All About Application Management in Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)

The purpose of a virtual desktop deployment is to provide users access to applications.  Application and data access is the reason to build a virtual desktop, like AVD, in the first place.  Therefore, installing, updating, and delivering applications to end users is a critical component of a desktop virtualization strategy. 

Azure Virtual Desktop host pools can be deployed as “personal” or “pooled”.  In single-session, personal environments, each user is permanently assigned a dedicated VM as their desktop.  In pooled environments, both single-session and multi-session, multiple users are connected to a “random” VM for the duration of their session and may be connected to a completely different VM the following day.  The methods of managing applications on personal desktops are very different than those used with pooled desktops.  Personal desktops (and Windows 365 Cloud PCs) behave exactly like a physical endpoint device and can be managed using traditional application delivery tools like Microsoft Endpoint Manager (SCCM and Intune).   

Pooled desktops provide several advantages over personal desktops such as cost efficiency and ability to standardize the IT environment.  However, they also come with unique application management challenges since most existing tools are built for a one-to-one user-to-desktop assignment, which is not the case with pooled desktops. 

In this article, we’ll focus on the strategies available to manage applications in pooled AVD deployments. 

The challenge with app management in pooled desktop environment can be boiled down to this – multiple users are sharing VMs, any installed app is available to all users. This “all or nothing” approach creates many challenges in situations where specific apps must be available to certain groups of users, but not to others.  How can we selectively assign applications to individual users or groups of users?   

Delivering apps to AVD users on pooled desktops requires two steps:

  1. Installing the application on either the image or session host VM
  2. Delivering the app to some or all users

Let’s take a look at the available options for each of these steps.

Installation 

Installing applications in a pooled AVD environment can be accomplished in several ways. 

  1. Manual install on image 
  1. Scripted action install on image 
  1. Microsoft Endpoint Manager (MEM) install on image 
  1. Scripted action install on session hosts 
  1. MEM install on session hosts 

1. Manual Install On Image 

The easiest way to install applications is by loading each app on the base image VM one at a time.  Once all apps are installed, the image is “sealed” and can be used to build new session hosts or update existing ones.  All installed apps will be available to all users who connect to these session hosts. 

This method is easy to start with but becomes difficult and time consuming to maintain over time. 

2. Scripted Action Install On Image 

Script the installation of applications with Powershell, save these scripted actions in the Nerdio Manager Scripted Action library, and run the scripted actions on the image during creation or monthly patch cycle.  Once the updated image is deployed to session hosts, all users can access all apps. 

This method requires a bit of work to script the installation of each app but makes ongoing image and application updates easy and automated. 

3. MEM Install On Image 

Leverage existing MEM workflows to install and update applications on the base image.  Once all apps are installed, the image is “sealed” and can be used to build new session hosts or update existing ones.  All installed apps will be available to all users who connect to these session hosts. 

This method required some upfront work to get all applications imported and configured in MEM. 

4. Scripted Action Install On Session Hosts 

Instead of pre-installing application on the image, deploy apps to session host VMs with Nerdio Manager using scripted actions while the VMs are being created.  The latest base image can be pulled from the Azure Marketplace and all apps can be automatically installed during session host VM creation. 

This method required a bit of work to script installation of each app but makes ongoing host updates easy and automated.  All installed apps are available to all desktop users. 

5. MEM Install On Session Hosts 

Instead of pre-installing applications on the base image, deploy apps to session host VMs with MEM after the VMs are created.  The most recent image can be pulled from the Azure Marketplace and all apps will be automatically installed once the session host VMs are created. 

This method required some upfront work to get all applications imported and configured in MEM. 

Delivery 

Once applications are installed, they need to be delivered to users.  This is where the challenge of pooled desktops comes in.  Regardless of which of the 5 methods above was used to install the apps, once installed, all users will have access to all apps.  This may be OK in some scenarios but, often, this is not ideal. 

The following methods can be used to selectively deliver specific apps to specific users or groups. 

  1. Multiple images and host pools 
  1. RemoteApps 
  1. MSIX app attach 
  1. Nerdio’s Installed Apps Management 

1. Multiple Images and Host Pools 

Since all installed apps on the image are available to all users assigned to a host pool based on this image, one way to selectively assign groups of apps to groups of users is by creating and maintaining multiple desktop images, each associated with its own host pool.  Different groups of users are assigned to separate host pools that only have the apps that the users need. 

Although this method can achieve the objective of selective app assignment in a pooled desktop environment, it is difficult to manage at scale.  The number of images with unique configurations tends to be high and the effort required to maintain each individual image with its own set of apps is extremely time consuming. 

