Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, when Windows Virtual Desktop is in general availability, we will support it with the ability to convert traditional RDS environments to WVD if desired.

Public preview of WVD. It was in private preview that we were a part of for 1.5 years. Now it’s open to everyone. It’s preview so not production-grade yet. Many features are still coming but it’s usable right now.

New Win10 multi-session OS; WVD-hosted service to route the connections; new profile management technology through FSlogix acquisition; and simplified licensing where all you need is a Windows 10 Enterprise subscription.

MSPs should start learning about it now and plan to create offers once in GA.

We’re planning to have Windows Virtual Desktop available in Nerdio for Azure by the time it goes into general availability.

There is no license to buy outside of a Windows 10 subscription.

No. There will be a migration path from RDS to Windows Virtual Desktop.

We are planning to have this capability in Nerdio for Azure.

Anyone can sign up for the public preview and test it out.

All Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and HTML5 browsers. There will be thin clients coming out in the near future to support the new version of the RDP client.

WVD requires a Windows 10 subscription license and you pay for the compute/storage consumption of the VMs that are running the virtual desktops. Currently, you also need infrastructure servers to run various RDS roles. These are not needed with WVD. However, the cost of a Windows 10 license is higher than the cost of a RDS license. Therefore, if the customer already has Win10 subscription then WVD is a no-cost item and RDS is. If they don’t have Win10 and need to buy those licenses, then it’s more expensive to use WVD rather than RDS. For more information, check out this article.

No, Core doesn’t have any desktop functionality.

Not at all. WVD is a combination of technologies that allow MSPs and IT departments to build and manage virtual desktops in Azure. WVD provides the control plane management service, new desktop operating system, profile management solution and simplified licensing to enable MSPs to create Azure-based virtual desktop offers for their customers.

It doesn’t really change what we do. We now help MSPs with pricing, packaging, deploying, managing and cost optimizing WVD deployments for customers in addition to RDS deployments.

No. Microsoft is in the business of creating technologies and tools to enable partners to build customer solutions. Windows Virtual Desktop is an example of such technology. Nerdio takes those building blocks and makes them easily usable.

It doesn’t change it at all. WVD will become a feature of Nerdio for Azure in addition to RDS once it goes GA.

Nerdio 2FA supports voice, text, email, authenticator apps (e.g. Microsoft Authenticator), and hardware devices. For more details on how to configure an authenticator app, check out this article.

Yes! It’s called white labeling and is one of our most popular NAP features.

You can assign O365 licenses to individual users. We’d be happy to schedule a demo!

Yes, through the use of assigning hosts of an N-series GPU enabled VM, which comes with nVidia graphics cards.

In one word: accurate. All pricing is real-time from the Azure Pricing API, and as long as the environment you provision matches what you’ve quoted, the NFA cost estimator is correct. If the environment is tweaked after go live, costs may vary, so it’s a good idea to run the setup through the NFA cost estimator again to be certain.

Check out our Nerdio for Azure plans page.

Partners are required to patch VMs using their own RMM patching tool and bring their own anti-malware/anti-virus software. From the operating system and up, partners are expected to manage the OS apps using traditional methods.

Nerdio for Azure uses the standard RDP protocol (v10) with UDP streaming enabled. We also require the use of RD Gateway for encryption of data-in-motion. Any thinclient or software client that support RDP with RD Gateway should work. Some popular thinclients include Wyse, 10zig and IGEL.

Nerdio supports a wide range of Office 365 licenses, including E3, E5, EOP1, etc. The initially provisioned environment is a fully functional demo to be presented to your customer, and this is why it requires an E3 license to showcase the Outlook capability (along with a fully functional version of Office ProPlus). After the environment is provisioned, the E3 license can be removed if you’re not intending to showcase these capabilities.

The default backup schedule is 1am CST daily, and retention is 30 days. You can see more details about what’s being backed up in the NAP under In-Region Backup. The schedule and retention can be modified via the Azure Portal in Recovery Vaults configuration blade. Feel free to contact us if you need any help making backup retention or schedule changes.

