Deliver a Consistent Computing Experience Across Devices Using Windows 365

  • October 07, 2022
woman working on laptop in coffee shop

The flexibility of working from anywhere has become non-negotiable for the global workforce. In its recent study, Gallup found that 59% of the employees who can work from home would prefer a hybrid model. Employees must stay connected across different devices at home, in the office, or on the go. Hence, enterprises are looking at user-friendly technologies available to work on any device, anywhere, and anytime.

Windows 365 – The new era of “Cloud PC”

Microsoft launched Windows 365 in July 2021 to empower enterprise employees to work productively from both on-site and remote locations while ensuring enterprise data security. Windows 365 uses the power of the cloud to offer users a personalized Windows experience on any device and anywhere. Built using the principles of zero trust security, Windows 365 provides a comprehensive package comprising desktop applications, settings, and data hosted in the cloud.

How is Windows 365 different from Azure Virtual Desktop?

We know Microsoft also offers Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) — another virtual desktop solution. However, there are some fundamental differences between Windows 365 and AVD. These differences include:

The complexity of management: In AVD, enterprise IT handles the installation, configuration, and management of host servers. For Windows 365, the enterprise IT team accesses the Microsoft 365 admin portal and requests a cloud-based Windows PC. Microsoft then provisions a cloud PC for users. You do not need a complex skill set for managing host servers to operate the Windows 365 environment, whereas managing AVD requires more depth and breadth of those skills.

Predictable costs: From the billing standpoint, Windows 365 offers predictable costs. Windows 365 is a monthly (per user), subscription-based service. AVD is available with a consumption-based service (pay-as-you-go) model.

Customization: Windows 365 has limited scope for customization. AVD is flexible for customizations, has more features, and offers more control over the environment. However, it involves some heavy lifting for IT admins.

Identifying the proper use cases

Organizations must determine the suitability of any solution for their business. Windows 365 is best aligned if the organization:

  • Has significant pre-existing Microsoft investments, including Microsoft Endpoint Manager, Intune, Azure, Azure Active Directory, and other services
  • Prefers to manage virtual and physical desktops with Microsoft Endpoint Manager without managing pools of virtual desktops
  • Has stable user volume and prefers a predictable, pay-per-user billing, unlike consumption-based billing in AVD
  • Requires dedicated, isolated virtual desktops for employees to enable audit, logging, and tracking from a security and regulatory standpoint (mainly for financial services companies, healthcare providers, and governments)
  • Needs persistent virtual desktops to accommodate remote employees and frequent changes in the workforce due to mergers, contractors, seasonal so similar types of workers, without managing the lifecycle of company-owned devices

Windows 365 is not suitable for your organization if it:

  • Desires a highly configurable virtual workspace environment
  • Requires application hosting
  • Supports concurrent usage models wherein different users leverage a pool of virtual machines continuously
  • Prefers the ability to power off virtual desktops overnight to optimize costs

Windows 365 is available in Business and Enterprise editions. The Business edition is for small companies, whereas Enterprise is available in various software packages depending on disk sizes, user volumes, industries, and personas. Depending on the maturity of an organization’s journey to the cloud, it can be deployed in Azure AD Joined Microsoft-hosted Network, Azure AD Joined BYON (Bring Your Own Network), and Hybrid Azure AD Joined (On-premise Network Connection).

Implementation best practices

  1. Determine the success factors and use cases: As an IT leader considering Windows 365, start by determining the Cloud PC needs of users and objectives to be achieved. Identify appropriate use cases considering users’ application usage, location, and potential volume.
  2. Plan how to manage Cloud PCs: Assess the current environment and determine who will manage Cloud PCs, permissions to be granted, and policies to be applied. Planning how users will connect to Cloud PCs (via browser or a remote desktop client) is critical at this stage. Also, decide the correct license variant(s) for your organization and verify that Windows 365 license agreements allow monthly amendments.
  3. Roll out, educate and support: Start rolling out Windows 365 in a phased manner and keep evaluating it against the critical success factors defined at the beginning. Pilot the solution with a small group of employees before actual implementation. Communicate this change to users well in advance and onboard them properly at the time of this implementation. Align IT support teams with users at this stage to help users resolve any initial troubles using the new solution.

Consider engaging workplace technology experts to identify the right virtual workspace solution for your business, implement it, and manage it efficiently.

NTT DATA’s workplace advisory experts can help you evaluate Windows 365 for your environment and conduct a proof of concept in two weeks.

Sandeep Kumar
Sandeep is the Digital Workplace Strategic Advisor, focused on driving productivity in hybrid work and lowering the TCO by integrating and automating the digital workplace ecosystem. He helps organizations make data-driven decisions, delivering operational insights by harnessing the data using a cloud analytics engine powered by AI and ML.

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As we move into 2022 and beyond, security leaders must empower their teams to have the flexibility and awareness to tackle challenges in this rapidly changing environment. CISOs can never take their eye off the technologies that dominate our field, but it’s just as essential to continue to nurture the people and processes to get the most out of those new technologies.

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