Details & Benefits of Remote Application Pools in Microsoft Azure


Given the multitude of features available in Nerdio, one of the features that often goes underutilized is Remote Application Pools. They serve as an excellent tool to bridge the gap for customers who are hesitant to adopt full cloud-based desktop solutions but want the security and redundancy which the cloud provides. This article is designed for partners who are looking for creative ways to expand their cloud practice, while providing a low cost and highly secure solution.

Most people understand the general concept of publishing a Remote Application via application pools, but don’t know how easy and straightforward it is through Nerdio’s automation. In this article we’ll discuss the details of RemoteApp pools and their best use case to expand the scope of prospects who can utilize the benefits of having a cloud solution in Microsoft Azure.

Application pools are designed to grant users access to individual applications, rather than the full desktop experience which is common in most AVD configurations. Considering best practice in Azure environments, application pools have two practical use cases:

1. Cost Management

Due to the nature of application pools, individual users are limited to a specified number of programs defined by their administrator. This can create a cap on resource consumption depending on the programs installed. As a result, less resources per user are necessary than would typically be expected with a full published desktop. This translates into real cost savings for customers who are a little more price sensitive. It can also provide a good foot-in-the-door with customers who are hesitant to embrace this new cloud technology and don’t want to commit to full cloud desktops for each user. A good example of this would be a hospital with doctors who can’t fully appreciate the benefits of AVD desktops for each user but can understand the security benefits of having their data and applications guarded by the billion dollar security backbone built into Azure. Positioning the cloud solution from an app pool standpoint makes for a far more attractive prospect as it would significantly boost security and HIPPA compliance compared to the typical on-premises servers which might normally host their applications.

2. Cloud Gateway

As a perfect segue from the last point, application pools can be a great gateway or first step to move clients toward full cloud adoption. Due to their simplicity and ease of use, application pools are great for clients who may not be ready to fully embrace this new age of cloud-based workspaces. Remote app pools allow users to keep their behavior and habits the same, enjoying the look and feel of a local application while having the security and stability of a cloud-based solution.

Application Pool Configuration Process

With that understanding let’s look at the steps involved to configure an application pool through Nerdio.

Application pools are configured just like a standard desktop pool. First login to the Nerdio Admin Portal (NAP), select the “Servers” tab, and then “Add AVD Pool”.

Once the form opens, simply fill in the information for the name of the pool, the storage type, and the VM series. This is also where you specify a RemoteApp pool rather than a Session Desktop pool and choose the Clone Template. As you can see from the screenshot below, you do have the option to select a current pool in the environment to use as the template. This can be another session desktop pool, and if selected you’ll get the list of applications installed on that desktop pool, without the full desktop experience. 

Once you’ve confirmed the settings for the new pool, the NAP will walk through the provisioning process. After that’s complete the next step is to install the desired applications on the pool template and publish the apps that will be available for each user.

This is done easily through the Nerdio Admin Portal by navigating to the Servers tab, selecting the dropdown on the desired Pool and pushing Published Apps.

Once the apps have been published the last step is to assign users to the new pool. This is accomplished by logging into the Nerdio Admin Portal, navigating to the Users tab and then selecting the user in question. From there go to the Azure resources section and specify the Application Pool. Once you push Confirm you’re good to go. Users should receive an email with instructions to access their applications. It’s also possible to get the login info directly in the Nerdio Admin Portal by selecting the dropdown next to Reset Password for the desired user and choosing Log in to Desktop.

Final Thoughts

From a configuration standpoint, applications are installed on app pools in the same manner as they’re installed on session desktop pools. As long as the applications show up in the start menu of the template, they should be listed as available apps that can be published for users. One thing to keep in mind, Nerdio natively allows for user assignment of either an application pool or a session desktop pool. You can’t have an individual user assigned to both at the same time.

As you can see, Remote Application Pools are easy to utilize and straight forward to provision. With the familiarity that appears for the user and the ease with which a RemoteApp pool can be deployed, these pools can serve as a great tool to help encourage otherwise resistant clients to begin migrating towards a complete cloud solution.

3 Reasons Why All MSP Vendors Should Work With a Cloud Distributor

CSP distributor

At Nerdio, our mission is to empower Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to build successful cloud practices in Microsoft Azure and one of the major investments we make as a company is to partner with high-quality, best in class cloud distributors. Working with the distribution channel was a major investment of Nerdio and it has paid off in a big way. Together with our distribution partners, we have been able to grow the MSP market for cloud services and expose Nerdio to a much broader set of partners than we ever could have done alone as a SaaS company. 

For other SaaS vendors looking to break into the MSP ecosystem, here are three good reasons to seriously consider partnering with cloud distributors: 

  1. You will achieve breakthrough growth.
    As a SaaS startup, Nerdio really started to take off astronomically after we established strong relationships with cloud distributors.  The reach we achieved, and breadth of market distribution is unparalleled and something that is quite difficult to realize by going at it alone.  Most cloud distributors have long-term relationships with MSPs; ones that in some cases they have maintained and grown through several iterations of various technologies.  Being able to tap into a distributor’s network of partners can allow you to scale your business much more quickly than hiring many more of your own salespeople in the early days of your company’s growth.  
  2. Distributors have the pulse of the market. 
    Because of their broad and deep relationships that in some cases have been in place for decades, cloud distributors maintain a strong pulse on the market.  As a cloud vendor, we certainly believe we are deeply ingrained into what is going on with MSPs when it comes to their journey to the cloud with Microsoft Azure, but what we are less aware of is what else is going on with other cloud vendors, what trends we should be aware of, and how others are navigating this generational shift to the public cloud.  Our distribution partners play a big role in advising us as to the latest trends and market shifts so that we can react more quickly and provide the best solution for the broadest set of MSPs possible. 