2. RemoteApps 

If users don’t need access to a full desktop, RemoteApps can be selectively published to individual users or groups.  Instead of launching a full desktop session, users will open individual apps published to them by the administrator. 

3. MSIX App Attach 

MSIX app attach is a relatively new technology available in AVD.  Administrators can assign individual MSIX apps to specific users or groups.  The application gets mounted when the user logs in and only entitled users can access the app.  One session host VM can have multiple connected users with different apps available in their sessions. 

MSIX app attach is great in concept and works well in practice.  However, today very few applications are available in the new MSIX format and converting existing apps to MSIX is a challenging and time-consuming process.  As a result, until the MSIX format becomes more widespread among software publishers, app attach is not very commonly used. 

4. Nerdio’s Installed Apps Management 

This is the most flexible and easy method to manage app assignment.  It leverages a technology built into FSLogix called “Application Masking”.  The concept is very simple: install a superset of apps on the image and use application masking to only reveal the apps an individual user need.  App masking doesn’t just hide the application shortcut, it makes all components of the app (e.g. files, registry entries, shortcuts, etc.) completely invisible to users who have no access.  There is nothing even a very sophisticated user can do to access an application that has been masked from them.  Unfortunately, with out-of-the-box FSLogix tools, implementing app masking is challenging and extremely complex.  It is difficult to initially configure and even more difficult to maintain at scale. 

This is where Nerdio’s Installed Apps Management feature comes in.  Nerdio Manager simplifies and automates the app masking configuration process down to 3 steps: 

  1. Discover installed apps 
  1. Create app-to-users assignment rules
  1. Apply rules to hosts 

Let’s look at each of these steps in more detail. 

1. Discover Installed Apps 

Whenever a new host pool is created or an existing host pool is re-imaged, Nerdio Manager will automatically discover all installed applications on the host pool and create an inventory.  This inventory of discovered apps will include all apps installed on the base image and directly on the session host VMs.  Each discovered application will have several “paths” associated with it.  These paths are locations of files and registry entries that belong to a specific application. 

2. Create App-to-Users Assignment Rules 

Once all apps are discovered, one or more rule sets can be created to define which apps are available to which users and groups.  By default, all installed apps are available to all users.  However, once an application is added to a rule set it can be made available to all users with exceptions (blacklist) or be made unavailable to all users with exceptions (whitelist). 

Apps-to-users assignment rules can be used for individual apps or groups of applications.  For example, there may be a rule set for Browsers that includes Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox that is made available to all users except for certain group of task workers.  And there could also be a rule set for Accounting Apps that includes various accounting and finance applications that are available only to members of Accounting and Finance security groups. 

3. Apply Rules to Hosts 

Once apps are automatically discovered and rule sets are created, Nerdio Manager applies these rule sets to all existing hosts and all newly created VMs in the host pool.  The process of applying rule sets does not require a reboot of the VMs and can be done in production.  Within a few minutes, users will notice apps appear or disappear depending on rule set configuration. 

With these 3 simple steps, admins gain full control over users’ access to specific apps without creating and managing multiple images and host pools. 

Application management is a critical component of AVD administration strategy and Nerdio Manager provides a complete suite of tools to install applications via images and scripted actions and to deliver apps to specific users with RemoteApps, MSIX app attach, and Installed Apps management. 

Nerdio Launches Inaugural NVP Program Recognizing Exceptional Supporters

Joining Nerdio in mid-2020, it’s crazy to think of the amount of new product features (and products), community building and collaboration activities and staff we’ve added in that time.

For some time now, we’ve been working on cultivating a way to go beyond business as usual and more closely integrate with the biggest Nerdio fans and ones that have significantly helped us with all of the above and more. So it is with great honor that I’m pleased to officially launch the Nerdio Valued Professional (NVP) program!

What Is an NVP?

Being an NVP is not dependent on whether or not you are a Nerdio customer. Tech enthusiasts, bloggers, and folks who operate in our space (ex. work for one of our distributor partners, work at Microsoft driving ACR) are all eligible and considered for the NVP distinction.

Our goal in establishing the NVP program is to support and give back to individuals who have consistently and voluntarily worked to support Nerdio, our products, initiatives and vision. More than just fans of the brand and tech we’re building here, NVPs are community-minded and driven to go the extra mile.

