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8 Help Desk Tasks Slowing MSPs Down

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are always looking for ways to improve Help Desk efficiencies. Reducing the time it takes to close a client ticket while delivering great customer service is key to increased profitability and customer success.  

Nerdio helps MSPs save significant time and resources through automation. Let’s look at eight common tasks that eat up time and prevent engineers from moving on to the next ticket – and how much time Nerdio can help an MSP save with each.  

1. A corrupt Windows profile 

Sometimes a corrupt Windows profile is just unavoidable. You receive a call saying, “I can’t log in. It says I have a temporary profile and none of my icons are there.”  

Somehow the PC magically got dropped off the domain or the PC can’t authenticate. Once you realize it’s a corrupt profile, you can find the issue and fix it and then proceed to log in again. But if not, you must wipe out the profile completely and remove or rename it from the C:\Users folder before the end-user can login again.  

Usually, this process happens several times before it’s resolved. What’s the cost? Probably two hours of time wasted – not only the engineers’ time, but during that time the client’s environment was also down and their desktop was unavailable. 

Average time to close a ticket of this type: two hours.
With Nerdio, the time to resolve this issue is less than five minutes.

In the Nerdio Admin Portal>Users select “Revert Profile” next to the user with a corrupted profile. 

This will enumerate the available Shadow Copy snapshots (VSS) on the user’s desktop and allow you to select a known-working version. 

Simply select the date and time, check the “I understand…” box and click Confirm.  Nerdio will automatically place the desktop in maintenance mode, back up the current corrupted profile, restore a copy of the profile from VSS snapshot, replace the corrupted profile, and reboot the desktop.  After a few minutes, the user will be able to log back in and have a working desktop with a functioning Windows profile. 

2. End-user onboarding  

Suppose your client tells you they are growing and have just hired a new employee! Naturally, you’re happy for them and if they’re growing, it also means you just grew by one endpoint.  

The task of onboarding a new employee could be one that takes a long time. Every client has different needs and therefore a different process.  What are some of the tasks you are asked to perform?  You log into your Domain Controller, open Active Directory Users and Computers, add their username, and setup a password.   

Hopefully you have AD Connect set up so it syncs the new account to Office 365. You log into Office 365 and create the same account there. Then come back down to the File Server, make sure the user is in the correct Security Groups, and make sure their mapped drives show up. You must make sure their printers are installed as well. 

Next, their applications need to be loaded and all the correct file paths pointed to the right place. You then open Outlook and make sure Office 365 is activated and email caching can begin. Depending on how many line–of–business applications this user has, it can take some time. 

Average time to close a ticket of this type: 30 minutes to an hour.
With Nerdio, the time to close this type of ticket is three minutes. 

In the Nerdio Admin Portal>Users click Add User

  • Type in the user’s first and last name 
  • Specify an email address and any relevant email aliases 
  • Specify a mobile phone number to automatically enable multi-factor authentication for desktop login.  Leave the field blank to keep it off. 
  • Select an available Office 365 license to assign to the user 
  • (Optional) Assign the user admin privileges to the Nerdio Admin Portal and/or their desktop 
  • Assign a virtual desktop: RDS virtual session, VDI dedicated desktop or None 
  • Type in the name of a similar user in the same department into the Copy From field to pre-populate all security membership and application profiles 
  • (Optional) Specify the user’s personal email address and click Save 

After about 2-3 minutes, the user will receive an email with login instructions and their newly created credentials.  The user will be able to immediately log into their new desktop where all applications will be installed, Office 365 activated, Outlook configured, backup enabled, AV setup, etc.  All automatically, within 3 minutes, and perfect out-of-the-box – every time.  

3. End-user offboarding 

You get the call just before 5PM on a Friday: “Michelle is moving to Florida, her last day is today. Make sure we delete her account but save her emails and files. Please make sure Samantha, her manager, has access to those files as well.”  

You scramble to find the customer’s offboarding documentation. It says to back up her Office 365 emails, save her desktop files, documents, and perhaps items in OneDrive that must be saved. You need to reset her account PW, disable her access, and put her in the ex-employees OU group. Perhaps you will save her mails in an exported PST? 

Average time to close a ticket of this type: 30 minutes – 2 hours.
With Nerdio, the time to close this type of ticket is less than five minutes. 