    Have questions about cloud distributors and what the next steps are? Contact us and we’ll help guide you!
  3. You can leverage sophisticated cloud marketplaces. 
    All cloud distributors have either stood up sophisticated cloud marketplaces, or if they have not, are in the process of doing so.  A cloud marketplace allows an MSP to come to the distributor, and by using one “portal”, gain access to the latest cloud technologies to help grow their business and move their customers to the cloud. MSPs love this because they have one place to go to consume and be billed for cloud services. In the case of Nerdio, our MSP partners enter a specific cloud marketplace and gain access to the key building blocks they need to build their practice—Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, and Nerdio Manager for MSP. This friction-free way of purchasing cloud services is the new norm in the MSP ecosystem and short of using the various Microsoft marketplaces is the most efficient way to accelerate your move to the cloud. As a SaaS vendor, integration via APIs into your cloud distributor’s marketplace is a necessity and provides you with a huge advantage relative to your competitors. 

At Nerdio, we believe that building strong relationships with cloud distributors is not only a great way to grow your business but is a requirement when it comes to accelerating your MSP partners’ move to the cloud.  We are hugely appreciative of our distribution partners and look forward to much success together in the marketplace.   

A How-to Guide: RDS to Azure Virtual Desktop Migration Walkthrough


This article is for two types of partners. First, those who aren’t sure about the Azure/Cloud space and want to load up an RDS environment initially due to familiarity, but may consider migrating to Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) down the road. Second, it’s for existing Nerdio partners who already have an RDS environment and are interested in transitioning to the AVD side (see note at the end of this article).

Nerdio has developed an easy and automated process for transitioning partner from a current RDS deployment to AVD. That being said, there are a few things to consider and some prerequisite steps that should be taken. This article will walk through the entire RDS to AVD migration process from start to finish.


The migration from RDS to AVD is designed to be as seamless as possible. As a result, no existing servers will get destroyed, and only additions are made to specific VMs (namely DC01 & FS01). Not even a reboot is performed on any of the severs. In theory, this migration could take place during standard work hours without any disruption to end the user (obviously this is not advised, but it’s possible in theory).

The migration process is broken into four phases:

  1. Environment Preparation
  2. Server Migration
  3. Infrastructure Configuration & User Migration
  4. Environment Cleanup

Phase 1: Environment Preparation

Due to the nature of the backend automation taking place during this process, we advise that everything is as clean as possible in the environment before the migration kicks off. This means running updates on the servers (primarily DC01 & FS01), checking the Event Logs to make sure everything is healthy, and reviewing the Nerdio Admin Portal (NAP) logs to make sure there aren’t any lingering issues (also known as AD Cache failing to sync).

We also recommend creating a test user on the RDS side. Make sure this user has the resources and licensing necessary to simulate standard user activity in the environment. In Phase 3, this user should be the first one to migrate over to the AVD side. This test user can then verify things like applications, printers/scanners, folder redirects, etc., are all working as expected before live users are migrated over.

Phase 2: Server Migration

This is the actual migration part of the process where the Nerdio scripts get ran. Reach out to Nerdio by emailing to schedule this piece of the migration.

Once a date and time have been set, the Nerdio team will launch the migration and manage this phase. On average, this phase will take 1-3 hours. Once Phase 2 is complete, there’s no going back to the RDS side. As a result it’s important to ensure users & resources that need to be built on the RDS side have been built before the switch. This is especially true if Phase 3 is intended to take a few weeks. Let’s say there is a new employee of the company that will need to work on the RDS side while the AVD side is getting configured. Add this user before the migration so there’s no disruption to workflow.

Phase 3: Infrastructure Configuration & User Migration

After the migration script has completed, the most notable change to the environment will be the additional Golden Image for the AVD side, along with an option to create AVD pools. All old RDS infrastructure will still be intact and working as expected. User will still be able to login and execute their regular task just like they did before the migration.

The next step is to configure the AVD side of things. This includes configuring the AVD Golden Image (this will be brand new and is not cloned from the RDS Golden Image), creating a AVD pool, and configuring the WVD pool template. Once the pool(s) are dialed in and ready to go, bring over the test user and assign it to the AVD resources to verify standard workflow and the correct configuration.

As long as the test user is working as expected, it’s safe to begin migrating live users. We recommend keeping the first group fairly small (5-10 users) and have them in the environment for at least 2-3 days without any issues before moving the next group over. One thing to keep in mind is that the UPDs for each user will not get migrated over from the RDS to AVD side as part of this process. It’s very important to have users save their data (we usually see partners leverage OneDrive or File Shares for this) and once they get assigned to the AVD side, the data can be loaded in their AVD environments, documents, & favorites folders.

Once all users have been migrated to the AVD side and everything is working as expected, you’re ready for Phase 4.