Whether through podcasts and webinars, educational content, sending potential leads and deals our way, or just spreading positiveness and awareness via their social channels – NVPs recognize the way in which Nerdio is reducing the technical complexity and acumen it typically takes to see substantial ROI when implementing Azure Virtual Desktop and/or Windows 365. And they help other IT pros and admins to save time, money and headaches by introducing them to Nerdio. extending our free resources like our Knowledge Base and Cost Estimator, and staying on top of the latest Nerdio, AVD, Windows 365, EUC and Azure news.

Why Would I Want to Be an NVP?

Being named an NVP sets you apart from peers and colleagues in the EUC and IT spaces as it shows not only that you know your stuff when it comes to Nerdio, Azure, and virtual desktops in general but that we know you know and have decided to publicly recognize you as a trusted partner and leading voice in our community or the communities you belong to. Additionally, we are a disruptive startup gaining traction and users at an impressive pace. Being an NVP showcases you are exceptionally tapped into and concerned about innovation and the future of your industry and technology.

Lastly, consistent dedication to our company, people and future means a lot to us and we try to give something back as equally meaningful. NVPs will receive exclusive perks and access, not limited to but likely including Nerdio swag, early access to our new product roadmap before features are released, event tickets and discounts, and much more.

This year we are truly going big on delivering on our goal as the inaugural class of NVPs are invited to a FREE all-expenses paid trip to NerdioCon, our user conference happening February 21-23, 2022 in beautiful Cancun, Mexico.

How Are NVPs Chosen and When Will the 2021 Class Be Announced?

NVPs are chosen at the discretion of Nerdio employees and are evaluated on the following criteria and whether the individual:

  • Evangelizes the Nerdio portfolio and what we stand for as a company
  • Constantly provides constructive feedback, brings in ideas, feature requests and more
  • Educates others on Nerdio, virtual desktops, and other Azure cloud related resources
  • Bonus: actively works on potential business opportunities

We have chosen the first class of NVPs and are excited to introduce them all to you in my next blog post, expected to go live toward the end of this month. We’ll share a bit more about who they are, what they do in the technology space, and how they came to find out about (and cheer on!) Nerdio.

For any questions or if you’d like more information about the NVP program, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!

Bas van Kaam, Field CTO, EMEA

Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) Advanced Specialization – Part 2: Why Your Company Should Pursue It & How to Collaboratively Do So

Neil McLoughlin, UK Field CTO

In our first part of this new series about Azure specialization and certification, we discussed what  the Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) Advanced Specialization is and how to achieve it. Here we will talk about why your company would want to achieve it (aka benefits!) and share collaboration tips to help when pulling together your team, timeline and components for the initiative.  

The Advanced Specialization can take between 3-6 months depending on how mature your existing processes and procedures are. You’ll need to prepare a lot of documentation and route through approvals in your organization, nominate employees to cover off on each required section and of course answer countless questions that emerge during the preparation process.

Company Benefits of Achieving the AVD Advanced Specialization

All of this undoubtedly causes organizations to at some point ask, “Will the ROI outweigh our time invested on the AVD Advanced Specialization?” The answer is an astounding yes. Looking at all of your internal processes, procedures, and existing designs to meet the minimum strict criteria set by Microsoft is a return on investment itself. Additionally, pursuing the specialization affords companies the ability to: 

Differentiate from the Competition

When providing bids or statements of work you want to stand out as much as possible to seal the deal. Achieving the specialization shows your customers that Microsoft recognizes your ability to design, implement and support an AVD solution to the highest standards. Think of it as a prestigious diploma from a well-known university or graduating Magna Cum Laude. But the AVD Advanced Specialization isn’t just important for you to tell prospects once they’ve been introduced to your company, it can be the way that they find out about you and can drive leads in and of itself. For example, you issue a press release announcing the accomplishment and now companies looking into AVD can easily see your recent news and that you are a leader when it comes to understanding and mastering the technology.

Demonstrate Not Only Expertise but Breadth of It

Having to submit production designs, statements of work, processes etc, for the specialization speaks loudly for an entity’s AVD acumen. Additionally, the specialization requires a certain number of Microsoft certified staff per company, which shows an organization, not just an individual, can meet the high bar set by Microsoft. This is a selling point for customers and prospects because they can rest assured AVD expertise is baked into your company and across your staff and service(s), so they aren’t “locked in” to one expert and their packed work schedule. 

Leverage Microsoft’s Keys to Success in Your Sales Process

When engaging a prospective client, the whole process of having an initial conversation and then progressing it through pre-sales, sales, design, implementation and support discussions can be a long and winding road. The specialization follows, and has your detail your approach to, this whole process so Microsoft ensures that when you enter into these talks you are speaking to the right people, in the right departments and with the right messaging and knowledge that will allow you to close the deal and bring the customer on board.

