How to Manage an Azure Windows Virtual Desktop Host Pool with Parallels RAS

In this blog post, we cover the basics of Azure Windows Virtual Desktop host pool and how it can be managed using Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS). In addition, we outline the advantages that Parallels RAS delivers to customers.

Definition of Azure Windows Virtual Desktop

Windows Virtual Desktop is a desktop and application virtualization service that runs on Microsoft Azure. The main features and benefits of this cloud service are listed below:

Prerequisites for Using the Parallels RAS Windows Virtual Desktop Integration Feature

Below are the prerequisites required to use Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop in a Parallels RAS setup:

  1. Microsoft Azure subscription. You’ll need an Azure subscription and Azure Tenant ID. You can check your Tenant ID from the Azure Portal by navigating to Azure Active Directory > Properties or by using Powershell.
  2. Windows Virtual Desktop user license entitlement. To run Windows 10 with Windows Virtual Desktop, you need to have one of the following per-user licenses:

To run Windows Server 2012 R2, 2016, 2019, you’ll need:

View further information about licensing requirements.

  1. Permissions and Azure resource providers. This section refers to those permissions required for enabling resource providers on your Azure subscription and creating virtual machines (VMs).

To carry out this integration, the following Azure resource providers must be enabled: Microsoft.ResourceGraph, Microsoft.Resources, Microsoft. Compute, Microsoft.Network and Microsoft.DesktopVirtualization.

  1. Microsoft AD application. Create a Microsoft Azure AD application, and apply both the Group > Group.Read.All and User > User.Read.All permissions. Roles and permissions for the application should include the User Access Administrator and Contributor roles set at the resource group level.

Make sure that when adding Graph API permissions, User and Group, the permission type is Application not Delegated.

A detailed step-by-step process for creating an Azure AD Application can be found in the following article.

  1. Active Directory. You’ll need a Server Active Directory environment or Azure Active Directory Domain Services. Also, Server AD must be in sync with your Azure AD.
  1. You’ll also want to make sure that you have Azure Virtual Network to provide session hosts with a connection to the domain. Note that session hosts must be domain-joined to Active Directory and a site-to-site VPN or ExpressRoute is required if you use a hybrid Parallels RAS deployment. You’ll need a shared network location to be used for FSLogix Profile Containers, which may run on Azure Files or Azure NetApp Files. Check out all the storage options.

Enable Windows Virtual Desktop Management

You will need to begin in the Parallels RAS Console. Once you are there, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to Farm > Site > Settings. Select the Features tab and find the Windows Virtual Desktop section at the bottom of the page.

Figure 1 - Manage an Azure Windows Virtual Desktop Host Pool with Parallels RAS

Note: Windows Virtual Desktop deployment in Parallels RAS can be easily done by completing a series of wizards. You can run all of them from the Deploy Windows Virtual Desktop section in the Start category. If Windows Virtual Desktop is not configured, the Start category will take you to the Farm > Site > Settings Features tab.

  1. Check the Enable WVD management checkbox.
  1. Click Download to get the current version of WVD Agent and BootLoader and store them on the Publishing Agent or a Network share.
  1. The Client feature set selection specifies which client features will be available when you open a published resource in Parallels Client. Choose your selection from the dropdown menu according to the following:
  1. Make sure that Status is shown as Available. You can also see the current version that has been downloaded.

Create a Host pool in Azure through Parallels RAS

Host pools are a collection of one or more virtual machines (VMs) within Windows Virtual Desktop environments. Ideally, host pools VMs are sourced from the same image, Template, as this ensures a consistent delivery of service to end users irrespective of how the user sessions are load balanced across the hosts. Parallels RAS can manage standalone or template-based host pools.

Before creating a host pool from the Parallels RAS Console, we have to add a Windows Virtual Desktop provider and either create a new workspace or select an existing one.

