands,” said Mr. Berger.

Nerdio has brought ease-of-use, scalability and real partnership to the relationship with DigaCore. As an MSP, DigaCore’s most significant pain point was the complexity of Azure environments. They needed all their technical staff to be able to solve any client issues that might arise. “We didn’t want a senior technician to be the only one that we could call on. Nerdio gives the outstanding capability to our whole technical team. It’s so fast and easy,” said Mr. Berger, “Nerdio’s team helped us understand what would work best for our use case.” 

Find Nerdio in the Azure Marketplace: nerdio. co/nmm

Nerdio Manager for MSP: Unique and Flexible Deployment Architecture

NMM-Unique-and-Flexible-Deployment-1-300x180

Nerdio Manager for MSP (NMM) enables MSPs to deploy, manage, and optimize new and existing Azure Virtual Desktop deployments with ease. A one-of-a-kind multi-tenant management platform built from various native Azure PaaS services, making it extremely flexible and powerful. Let’s have a closer look.

Azure Marketplace Deployment

Deploying Nerdio Manager for MSP is done directly from the Azure marketplace. Log into Azure, do a search for Nerdio, select Nerdio Manager for MSP, and follow the wizard. It’s that simple. Installing NMM into the Azure tenant of the MSP (more details on this below) lays the foundation for dozens, if not hundreds, of customers to be onboarded and managed from a single intuitive management interface.

Onboarding existing Azure environments or building completely new ones is easy and doesn’t require any specific or deep knowledge of the underlying Azure platform. Even if the customer in question does not have an existing Azure footprint, it will take you 60 minutes or less to get from nothing to a fully operational virtual desktop environment. More details to come on this.

Multi-tenant and Services Overview

Nerdio Manager for MSP offers you everything you need to price, deploy, manage, and optimize new and existing customer environments in Azure. Services and features like multi tenancy, reporting, monitoring, user management, cost control, role-based access, automation, autoscaling, and much more are all available for the MSP to take advantage of.

Think of NMM as an extension on top of the native Azure Virtual Desktop service adding a layer of additional (management) capabilities, features and functionalities (not to be found anywhere else), making the lives of your architects, administrators, and help desk employees a lot easier without them needing to have any deep knowledge of automation, PowerShell, or Azure in general, for that matter.

No more steep learning curve. Nerdio Manager for MSP enables 80% or more of your IT workforce to be able to build and manage Azure and Azure Virtual Desktop environments on a daily basis. In fact, everything you do within NMM takes three clicks or less.

NMM is all about saving time and adding efficiency.

nerdio manager for msp

As you can see, NMM enables you to manage and optimize not just Azure Virtual Desktop environments, but includes automation, autoscaling, auto-heal, and management capabilities that apply to other types of Azure IaaS virtual machines as well, combined with file storage, networking, identity, and more.

Not Shared, but Secure and Private

Instead of working in a shared, hosted management plane, NMM is different. While still offering true multi-tenancy enabling you to support hundreds of customers, you, the MSP, have full control of everything that’s going on within your tenant – data, networking, identity, etc. You’re not sharing the infrastructure running your Nerdio Manager portal with any other MSPs and you decide where the metadata is stored and who has access. From a security and privacy perspective this is an excellent story to tell.

Essentially, it is the best of both worlds.

Nerdio Manager for MSP is built out of various native Azure Platform as a Service (PaaS) services deployed into the MSP’s tenant, (see image below). Best thing is, these services are highly available by nature and managed by Microsoft.  This makes working with, building, and enhancing NMM much simpler.

Below, you’ll find a high-level architectural overview on how NMM is deployed from the Azure Marketplace into the MSP’s tenant.  From there customer accounts/environments/tenants can be added. It also lists the various PaaS services that Nerdio Manager for MSP consists of.

nmm deployment architecture

Just as you are used to with Nerdio Manager for Enterprise, which is based on the same underlying architecture, you can expect multiple updates and new versions of our software throughout 2021 and beyond. 

And if that’s not enough, we will also offer an NMM API for future automation and integration purposes, but more on that at a later date. In part three of this series, I’m going to focus on the various deployment scenarios in more detail.

To Finalize

We can’t wait to help get you started with Nerdio Manager for MSP. A one of kind solution helping MSPs globally to boost their business. Of course, this is just the beginning, there is much more on the way. Our roadmap is filled with some amazing technology and features. We’re also planning to host several webinars to tell and, more importantly, show you how to take advantage of NMM. To be continued…

Thank you for reading.

