April 01, 2020
How Windows Virtual Desktop Supports Remote Working
This solution maintains the security and productivity of your work-from-home users.
Windows Virtual Desktop delivers security at a fraction of the cost or investment of traditional virtual desktop infrastructure. Client virtualization isn’t anything new, and has even been available in the cloud for several years. We aren’t going to explain how to set up WVD and Office — there are plenty of other guides on how to do that. Instead, we will focus on using the features available in WVD, Windows 10 multi-session and Office that can help get your workers productive but also keep your data secure.
Windows 10 multi-session, which is only available on WVD, is the enterprise version but allows multiple users to use the same host. It’s the same arrangement as with Windows Server Remote Desktop Services but with a client operating system that improves performance and application compatibility. This just about removes the need to assign static desktops to specific users. By being able to use the host resources more efficiently, this will also reduce costs and complexity.
In most cases, if you are properly licensed for WVD and Office 365, you already have what you need to enable Conditional Access and multi-factor authentication. MFA has been proven to block 99.9 percent of account hacking attempts. The no-cost version of Azure MFA can be used if you don’t have the necessary licensing, but you’ll need Conditional Access, which only comes through Microsoft 365 E3 or E5, Azure AD P1 or P2, or EMS E3 or E5. Enabling these features doesn’t take very long — perhaps 30 minutes — and it will greatly increase your security. Here is the detailed process to enable Conditional Access and MFA for WVD. Besides MFA and Conditional Access, there are other features within Microsoft 365 that can be used to enhance security, such as Azure Information Protection, Advanced Threat Protection (many flavors), Cloud App Security and even Azure Sentinel.
WVD Productivity Improvements
With security addressed, how can user productivity and collaboration be maintained while using WVD and Office 365? We first need to clear up some misinformation on what works and what doesn’t within the remote connectivity scenario that many organizations are experiencing today.
First, traditional expectations lead us to believe that Office 365 and its associated services, as well as Office Pro Plus, may not run correctly or efficiently within a client virtualization solution such as WVD. Microsoft has taken great strides to ensure its client applications such as OneDrive for Business and Outlook can run successfully.
For example, one Outlook cached mode improvement is its built-in logic that syncs inbox contents prior to Calendar to get faster access to email so work can be achieved faster. Another improvement is in Microsoft Teams, which is also optimized to ensure your work has minimal disruption.
Driving Productivity Through WVD
Now that we’ve cleared up common misconceptions of Office 365 and Office services running within WVD, let’s begin to capitalize on this scalable, secure solution to keep the business productive.
Our first suggestion is to focus on the real-time collaborative features of Office 365, such as sharing documents. We recommend you share documents through OneDrive for Business, via either the browser or the sync client that is installed within the WVD Host instance, rather than through Outlook email.
Another step to take is to quickly enable group collaboration with your peers via Microsoft Teams and its single pane of glass. This not only allows users to share group documents (rather than file shares) but also leverages persistent and one-to-one chat capabilities to ensure no key interaction goes missing.
One final tip is to make use of the built-in metrics within Office 365 to grab critical insights into how your users are leveraging these technologies. The built-in Office 365 adoption pack and Workplace Analytics tool leverage Power BI to give leaders and managers the ability to see how best to uplift end-user’s knowledge of the tools and provide directed communications for enabling more productive and collaborative ways of working.