Collaboration Tips & Who to Involve and When

If you are still reading, we haven’t scared you away yet… good! Achieving the specialization is a huge collaborative effort involving many different teams at each stage of the process. It is not meant to be daunting because it is a team initiative involving many different departments all with their own roles and contributions to the overall achievement  

Nobody can do this alone! Ensure the below teams and team players are involved in the actual implementation itself as early as you can to ensure success and keep progress moving forward and team members engaged and committed.

  • Marketing – During the evaluation you will be asked how your company sells AVD solutions. Microsoft will ask to see marketing materials, look at your website and collateral to ensure your marketing practices are up to date.
  • Pre-Sales and Consultancy– The statement of work is one of the most important documents produced as part of the sales process and is a focus of the evaluation so make sure pre-sales is aware of the initiative’s timeline and can supply the documentation. Once a SOW has been signed, typically consultants will produce a HLD and LLD Design document before implementation. This will be one of the most important documents and certainly the most detailed so most of the assessment will be spent on this document. We advise you assign the consultant(s) who authored it to speak directly with Microsoft during the assessment.
  • Implementation – For larger environments an engineer will implement the HLD and LLD Design It’s advisable to have this person be a key player in the entire process also and have them on standby for the assessment in case the auditor asks any questions about the actual implementation itself.
  • Project Handover – The auditors will ask about handover documentation –  SLAs, support procedures and the like. If there are any service managers involved in the process, they will need to be kept informed and while they typically don’t have many actions to take, they may need to produce documentation or answer questions.

If We Use Nerdio, Why Should My Company Pursue the Specialization?

We have plenty of partners who hold this certification and also use Nerdio for all their AVD needs. The reason being is that Nerdio Manager sits on top of AVD, extending all of the native capabilities while adding big benefits when it comes to significant cost and time savings. In fact, we always say some of our best partners and customers are ones who know all about implementing native AVD and have tried it themselves because they immediately see the value Nerdio brings.

Putting everything into place for the AVD Advanced Specialization gives your company a solid foundation to deliver a complete end-to-end AVD deployment. But we all know the hard work doesn’t stop there. Leverage Nerdio to make each existing and new deployment easier to deploy, manage and optimize for maximum ROI. Our uniquely differentiated features around image management, PowerShell scripting, disaster recovery, and powerful automation ensure that your foundation will translate to scalable, reliable results for each of your clients and your overall Azure practice.

I hope you enjoyed this two-part series on the AVD Advanced Specialization. Keep an eye out for our next pair of educational articles on the AZ- 140 certification for individuals to distinguish themselves when it comes to AVD.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at nmcloughln@getnerdio.com.

Why Nerdio Licenses are Actually Free (and Make You Money!)

During my time at Nerdio, I have spoken to numerous companies, clients, and partners— literally hundreds of them. Conversations range from Azure Virtual Desktop to more specific topics such as how to handle certain application workloads, image management, our overly popular autoscaling options, and more. Of course, Windows 365, and Cloud PC as a category have also been popular topics throughout the last couple of months.  

In general, after we’ve done a demo where I demonstrate the ins and outs, or at least up to a certain point since time is limited, they can’t wait to get their “hands dirty” and give either Nerdio Manager for Enterprise or Nerdio Manager for MSP a try themselves.  

What’s the Cost?

However, before they do, there’s always that final question about licensing and pricing, and I can’t blame them. It’s something I was always interested in as well when “I was on the other side of the table” – before I joined Nerdio.  

What type of licensing options do you have available, how will I be invoiced, what do I need to purchase upfront, and even more importantly, what will it cost me?  

Let me tell you, I am always happy to answer these types of questions. Why? Well, first of all, Nerdio licenses are cheap–there’s really no other way to put it. Secondly, our licenses include everything you need. There are no separate contracts to purchase (annually, for example) or upfront investments to make.  

Support, as well as all future new versions are included and depending on which solution you would like to use, we even go as far as to help you onboard your first two customers— also free of charge.  

Customer Success  

In addition to that, we have introduced Customer Success Packages which will take your understanding of Azure combined with Nerdio to a whole new level enabling you to get the most out of Nerdio as well as AVD/Cloud PC, within no time. By excluding steep learning curves, we will get your team(s) up and running as quickly as possible so you can go and take advantage of all we have to offer. See the overview below to get an impression.  

