Pivoting to Azure Virtual Desktop
When a large city in Oklahoma decided in mid 2021 to move 3,000 of its employees to Microsoft’s Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD), previous experimentations with virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) raised concerns around implementation and how security, management and enabling collaboration tools for remote collaboration would work in AVD.
Security and recoverability capabilities of cloud environments were strong considerations as the City made their decision to transition to AVD. Other influencing factors in choosing Microsoft’s service centered around their needs regarding rapid deployment and streamlined management and reusing and extending the life of a variety of aging PCs used across their workforce.
To ensure these needs were met and the AVD proof-of-concept (POC) was successful, Microsoft introduced the City to Nerdio and NComputing. Both companies are preferred Microsoft partners that are compatible with the Azure Government Cloud and have demonstrated results and experience working with state and local government organizations. As the City’s Chief Information Officer explained, “Finding the right vendors to make our Azure Virtual Desktop proof-of-concept a success was pivotal in scaling our secure computing environment and cloud-first approach. The support and hands-on assistance from both Nerdio and NComputing were top-notch and high touch.”
Implementing A Cloud-First Mentality in Tandem
Before using AVD, the City used a variety of individual systems and hardware that made IT management cumbersome due to differing system updates, software licensing, hardware compatibilities, security considerations and more. The City’s IT department at the time of the AVD POC had a staff-to-support ratio of 1:100 – so it was clear they needed solutions that could optimize and streamline IT management and provide automation to maximize the staff’s time and efforts.
Additionally, being a cloud-first organization was an important element to the City’s transition to AVD. As their CIO detailed, “We decided to take a cloud-first approach. Users had to convince us they could not use the cloud to be exempt.”
Because NComputing’s LEAF OS allows a desktop, laptop, or thin client to be reborn as a cloud computing device, the City was able to extend the life of their PCs and hardware investment by repurposing a variety of Dell and HP devices into high-performing Linux AVD endpoints. Leaf OS also helped support the City’s collaboration objectives via the cloud, enabling them to run both Microsoft Teams and Zoom within AVD sessions with ease.
By deploying Nerdio Manager for Enterprise, the City’s IT department was able to manage a larger number of virtual desktop users without disrupting employee experience. This saved the City a significant amount of time and reduced desktop deployments that used to take weeks to just a few hours, enabling the City to quickly and efficiently equip its workforce with their preferred workspaces and apps. Additionally, Nerdio’s centralized management interface allowed IT staff to more easily manage hundreds of users at scale and quicken help desk responses because access issues could easily be involved by any level of IT staff.
Modern, Scalable and Empowered IT
In using Nerdio Manager for Enterprise, the City was able to aggressively speed up their transition to AVD while creating an IT environment that’s much more robust, secure, and scalable than their previous on-premises solutions. They were able to deploy over 600 users within the first month and easily manage all Azure services that AVD relies on.
“Nerdio was instrumental in our move to Azure Virtual Desktop. They were able to quickly migrate all our existing applications and resources to the new cloud environment and greatly streamline ongoing management for our IT department.”
Because the City utilized remote, highly secure datacenters in Azure, they did not need to buy servers or additional infrastructure nor worry about planning investments around government budget cycles. Nerdio’s free Cost Estimator also helped the City determine what their Azure costs would be and how much they would save using Nerdio Manager.
It was a helpful tool used during the evaluation and purchasing phases, but surprise still resulted for the City after seeing an average savings of $10,000 per month when using Nerdio Manager and AVD. In addition to cost savings, the time saved on AVD management and maintenance was significant because Nerdio Manager could be used by any IT staff member, regardless of their level, technical expertise or certifications in Azure.