In the Nerdio Admin Portal>Users select “Archive user” next to the user who is leaving. 

Select the departing employee’s manager from the list of users, check the confirmation box and click Confirm. 

Nerdio will spring into action and automatically offboard the user.  The following actions will be performed: 

  • User account will be disabled and moved into Archived Users OU in Active Directory and Office 365 
  • The user’s desktop will be shut down and placed into maintenance mode 
  • User’s Office 365 mailbox will be converted to Shared Mailbox to free up an Office 365 license and assigned to user’s manager.  The manager will see the mailbox pop-up automatically in Outlook in the folder list. 
  • Manager will be assigned as the owner of the user’s OneDrive data and be able to access the files 
  • User’s Documents and Desktop folder contents will be moved to a special Disabled Users file share on the file server and the manager will be given permissions to this folder 
  • Manager will receive an email notifying them that an employee was offboarded and they now have access to all data belonging to that user 

Quick, easy, and reliable. 

4. Replacing an end user 

Typically, you are both off-boarding an employee and onboarding an employee as well as setting up a new desktop. This one goes a little something like this: “Andy is leaving the company on Friday, but John is joining on Monday and taking over his role. Make sure John has everything Andy has.”

You’ll have to open the documentation and follow it line by line until you get to the end – if you even have documentation for replacing an employee.  

You’ll most likely start by deleting the account from AD and Office 365, exporting the emails out somehow, or possibly create a shared mailbox. Add the new user in AD and Office 365. Log on as the new user on the local PC, copy all the files over, etc.  Log into Outlook, make sure Andy’s old email pops up. Then, you must make sure all the mapped drives are setup, printers are set as defaults, and perhaps you are then done. 

Average time to close a ticket of this type:  30 minutes – 2 hours.
With Nerdio, the time to close this type of ticket is less than five minutes. 

In the Nerdio Admin Portal>Users select “Replace user” next to the user who is leaving. 

Type in the personal information of the new employee and click OK.   

Nerdio will automatically replace the old user with the new, re-assign the data, email and applications, and even send an email to the new employee with login instructions. 

5. Setting up a new Desktop 

In this scenario, your customer buys a new PC from you.  You order it from distribution, it takes a few days to come into your shop. It will likely go through your staging process where you unbox the PC, update everything to the latest firmware, and re-image the computer to your default base image. You’ll install your client’s LOB applications and perform all your Windows updates before it gets boxed back up again to then be brought onsite or shipped out. Then, you’ll schedule someone to install the PC onsite, connect it to the network jack, join it to the domain, and begin setting up the end user. 

If the client has many complex apps to get installed, be prepared to spend all day between installation and migrating files to the new PC. If five people receive new PCs, it’s even more work! What if you arrive onsite without the correct display cables? 

Average time to close a ticket of this type:  3 – 8 hours.
With Nerdio, setting up a new user with a virtual desktop – including all applications – is a breeze, and takes three minutes. 

Simply go to Nerdio Admin Portal>Users>Add user, specify all the information and click Save. 

The user will be able to use their personal device (i.e. laptop, iPad, or Surface), a PC in the office, or thin client to connect to their virtual desktop with all applications installed and configured per the company standard. 

6. Slow user experience 

This complaint is very common: “My computer is slow today; it was running great a week ago!”

You open your RMM solution and remote into the customer’s session. You ask them to show you what they mean by “acting slow”. You follow a trailing mouse as the customer demonstrates the slowness.  

At this point, it’s a subjective thing to determine if something is really running slow or not. You run some malware scans, maybe schedule a full AV scan after business hours, and tweak a few settings.  This first round of fixes may or may not solve the problem. You give it a few days and try to get the ticket closed. Was the client really satisfied? It is sometimes hard to tell. You might follow up once a day until they tell you “it’s all good.” 

Average time to close a ticket of this type:  1 hour to 3 days.
With Nerdio, you can see user desktop performance quickly at a glance. 

In Nerdio Admin Portal>Users select “View performance” from the action menu next to the user experiencing the issues. 

Here, you can see the performance of many of the user’s common application and even click More… to see a historical trend.  This let’s you quickly spot if there is an issue with user login times, the web browser, Office applications, or PDF viewer.  If no slowdowns are observed by the performance monitoring system on the user’s desktop, then the issue is likely network latency related. 

