Azure Virtual Desktop Architecture: Review and Recommendations

Azure Virtual Desktop is a desktop and application virtualization service hosted on the Azure Cloud platform. The typical Azure Virtual Desktop architecture has endpoint devices using Azure Virtual Desktop clients to connect to Windows-based virtual desktops and applications hosted on Azure Cloud virtual machines (VMs). Microsoft and customers are jointly responsible for the components comprising the Azure Virtual Desktop infrastructure.

Azure Virtual Desktop Architecture

Since cloud platforms like Azure are highly scalable, they are ideal for large-scale virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and Desktop as a Service (DaaS) solutions. Even if your initial implementation is small, you can quickly scale your Azure Virtual Desktop solution by adding more VMs and licenses, subject to platform-specific limitations.

There are three major components in the typical Azure Virtual Desktop architecture:

  1. The customer’s on-premises network, from where endpoint devices connect to the Azure Virtual Desktops located on the cloud via either Azure ExpressRoute or a virtual private network (VPN). From here, the customer’s Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) also integrates with Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) using Azure AD Connect.
  2. The Azure Virtual Desktop control plane, over which Microsoft is in charge.
  3. The customer’s IT team is in charge of the AD DS, Azure AD, Azure subscriptions, virtual networks, Azure Files or Azure NetApp Files, and host pools and workspaces.

You can add more capacity by getting an additional Azure subscription. You can then use virtual network peering to connect the machines in this new subscription with the other machines covered in your old subscription.

Azure Virtual Desktop supports the following operating systems:

Microsoft and Customer Managed Components

While customers may not need to know the full details of these components, you should at least be aware that Microsoft is in charge of infrastructure and brokering, including the following:

As a customer, you are in charge of the following:

Azure Virtual Desktop Limitations

Limitations in using Azure Virtual Desktop are related to its scalability. The more important of these include:

Sizing Guidelines for Virtual Machines in Azure Virtual Desktop

When setting up your Azure Virtual Desktop infrastructure, you should ensure that your VMs can handle your expected workloads. Otherwise, poor performance can result and lower the quality of your user experience.

It is not recommended to use just two cores or have 32 cores. If you utilize only two cores, the VMs become unstable. If you use 32 cores, higher synchronization overhead results, negating any advantage that a higher-core VM can give your users in terms of their ability to handle your workloads.

Instead, consider having VMs sized between four vCPUs and 24 vCPUs. Microsoft recommends four users per core for light and medium workloads. If your users typically perform heavier workloads, each core should have at most one or two users and a minimum of six vCPUs. The requirements may change as you add more users.

Microsoft also recommends a minimum of 16 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage for light to heavy workloads, and 56 GB of RAM and 340 GB of storage for heavier, or power, workloads. Regardless of workload, the minimum profile container storage should be 30 GB.

Generally, a large number of smaller VMs is better than a few larger VMs. Smaller VMs have fewer users signed in—chances of them remaining unused are higher. They can be updated when needed, or you can shut them down to conserve resources. In contrast, large VMs may take a longer time to update since you’ll have to find a window when they are unused. The chances of them being shut down are also almost nil.

Deploy on Microsoft Azure with Parallels RAS

Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) provides a viable alternative to deploying an Azure-based VDI or DaaS. That’s because it uses Azure as a hypervisor to scale VDI workloads on-demand, allowing for faster deployments and better management.

Parallels RAS extends the capabilities of your Azure Virtual Desktop-based solution through a central console for integrating workloads and resources. The comprehensive solution includes access to virtual applications and desktops hosted on Azure VMs and supports deployments on premises, or on hybrid and public clouds. It also supports Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session hosts and multi-cloud deployments.

Parallels RAS on Azure delivers an affordable, yet faster, more scalable, and access-from-anywhere solution to your virtual desktops and applications. It also offers a full-featured and easy-to-understand licensing model.

Download the trial and see how Parallels RAS can help streamline your application delivery on Azure.