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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

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.

IOPS 

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.

D-Series

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.

E-Series

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.

Terminology

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.  

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