Troubleshooting end-user performance is no easy task, but with Nerdio, the job is much easier and takes far less time than with traditional tools in traditional IT environments. 

7. Scheduling a task to be done later 

Although it is stressful when a client calls with an emergency, when the opposite occurs, a ticket will be generated for a task that needs to be done at some point in the future. For example, “we’re hiring a new person into our marketing department in two weeks” or, “please reboot the app server hours at 3AM tomorrow night.”

You open a ticket and assign it to an engineer hoping they will remember to do that task on time. The ticket remains open till the task is complete. 

Average time to close a ticket of this type:  15 minutes to multiple days.
With Nerdio, tasks can be submitted to be performed right away or scheduled for some time in the future.  

This will save the engineer from having to get up at 3AM to perform that server reboot. 

8. File level restores/disaster recovery 

A customer loses a file or accidentally deletes it. They call requesting that you locate it. Hopefully, you have a robust backup solution in place so a file restore can be painless. You go to your third-party backup solution, find the file, find the right version of it, restore it to a new location, call the customer and have them verify to see if the right one has been restored. It can sometimes take several tries before getting to the right file. In some cases, the end user leaves work early, and it gets pushed until the next day. 

What if a hurricane or fire strikes your client’s office? Everything is gone and all employees must work from home. You move into emergency mode trying to figure out how to best support your client in this time of need. Thankfully the data is safe in the cloud. Your customer is concerned their data is lost forever, but fortunately, with Nerdio, all data is backed up to multiple regions. 

Average time to close a ticket of this type:  15 minutes to multiple days.
With Nerdio, recovering data is quick and easy. 

Every volume on every server and desktop created by Nerdio is automatically configured with twice–daily Shadow Copies snapshots.  This means that a user can right-click on any folder, select Previous Version, select a date and time from the past, and recover any file or folder they have access to.  All without calling your help desk. 

If an entire server needs to be restored, the Nerdio Admin Portal helps you do that in three clicks. 

Navigate to Backup & DR>In-region Backup and click on Restore next to any server. 

Select a backup date, check the confirmation box and click Confirm. 

Nerdio will reach into Azure and restore the virtual machine back to its previous state automatically. 

How Nerdio will make your life easier 

Imagine what it would be like if each one of these tasks took just a few minutes each? As you have seen, there is built-in automation for every single one of these time-consuming tasks. Just think how many more clients each member of your team would be able to service quickly and in a highly satisfactory way if you were using Nerdio. 

One key to a successful MSP IT practice is to minimize the amount of time your clients utilize your unlimited support services.  In fact, putting in place strong automation that prevents them from calling in the first place and minimizes the issues they experience is a priority! 

At Nerdio, we’ve invested a lot of time and effort into automating each and every one of the common tasks mentioned above, allowing your team to perform them in “three clicks or less”.

AVD MANAGEMENT

Multi-Cloud and On-Premises Deployment with Azure Stack HCI (Coming Soon)

Deploy Azure Virtual Desktop in Azure and extend the session host VM placement to on-premises and other cloud using Azure Stack HCI. Nerdio Manager automates deployment of session hosts, AVD agent installation, and full integration into the AVD deployment in Azure.

Create a brand new Azure Virtual Desktop environment or allow Nerdio Manager to discover an existing deployment, connecting to existing resources, and manage them.

Deploy Nerdio Manager from Azure Marketplace and configure a new AVD environment with an easy to follow, step-by-step configuration wizard. First group of users can access their AVD desktop in less than 2 hours.

Service providers, system integrators, and consultants can leverage Nerdio Manager’s scripted AVD deployment template. Create complete environments with desktop images, host pools, and auto-scaling in minutes.

Create and manage AVD environments that span Azure regions and subscriptions. Quickly link Vnets and resource groups and manage AVD deployments world-wide from unified portal.

Link multiple Azure tenants under the same Nerdio Manager instance and manage AVD deployments that span Azure AD tenants. User identities and session host VMs can run in separate tenants for maximum flexibilty and security.

Deploy and manage AVD environments that span across sovereign Azure Clouds. Cross-sovereign cloud support allows identity (e.g. users and groups) to be in one Azure Cloud, while session host VMs are in another Azure Cloud.