Phase 4: Environment Cleanup

The environment cleanup phase involves removing all the old RDS resources. This includes things like the RDS Collections, RD Gateway & Connection Broker — and the RDS Golden Image can be deleted. This ensures that no Azure spend is charged for these resources, especially since they will be obsolete in the new AVD environment. Once all the resources have been cleared out, simply update the Nerdio ticket for this case and the Nerdio team will run the command to mark the account as officially migrated to AVD. This will conclude the cleanup process and the migration from RDS to WVD will be complete.

Final Thoughts

That’s it. Overall, it’s not too complicated and the average time allotment we see partners apply for this is one to two weeks — however, that obviously varies depending on the environment size. Due to the permanence of this migration, we advise partners to consider all factors involved before going down this path. This is especially true if the client utilizes proprietary applications that were configured for RDS and may not have been tested in a Windows 10 native environment.

* Note: We cannot take an existing Azure RDS environment that was configured outside the Nerdio orchestration, apply Nerdio to that environment, and then transition it to AVD. This only applies to RDS deployments configured through Nerdio.

Increasing Growth in Microsoft Azure Amidst Covid-19

Microsoft reported 59% growth in Microsoft Azure last quarter. Did you grow your practice by 59% in the same period?

Over the past few months, there have been numerous articles, webinars, podcasts, and open forums on Facebook and Reddit talking about the impact of Covid-19 on the MSP ecosystem. Some MSPs have unfortunately had to scale down their practice dramatically or even close their doors as their small and medium business customers were shuttered. At minimum, all MSPs need to rethink their path to continued profitability.

At a time of worldwide tragedy and upheaval, it could be viewed as inappropriate to speak about making money. Numerous individuals have written that in public forums.  As a vendor to the MSP ecosystem, I try to promote Nerdio as a way to enable MSPs to build a work-from-home solution for their customers while at the same time offering “general assistance” to MSPs during this difficult time. But if there is one thing the Covid-19 crisis has laid bare in the MSP ecosystem, it is the following: If you are an MSP and not managing your customer’s infrastructure in the cloud, you are missing a train that left the station long ago. You likely do not have immediate access to your customer’s IT environment and are left at a disadvantage during this crisis relative to your MSP peers who have embraced the cloud.  

Why do MSPs balk at moving their practice to the cloud and Microsoft Azure?  There are three primary reasons:

  1. They lack a technical resource who knows how to architect and manage a customer environment in Azure; hiring that person is too expensive.
  2. They find Azure to be too complicated and are scared off by the breadth of Azure’ services.
  3. They are concerned that consumption-based pricing is too risky and cannot be packaged in a fixed-cost way similar to an on-premises environment.

While those are legitimate and real challenges, they should not prevent an MSP from building a cloud practice in Azure.   Automation platforms like Nerdio will help you deploy, price, manage, and optimize Azure environments without the need to hire an expensive Azure engineer.  Microsoft has put in place rich offers and licensing programs that give MSPs a discount of up to 80% off the list price of Azure.  I am here to tell you that we have already seen thousands of MSPs who easily deploy, manage, and make money with Microsoft Azure. And with the recently released Windows Virtual Desktop, empowering work from home solutions in Azure with a native Windows 10 operating system has never been easier from a technology and licensing perspective.

With that, why are MSPs still not moving to the cloud?  I would posit it is a fourth reason or challenge that we often run into and it is called “MSP Inertia” where an MSP says “I have always done it this way and  don’t want to change the way I do things.”  MSPs argue they are used to deploying and managing and securing their customers on-premises and they simply do not want to change that model. MSPs also say “I am generating recurring revenue on a managed services model on-premises. Why do I want to change things up?”  MSPs are comfortable doing things a certain way and are concerned about how they can move to the new reality of the cloud on behalf of their customers.

When talking about cloud computing, people often refer to products as one of three things—Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).  Over four years ago, most MSPs saw the writing on the wall when it came to productivity software.  It no longer made sense to manage an on-premises Exchange Server when Microsoft was investing considerable resources developing Office 365 (now known as Microsoft 365). Today, more than 80% of MSPs have moved most of their customers to Microsoft 365—the company’s most popular SaaS product.

Imagine where your MSP practice would be if you still were managing an Exchange Server during a crisis, pandemic, or natural disaster and that server went down?  Wouldn’t you feel a bit embarrassed that you had not brought your customers to the cloud with Microsoft 365?  Even without a crisis at hand, wouldn’t you have a hard time explaining why your customers cannot benefit from the breadth of technology in Microsoft 365, including collaboration with Teams, enhanced security, and much more?

Now is the time for all MSPs to build a strong IaaS practice on the back of Microsoft Azure. It is time to take that same leap of faith you did several years ago with Office 365 and bring your practice fully to the cloud with Microsoft Azure.

A mental model you can use when thinking about when to move customers to the cloud is as follows:

  • Step 1—All new customers you onboard into your practice should be 100% from Day 1.
  • Step 2—Take your existing customers and design a hybrid approach to first bring them to the cloud with Microsoft 365 and then move their infrastructure to the cloud with Microsoft Azure
  • Step 3—Fully migrate all remaining customers to the cloud as their on-premises equipment needs to be retired or breaks.

The promise of Azure and the public cloud is not a vision to be realized some years from now. It is the here and now for MSPs who want to stay in the game. It is the investment you must make to remain competitive and to deliver the most value to your customers.  And it is the way to prepare for a new world of work where your customers demand and insist on the best work from home solutions that you as their MSP must deliver.