Add a Windows Virtual Desktop provider

  1. Open the Parallels RAS Console. Navigate to Farm > Site > Windows Virtual Desktop, select the Providers tab, and click (+) to add a new Windows Virtual Desktop provider.
  2. On this page you have to choose a Name and a Description for this provider, and you need to specify your Microsoft Azure Tenant ID, Subscription ID, Application ID, and a secret key to configure your connection to Microsoft Azure.
  3. Click Next, review the summary, and then click Finish.
  4. Click Next, review the summary, and then click Finish.

This completes the first wizard in the series. On the last page, the Launch Windows Virtual Desktop Workspace wizard option is enabled by default. This automatically opens the next wizard where you can add a Windows Virtual Desktop workspace.

Add or create a workspace

  1. Select whether you want to create a new workspace or select an existing one. To create a new workspace, type a Name and an optional Description. Select an existing Resource Group, or create a new one, and then specify a Location. Note that the location that you select here will be used for all Windows Virtual Desktop objects, including workspaces, host pools and application groups.

Figure 2 - Manage an Azure Windows Virtual Desktop Host Pool with Parallels RAS

  1. Click Next, review the summary, and then click Finish.

The last page of the wizard has the Launch Windows Virtual Desktop host pool wizard option selected by default.

Create a Windows Virtual Desktop host pool

Once the provider and the workspace have been added, you are ready to create a new host pool through the Add Windows Virtual Desktop Host Pool wizard.

Figure 3 - Manage an Azure Windows Virtual Desktop Host Pool with Parallels RAS

  1. Select the Create new host pool option, and type a Name. By default, the Description field is populated as Managed by Parallels RAS and it can be edited. Select a Resource Group
  2. On the Configuration page, specify the following options according to your requirements, and click Next:

Further information about load-balancing methods can be found here.

Figure 4 - Manage an Azure Windows Virtual Desktop Host Pool with Parallels RAS

  1. On the Provisioning page, select whether this host pool will contain template-based or standalone hosts,and click Next:

Figure 5 - Manage an Azure Windows Virtual Desktop Host Pool with Parallels RAS

  1. If Standalone is selected, select one or more hosts to be included in the host pool. If Template is selected, you can select the template, create a new one or skip this step and configure the template later.
  1. On the Assignment page, specify users or groups to be assigned to the application group in the host pool. This is necessary for users to have access to their published applications and desktops.
  1. Follow the on-screen instructions, and complete the wizard.

Manage Existing Pools

To manage Windows Virtual Desktop host pools, navigate to Farm > Site > Windows Virtual Desktop and select the Host pools tab. To view and modify the properties of a host pool, right-click on it and choose Properties. In the dialog box that opens, select the corresponding tabs to view or modify the host pool properties according to your needs:

Figure 6 - Manage an Azure Windows Virtual Desktop Host Pool with Parallels RAS

General: You can enable or disable the host pool, modify its description and view its general properties.

Configuration: You can modify the following properties on this page: load balancer, limit number of sessions on host, power on host-on-demand, and Validation environment.

Autoscale: This tab is shown only for hosts with template as a provisioning type. You can select a template and also create a new one. As shown in the image above, the Autoscale settings tab determines how hosts will be created or removed automatically based on distinct predefined values.

Hosts: This tab lists hosts from the corresponding host pool and shows the status of each host as well as other properties. If the host provisioning is configured as Standalone, you can add new hosts to the pool from here.

Assignment: This tab displays Active Directory users, shows groups assigned to Azure Active Directory objects and allows you to create new assignments.

User profile: You can configure the user profile functionality. The available options are Do not manage by RAS or FSLogix.

Optimization: This allows you to configure settings that will be used to optimize session hosts.

Host pool settings: This tab allows you to configure settings such as session timeouts, client URL/Mail redirection, drag and drop, and others.

RDP printer: You can configure the renaming format of redirected printers.

Simplify the Management of Windows Virtual Desktop with Parallels RAS

Parallels RAS enriches and extends Windows Virtual Desktop capabilities by providing organizations with a unified administrative and end-user experience. Below are summarized some of the key benefits of using Parallels RAS with Windows Virtual Desktop:

Further details can be reviewed in the corresponding joint solution brief.

Any questions or need more information? Don’t hesitate to contact us.