Nerdio Customer Success Packages

Plus, if you consider the time and financial savings, including the added efficiency that comes with using Nerdio Manager, you’ll see that Nerdio licenses do not cost you money. They actually make you money! And the best thing is, I will be able to show you all this as well.   

What’s not to like?! 

Research (over 2020 and beyond) has shown that by implementing and using Nerdio Manager on a daily basis will save companies up to 83% on Azure resource costs. More on this in a bit. In fact, licenses pay for themselves after an average of 6.5 days! 

Azure Marketplace 

But before I dive in a bit deeper, it is important to understand that both of our products are deployed and invoiced through the Azure Marketplace. As a result, Nerdio Manager is available in all Azure regions worldwide. Installing the products will take you somewhere between 20-30 minutes, depending on the time of day, the Region you are deploying into, how busy the Azure platform is, and more.  

Not only does this make the installation and initial set up a smooth experience, the entire procurement process, especially within mid-sized to bigger companies becomes a lot easier as well. Another time saver.  

We also offer a 30-day trial free of Nerdio licenses with no questions asked.  

Nerdio licenses will be invoiced as part of your monthly Azure statement tied to your subscription. High level you could say it works as follows: you pay Microsoft and Microsoft pays Nerdio. All this happens fully automatically. That also means that if your company’s usage pattern changes, your monthly invoice will change with it.  

Another thing I wanted to highlight is that we always invoice in arrears. Meaning the usage of October will be invoiced around the first of November. In short, you will only be charged for the actual licenses consumed and always after the fact. That’s a fair approach, don’t you agree?  

License Count Example 

Let’s say that at one point you have 500 monthly active users. This would mean you will only be invoiced for 500 users (even if you have 1000 users assigned). Now, a month later, perhaps in the middle of the summer holiday season, you may only have 250 monthly active users – a lot less. Same rules apply, the whole process is automated, and you will be invoiced for those 250 users, nothing more, nothing less.  

Also note that all usage / consumption information is directly accessible and viewable (exportable as a report as well) from the Nerdio Manager user interface, as shown below (click to enlarge): 

auto-scale savings

As always, if the above in unclear for whatever reason, let me know and we’ll hop on a 15- minute call. I’d love to do it! 

Nerdio Licenses for Free 

The things we do and implement from a technical point of view to save on Azure resources (and time) are plentiful and would probably take me another 5 blog posts or so to explain. I will not do that here. And to be honest, if you are the one responsible for the commercial and/or financial side of things, you probably don’t really care either. It’s the outcome that counts! Though, when interested we can go as deep as you would like into the technology as well.  

Through the last 12 months, we have been talking to and monitoring various verticals and spoken to hundreds of Nerdio customers, which included decision makers, commercial roles as well as technically-orientated folks. The cost-savings results we have achieved with Nerdio Manager were staggering–see for yourself.  

nerdio cost savings examples

Time Savings 

To put things into a bit more perspective, we have also done research around some of the time savings you will get from using our solutions. Please have a look at the below overview. Of course, for some it will be a bit more, for others it might be a bit less, but overall, the savings will be quite substantial as you can see.  

time savings microsoft azure

We are all about automating complex tasks for you, making sure they are repeatable and less prone to human errors.  

Unique Cost Saving Strategies 

Using our solution, we enable you to apply some very interesting cost saving strategies unique to our technology. The various costs that come with leveraging Azure Virtual Desktop can be confusing. That’s why we developed a clear overview on what is involved and how you can save up to 83% on the underlying Azure compute and storage costs. Have a look at the images below, as well as this blog post from our CEO, Vadim Vladimirskiy for some more detailed background information.  

azure virtual desktop costs
cost reduction for avd

To Summarize 

As you can see, there are many reasons why companies love using Nerdio’s solutions. If cost savings, adding efficiency to your day-to-day work, as well as enabling >80% percent of your IT workforce to be able to work with, deploy, manage, and optimize Azure Virtual Desktop together with Windows 365 Cloud PC are on your agenda, please consider having a chat with us to find out how we can accelerate your Azure Cloud business.  

In short… 

  • We offer one of the (if not, the) most flexible and honest licensing programs out there. 
  • No need to purchase or annually renew any of your contracts. Invoicing and billing is done through the Azure Marketplace, fully automated and consumption based, also simplifying, and speeding up the procurement process.  
  • Support is included as are any future software releases. 
  • The cost saving strategies we offer are unique to Nerdio, you’ll benefit in days.  
  • Within 6.5 days on average, you will have earned back your Nerdio licenses costs and will start to make money. 
  • Our Customer Success Packages are extremely detailed and delivered by industry experts talking you through it step by step.  