Not betting on Microsoft Azure and ignoring the opportunity to move your customers to the cloud will certainly leave you uncompetitive and wondering why you delayed this decision or succumbed to MSP Inertia.

Joseph Landes is the Chief Revenue Officer at Nerdio. Joseph joined Nerdio in November 2018 after a 23-year career at Microsoft where he led high-performance sales and marketing teams around the world including the US, India, Brazil, Russia, and Germany. He loves talking to partners about how to build successful cloud practices in Microsoft Azure and was named a CRN Channel Chief in 2020 for his work evangelizing the cloud and Nerdio’s contribution to the channel.

VM Sizing and Deployment Strategy for Cost Savings for MSPs


Partners frequently ask us to recommend the best VM series size for their use case, or at least the standard for most deployments. Unfortunately, these are difficult questions to answer due to the many variables which must be considered. However, with a basic understanding of the most common VM series, and a few sizing strategies, perfect VM series allocation can be achieved.

In this article, we’ll break down the top three most commonly utilized VM series sizes and explain some key strategies to leverage when sizing new deployments to ensure optimal cost savings.

Most Commonly Utilized VM Series


B-series VMs are the minimum we recommend for a test environment. Nerdio deploys all new environments with some B-series VMs. However, this is not necessarily our recommendation for production use. We provision with B-series to help prevent our partners from having a huge Azure bill after their first month in the environment. This is especially important because that first month often consists of configuring and building out the solution, but the client may not even begin migrating into the new environment until after the first month. 

B-Series VMs are specifically designed by Microsoft to optimize cost savings. This can be great for your bottom line, but it means they come with some significant limitations.

Burstable CPU Quota & the Credit Bank

The B-series VMs are burstable. This means Microsoft designed them to operate at a baseline (quota). If tasks require more than the base resources, these VMs can burst up to complete the given task. The way this is managed is through a credit bank. Each hour, the B-series VMs accumulate credits during idle time. Once the resources become needed those credits will then be spent executing tasks.

This is great for cost savings, however the downside is when the credits run out. When this happens, performance of the VM slows to the baseline, which can feel like a crawl if end users are attempting to leverage the VM at that time. This can happen very quickly if the B-series VM is applied to a pool where users are logged in and working for hours at a time.


There are also limitations when it comes to IOPS. For instance, a B2ms VM is capped at 1920. This means that even if a Standard SSD (6,000 IOPS max) or Premium SSD (20,000 IOPS max) is assigned to that VM, it will never be able to utilize the added IOPS capabilities. We frequently see partners pairing SSD drives with B-series VM’s not knowing this. As a result, they waste money because it’s impossible to improve performance through the SSD drive pair on a B-series. The HDD drives have an IOPS cap of 2000 which means HDD drives are more than enough for the standard B-series VMs.


The D-series VMs don’t have the limitations of B-series and their resources are available 100% of the time. We see the D-series VMs used most effectively for servers like FS01, or other LOB servers which leverage resources at a steady rate throughout the day. This includes desktop pools. D-series are effective when applied to pools where users will not leverage large amounts of RAM for their daily tasks. D-series VM’s have a 1:4 Core to Memory ratio.


The E-Series VMs are almost identical to the D-Series except they have a 1:8 Core to Memory ration rather than a 1:4. This is good for environments that have users who leverage memory intensive applications, or like to have several browser tabs open at the same time. We find E-Series to be the most common VM series deployed with WVD pools.

Now that we’ve covered the different VM series sizes, let’s talk about use case & deployment strategies.

Use Cases

B-Series Use Case

We most commonly see the B-series VMs applied to the domain controller (DC01). DC01 doesn’t usually perform steady tasks and instead executes bursts of processes throughout the day. As a result, it’s the perfect fit for something like a B2ms. When it comes to WVD pools, we’ve only seen B-series VMs function well with 2-3 very low-level users.

D-Series Use Case 

D-series VMs are most commonly applied to FS01. FS01 is the source for FSLogix and manages several tasks including mounting user VHD’s to the various session hosts, folder redirection, and any changes that are made in the user’s desktop, documents, or favorites folders. For pools with 10+ users, these tasks can add up quickly and we often see the credit bank exhausted if FS01 is a B-sereis VM. As a result, we recommend the D-series for FS01 in almost all scenarios. Depending on user count, the D2sv3, D4sv3, D8sv3, or D16sv3 may be appropriate. There isn’t a hard ratio to go by when it comes to resizing FS01 based on user count, but we’ve generally found D2sv3 to work for 10-15 users, D4sv3 for 15-30 users, D8sv3 for 30-60 users, D16sv3 for 60-100+ users. But again, remember that those are rough guidelines. At the end of the day consumption on FS01 should be monitored to ensure resources are not under or over-allocated for the user count. 

E-Series Use Case

Like mentioned above, E-series VMs are most commonly seen for desktop pools. Our recommendation, however, is to always test the environment for one to two weeks to make sure the VMs are allocated for optimal cost saving. When quoting E or D-series we recommend initially making the quote based on CPU. That would look something like 2:1 user to core ratio on those servers (as an example). If there are 50 users in an environment, 25 cores should fully accommodate those users. With that in mind, quoting Pool-A with three E8sv3 session hosts would be appropriate, since E8sv3s provide 8 core & 64GB of memory each. If it’s anticipated those users wouldn’t utilize all that memory, then a D8sv3 may be more appropriate. D8sv3 would provide 8 cores & 32GB of memory. Remember E-series has a 1:8 Core to Memory ration while D-series has 1:4 core to memory ratio.