There are a few options to restore data from backup using Nerdio:

  1. Restore entire VM from Azure Backup using the Nerdio Admin Portal.
  2. Restore an individual file (or files) using Windows Volume Shadow Copies (aka Previous Versions). This is enabled by default on all Windows volumes created by the NAP. The default snapshots schedule is 7am and 12pm CST daily. You can right-click on a folder containing the file, go to Previous Versions and select the version you want to restore.
  3. Restore an individual file (or files) from Azure backup by using the Azure Portal.

During provisioning of Nerdio, Enterprise 7 virtual machines are created by default:

  1. DC01 – Domain Controller
  2. FS01 – File Server
  3. RDGW01 – Remote Desktop Gateway
  4. RDSH01 – First Remote Desktop Session Host
  5. PRX01 – ADFS Proxy
  6. WS00 – VDI Golden desktop image (shut down, by default)
  7. WS001 – First Demo VDI desktop

You can see a full architecture diagram of what gets deployed here

After the environment is provisioned, some of these servers can be shut down to avoid paying for Azure compute charges if you’re not using the server. DC01 cannot be shut down as it is used for most Nerdio actions. FS01, RDGW01 and RDSH01 are used with RDS virtual desktops. PRX01 is used for ADFS – if you’re not planning to use domain federation with Office 365, this server can be shut down. WS001 is a demo VDI desktop and can be shut down or deleted. WS00 is just an image and is turned off by default.

Nerdio Professional provisioned fewer VMs (4), by default, but with similar roles. You can see the exact VMs provisioned here

Yes, that covers the Nerdio Admin Portal.

There are two types of auto-scaling in Nerdio. Let’s look at each one individually. 

  1. The first is Autoscaling of RDS collections through the use of Azure VM Scale Sets. Nerdio leverages Azure VMSS to automatically scale out a collection of RDS session hosts. This happens as load increases by adding additional hosts and scale the collection back in after business hours once the CPU load has dropped below a preset threshold. Each scale set has a minimum and maximum number of members. We recommend purchasing a VM reservation (RI) for the minimum number of hosts in the collection and allowing the scale set to spin up additional VMs up and down, as needed.
  2. Autoscaling of individual server VMs, VDI desktops, and individual RDS Session Hosts (ones not part of a collection) is done via scale up/down, rather than out/in as with scale sets. Nerdio allows the administrator to configure “work hours” scheduled for individual VMs and define what happens to these VMs outside of those hours. For instance, a server that isn’t going to be used can be shut down and then automatically powered up right before “work hours” start. Alternatively, the server could be sized down (e.g. go from 8 CPU cores to 2 cores) outside of work hours and then sized back up during work hours. The use of RIs, in this case, depends on the relative difference between during and outside of “work hours”. For example, if a server is expected to be used 40 hours per week and can be shut down the rest of the time, it’s better to use AutoScale instead of purchasing a reservation because 40/168 (total hours in a week) is 24%; savings of 76% compared to running the VM 24/7. By contrast, if a server must be on Monday through Friday and can be shut down on the weekend, then the AutoScale savings is only 29% (48/168) and it would be more cost effective to purchase a reservation, which would provide great savings.

Nerdio supports multiple disks being attached to a single VM. We have built “guardrails” in Nerdio wherever possible to guide the user to make the correct selections. For example, if a particular VM instance doesn’t support more than X number of disks, the Nerdio Admin Portal will make executing that change impossible.

Yes, changes made to VMs in Azure will be picked up by the Nerdio Admin Portal. Metadata from various underlying system (e.g. Azure, AAD, AD, O365, RDS, etc.) gets refreshed in the background in real time.

We do not have API at this time, but it is something we are working on. Stay tuned.

The list will evolve over time. In fact, in the future we will allow partners to add their own rules, too.

The IT environment provisioned by Nerdio primarily deploys the Microsoft technology stack. Windows desktop multi-factor authentication is enabled via a third-party product. Additionally, web content filtering is provided via a DNS-based third-party solution. Both of these licenses are included in the price of Nerdio for Azure Enterprise.

Yes, packaging and pricing are completely up to your discretion. We provide the tools to assist in developing pricing and packages.

Nerdio does provision VMs with OS installed and configured. There are no RMM agents that are currently installed by Nerdio.