Management of workspaces, host pools, app groups, RemoteApps & custom RDP settings

Administer every aspect of AVD with Nerdio Manager including workspaces, host pools, application groups, RemoteApp publishing, RDP properties, session time limits, FSLogix, and much, much more. Every Azure service that AVD relies on can be managed with Nerdio Manager.

Deploy and manage AVD session host VMs. Hosts can be created manually or with auto-scaling, deleted on-demand or on a schedule, re-imaged to apply updates, run a scripted action, resized, put into or taken out of drain mode, and more.

Manage user sessions across the entire AVD environment, within a workspace, host pool or on a single host. Monitor session status, disconnect or log off the user, shadow or remote control to provide support, or send user an on-screen message.

End users have the ability to log into Nerdio Manager with their Azure AD credentials and manage their own session, restart their desktop VM, or start a session host if none are started in a host pool. (Ability to resize and re-image own desktop is coming soon.)

Create, link, and manage Azure Files shares including AD domain join. Synchronize Azure Files permissions with host pools, configure quotas, and enable SMB multi-channel. Manage file lock handles and configure Azure Files auto-scaling to increase quota as needed.

Create, link, and manage Azure NetApp Files accounts, capacity pools and volumes. Configure provisioned volume size, monitor usage, and use auto-scaling to automatically adjust volume and capacity pool size to accommodate the needed capacity and latency requirements.

FSLogix configuration can be complex and overwheling, but not with Nerdio Manager. Create one or more FSLogix profiles with all the needed options, point at one or more Azure Files, Azure NetApp Files, or server locations and select from VHDLocations, CloudCache and Azure Blob storage modes.

Multiple identity source profiles can be set up and used automatically on different host pools. Active Directory, Azure AD DS, and Native Azure AD are all supported. Choose the appropriate directory profile when adding a host pool and all VMs will automatically join this directory when being created.

Create a copy of a host pool with all of its settings: auto-scale config, app groups and RemoteApps, MSIX AppAttach, user/group assignments, VM deployment settings, etc. Save time by creating host pool “templates” that can be cloned to any Workspace, Azure region or subscription instead of starting from scratch.

Apply user session time limits at host pool level. Automatically log off disconnected sessions, limit the duration of idle sessions, control empty RemoteApp session behavior and more.

Assign Azure AD users to personal desktops to ensure the user will log into a pre-configured VM. Un-assign personal desktops from users who leave the organization and re-use these VMs for new users.

Pre-configure custom Azure tags for all Azure resources associated with each host pool. Tags can be used for charge-back and cost allocation by host pool.

When creating session hosts using NV-series VMs NVIDIA and AMD GPU drivers are automatically installed.

Move existing host pools from Fall 2019 (Classic) object model to Spring 2020 (ARM) object model. Choose to whether to move or copy user assignments. Existing session hosts are automatically migrated or new ones can be created in the ARM host pool.

Automatically enable and configure AVD integration with Azure monitor. Zero configuration required. Azure Monitor Insights for AVD can be used instead of or in conjunction with Sepago Monitor.

AVD personal desktops to Windows 365 Cloud PC migration (Coming Soon)

Migrate users from AVD personal desktops to Windows 365 Enterprise Cloud PCs using an existing image and user assignment. (Coming soon)

IMAGE MANAGEMENT

Create desktop images from a single pop-up with just a few clicks. No need to Sysprep, capture, version or do any of the other complex Azure image management tasks. Nerdio Manager fully automates the process. Desktop Images can start with a gallery image, existing custom image, or even an existing VM. Images can be stored as custom or Shared Image Gallery integrated objects.

Duplicate desktop images by cloning them to either the same region or another Azure region. Make a clone before making major changes to the image so the changes can be tested without impact the production environment. All with one click.

Distribute desktop images to multiple Azure regions by selecting the locations where the images should be available. Can be enabled on new or existing images. A single desktop image VM can now be used to update AVD session hosts in all locations.

Schedule a recurring update to Desktop Images and automatically re-image host pools on a pre-defined schedule. System and application updates can be automatically applied after hours without manual intervention.

Schedule a regular refresh of a desktop image from Azure Marketplace using the latest patched version. Customize the image with scripted actions and have it automatically deployed to host pools for full end-to-end update automation.

Leverage native Azure backup to create versions of desktop image VMs before making changes and easily revert to prior versions. Take a backup of an image VM while powering it on to modify or manually trigger a backup at any time.