There you go. I hope this has been informative, and if you have any questions or would like to get started using Nerdio, please, do not hesitate to contact us. It will be our pleasure to help you on your way towards becoming more successful leveraging Microsoft Azure Cloud resources. 

Notes from Nerdio’s EMEA Field (CTO): A Day in the (Dynamic) Life

My role at Nerdio is very diverse, to say the least. Daily, I am involved with product marketing, sales, presenting at events, demos, product and business development, a little bit of support here and there, various community initiatives, partner management, and more – I wear many hats, as they say. And I can honestly tell you, it is a lot of fun, educational, and fulfilling at the same time.  

When I meet with potential clients or partners, we always do a short introduction to start out with and people often ask “what does your day or week look like?”  So, what are some of the activities that come with all of this? Let me share what an average day of a Nerdio Field CTO looks like.  

Flexibility makes for a solid mix 

First, my role is very flexible, in the sense that I control my own agenda, plan my own meetings, spare time, and more. This gives me the opportunity to balance my private and work life in a way that fits me as an individual, for which I’m thankful. My company, Nerdio, is very openminded, they always take the time differences into consideration since a lot of my colleagues are based in the U.S.  

Usually, my day starts around 07:00 AM CEST, though there are definite exceptions to that depending on my schedule for the day. If I am meeting with someone from Australia, for example, it might be a bit earlier. Or, if I have been working till let’s say 09:00 or 10:00 PM the day before, I might start an hour later, it all depends. Of course, my personal situation/life which differs per day/week as well also plays an important role in all this.  

My focus is on the EMEA region, though I try to help out in other parts of the globe if it makes sense and fits everyone’s time schedules. Something we coordinate internally.  

Cold and dark makes for productive mornings

At Nerdio, we like to move fast and there is always room for ideas, initiatives regardless of shape or form, something I truly love about what I do. It often happens that when I wake up in the early morning, even before my wife and (2-year-old) son is up, I’m so pumped to get started I can’t sleep anymore. Before I know it, I am out of bed (trying to keep the noise to a minimum), grab myself some coffee and start cramming away with whatever it is that I might be working on.  

I don’t know about you, but I love it when it’s cold and still dark outside when I’m behind my desk looking over the water from my home office – another thing I am grateful for. It’s one of the few things I like about fall and wintertime.  

I also make sure to get enough breaks in between. Days are often 12 hours+ so to stay healthy and sharp I step out for a 10-15 minute walk occasionally to get in some fresh air before getting back into the office. Of course, I always stay near, and I have my phone with me, so if something is up, I’m back behind my desk in minutes, which, to be honest does not happen that often.  

I do not make lists anymore, something which I did do in the past. I learned to organize my agenda and inbox in such a way that it is one of the few things I need to stay on top of everything (is it OK if I say I really like Outlook and Teams?). I’ll make sure to put in reminders where it makes sense and use our CRM system to keep track of everything we are working on as a team as well as individually, it is well organized and automated, something that really helps me in my day-to-day business.  

A day in the life of… 

OK, so let’s have a look at an average day and see what comes up… 

07:00 I wake up a grab myself some coffee, start up my PC, get some music going, check my socials, my agenda / inbox (yes, I do this when I wake up and am still in bed as well) and make a plan for the day. By the way, it’s not something I write down or anything like that, it sort of happens in my head if that makes sense. Days and weeks at Nerdio are, or can be, very dynamic, so being able to embrace and accept change is something you must deal with. PS, when I do write something down, and that happens daily, I use pen and paper!  

07:30 One of my colleagues, Neil Mcloughlin, is based in the UK and also works as a Nerdio Field CTO – though, his approach and day might differ from mine, of course. We often start the day by having a quick chat; what’s going on, need some help with anything, how’s life, what did you think about xyz,(he always keeps a sharp eye on what’s happening within our line of business); that sort of thing – which is always fun, refreshing and it keeps you close to the people you are working with daily even though we do not see each other in real-life (or not yet, anyway).  

The same things happen with my colleagues based outside of Europe, by the way, but usually later in the day.  

In between, I work on two social media posts, one on a new partnership announcement, and another one regarding a new version of NME coming out shorty, as part of our monthly release cycle.  

08:00 I have a meeting planned with a potential customer who would like to learn a bit more about we do, who we are as a company, our portfolio, added value and some general questions on the Azure Virtual Desktop market and business. This takes about an hour, they walk away satisfied, we agreed on next steps, and I’ll speak to them early next week. 

