In the previous blog, we looked into an introduction of Windows 365, where we looked at the Overview and Technical Architecture.
Now we shall look into the comparison between Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows 365,
We will be looking at the below points of comparisons,
- Control Plane (Interface with which you control AVD/W365)
- Azure Subscription
- User Profiles
Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows 365 share the same global control plane running in Azure.
The control plane consists of things such as the
- Web portal
- Connection broker
- Diagnostics service
All components are hosted and managed by Microsoft and admins interact with them via a portal or API while end-users interact with them via the AVD and cloud PC client apps.
An agent application runs on each virtual desktop – AVD session hosts and Windows 365 cloud PCs
This agent is responsible for communication with the Microsoft-managed control plane.
Microsoft manages the agent and updates it automatically. The agent for both AVD and Windows 365 appears to be the same.
Fig. Azure Virtual Desktop Portal
Fig. Windows 365 Portal
Azure Virtual Desktop requires all session host VMs, FSLogix profile storage, and networking to be contained in a customer’s Azure subscription. Microsoft manages the control plane components, while the customer is fully responsible for everything related to the session host VMs. Costs are also incurred for all components based on usage at the customer subscription level.
With Windows 365, all compute is contained in a Microsoft-managed Azure subscription. This means that customers don’t have direct access to manage the VM resources, since these resources are not accessible in their Azure subscription. They also don’t incur the costs associated with running cloud PC VMs at the Azure subscription level.
Enterprise cloud PCs run in Microsoft’s Azure subscription, but their network interface cards (virtual NICs) are “injected” into the customer’s Azure subscription. Business cloud PC VMs reside entirely within Microsoft’s Azure subscription with no components connected to any customer Azure subscription.
Azure Virtual Desktop session hosts are regular VMs and can be deployed and used in a very flexible way with all the power of Azure. These session hosts can serve up personal desktops, where a VM is dedicated to a single user, or pooled desktops where a VM can be used by multiple users who move between such VMs daily.
Whereas A Windows 365 cloud PC is a VM that’s dedicated to a single user via permanent assignment (like personal desktops in AVD).
These VMs run in Microsoft’s Azure subscription, which means the customer is not responsible for the compute costs. They are licensed via a Windows 365 cloud PC license and are based on a fixed per-user-per-month price.
The cost doesn’t depend on usage, concepts like auto-scaling and reserved instances don’t apply to cloud PCs.
Azure Virtual Desktop session host VMs must have an OS disk attached to them. These disks can be any Azure managed disk type even the Epidermal Disks. Hence OS disk becomes a vital component for AVD.
IT admins have full flexibility when it comes to the size and type of OS disk to use. Admins can also put Auto-scaling to convert SSD disks to cheaper HDD disks while VMs are powered off.
AVD consists of FSLogix as a primary component for shared Hostpools. FSLogix profiles are typically stored in Azure Files shares, Azure NetApp Files volumes, or file server VMs.
Each Windows 365 cloud PC comes with a pre-defined amount of local SSD storage.
The cost of this storage is included in the cloud PC M365 license, and the OS disk object is located within Microsoft’s Azure subscription, which means the customer is not responsible for any Azure storage costs.
There is no flexibility around what type of storage to use and using auto-scaling is not possible since the cost is fixed.
Azure Virtual Desktop network routing and security is fully under the control of IT admins.
Session hosts are regular VMs that can be created on any virtual network in the customer’s Azure subscription and this Vnet can be configured with all the flexibility of Azure networking.
This means that customers have full control of how ingress and egress traffic is routed, what IP addresses are used, VPN connectivity, etc. They are also responsible for any costs associated with egress bandwidth usage.
Enterprise cloud PCs have the same capabilities, from a networking perspective, as AVD session hosts.
The Virtual Network that they attach to resides within the customer’s Azure subscription and is fully controlled by the IT admin.
Azure Virtual Desktop uses the FSLogix profile container technology. This means that the user can move from one session host VM to another while their user profile follows them seamlessly, giving the user a flawless experience.
Since Windows 365 cloud PCs are single-session desktops dedicated to individual users, Microsoft removed FSLogix. A user’s Windows profile is “native”, meaning that it is stored directly on the C: drive of the cloud PC, exactly as it is with traditional, physical Windows computers.
Azure Virtual Desktop currently requires Active Directory Domain Services. This requirement can be fulfilled by using an existing Windows AD environment or by using the Azure AD DS PaaS service.
Windows 365 Enterprise cloud PCs require Hybrid Azure AD join. This means that you will have to traditionally synch Windows AD to Azure AD with Hybrid Join enabled. As of creating this blog, Azure AD DS is not currently supported.
Business cloud PCs are natively Azure AD joined and do not require (or support) Windows AD or Azure AD DS
Here we conclude the comparison between Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows 365 in terms of Infrastructure and underlying components.
Now we shall look into the compare both the services from an experience point of view.
You can check the documentation on User experience. AVD vs W365- Experience.