Please contact us for details on volume-based pricing.

Printing with Nerdio can be done via the network when there is a site-to-site VPN configured between Azure and the location of the printer. When working from a remote location without a site-to-site VPN, printing can be done via RDP printer redirection, which is enabled by default. This allows printing to any locally configured printer via the RDP connection.

Yes, Office 365 products such as Exchange and SharePoint can be backed up by third-party backup products without interfering with any Nerdio functionality.

Microsoft Azure is the cloud computing service that contains many of Microsoft’s offerings, like Office 365. It’s a collection of hundreds of different services that let you do almost anything via the cloud, like host web servers, email servers, and even virtual machines with Windows Virtual Desktops. Many businesses are now turning to Microsoft Azure or its competitors to handle their IT requirements without the need for clunky on-premise servers.

It’s a common misconception that Microsoft Azure is expensive. It certainly can be more expensive than on-premise solutions, but pricing for Microsoft Azure is modular and customizable. If you’re aware of how to make the most of it, Microsoft Azure can be significantly less expensive than competitors for managing a cloud practice. Still, there’s no one answer for what Azure costs, as it depends on your exact needs. However, you can see Microsoft’s own pricing page here, or you can explore our comprehensive Azure Cost Estimator for a break down of each component.

Windows Virtual Desktop is a powerful new Azure-only virtualization offering from Microsoft. It stands to change quite a lot, so it’s worth reading into. We have a full rundown of Windows Virtual Desktop and lots of other resources here on our Academy.

From start to finish, completely getting your head around Microsoft Azure could take months, or even years, and require expensive courses and tuition. There is a frankly absurd number of services that Azure offers, so it’s difficult to get someone in your establishment trained in it.

That’s why we started Nerdio for Azure – to provide a Microsoft Azure automation solution so you as an MSP don’t need extensive training to offer Azure services to customers.

Microsoft Azure’s primary competitor is Amazon Web Services (AWS). We believe Azure has the edge in a number of ways, but you can read about it in Microsoft’s own words here

That depends which side of the pond you’re on, to an extent. Mark Russinovich, the Azure CTO, calls it ‘AZH-uhr.’ Like ‘asher’, but with a ‘z’.

No, Nerdio partners will continue to source Azure and O365 in the same manner you’ve procured them to date, via distributor or directly from Microsoft.

No, we do not have API access and SSO currently. However, it’s on our radar and can be accelerated if needed.

Yes, Nerdio allows you to automatically provision complete IT environments tied to O365 and Azure.

Every VM (servers and desktops) running in Azure should have an RMM agent installed on it. The RMM agent will monitor the health of the VM at the operating system and application level environment and will watch for things like low disk space, services stopping unexpectedly, high RAM or CPU utilization, etc. RMM should also be used to patch and update the individual VMs and protect them with antivirus. Azure takes care of the physical aspects of the IT environment and the MSP is armed with RMM manages the OS and above items.

You can use Office ProPlus (purchased either stand alone or within a bundle like E3) to license the installed version of Office on virtual desktops running in Azure. Office ProPlus support Shared Computer Activation (SCA) functionality is necessary to install and license Office in Azure. You cannot use Office Business since it does not support SCA. When a new Nerdio environment is deployed, Office ProPlus is installed by default with SCA enabled. This allows any user with an active Office ProPlus subscription to start using a Nerdio provisioned virtual desktop right away without any additional configuration.

Yes, however, each deployment varies based on the number of users and the types of applications and services running on Azure VMs. We’ve created templates for small deployments that can be seen here: For Enterprise deployments, the initial size of the VMs provisioned by Nerdio are the smallest possible (to save on costs) and are not meant to be used as is in production. Instead, each VM should be resized with the proper amount of CPU and RAM based on its expected workloads. Our onboarding engineers will help you properly size your VMs if you need additional assistance.