09:00 Some more coffee and a couple of emails that need my attention. A current partner working on two AVD deployments involving Nerdio Manager for Enterprise, is asking about some specific Autoscale configuration settings involving Ephemeral OS Disks. Since this is one of my favourite topics, I take my time and walk him through the process. I suggested a quick call, if necessary, but it turned out this was not needed – happy partner and on they go.  

09:30 I have a meetup planned to talk about a potential partnership, again on Nerdio Manager for Enterprise. We talk about the initial first steps, how we can help to get them moving, support options, marketing, we have a look at some roadmap items, including our release notes, etc. We slightly run over time, but since I do not have a back-to-back meeting scheduled there is no need to rush.  

10:15 I have a few blogposts and a Nerdio specific KB article pending which I started working on a few weeks ago but have not come around to finish them. I put my music back on, have a glass of water and off we go. Again, I was not able to finish them all but made some solid progress.  

11:00 Out for a walk, back in 15!  

11:15 In contact with a few of my Microsoft contacts. We have been actively working on a few deals and it’s all looking good so far.  

11:30 I have a meeting planned with one of our distribution partners on Nerdio Manager for MSP. We are planning a webinar series for the coming months where we will educate their MSP community on Azure Virtual Desktop, Windows 365 / Cloud PC, and of course how Nerdio helps with all this. Excellent session, done early, last coffee of the day coming up.  

12:00 Lunch, while I check out some our latest “demo of the day” videos. Things move so quickly from a development perspective (on both of our solutions) that it can be hard to keep up. This way, I know what’s going on, how it all works, and I can think about how to explain these new features to future and current partners and customers.  

13:00 Neil and I have a quick Teams chat on some upcoming events where we will co-present. What’s the audience like, what should we primarily focus on, which slides to include, which demoes to prepare–that type of thing.  

13:30 We have some emails going back and forth, including some shared documents that we are working on as a team. We recently released our Customer Success Packages, which have been a hit from day one. However, the thinking never stops, and we are always looking for ways to improve on what we already have, making it more efficient etc. Always fun to chat with colleagues on the other side of the ocean, who, like myself, are also up bright and early.  

14:00 A deep-dive / training session on both Nerdio Manager for Enterprise as well as MSP with one of my current partners. For 1.5 hours we talk about (and I show) the various options we have available, from a technical perspective mostly, we go over some of our cost savings strategies, how to implement and finally some general Q and A, with a minute to spare, all done and next steps planned.  

15:30 Another walk outside while answering an email or two and have a quick chat via Teams.  

15:45 I spend some time to go through CRM, update deals I have been working on and planning some next steps.  

16:00 We have a Nerdio team meeting planned. We welcome a new colleague to our team, do a round of introductions, talk about the day-to-day business, progress on some exciting bigger projects that we are working on internally (more soon), including NerdioCon, etc. Again, fast paced, to the point, a bit of fun as well, and done in 30 minutes.  

16:30 I meet with one of my colleagues to go over some outstanding deals, we talk strategy, potential roadblocks for the customer, how to help them move forward, which is in the best interest of both parties. Again, 30 minutes done and dusted.  

17:00 Working on a document for one of my (soon to be) customers to help them convince management AVD/Nerdio is the way to go, including a (financial) business-case, a comparison overview, and a few general questions they had pending – well received.  

17:30 Good news, one of my bigger MSP partners have onboarded two new clients onto Nerdio Manager for MSP and another deal closed on the Enterprise side on things – A quick note to the customer in question as well as the MSP, updated CRM, job done, another 500-user deployment in the books.  

18:00 Almost diner time here in NL, but I still have some time to answer a few emails. Specifically, an internal thread that has been going for a few days where we discuss an upcoming community initiative that we have been working on and thinking about. I wish I could say more already, but I can’t, unfortunately. Also checked in with a few clients to see how they are progressing with their PoC’s.  

18:15 Dinner, some play time, get my son to bed, you know the drill!

19:30 Wrapping up my day, some final emails, another quick chat via Teams, and since the U.S. is now in full swing, I’m getting some questions from a couple of colleagues, which I’m always happy to answer while having a beer and watching Netflix.  

20:00 I send out some final notes (while in my living room) to our product development team regarding some feedback/ideas/requests I collected over the last couple of days. Who knows, it might end up on our roadmap, as it often does.  

Of course, during the day there’s a lot more going on in between as well, WhatsApp, Twitter, LinkedIn, direct messages, etc. We talk about various community initiatives, not always with Nerdio colleagues per se, there’s email coming in from various sources that also needs attention, but that would all be too detailed to mention, as you can probably imagine.  