This brings us into our next section, Deployment Strategy.

Deployment Strategy

This section is mostly related to FS01, Dedicated Desktops, & Pooled Session Hosts. However, the principle here can be applied to other servers as well.

One of the most important takeaways from this section is to NOT purchase the Reserved Instances (RI) until after one to two weeks in the new environment. The reason is because it’s hard to know if the environment is appropriately sized until after users are in and working. As an MSP, it doesn’t make sense to intricately monitor user habits prior to migrating into the cloud. As a result, it won’t be well known what type of resources each user leverages on a daily basis. Given this, everything that’s done to size the environment prior to GoLive is just an educated guess. It would be unfortunate to get locked into a 3-year RI only to find out the environment was under or over-specified and a penalty must be paid to Microsoft to get out of the RI contract.

We all know the end user experience is king when it comes to solution adoption. As a result, it is critical to make sure the environment is not only fully dialed in with all the necessary applications and software, but that it’s also been tested for performance. Our recommendation is to, if possible, log in with 50% to 75% of the users in the environment prior to go-live. Make sure to open any LOB applications users will leverage along with any web-based applications and the estimated number of browser tabs they may utilize. Be sure log in/out process is seamless (FS01 sized correctly) and that general performance on the pooled desktops is smooth (Session Host sized correctly). While logged in with users, make sure to either monitor performance with an RMM tool, or log in to each session host and monitor performance via Task Manager. If users are experiencing latency in their session, it might be indicated in CPU maxing out on the VM (upgrade to a larger VM in current series) or Memory (if current VM series is D then upgrade to E). It’ll also allow make it clear if the VMs are overallocated. If all users are logged in and the session hosts never spike above 50%, some cost savings can be achieved by lowering the VM series size. 

Final Thoughts

If you’ve followed this guide you should be equipped to size almost any new environment with confidence. We understand that with all the different VM sizes Microsoft offers it can be a bit confusing and overwhelming at first. Don’t worry, though, after just a few deployments you’ll be quoting new environments with ease.


Read a full article on Azure terminology, hierarchy, and resources here.

Reserved Instance (RI) – An RI is basically Microsoft’s way of anticipating (as best as possible) the resources that will be utilized in their data center in a given month. As a result, they provide large incentives (sometimes up to 57% off) if partners are willing to commit to specific resources for 1 or 3 years. In the past, the RI was paid up front as a lump sum. However, around the end of 2019 they updated their offering and now RIs can be paid on a monthly basis. This allows for a much smaller up front commitment.

In the event the RI needs to be terminated, Microsoft requires a payment worth 12% of the remainder in the contract. So, using a hypothetical scenario; let’s say the RI was purchased for 3 years and the total cost was $300 for those 3 years. 2 years had passed, and it became necessary to move away from that RI. In this scenario, only $100 would be left in the contract and given the 12% termination fee (of the remainder) only $12 would be owed for the remaining $100.

One last thing to know about RIs. They can be exchanged across Azure region and VM series without penalty. As an example, if a D2sv3 RI was purchased and it became necessary to upgrade the VMs in a pool to D4sv3s , you could simply purchase a second D2sv3 and those two would equate the D4sv3. In the same way four D2sv3 RIs could go towards an RI for a E8sv3, even if the E8sv3 was in a different Azure region than the four D2sv3 RIs.

Azure Hybrid Usage/Benefits (AHU) – AHU is when the partner purchases the Operating System (OS) license, rather than renting it from Microsoft. When AHU is leveraged an addition 20 to 30% savings can be achieved vs. the standard Pay-As-You-Go monthly price. When you combine AHU & RI the cost savings can be up to 80%. This often runs into the tens of thousands when scaled out over 3 years.

The only exception to this is when dealing with B-series VM’s. Microsoft has made these so cheap that to purchase the OS license on these would actually cost more in the long run. As a result, it’s cheaper to just leave these as is and rent the OS on a monthly basis from Microsoft.  

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

2020 AVD spring update

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

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

Azure Resource Manager (ARM) Object Model

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

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

Native Azure Portal Management Blade

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

Preview of upcoming capabilities  

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

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

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

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

Nerdio Manager for Enterprise delivers benefits in three categories: 

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

What Makes Nerdio Manager for Enterprise Unique

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

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

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

Announcing a Nerdio Milestone and the Story of How We Got Here


Today, we announced a big milestone in Nerdio’s journey.  We’ve raised an $8m Series A venture capital round lead by MK Capital and backed by me and  Nerdio’s CRO, Joseph Landes.  This capital infusion will support Nerdio’s mission of empowering managed service providers (MSPs) and IT Professionals in building successful cloud practices in Microsoft Azure and taking advantage of new exciting technologies like Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD).  More on how this money will help advance our mission later.  But first, I’d like to reflect on how we got here. 

How Nerdio Came to be – IT Entrepreneurship

My family immigrated to the US in the early ‘90s when I was 13 from Ukraine, a country that surprisingly, everyone has heard of by now.  We settled in Chicago and I started 9th grade in high school a few months after we moved.  Barely speaking English when we arrived made the first several months of high school challenging, to say the least.  It was in 9th or 10th grade that I recognized my passion for technology and entrepreneurship and decided to make it my career by setting my sights on a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and an MBA from Kellogg — which I was fortunate to eventually achieve.  Looking back, it seems somewhat naïve to not have had a safety school being so focused on such a specific major, degree, and school choice — and I’m glad it worked out — but I’m not sure that this is how I’d advise my kids to make their career decision. 