Nerdio supports all Azure VM families. However, we find that the following three families are the most commonly used:

  1. B-series (burstbale)
    a. Best for non-CPU, low CPU utilization workloads. For example: Domain Controllers and File Servers 
    b. B2ms is recommended for DC01 and FS01 as a starting point
    c. 4GB of RAM for each CPU core in the BXms VMs
  2. D-series v3 (generic use-case)
    a. Best for CPU bound, high CPU ultilization workloads
    b. Recommended for RDS session hosts
    c. 4GB of RAM for each CPU core in the DSXv3 VMs
  3. E-series v3 (high memory use-case)
    a. Similar to D-series but with more RAM per CPU core
    b. Best for CPU bound with high RAM requirements or high RAM usage workloads. For example: SQL servers 
    c. 8GB of RAM for each CPU core
    d. Approximately 15% higher cost than a comparable D-series VM

OneDrive and Sharepoint are supported in a Nerdio deployment. Any VDI (dedicated desktop) user or RDS users who are assigned to RD Session Hosts can install the OneDrive client and synchronize data. Users assigned to auto-scaling RDS Collections use User Profile Disks (UPD), which do not support the installed version of the OneDrive client. These users can still access all of their OneDrive and Sharepoint data via a web interface. In the upcoming Windows Virtual Desktops (WVD), OneDrive client will be supported in all scenarios.

You can use Office ProPlus, purchased either standalone or within a bundle, like E3, to license the installed version of Office on virtual desktops running in Azure. Office ProPlus supports Shared Computer Activation (SCA) functionality, which is necessary to install and license Office in Azure. You cannot use Office Business since it does not support SCA. When a new Nerdio environment is deployed, Office ProPlus is installed by default with SCA enabled. This allows any user with an active Office ProPlus subscription to start using a Nerdio provisioned virtual desktop right away without any additional configuration.

Reservations are specific to a VM family and region. However, they can be exchanged without penalty.

  • The way this works is as follows:
    You purchase a 12-month reservation for 4 cores of B-series VM on January 1st.
  • On March 31st you decide that your 4 core B-series VM is no longer meeting your requirements and you want to upgrade it to a 4 core D-series VM.
  • You perform a reservation exchange process via the Microsoft Partner Center or your CSP Provider’s portal. You will receive 75% of the cost you paid for the B-series reservation (back in January) as a credit towards the purchase of a brand new 12-month reservation for 4 cores of D-series VM. To put it another way, the cost of your new D-series reservation will be reduced by the unused portion of the B-series reservation, which is 75% of the original cost (3 months used, 9 months unused).

Nerdio supports migrations into Azure from all environments, including on-premises and other public clouds such as AWS. After the Nerdio environment is provisioned, data can be migrated using the Data Mirroring functionality and individual VMs can be imported with Azure Site Replication.

We certainly hope that never happens! However, if you want to stop using Nerdio, here is what the practical impact would be:

  • You will need to start managing the environment manually via standard management tools (e.g. AD, O365, Azure, RDS, etc.)
  • RDS Collections will become static. They will no longer automatically scale in and out
  • You will not be able to modify the server autoscale settings

In addition to greenfield deployments, Nerdio supports lift-and-shift migration of individual server VMs using Azure Site Replication and extensions of existing Active Directory deployments in Azure and Azure AD.

Desktop connectivity happens securely via RD Gateway, which encrypts all desktop traffic coming in and leaving the Azure environment. VPN is not utilized for desktop connectivity. However, site-to-site VPN is used for network based printing and scanning from Azure to local devices.

Yes! Nerdio will assist partners on initial on-boarding and will supply project guidelines and support through real-time chat. Additionally, go-live assistance outside of business hours can be scheduled by the partner at least one week ahead of time.

We offer partner support from 7AM-7PM CST for Nerdio-related inquiries related to the Nerdio Admin Portal (NAP) and its functionality. The NAP is available 24/7 support for its availability and operations. If there are inquires about Azure, Nerdio will not be able to assist. In such cases, you can use the Azure portal or contact Microsoft support for Azure-specific items.

After becoming a Nerdio partner, you will be on-boarded by our Partner Solutions team, and will have access to ongoing support via our Engineering Support team. Any issues related to the Nerdio Admin Portal should be submitted to our Engineering Support team. Any Azure or O365 related problems should be submitted to Microsoft or your CSP. If in doubt, let us know and we’ll help you determine where to get the needed support.