Maintain multiple version of a desktop image by retaining old versions during image updates. These version can be easily used to deploy session hosts in the future.

Modify and update production images and test them without affecting current production host pools that use these images. When updating an image, select for the new version to be created in “staged” mode. Designated test host pools can start using and testing this image right away, but production host pools will only begin using it when it is activated after testing and validation. The end-to-end process of image update, user acceptance testing, and deployment into production can be fully automated.

Ensure that users always log into a pristine, image-based session host by refreshing (re-imaging) used VMs after users log off. In single-user pooled scenarios, desktops will be automatically re-imaged when users log off. In multi-user pooled scenarios, session hosts will be re-imaged as soon as the last user logs off. This way, all hosts will be always kept up-to-date and in pristine state

Schedule a recurring update to Desktop Images and automatically re-image host pools on a pre-defined schedule. System and application updates can be automatically applied after hours without manual intervention.

When session host VMs are re-imaged, the VM name, AD computer object, IP address and DNS host name remain the same. No need to update other systems when re-imaging host VMs since they appear identical to external systems before and after the re-image process.

Before “sealing” the image (i.e. running “set as image” task) document any changes that were made. A report can be generated to show these changes and who made them.

COST & PERFORMANCE OPTIMIZATION

Dramatically reduce Azure compute and storage costs up to 75% by precisely matching the size of Azure infrastructure to the user demand at all times. Nerdio Manager provides multiple auto-scaling algorithms based on CPU usage, RAM usage, user sessions, and user-driven behaviors. Multiple usage triggers can be combined (e.g. CPU and RAM) for precise scaling behavior.

Start VMs when users need them and stop them automatically when no longer in use. VM power management reduces Azure compute costs up to 75%.

Create new session host VMs on-the-fly, as needed, without keeping many VMs created and consuming storage costs by the OS disks. Newly created VMs are always fresh and based on the prestine image state. Add scripted actions to customize the VM provisioning process. When the VMs are now longer needed they can be automatically removed from the environment. A mix of “base capacity” (always created VMs) and “burst capacity” (just-in-time VMs) optimizes costs and user experience.

Auto-scale can start, stop, create, or delete session host VMs based on several auto-scale algorithms that take into account actual usage (e.g. CPU, current active sessions) and/or do so on a schedule to pre-stage capacity in expectation of users logging in.

Balance between cost savings and end-user experience by setting one of three scale in aggressiveness levels that controls the type of hosts can be scaled in (stopped or removed). High aggressiveness provides the highest savings and will forcefully disconnect even active users after end of work hours. Medium will stop host with disconnected sessions. Low aggresiveness will only stop or remove hosts that has no user sessions.

Create multiple auto-scale pre-stage settings to ramp up host pool capacity during certain days of week and times of days. In education environments multiple schedules can be used to turn on VMs based on a pre-defined class schedule.

Provide users with non-persistent, single-user pooled desktops that are used exclusively by a single user during the session then returned to the pool, optionally refreshed/re-imaged, and made available to others. This VDI host pool configuration provides significant savings as compared to permanently-assigned pesonal desktops.

Save up to 90% on Azure VM compute costs while testing an AVD deployment by creating session hosts as Spot VMs. Not to be used in production scenarios as VMs can be unexpectedly “evicted”. Easily convert VMs from spot to pay-as-you-go and back to spot VMs with this scripted action.

Save up to additional 60% on the cost of Azure compute by using Reserved Instances in combination with auto-scaling. Nerdio Manager will analyze prior auto-scale behavior and recommend quantity of CPU core reservations to purchase to take advantage of RI savings.

Host VMs shut down from inside Windows are in stopped, but not deallocated, state and continue to generate Azure compute costs. Nerdio Manager can automatically detect VMs in this state and deallocate them proactively.

Define “running” OS disk storage type (e.g. Premium or Standard SSD) and “stopped” OS disk storage type (e.g. Standard HDD). Auto-scale will change the OS disk to cheaper storage when it stopped and automatically change it to a more performance storage type when the VM is started. This results in up to 75% in OS disk storage savings when the VM is not running.

Save on OS disk storage costs and increase performance with Ephemeral OS disks that can be used for AVD session host VMs. Ephemeral OS disks are free and are stored on the Azure physical host’s local storage and are therefore faster.