Bas van Kaam

Nerdio Field CTO, EMEA

Nerdio Manager for Enterprise Case Study: Epiq

Case Study

Global Legal Services Enterprise Agency Migrates to Microsoft Azure and Saves Thousands Per Month with Nerdio Manager for Enterprise 

About Epiq

Epiq is a global provider of legal services, serving law firms, corporations, financial institutions, and government agencies. They help customers take on large-scale, complex legal tasks and streamline the administration of business operations, class action and mass tort, court reporting, eDiscovery, regulatory, compliance, restructuring, and bankruptcy matters. 

The Situation

EPIQ Legal Document Review—Changing with the Times   

As a trusted provider of legal services, Epiq works with data that is important, private, and sensitive to its customers. Counted on to handle the legal eDiscovery process for its customers, Epiq must be sure its data is accurate and secure. 

Epiq’s legal eDiscovery model helps legal clients, law firms, corporations, government agencies, and others to manage their data and have confidence that the information they have, puts them in a position for the best possible legal outcome. 

The sheer volume of sensitive information handled by this enterprise organization is daunting, so costs must be carefully managed, and a large, flexibly sized team needs the right virtual and remote tools to properly complete their tasks in an efficient manner. 

Business Needs 

  • Solve the challenges associated with connecting and managing a large, remote, and constantly changing eDiscovery review team 
  • Give that team the tools and job-flexibility that the new virtual environment demands 
  • Overcome the technical challenges associated with security and confidentiality 
  • Control associated Microsoft Azure costs 

Epiq’s document review services staff count fluctuates frequently based on customer demand. Historically, these team members worked in brick-and-mortar facilities. Epiq was already moving to a more flexible work model, even before the seismic changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The task was brought into sharp relief: implement a way for the team to work from geographically distributed locations, with users logging into a virtual desktop environment to perform eDiscovery documentation. Their proof-of-concept project with Microsoft’s Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) revealed that the native auto-scaling in the product was difficult to control, and they needed to explore alternatives to lower costs. The Microsoft team recommended a potential solution; Nerdio Manager for Enterprise

Epiq’s Document Review Services (DRS) team can onboard and serve hundreds of client document review projects in a year. Usability, flexibility and scalability are key attributes for their technology partners. As team members move quickly from project to project and task to task, Nerdio Manager for Enterprise enables their tech support to keep pace. “Nerdio helps the entire DRS business unit be more 

The Solution 

The Need for Speed – From Proof of Concept to Implementation 

Already moving toward a flexible, virtualized environment, the Epiq team was prompted by the business realities of the COVID-19 crisis. They needed to move quickly, but intelligently, forward with their initiatives. Nerdio became their partner in adding speed and efficiency. 

“We were already going down that route, taking things into the cloud, doing document review, hosting virtual machines. COVID forced us to do it immediately,” said Wright. 

Although Epiq was initially skeptical of bringing in a third-party solution, the Nerdio team put any anxiety away in short order. “We were really impressed by how easy it was to set up and administer. Especially the auto-scaling functionality,” said Wright. “The Nerdio team really helped us understand what would work best for our use case.” 

“The biggest takeaway from all this is how Nerdio helped us increase efficiency and decrease cost in the wake of COVID. It was quick and easy to identify how Nerdio helped us. Looking back, we wish we had pulled the trigger on Nerdio sooner.” 

– Drew Wright, Senior Manager of Information Technology, DRS for Epiq


The Results 

Saving Time & Significantly Lowering Costs 

Epiq evolved its business practices, both to support the document review team with the best technology, but also to respond to that workforce’s need for physical and geographic flexibility. 

Wright says, “Nerdio has saved our team countless hours. Time we can spend on other important things — supporting users and acting more strategically.” In a business where time is of the essence, Nerdio proved its worth quickly. As Wright tells it, “Epiq turned a very large workforce virtual in about two weeks. Being able to layer on a tool like Nerdio, and seeing increased functionality, scalability, and significant cost-savings was just invaluable to us.” 

Nerdio’s Advanced Microsoft Azure auto-scaling capabilities drove significant monthly savings on Azure storage and compute costs–by about five times, in fact. “What we spend on Nerdio has been offset manifold by the savings. Probably within two weeks, we noticed a significant improvement in cost, because Nerdio was doing what AVD’s standard auto-scaling couldn’t.” 


