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6 Cost Reduction Strategies for Azure Virtual Desktop

By Vadim Vladimirskiy, CEO and Co-Founder, Nerdio

The new era of "work from anywhere" (WFx) has had a monumental impact on the adoption rate of virtual desktop technology, especially in the enterprise. According to Spiceworks 69% of enterprises expect to be using use desktop virtualization this year. If companies weren't already thinking about replacing traditional end user computing approaches with virtual desktops, the pandemic's storm of security-related news and threats and a competitive employee market looking not to return to offices has brought the idea to the forefront for many IT decision makers.

This landmark shift has been met by increased virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) choice. Traditional legacy options are now being compared to new innovations - namely Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD). Providing the familiarity and compatibility of Windows 11 with a new scalable, multi-session user experience, and the ability to save costs through using existing Windows licenses, AVD is now a top consideration for new enterprise virtual desktop and cloud workspace deployments or for organizations looking to modernize the "old" way of doing VDI on-prem.  

Yet, understanding VDI options requires true details on the cost and capabilities offered by virtual desktop technologies especially because until a few years ago the belief that VDI was expensive and not scalable was common. If you are considering AVD to support desktop virtualization for your user workspaces, it's important to know about key cost reduction strategies that Nerdio can deliver that make it an even more compelling option.

When put in place, the following cost reduction strategies, which are supported by data from thousands of AVD deployments, can lower the costs of a typical AVD deployment by more than 80%.

1.       Manage VM Power. When it comes to the cost of AVD, the largest component is VM compute costs, which can account for as much as 70% of the overall expense of running the service. To lower this compute expense, an AVD optimization solution such as Nerdio Manager for Enterprise can help you throttle back the virtual machines (VMs) during off-peak hours. For example, if users are accessing their desktop only 50 hours a week, there's no reason to keep the VMs on and running the Azure compute meter 24/7. Using patented auto-scaling technology VMs can be turned on automatically at the beginning of the day (or upon user login) and turned off once they are no longer needed, on nights and weekend for example. Of course, users can still connect when needed off hours, but the overall system is optimized so that it doesn't just run the compute clock. VM power management in practice has shown to deliver a compute cost reduction of up to 70%.

2.       Burst Your Capacity. While significant cost savings can be seen by simply powering VMs off when not in use, your operating system (OS) disks associated with the powered off VMs are still running up the bill. Here "just-in-time" (JIT) provisioning capabilities remove VMs that are not in use. This will help deliver additional cost savings as only the base capacity disks will remain while the additional VMs will only be created automatically as needed and deleted when not in use.

3.       Reduce Reserved Instances Cost. Azure offers both pay-as-you-go and reserved capacity pricing. Reserved Instances (RI) which are typically offered in one-year or three-year terms to reserve virtual machines in advance for future needs and requirements. A tool such as Nerdio Manager uses RI Analytics to observe auto-scale behavior and more accurately recommend the number of CPU cores that need to be reserved - based on actual usage, to save you potentially 60% on top of the savings from optimizing VMs and OS disks. 

4.       Optimize Your Storage. Even though you may have already reduced OS disk storage costs through implementing JIT provisioning, there are still the remaining VMs used for base capacity that can be better optimized to improve disk costs. When VMs are in use, they must be high performing to deliver the user experience you require, that necessitates the use of premium solid-state drives (SSD). However, when the VMs are stopped, using cheaper standard HDD disks can save significantly on storage costs.

5.       Shrink VM OS Disk Capacity. While auto-scaling can further cost optimize disk usage, shrinking the size of VM OS disk can deliver even more savings. In fact, in multi-session, pooled environments no data is actually being stored on the C: drive and all user data is redirected to the FSLogix file share. To prevent paying for extra space you don't need, reduce the size of the default 128 GB OS disk to 64GB. Since VMs are being regularly deleted and re-created from the image there is no growing disk space consumption on the system drive. This will have up to 50% on OS disk storage and further bring down your AVD expense.

6.       Reduce White Space. The final cost reduction strategy to consider focuses on the remaining large cost component of AVD: FSLogix storage. FSLogix user profiles are VHD(X) files stored on a file share. Because they are "thin-provisioned" they can grow once data is added to the user profile. This can create inefficiency and extra cost. Using an AVD optimization solution can help to remove the white space from FSLogix profiles. When the process is run regularly it can reduce space utilization by up to 50%. When combined with storage auto-scaling technology to adjust the provisioned quota on the Azure Files share additional savings can be realized.

When applying each of these practices across your AVD deployments, significant cost reductions will be seen. Consider the savings outlined in the following chart for an AVD implementation with 192 users optimized with Nerdio Manager for Enterprise:

cost-reduction-azure-virtualdesktop 

Selecting the best virtual desktop and cloud workspace solution for your remote users is an important decision. It can't be made without exploring all the features and costs involved. When including AVD in your evaluation, be sure to consider the added value that AVD optimization solutions can add to the native AVD experience and management during your assessment. It can lower the overall cost of AVD by up to 80% and help you to see the true cost of AVD so you can effectively compare AVD to a more legacy approach to virtual desktop deployments.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vadim Vladimirskiy 

Vadim Vladimirskiy is a visionary expert in the creation and evolution of innovative cloud IT management platforms for the remote work era. He is CEO and co-founder of Nerdio and empowers companies of all sizes to deploy, manage and optimize virtual desktops in Microsoft Azure.

Published Tuesday, November 02, 2021 7:30 AM by David Marshall
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