Reduce the size of an image VM’s OS disk from the default 128GB to 64GB (or 32GB). This reduces storage costs for session host VMs by requiring a smaller disk and allows for use of smaller VMs with ephemeral OS disks.

Ensure high performance of Azure Files at the lowest possible cost. The performance characteristics of Azure Files Premium are determined by the provisioned capacity quota. Storage auto-scale increases capacity quota in response to increased storage latency (or on a schedule), and decreases it when the extra performance is no longer needed to save on costs.

Ensure high performance of Azure NetApp Files at the lowest possible cost. The performance of an Azure NetApp Files volume is determined by the volume size, regardless of capacity actually used. Storage auto-scale increases the volume size during times of peak demand (e.g. log-on and log-off storms) and decreases it automatically when the extra boost in performance is no longer needed. This is done based on a schedule and/or in response to elevated IO latency. Storage auto-scale also automatically grows volume (and capacity pool) size when capacity reaches a pre-defined threshold ensuring that it never runs out of space.

Shrink FSLogix VHD(X) by removing the “white space” from inside the profile container. This dramatically reducess FSLogix storage costs.

Automatically run Microsoft’s Windows 10 and Windows 11 virtual desktop optimization tool on session host VMs as they are created. This results in drastically improved performance and increased user-per-CPU density, which reduces total Azure compute costs.

WINDOWS 365 ENTERPRISE MANAGEMENT

Cloud PC License Usage Optimization

Reduce total cost of Windows 365 Cloud PCs by optimizing license assignment and reclaim and re-use unused licenses.

Extend existing AVD environments with Windows 365 Enterprise Cloud PCs. Nerdio Manager automatically creates the necessary network connections, images, and provisioning policies based on the current AVD configuration. It can also be used to deploy Windows 365 even if there is no existing AVD deployment.

Cloud PC device lifecycle management

Manage all aspects of Windows 365 Enterprise Cloud PCs. Restart, re-provision from image, resize to a larger VM size based on available licenses, end grace period when Cloud PC is no longer needed, and run any Powershell script on one or more Cloud PCs.

Cloud PC user group assignment

Create and manage Cloud PC provisioning policy and assign user security groups to policies to begin the provisioning process for licensed users.

Intune primary user management on Cloud PCs

Automatically detect if a provisioned Cloud PC does not have an assigned Intune primary user. Alert administrator and allow for one-click primary user assignment.

Leverage existing AVD images to create Cloud PC deployments. Image updates are automatically applied to AVD and Cloud PC environments using these shared images.

Scripted actions are shared between AVD and Windows 365 Enterprise Cloud PC environments. Scripts that install apps, apply optimizations, or anything else that can be scripted with Powershell can be applied to both AVD session hosts and Cloud PCs.

Migrate AVD personal desktops to Cloud PCs (Coming Soon)

Automate the migration process from a personal AVD host pool to an Enterprise Cloud PC. (Coming soon)

AVAILABILITY & RESILIENCE

Enable host pool level active/active DR configuration and Nerdio Manager will automatically distribute session hosts across two Azure regions. Users will be distributed across VMs in both regions as they log in and FSLogix profiles will be automatically replicated using Cloud Cache. In case of an Azure region failure users will continue accessing VMs in the available region.

Auto-scale can automatically detect broken AVD session hosts and attempt to repair them by either restarting or deleting and re-creating the VMs without user intervention.

Protect against data center failure by automatically distributing session host VMs across Availability Zones (data centers) in supported Azure regions.

Azure availability sets of variable size can be optionally enabled. When enabled, session host VMs are automatically placed in availability sets when deployed.

Leverage native Azure backup to create versions of desktop images before making changes and easily revert to prior versions. Take a backup of an image while powering it on to modify or manually trigger a backup at any time.

Modify and update production images and test them without affecting current production host pools that use these images. When updating an image, select for the new version to be created in “staged” mode. Designated test host pools can start using and testing this image right away, but production host pools will only begin using it when it is activated after testing and validation. The end-to-end process of image update, user acceptance testing, and deployment into production can be fully automated.

Scheduled Nerdio Manager backup

Configure a scheduled backup of Nerdio Manager application by protecting App Service, Azure SQL database, and key vault contents.