I started my first “IT consulting company”, ComTech Computers, in 11th grade and got the taste for entrepreneurship, being my own boss, and making “real” money ($25/hr for a high school kid back then seemed like a lot).  After school, I would go to people’s homes and help them set up their home networks and connect their Windows 95 and Windows 98 computers together to share an internet connection, files, and printers.  I learned a lot about both IT and business and confirmed my desire to be a technology entrepreneur. 

While in college, I started a new company called NetworKey.  Early 2000s were all about the wireless internet revolution.  A friend and I decided to start a company that would install wireless networks at people’s homes and businesses and on nights and weekends, we were doing site surveys, installing wireless access points, and answering the dreaded “I can’t get to the internet” or “why is it so slow?” call during class.  We even hired someone to help us a few hours per week as a contractor and were introduced to the world of HR and people management. 

Throughout college and while running NetworKey, I also had a full-time day job working as an IT consultant and network engineer at Solus, an MSP in Chicago.  After a few years supporting about a hundred small and mid-size businesses in the Chicagoland area, I noticed that an inordinate amount of my time was being spent managing customers’ backups (tapes in those days).  For a few months I pestered my bosses that we needed to come up with an alternative to tape backups and do it automatically via the internet.  In early 2005, they acquiesced and the three of us each put in $5,000 (plus $100 from Bank of America for opening a business checking account) and started a new company called Level2 Storage to provide secure online backup to our SMB customers as an alternative to tapes.  There were no employees in Level2 Storage, and I was responsible for sales, onboarding, and ongoing support.  Every morning I would wake up very early to hundreds of email notifications indicating success or failure of our customers’ backups and would have to figure out how to fix the failed ones.   

2005 was also the year when I started the part-time MBA program at Kellogg and began learning about the business side of the technology organizations I was involved with.  I learned about everything business-related, including marketing, accounting, finance, organizations, decision sciences, and so much more.  It was fascinating to be able to experiment in real-time in my own business with the seemingly abstract concepts I was learning at school. 

The Early Days – Before the Cloud

After a couple of years running the online backup service, our customers made us realize that they wanted much more than backup to be handled by us.  They wanted us to handle all their servers instead of having them sit in a closet in their office.  This was long before the days of the “cloud” and even before AWS came on the scene.  We ran a pilot with 3 small customers (2-5 users each) by virtualizing and hosting their servers in our data center rack and giving them access to a virtual desktop with Terminal Services.  It was a great success!  Two of the three customers closed their expensive offices in downtown Chicago and sent employees to work from home thanks to the newly found technological capabilities of desktop virtualization.  We knew that we were onto something with this IT delivery model and decided to propose it to everyone else who needed IT services and it took off.  This is how Adar IT was born.  It was 2007.  Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of nay-sayers who continued to tell me that this couldn’t be done.  The technology wasn’t going to work because the low VM density would make it too expensive, or that internet connectivity was too unreliable, or that user experience and performance were going to be an issue.  They weren’t necessarily wrong in their specific concerns, but I’m very happy that I didn’t listen and instead persisted and worked through all the problems that came up along the way. 

In the subsequent three years, we signed up dozens of customers, had no employees, and 80%+ gross profit margins.  By 2010, I quit my job at Solus, completed my MBA, and started building Adar full-time as a leading-edge MSP with an IT delivery model that was unheard of in the market: complete, virtual desktop-centric IT environment hosted in a private cloud.  In the days that most IT service providers were just learning about the recurring revenue managed services model we leap-frogged that entire phase and became a “Cloud MSP” in 2007.  For a while, being the only one in the market with such a unique offering had its challenges (“What do you mean my servers won’t be in my office?”), but also many advantages (“Wow, this is really cool and I had no idea this was even possible.  Where do I sign?”).  We experienced exponential year-over-year growth and had a chance to optimize the service delivery model both from a technology and business process perspective.  It took a lot of discipline to clearly define our mission and select 4 core metrics that were constantly monitored, and every decision was evaluated against them.  We had to learn to say “no” to many great ideas — ones that would have been profitable — if they didn’t clearly contribute to our mission and improve our metrics.  This discipline allowed Adar to stay hyper-focused and build a large, scalable business with metrics that are second-to-none in the industry. 

Building Adar was one of the best professional experiences of my life so far and has taught me so much.  The company was like a little baby that needed my attention every second of every day.  Initially, I was doing everything – literally!  Finding new customers, building their IT systems, providing support, billing, taking care of the office, managing vendors and eventually employees, and so much more started and ended with me.  Others joined me along the way and took on much of the work bit by bit.  I remember measuring my success of “raising” the company from a “baby” to an “adolescent” by how many days I could be away from the business without a significant negative impact.  Initially, being unavailable even for a single day was nearly impossible.  Little by little, I could take longer stretches of time to be away until the point where the entire organization became entirely self-sufficient and I could focus my attention on other opportunities. 

This ability to step away from the MSP business, which was successfully humming along and growing, allowed me to realize that the model and technology we built at Adar were broadly applicable to the rest of the MSP industry and many MSPs were trying to build a cloud business like the one we built.   