Every day is different, every day is busy, every day is fun – that would be my summary on working for Nerdio throughout the past year and a half (almost)! The team spirit is high, the ambition level even higher, we are fast-paced and the whole team is there to help each other out, no questions asked. 

Thank you, Nerdio.  

Let’s see where the next 18 months takes us! 

Q&A with Natasha Boyko: What to Expect at NerdioCon 2022

Though cooler temperatures are in the forecast for many as we head into the last few months of the year, here at Nerdio things are definitely heating up as we begin announcing NerdioCon 2022 speakers, sponsors, and content.  

Our website has been updated with new speaker information, but you’ll want to keep a close eye on our Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for even more exciting event updates and announcements in November, December, and January as we count down to February 21-23, 2022.  

To give partners and prospective attendees a holistic picture of our very first in-person NerdioCon, we sat down with our Senior Director, Partner Programs & Community, Natasha Boyko, for a Q+A-style look ahead.  

NerdioCon 2022

To kick things off, tell us a bit about yourself and what your role is at Nerdio.  

I’m no stranger to the channel, having worked at several channel companies prior to joining Nerdio in February 2021. I have a lot of experience empowering Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to support their SMB customers and best leverage the latest technologies to do so. As Senior Director of Partner Programs and Community, I manage our MSP partner ecosystem and the efforts we make as a company to expand our reach in the channel.  

A huge part of my role is managing our event strategy which includes both the industry and partner events we attend and the ones we put on ourselves. To date, events put on by Nerdio have been largely virtual because of the impacts of the pandemic. So we are thrilled and excited to put on an in-person event of this magnitude as we’re expecting over 150 partners to attend, many of which belong to our Partnerd partner program that I also oversee. With this program, we provide partners with a full arsenal of resources including a complete asset library with case studies, content white labelling capabilities, testimonials, product demo videos, discounted pricing, and more. One of the best perks of the program though is that Parnerds receive partially paid or even all expenses paid trips to NerdioCon depending on the amount of deals they close and register in our portal.  

What is the vision behind NerdioCon 2022? What sort of experiences and opportunities do you hope attendees will walk away with from the show?  

We are offering the only event in the channel dedicated to Microsoft Azure and that will not only teach partners how to grow their cloud practices using the latest Microsoft virtual desktop technologies, but how to make money while doing so! It is a user conference so we will be doing some in-depth trainings on Nerdio product features that help partners greatly reduce their Azure costs and improve operations and management across clients operating in Azure but we aren’t stopping there.  

We’re bringing in Azure experts across multiple areas of expertise to provide partners a 360-degree view on Azure and particularly Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows 365.  With the help of our sponsors, industry experts and thought leaders, our attendees will walk away feeling confident in their ability to deliver on their cloud strategy for 2022 and beyond with Azure. Additionally, our goal for this event is to share a fun destination event with partners that foster organic networking opportunities and afford attendees the chance to have some fun, get to know each other, and walk away feeling energized.  

Who will be at the event?  

Some of the biggest distributors, vendors and thought leaders in the partner ecosystem and ones that are related to Microsoft’s virtual desktop offerings… or even the people bringing them to market themselves.  We’re pulling out all the stops to bring our own Azure experts, key leaders from Microsoft and top channel vendors to provide first class content for our attendees. 

Why should I attend?  

We’ll be offering the best content and advice in the industry when it comes to Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows 365 but also equipping attendees with the best practices and insights needed to grow their business and capitalize on remote work interest. This event will be a unique experience for partners to not only hear from the experts but also attend interactive, hands-on workshops covering all aspects of Microsoft’s desktop virtualization technologies.  

How will this be different from NerdioCon 2021?  

Last year was our first ever NerdioCon event and it was completely virtual. We are doing it in-person this year and in a big way, leveraging an all-inclusive resort to help foster community while ensuring safety. Additionally, the introduction of Windows 365 earlier this year brings a whole new crop of timely session topics, technical deep dives, demos, and industry conversations around the future of Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) and SMB end user computing needs.  

How do I register? Where can I go for more information?  

Head over to our event site, www.nerdiocon.com to register and explore additional details around our lineup, event timing and helpful travel and safety links. Contact me at nboyko@getnerdio.com if you have any questions or to inquire about a quote / promo code if interested in double occupancy. 

There you have it folks! Keep an eye on our socials and sign up to save your spot at NerdioCon 2022 today by heading over to www.nerdiocon.com