SECURITY & COMPLIANCE

Nerdio Manager is a single-customer Azure application deployed from the Azure Marketplace into a customer’s own Azure environment. It consists of Azure PaaS services only with no VMs to manage. The application is integrated into Azure AD and uses Graph API to turn the dials inside the Azure environment. No third-parties have any access into the customer’s Azure environment.

No third-party vendor access

Nerdio Manager is not a hosted SaaS service, but rather an Azure application that’s installed in a single customer environment. There is no third party access to this single tenant app deployment.

Data residency control

Because Nerdio Manager is an Azure application, customers can choose the Azure region where it is deployed. All associated metadata is stored in a selected Azure region with customer having full control over backup, retention, and destruction of this metadata.

Delegate access to deploy and administer Azure Virtual Desktop deployments to users with defined role-based access controls. Built-in AVD Admins can full access to the environment, Reviewers have read-only access, Desktop Admins can manage images and power state of host VMs, Help Desk users manage user sessions, and End-users can manage their own virtual desktop session in a self-service portal. Create your own custom RBAC roles and select Read-only or Full Access to all areas of Nerdio Manager, including limiting access to individual host pools.

Create custom roles to control admin access to all areas of Nerdio Manager. Custom roles define scope and level of access and can be assigned to users and security groups. Users can access modules in read-only or full access mode.

RBAC admin roles can be assigned to users and groups and proper level of access is provided at Workspace level and host pool. Different groups of admins can manage different sets of Workspaces and host pools within a larger AVD deployment.

Company-provided SSL certificate and domain name can be applied to Nerdio Manager for Enterprise Azure App Service to increase the security posture of the deployment.

Protect Nerdio Manager and AVD deployment by hardening the SQL, Key Vault, Storage Accounts, App Service by enabling private vnet endpoints in Azure.

Prevent Users from Using Saved Password in AVD Client App

Increase security posture of an AVD host pool by preventing users from using saved credentials in their AVD client app. Users will always be prompted for password when logging into their desktop.

MONITORING & REPORTING

Consolidated dashboard that combines usage, costs, and savings across all Workspaces in WVD deployment. Select desired time range and view graphs of named, concurrent, and active users. View graphs of host pools, hosts, and total CPUs. Review and export data on compute and storage costs savings.

Analyze Azure compute (VMs) and storage (OS disks, Azure Files and Azure NetApp Files) costs at per-hostpool, per-workspace and across the entire environment. Understand average per named, concurrent, and monthly active user costs.

Export detailed usage and costs data to be used for chargeback.

Review auto-scale behavior in an easy-to-understand, visualized dashboard that can be drilled into for more detail. All auto-scale behavior, including corresponding user sessions, can be reviewed for further optimization.

View project montly compute (VM) and storage (OS disks) costs when creating a new host pool. The real-time calculation is based on Azure pricing API and takes into account the entire auto-scale configuration profiles. This calculation provides the minimum host pool cost, assuming the pool stays at the minimum size and never scales out, and the maximum cost, assuming the host pool scale out to its maximum size and never scales in.

Azure list prices used for all calculations can be adjusted with a negotiated discount so all financial data accurately reflect actual Azure costs.

Be always in the know with automated notifications and alerts. Define rules to generate email alerts based on various conditions and actions. Select whom to notify based on tasks, statuses, resources, and other criteria.

Gain fully visibility into AVD environment that extends beyond the Azure Monitor Insights. User sessions dashboard provides a wholistic view into user performance that can be drilled down on a per-user basis to understand latency, app input delay, utilization patterns and more.

Hosts dashboard provides a deep analysis of VM performance and utilization (e.g. CPU, RAM, CPU queue, Disk queue, etc.) and displays recommendations for user-to-host density.

Application dashboard display per-application-per-user stastics to understand applicatino usage patterns, application resource consumption, and user behavior.

Track and report on all changes to desktop images performed by all users.

ORCHESTRATION & INTEGRATION

Leverage the power of Nerdio Manager automation by integrating with existing ITSM platforms (e.g. ServiceNow). Add and re-image hosts, create or update desktop images, control user sessions and much more.