Nerdio Launches in 2016

This is why Nerdio was born in 2016.  At Nerdio, we leveraged the knowledge and experience we gained while running a large, successful, cloud MSP and created a software automation platform to help other MSPs looking to transform their business and build a successful cloud practice in Microsoft Azure.  Running a software company is very different than running an MSP but being able to see the world through our customers’ eyes, having been in their shoes for a decade, makes it very fulfilling.  Nerdio’s Azure automation platform levels the playing field for MSPs who want to evolve their business to really take advantage of the cloud.  It simplifies pricing, deployment, management, and cost optimization while helping to overcome the perceived challenges of the public cloud being too expensive, complex, and risky. 

Nerdio Achieves $8M Series A Funding

Nerdio has experienced amazing growth in the recent years as a result of our clear mission and focus.  This growth would have been impossible without the incredible team that works tirelessly to make Nerdio’s vision a reality.  Our team is comprised of MSP veterans, software industry leaders, sales rockstars, and marketing gurus – all of whom are equity stake holders in the company’s success.  They make Nerdio what it is and enable the company to continue its exponential growth.  This $8m funding round is a testament to their talent, skill, and commitment. 

I am very fortunate to be able to participate personally in this funding round led by MK Capital alongside my business partner and CRO, Joseph Landes.  Joseph joined me at Nerdio 16 months ago and while I still don’t know how I was able to convince him to leave his leadership position at Microsoft after 23 years, I’m sure glad I did.  In just over a year, Joseph has accomplished so much.  From establishing Nerdio as the clear market leader, participating in hundreds of MSP ecosystem events, deepening our partnership with Microsoft, establishing domestic and international distribution relationships, and winning numerous channel and technology innovation awards, Joseph’s commitment to Nerdio’s mission and our partners is inspiring. 

$8,000,000 is a lot of money and before raising the round, we thought long and hard about how much money we wanted to bring in at this stage of our journey and how we would deploy it.  With the release of Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) late last year and the astonishing amount of interest and demand that it has generated, to the almost universal interest in adopting Microsoft Azure by MSPs, we felt that there is a lot more we can do to increase our capabilities in helping more MSPs around the world build cloud practices in Microsoft Azure and accelerate the adoption of WVD by MSPs and IT Pros.  We will make good use of this capital infusion by ramping up our products’ capabilities and increasing our presence and reach in the channel both domestically and internationally.  

The last 4 years at Nerdio have been a blast and I can’t wait to see what the next 4 years will bring.  Thanks to those of your who are already part of our journey and we’re looking forward to working with those of you who aren’t yet. There are many more exciting announcements coming from Nerdio in 2020, so stay tuned!

Public Cloud Predictions for the Year Ahead (2020)


At Nerdio, as we continue into a new year, we not only like to reflect on the past year and set goals for our company in the year ahead, but we also like to take a hard look at the industry, how it has evolved, and where it is headed.

In the coming weeks we will be sharing some of our predictions for 2020 and advice for how the channel can prepare for the advancements and changes ahead this year.

As we work to empower Managed Service Providers to build successful cloud practices in Microsoft Azure, we think it’s only natural to start by sharing our thoughts and insights into the public cloud in 2020.

Public cloud has reached its tipping point

Cloud adoption has officially become the default option for businesses. While it has taken quite some time for organizations to become more familiar and comfortable with the cloud, they’re now finally considering it as their first, go-to option for their IT environments. According to a recent study from Flexera, 94 percent of respondents are using cloud computing in some form, 91 percent being the public cloud. In fact, 11 percent of SMBs in particular are spending more than $1.2 million on the cloud every year. As for major players in the space, Microsoft Azure has been rapidly gaining market share and in 2020, it will continue to remain the most popular platform for cloud services.

If you haven’t adopted public cloud yet, it’s time

As cloud adoption in general continues to grow in 2020, it’s time to be proactive. It’s alarmingly apparent that if companies are not in the cloud, they’re behind in the skillset and offering mix that customers now expect. In fact, companies are now looking beyond just offering a cloud experience to new cloud-based technologies related to virtual desktop infrastructure. With the introduction of Microsoft’s Azure Virtual Desktop in September 2019, Microsoft legitimized the virtual desktop computing model and made it cost-effective, eliminating every roadblock that previously stopped adoption. While virtual desktops will likely not experience the mass adoption in the next year, like the public cloud, it is certainly catching the eyes of many IT professionals and expected adoption will rise in the next five years.

Investment in the cloud will reduce disaster recovery risk 

Cloud adoption comes with many benefits, but one of the major perks is reduced disaster recovery risks. Investment in disaster recovery is driven by the perceived risk of a user’s primary environment going down from something like a flood or fire. However, as the market trends towards big data centers in the cloud in 2020 and users’ environments become fully virtual, there will no longer be a need to invest in solutions specific for disaster recovery. IT environments aren’t in danger because they are kept safe and updated in near real-time in a public cloud.

If you’re an MSP looking to successfully migrate and build cloud practices in Microsoft Azure this year, it’s time! Nerdio is here to help you seamlessly make that transition and reap the benefits of the public cloud. 

