Deliver a better user experience with Azure Virtual Desktop in Parallels RAS

Parallels RAS simplifies and enhances the implementation and management of Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop and brings additional features to improve the user experience.

I’ll walk you through the new Azure Virtual Desktop-related features as part of Parallels RAS 19.3 updates.

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Since the early days of Azure Virtual Desktop (back then still called Window Virtual Desktop), Parallels RAS has had a direct integration with this platform.

AVD in Parallels RAS

Parallels RAS allows you to deploy, manage, and maintain Azure Virtual Desktop directly from within the console, providing a smooth administrator experience.

Parallels RAS provides the ability to significantly reduce Azure consumption costs with features like auto-scaling, image optimization, and much more.

Furthermore, Parallels RAS provides hassle-free hybrid deployment. As a result, you can have a mix of workloads running in Azure Virtual Desktop, on-premises, and other public clouds. All from the same console and from within the same Parallels RAS user license.

And finally, Parallels RAS improves the user experience by providing additional features on top of what native Azure Virtual Desktop provides.

Check out the new features Parallels RAS released with the Azure Virtual Desktop integration.

Enhanced user experience for Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)

Starting from version 19.3 we support tRDSH, VDI, and Azure Virtual Desktop features when using the Azure Virtual Desktop integration.    There is no additional configuration required while also allowing the Parallels RAS client to transparently leverage the last AVD client version.

Select modes AVD

Accelerated File Redirection

Allowing users to access their local data from within published desktops and published applications is a very common scenario, and it can be achieved with clipboard redirection and drive redirection.

Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) and Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) support clipboard redirection natively.

Parallels RAS enhances what standard RDP protocol can do by also allowing unidirectional (client to server only, or server to client only), as well as easily configuring different policies for different groups of users.

The other option, drive redirection, is also commonly used and supported by Azure Virtual Desktop natively.

The native RDP protocol is however not very efficient for file and folder enumeration when using drive redirection. This often leads to a slow and sluggish user experience. Especially when trying to enumerate a folder with a large number of files.

Parallels RAS provides a smooth user experience for drive redirection and fixes the slowness in enumerating files and folders with the drive redirection cache feature.

This feature optimizes how the communication is carried out (compared to standard RDP) and adds caching of the folder structure on the Azure Virtual Desktop Session Host.

This optimization applies to both the Parallels Client for Windows and the Parallels Client for macOS; it applies to Published Desktops and published applications, single session and multi-session.

configure redirection cache

Watch the video to see how end users experience a difference in accessing local files and folders both with and without drive redirection cache.

URL redirection

There are several use cases where you might want to redirect specific URLs outside of the user’s remote session to be handled on the local client.     Common use cases for example are server-to-client redirection for specific application requirements where local resource usage is preferred over remote and using unified communications like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Ring Central.

In these scenarios, server-to-client redirection can provide a better user experience for audio and video. This goes above and beyond technologies like the VDI plugin for Zoom and A/V redirect for Azure Virtual Desktop, which Parallels RAS also supports.

URL redirection applies to all Parallels Clients and applies to Published Desktops and published applications single session and multi-session (watch the video).

configure URL redirection

Launching local apps

Parallels RAS includes features that launch locally installed applications from within the remote session. This applies to both the Parallels Client for Windows and to Published Desktops, as well as published applications single session and multi-session.

In the example below, see how the Parallels client for Windows is used to launch four published applications that are running remotely. In the same image, a fifth application, Notepad, is launched from the Parallels client and you can see the local Notepad application. Note the difference in overlay icons on the taskbar.

Upon launching a locally available application, you can have the information appear on the screen or perform in the background.

RAS shell warning

This functionality applies to both the Parallels Client for Windows and the Parallels Client for macOS; it also applies to Published Desktops and published applications in single session and multi-session (watch the video).

Universal printing

Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) supports printer redirection based on easy print, but you need a third-party solution in place to support certain commonly requested advanced printing scenarios.

Parallels RAS Universal Printing is designed to enhance the printing experience in virtualized and remote environments.

For instance, Parallels RAS has the ability to enable printer redirection to the remote session. This allows users to have access to all (or a subset) of their locally available printers.

Parallels RAS provides advanced printing capabilities out of the box and offers a great experience for end users and admins alike.

Features include compression, multi-functional support, increased performance, and an optimized user experience. The table below shows a summary of the main printing capabilities that Parallels RAS provides out of the box.

Features and functionality Parallels RAS Universal Printing Microsoft RDS/AVD native
Redirect local printers Yes Yes
Allow redirection of specific printers for a specific group or user Yes Limited (no option to choose specific printers to redirect)
Dynamically update the default printer upon local change Yes No (requires logoff & logon)
Dynamically Update redirected printers based on local changes (add, remove, update) Yes No (requires logoff & logon)
Control the naming convention of redirected printers Yes No
Average time to recreate 10 redirected printers upon session reconnect ˜1 second ˜10 seconds
Broad client OS support (Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS and Web clients) Yes Limited (depending on client OS)
Attach non-default fonts to print jobs, cache fonts to speed up printing, automatically distribute fonts to Session Host servers Yes No
Option to launch a published application only after redirected printers are ready Yes No
Client printer can start printing just after the first page is ready on the server (with EMF). Yes No
Allow configuring print jobs to be sent as images to avoid vector drawing on client and optimize printing for specific devices Yes No

Watch the video.

Friendly names in Azure Virtual Desktop

Starting with Parallels RAS version 19.3, you now can use friendly names for Azure Virtual Desktop resources.

This makes the user experience more intuitive by allowing users to access the Parallels Clients or Azure Virtual Desktop (Remote Desktop) clients with the friendly name configured by the IT admin.

Although most organizations will use the Parallels RAS clients for optimized unified access to all resources, this change also unlocks the ability to adjust the display name that is visible in the Azure Virtual Desktop (Remote Desktop) clients.

Automation using PowerShell and REST API

Management and maintenance of Parallels RAS can be automated in addition to using the Parallels RAS admin console, including managing the Azure Virtual Desktop integration in Parallels RAS. Both PowerShell and REST API can be used.

Delivering a better user experience with Azure Virtual Desktop in Parallels RAS

To summarize, the integration of Azure Virtual Desktop in Parallels RAS offers significant benefits for businesses, including increased flexibility, scalability, and ease of management.

By combining the power of Microsoft Azure with the simplicity and ease of use of Parallels RAS, organizations can streamline application and desktop delivery and improve overall productivity.

Starting from Parallels RAS version 19.3, organizations can now leverage the enhancements described in this blog post, while still transparently leveraging the latest version of the Azure Virtual Desktop.

Interested in learning more about how Parallels RAS can make IT administration easier for your organization? Get your free 30-day trial now!