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A Comprehensive Guide to Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop


Are you working on a Virtual Desktop with a Microsoft operating system? The term Azure is often associated with Windows and Virtual Desktop. Moreover, Microsoft rolled out an update in the spring of 2020 for Microsoft Azure.


The sudden rush by Windows users to familiarize themselves with Azure has made this comprehensive, all-you-need-to-know, guide essential.



What is Azure?

Let’s begin with answering the fundamental question that the internet search is flooded with- what is Microsoft Azure?


Think of a computing platform filled with services that can be built, modified, managed, or simply deployed by a user that has converted their system into the cloud. This platform is Microsoft Azure. Moreover, since Azure is a windows software, any windows user can take advantage of this computing service. All you need is the Azure software subscription from Microsoft, and you will be able to access functions like:


  • Virtualization of a complete desktop device that holds Microsoft Azure.

  • It means going virtual with any application, even the all-rounder Office 365, such that it can be worked on by multiple users.

  • Massive control over host pools.

  • Hosting multiple sessions of users, each with the ability to work on Windows operating systems.



Azure Benefits

Remember that Microsoft Azure for Virtual Desktop is under the single ownership of a giant like Microsoft, which makes this service secure, reliable, scalable, and fully backed with customer support. That’s just the tip of the iceberg; more benefits include:


  • No additional servers or hardware required.

  • Access to Azure Gallery.

  • Ability to choose your own image.

  • Advanced troubleshooting services.

  • Free from infrastructure management.


Moving past favourable pointers, there are other parts of Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop service that, as we dig deeper, will need an introduction. Get to know a host pool and its capabilities and move on to Azure Directory terms used for Windows virtual desktop users.


Host Pools

Every Microsoft Azure user needs to be familiar with this term. A host pool is a group of virtual machines within the virtual desktop that runs on the Windows operating system. Microsoft Azure enables a user’s desktop to go virtual hence enabling the creation, configuration, management, and assignment of these pools by the Microsoft Azure virtual desktop user.


Creating host pools in a customized manner to balance out the system's overhead load is an optimized technique of management between multiple resources and users. It is one of the many reasons for Microsoft Azure’s popularity. Other host pool advantages are:


  • It allows configuration and forming application groups for host pools or users.

  • These pools can be deployed to a single user or multiple users as per the virtual division requirement.

  • Any system with Azure service can be converted into a host pool.

  • Provides access as per need, i.e., a single user on a single virtual desktop, a single user to multiple applications, multiple users to a single desktop, or even multiple groups on multiple applications.

  • Built-in ability to predict requirements that are not being catered and, bringing in error solutions for the same.

  • Users can be connected via virtual desktop applications on the device or the web.

  • Security of in-bound ports, based on the reverse connection method.


Host pools are Windows Azure’s advanced method of creating virtual machines that sanction a Windows desktop user with multiple applications the power to access and deploy the same. These form multiple combinations between users and applications.


Hybrid Identity

Microsoft Azure recognizes Windows users' mixed requirement that calls for desktop-based applications and cloud applications in the Windows environment. While the method used to access both types of applications differ, Azure makes it possible to function on both under hybrid identity.


How? Using three Azure Active Directory functions called Single Sign On,Pass Through Authentication and Password Hash Synchronization.



Azure Active Directory

To access these host pools via Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop and complete the comprehensive guide, diving into three terms of Azure Active Directory is necessary.


  • Single Sign On

    Also, the Azure active directory, known as seamless SSO, enables the users to sign in without a password under the condition that the user’s virtual desktop is connected to the same cloud as the server. In such a case, even usernames are not required. Best to be used in an enterprise environment, SSO removes the extra layer of work required by users to access desktop-based or cloud applications.

  • Pass Through Authentication

    While SSO makes for seamless workflow, there can be a requirement for password-based authentication in an organization. For such cases, Azure's active directory places the pass through the authentication feature in the user's hand. A single password is assigned to a single user for accessing either on-premises or cloud applications via a virtual desktop.

  • Password Hash Sync

    It is the best option for those who have been using Windows active directory for desktop-based virtualization, and now need to form a seamless connection with cloud applications, without creating brand new passwords or increasing the IT workload of an enterprise. Here, every user password of the desktop-based directory is saved as a hash value that is used to sign in to cloud applications.



Pre-requisites

Every term explained above was established to add value to the Azure computing system and aim at elevated user experience. For the same, every virtual desktop user must do their part of the process and arm their hardware with the following:


  • A subscription of Microsoft Azure on a Windows Desktop to move the complete software into the cloud.

  • In the case of moving from desktop to virtual desktop, there is a requirement of Azure AD Connect to synchronize Windows Active Directory with Azure Active Directory.


Microsoft Azure is the best enabler for creating Windows Virtual Desktop, for it creates a wholesome ecosystem by synchronizing directories and simplifying authentication processes for users that work in hybrid application requirements. It also forms a secure path for each user, irrespective of them working together or individually, to access any resources or information, both on-site or virtually.

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