DOWNLOAD THE CASE STUDY HERE

Find Nerdio in the Azure Marketplace: nerdio.co/nme

Introducing: Nerdio Manager for MSP

The-All-New-NMM2-300x169

Exciting times here at Nerdio. Last week we officially released the public preview of Nerdio Manager for MSP, or NMM for short. In this blog series I would like to share with you the reason behind this solution and talk a bit more about the multi-tenant management capabilities it has to offer. Managing and optimizing Azure Virtual Desktop combined with Azure IaaS virtual machines, as well as various native Azure services, has never been easier.

Nerdio Manager for MSP is a brand new and one of a kind multi-tenant Azure Virtual Desktop and Azure IaaS management solution. Designed from the ground-up while leveraging some of the most powerful features and functionalities you have come to know from Nerdio for Azure (NFA) and Nerdio Manager for Enterprise (NME).

No Easy Task

Managing, fine tuning, and optimizing AVD deployments is no easy task – no matter how good your PowerShell and/or DevOps automation skills are, as I am sure many of you have found out by now. Never mind the risk it brings and the time it consumes. That’s one of the main reasons why Nerdio Manager for Enterprise has been a hit from day one.

Thousands of companies are running and managing tens of thousands of virtual machines, applications, images, and even more users on daily basis — with ease, I might add. The word spreads fast.

Given its split-tenant architecture – NME is deployed within the primary Azure AD tenant of the customer, meaning a dedicated NME installation per tenant – and it being deployed through the Azure marketplace make that NME is secure by design and offers a ton of flexibility.

Flexibility when it comes to standing up entire AVD environments within 60 minutes or less, for example, by onboarding existing AVD deployment within minutes after NME has been installed, but also from a development perspective – it’s no coincidence that we come out with new versions of our software on a monthly basis, sometimes even twice a month.

The Challenge

While the above approach is a perfect fit for Enterprise type companies; for Managed Service Providers (MSPs), this is a different story.

Personally, I have worked with multiple MSPs throughout 2020, implementing Nerdio Manager for Enterprise for their customers, organizing training sessions, building an Azure Cloud practice helping them to better support their end-customers, and so on.

However, installing and setting up multiple, sometimes dozens of NME environments (MSPs easily have dozens, if not hundreds of clients), again, one per tenant can be a handful. Not to mention managing the various accounts needed to log into the various customer environments and go about your daily business – enter Nerdio Manager for MSP.

Introducing Nerdio Manager for MSP

Nerdio Manager for MSP offers a unique mix of extreme power, unique AVD management and autoscale capabilities (for AVD as well as IaaS), combined with different forms of automation, auto deployment options, native Azure integrations, and a pallet of user, IaaS virtual machine, security, and Microsoft 365 management options.

The best thing is, NMM is multi-tenant.

Meaning, as an MSP, you can onboard as many customers as you want while still being able to get to all of them through a single mouse-click once logged in (you only need to log in once) to the main management console.

It brings together the best of both worlds.

Implementing NMM is easy and happens fully automated via the Azure marketplace, however, we offer multiple customer deployment scenario’s, here’s a high-level overview of what’s possible:

  • Greenfield – no Azure footprint whatsoever. Up and running in 60 minutes.
  • Landing zone only – existing AD or AADDS. Up and running in 30 minutes.
  • Existing IaaS – existing Azure environment. Up and running in 10 minutes.
  • Existing WVD – existing AVD deployment. Up and running in 10 minutes.
nerdio deployment scenarios

Because of its architecture (similar to Nerdio Manager for Enterprise, though multi-tenant, we’ll spend more time on that in part two of this series) it offers the same flexibility and extensibility as Nerdio Manager for Enterprise. Enabling us to innovate at a rapid pace and come out with new versions of NMM quickly adding even more features and functionalities.

Our roadmap for 2021 is ambitious, to say the least.  

Networking, backups, disk management, shadowing users, Azure Files, Role Based Access, MSIX App Attach, and more — it is all in there.

In short you will not find a more complete, efficient, and easier to use WVD and IaaS management platform out there.

In part two of this series, we will have a more detailed look the NMM architecture, the underlying resources, and deployment options. Stay tuned, there is much more to share!

Thank you for reading.

Bas van Kaam

Nerdio Field CTO, EMEA