Well, the day has come. CloudPC, a Microsoft offering I wrote about in the past, is now a reality. I will not get into all the details of how it compares to Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD). This is already done and in pretty good detail here.
Even though I do agree with everything that Vadim from Nerdio wrote, I do believe there is a bit of an ‘unflexible’ tone to the post and that is where my post here comes to the picture. With that in mind, let me mention a couple things:
- Licensing. AVD and CloudPC in many ways do have the exact same licensing requirements. Of course some extra licenses may be required for one versus the other, as at the end of the day they are different offerings. What is important is to highlight what is DIFFERENT, and not what is the same. For people doing AVD, that is already known. We know what AVD requires. Before you ask me why I did not write about what is different then, I have an answer to that: I am no licensing guru, specially when dealing with Microsoft ones. Maybe even Microsoft employees have no clue about what is needed. Or that next week they will change something. All I know is, both offerings do have a lot in common and most people want to know what is different then and how much that difference costs at the end of the day.
- Flexibility. This is a tough one and the reason why I do not like the term. With flexibility, where you can do everything you want, usually comes a ton of mistakes or shit not done properly. I have seen this first hand in large AVD deployments. To the point in certain projects you regret having flexibility. In a way it is like giving people that never used a gun the chance to choose any gun they want to go hunting. Trust me, this does not end well most of the time. That is where flexibility becomes a double edge sword. Great for smart people. Terrible if you are surrounded by idiots. Given that fact idiots outnumber you 100:1, chances are that flexibility is not really a good thing. Jokes aside, for some companies the simple fact this is taken care of in many ways and not as ‘flexible’ as AVD, it could be a blessing. That is why this is a hard one to say it is a benefit or a drawback.
- Use cases. CloudPC is a 1:1 solution. Users get a single VM. Their VM. Not pooled. AVD can handle pooled and this, in certain cases may be an advantage. The same way it can be a major drawback, like in multiple users affected if a single VM goes down, potential security issues when multiple users are on the VM (many great examples of this are available) and so on. It is not a small list. Also worth mentioning that 1:1 DaaS is closer to a regular PC deployment, what means not having to deal with multi-user issues around applications, etc. Not saying this is a big problem or not. Just saying most of the IT world understands single PCs. On-prem ones, Cloud ones, virtual ones or real ones. So if you are to compare AVD to CloudPC make sure you compare the same scenarios and not the ones like 100 users on a B2ms versus a single user CloudPC D4s_v3. In that case AVD multi-user will always be cheaper. Also keep in mind there is a TON of customers doing single user AVD (I am living proof and a witness of that).
- Simplicity. It seems that in many ways CloudPC is simpler. Some may say it is not as flexible (as I pointed out above). But for many companies a turn key solution, something simple and with the exact same predictable costs is not a bad thing at all. The same way the flexibility of AVD and its pay-as-you-go model is great for many (keep in mind that most large companies doing AVD are pre-paying Azure for at least a year so it is not really PAYG).
- Data Persistency. Well Microsoft is pushing their cloud services. With known folders on OneDrive, most of what the user cares will be there no matter what. And on any device. It does not matter if the CloudPC has to be redeployed. User will not lose anything massively important in most cases. Also if you can bring your own image to CloudPC Enterprise, you can deal with profiles if you feel like, using the same FSLogix that is there on AVD, as far as I can tell (I may be wrong here as I have never used CloudPC and not sure about what can be or not, installed/configured on it). But if that is true, no changes here. For CloudPC Business (the little brother) probably most users for that SKU use case do not even care about profiles. They care about the apps and the data. And in that case they can be covered.
- Image Management. Well here, if you follow the Microsoft story even on AVD, you have heard of App Attach. More than that, many partners are pushing customers towards it for AVD. If that is the case, no difference here. Use a base barebones image (like the ones available on Azure by default) and bring your apps in with App Attach (MSIX). Same shit. Now, we all know that MSIX has its own set of issues but the same issues will be there with AVD or CloudPC. My point is, at least Microsoft is being consistent here, preaching the exact same story regardless of the solution in use. And yes, AVD in this case may be more flexible but I already mentioned that flexibility could be a double edge sword…
- Architecture. This is something that at the end of the day I couldn’t care less. Users do not give a big fuck if something is properly architected as a true cloud service or not. When I turn on my TV and launch Netflix, I could not care less if on the other end a monkey is poked in the ass to wake up and turn on a BluRay player that will then get its HDMI output digitized and streamed in real time to my TV. Does it work? Does it work fast? Is the quality good? That is all users care. Monkeys or SDN design like Cisco Meraki (thanks Harry), I do not give a fuck. Your users do not give a fuck. Neither should you as long as it delivers and works as expected.
The key thing at the end of the day, and in my humble opinion, will be pricing. Make this cheap for all scenarios and it will be a non-brainer for many businesses. It goes well with the whole Microsoft cloud story and of course keeps all under a single umbrella what has its advantages for sure.
And as I wrote before, this would be really cool for consumers, having their real PC ‘cloned’ to the cloud and available when their real PC dies or when they need more power for tasks their hardware would not cut it (i.e., cutting rendering times to a tenth, running apps that require GPUs they do not have – especially now that GPUs are nowhere to be found). Or even having the PC available from anywhere, anytime. Without having to worry about how to make that PC available in the cloud (in other words, by having Microsoft using a built-in OS service/component that takes care of making that cloning a reality, transparent to the user).
And before you say Windows is not a requirement any longer, I heard that 20 years ago. And here we are, dealing with Windows in the cloud. Same shit, just cloud-based shit now.
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