3 Lessons We’ve Learned by Attending MSP Peer Groups


At Nerdio, our mission is to empower Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to build successful cloud practices in Microsoft Azure, and one of the major investments we make as a company is to participate in MSP Peer Groups—specifically Connectwise’s IT Nation Evolve and the Taylor Business Group’s Business Improvement Groups.  We find peer groups to be a valuable way to connect with partners, receive real-time feedback on our product and company strategy, and integrate in a smart way into the MSP ecosystem.     

We believe every SaaS company looking to play a big role in the MSP ecosystem needs to take advantage of MSP peer groups, and in 2020 you will see us ramp up our activity manifold when it comes to these valuable ecosystem-building events.  Our participation has allowed us to capture some incredible learnings to date and we’d like to share three of those with other industry vendors considering their own participation in MSP peer groups. 

  1. You need to stick with it.  I remember the first peer group we participated in not knowing what to expect, and quite frankly, not even sure what our precise pitch was going to be.  It is important to realize you won’t make the progress you expect in one meeting and maybe not even two.  You need to show up repeatedly and really stick with it so the participants in the peer groups take you seriously and know you are in it for the long-term. Not showing up sends a signal that your company may not be around for the long-term, and it is unlikely an MSP will bet on your technology unless they see a certain consistency from you and your company.  Making a real time investment to show up and let the members know you care will take your company a long way down the path to relevance and respect from peer group members. 
  2. You need a great value proposition.  If your value proposition does not resonate with the peer group members, you are toast.  This is probably the most important thing to think through before your first peer group meeting. How are you, as a SaaS vendor, going to help MSPs succeed?  If you can’t answer that question, you may as well not make the investment in peer groups because you will fall flat and MSPs in the room will tune you out.
    For example, at Nerdio, our value proposition is incredibly strong: we help MSPs build successful cloud practices in Microsoft Azure—something each member has at minimum been thinking about if not already planning to do.  We solve a real challenge MSPs are encountering, so when we enter the room and declare this to be the challenge we are taking on as a company, the majority of participants tune in and engage with us during our session. 
  3. You need to be genuine.  The worst thing you can do when participating in a MSP peer group is to come to the room with a “know it all” mindset where you enter not willing to take feedback — or showing up as if you have the answer to everything. Peer groups are all about sharing, growing, and approaching your meetings as a vendor with a “learn it all” mindset, which will earn you immediate credibility with the members.  It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be confident in your approach—you need to be because you are coming in as subject matter expert.  Who knows your space better than you?  Striking the right balance between being confident but also humble and willing to take feedback will go a long way towards building the trust you need to win over members and continue the conversation well beyond the first meeting.

At Nerdio, we believe regular participation in peer groups is an important investment for any SaaS company looking to play an important role in the MSP ecosystem. If you are an MSP, signing up to take part in a peer group is a great way to measure yourself against others in a friendly and learning-based environment. Our investment in MSP peer groups in 2020 will increase dramatically based on the success we have had and look forward to seeing you at one soon!   

Nerdio’s 3 Commitments to the Channel in 2020


At Nerdio, our mission is to empower Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to build successful cloud practices in Microsoft Azure. We do this through amazing, best in class technology and the premier Azure content for MSPs across the world. The start of a new year is a time when many people make personal commitments around how they plan to excel in the new year.  Businesses shouldn’t be any different—they too should be introspective and think about what their commitments are to their partners and customers in the new year. We therefore want to share with you three commitments we are making to the MSP channel in 2020. 


  1. We will teach you how to build a cloud practice in Microsoft Azure.  At Nerdio, we wake up every day thinking about how we can help MSPs build successful cloud practices in Microsoft Azure. It permeates our culture, the way we design our products, the investments we make in the channel, and how every employee sets their schedule each day.  There is nothing we would not do to pass along the knowledge and experience we have working with thousands of partners and customers to bring them to the public cloud.   We do this every day both by creating a product that is second to none and through the development of amazing content on our Nerdio Academy. We know that as MSPs, you feel that Azure can be complicated and there is some amount of risk in moving from what you know to something brand new. We are here to make it easy for you and will walk down the path with you every step of the way. 
  2. We will double down on participating in MSP industry eventsIt was such an incredible pleasure meeting so many MSPs at industry events in 2019. Connectwise IT Nation Connect, Robin Robins, ASCII, Pax8 Mission Briefings, and many more. We loved talking with you and learning from you.  2020 is going to be not just more of the same but much more as we double down on the number of events, peer groups, and lunch and learns that we participate in and tell the Nerdio story. Wherever you go to learn about technology, you can expect to see Nerdio there and we look forward to meeting thousands more MSPs in 2020 at the best industry events on the planet. 
  3. We will continue to offer world-class technical support to our partners.  In this day and age, you simply cannot be an amazing SaaS company if you are not delivering world-class partner support. It is what separates the winners from the pretenders.  At Nerdio, we’ve built our business on providing amazing support and it is what differentiates us from others in the industry.  The number of MSPs who became partners of Nerdio in 2019 and told us they switched to us because of our amazing support are plentiful.

    When you have a customer to bring live, our Partner Solutions team is there on a Friday night to take you through the process when needed. When you email us a question or have something you are simply stuck on, we are there to simplify things for you. We are in it with you every day of the week and that will not change in 2020. It can’t because it is simply how we do business. 

At Nerdio, we are excited about what 2020 is going to bring to the channel. 2020 is going to be a breakthrough year of more MSPs moving their business to the cloud with Microsoft Azure and we couldn’t be more excited to partner with you on that journey.