Scripted actions provide limiteless flexibility in AVD deployments. Windows scripts can be used to execute any set of Powershell commands on VMs are created, started, stopped, remove, or re-imaged. This can be used to deploy applications, security software, optimizations, and much more. Azure runbooks can be used to configure and maintain the Azure environment on the outside of the VM. Many triggers are available including VM or AVD host create, start, stop, delete, image create, schedule, run-once, and more.

Synchronize scripted actions with Public and/or Private GitHub repositories. Use your favorite tools, like Visual Studio Code, to edit and maintain scripted actions with all of the power of GitHub workflows, versioning, and so much more. Scripted actions are automatically synchronized with GitHub repositories and any changes take effect immediately without any configuration changes made in Nerdio Manager.

Azure DevOps Integration with Scripted Actions (Coming Soon)

Synchronize scripted actions with Azure DevOps. Use your favorite tools, like Visual Studio Code, to edit and maintain scripted actions with all of the power of Azure DevOps workflows, versioning, and much more. Scripted actions are automatically synchronized with Azure DevOps repositories and any changes take effect immediately without any configuration changes made in Nerdio Manager.

Windows scripts and Azure runbooks can be executed automatically with security context maintained by Nerdio Manager during VM create, delete, start stop, and AVD host register operations.

Windows scripts and Azure runbooks can be executed on all hosts within a host pool either on demand or on a schedule with recurrence.

Automatically install software on newly created desktop images or maintain existing images with regular updates using Scripted Actions.

Execute Scripted Actions on desktop images while packaging the VM into an image object. These scripts do not impact the original image VM but only apply to the the resulting image. For example, SCCM agent can be uninstalled from the image but remain on the image VM where it is used to update and install software.

Leverage powerful scheduling capability to schedule any session host actions such as start, stop, add, delete, re-image, resize, activate, deactivate, run script, and more.

Health check probe for third-party tool monitoring

Get status of Nerdio Manager, SQL DB, Azure and AVD access via an unauthenticated URL. Can be used by monitoring tools to check environment health.

Define global variables that can be used by any scripted action. Variables are encrypted and stored securely in Azure Key Vault.

Nerdio Manager provides built-in integrations for popular desktop virtualization tools such as Teradici PCoIP, security and AV tools like Sophos, and much more.

APPLICATION MANAGEMENT

Use Scripted Actions to install and manage applications on desktop images or during session host VM creation. Large library of popular software installations is included and gets updated on a regular basis. Create your own scripts to install and manage your own apps.

Applications installed on images or session hosts are automatically discovered and can be assigned to only some users and groups (whitelist) or be available to all users with exceptions (blacklist). Leveraging FSLogix application masking technology, apps are completely removed from user’s environment unless user is authorized.

Create MSIX images using msix apps, store them in an Azure Files based library with versioning, and deliver these apps seamlessly to users.

Upload native MSIX installer files and let Nerdio Manager automatically expand them into a VHDX container, capture all needed metadata, and make the app available for host pool attachment.

Upload multiple MSIX apps to be packaged together in a single VHDX image. Combining multiple apps in a single image reduces the number of VHDX files mounted on each session host VM and improves performance.

Upload and manage MSIX App Attach images to an Azure Files share. Update images to new versions and automatically apply to all host pools with existing assignments. Leverage images with multiple MSIX packages inside for more efficient app delivery.

Leverage native WVD MSIX App Attach integrations via the AVD agent. Assign MSIX packages to host pools from Nerdio Manager image library or use existing images storage on any SMB storage including Azure NetApp Files and file servers.

Upload and manage a library of self-signed or CA-issued certs that were used to package apps in MSIX format. These certificates can be automatically installed on desktop images or session hosts during provisioning.

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Secure Remote Work: Azure Virtual Desktop GTM Strategy

In this session, we will discuss how Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows 365 enable a secure remote workforce with a ZeroTrust mindset.

Available Webinars

The Economics of Azure: Building a Competitive Package
March 1, 2022 -
12:00 EST
Microsoft Azure: The Future of VDI
February 24, 2022 -
14:00 EST
Demystifying Microsoft Azure: Getting Started with Azure for MSPs
February 22, 2022 -
12:00 EST
Secure Remote Work: Azure Virtual Desktop GTM Strategy
February 17, 2022 -
14:00 EST
The Economics of Azure: Building a Competitive Package
February 15, 2022 -
13:00 EST
Microsoft Azure: The Future of VDI
February 10, 2022 -
14:00 EST