Azure Virtual Desktop Advantages on Azure Stack HCI

Darryl van de Peijl, Splitbrain

Microsoft introduced Azure Virtual Desktop in September 2019 providing for a robust desktop solution delivered from ’the cloud’. 

With Azure Stack HCI, as this is seen as Microsoft Azure infrastructure, you can now run Azure Virtual Desktop session hosts on any physical location you prefer.

Using AVD with Azure Stack HCI can solve three common challenges.


Challenge 1: Latency

Although the cloud and services keep evolving, we still have to deal with the laws of physics. That means that if you try to reach something over a network connection you have to consider the distance and the quality of that connection. The further you are away the more latency is introduced. If you are reaching a session host in an Azure region close to you, you would have a far better experience then when reaching a session host in a different part of the world.

If there is a need for a low-latency connection, Azure Stack HCI can help out by running the session host on the physical place you prefer. Inside the office building, next to the factory or in your own datacenter.

To take things a step further, we can now enable RDP-shortpath which bypasses the Azure infrastructure and provides a direct connection from the client to the session host, including using UDP instead of TCP for a better experience.

In the Netherlands we have a very solid connectivity network, but still we can see the positive effects on latency when using Azure Stack HCI:

The following numbers show the difference in latency using normal connection or RDP shortpath:

Amsterdam to session host in Microsoft Azure (West Europe/Amsterdam) 26ms
Amsterdam to session host on Azure Stack HCI in Rotterdam (cross country) 23ms
Amsterdam to session host in Microsoft Auzre (West Europe/Amsterdam) using RDP shortpath 5ms
Amsterdam to session host on Azure Stack HCI in Rotterdam using RDP shortpath 4ms
See the following video from Microsoft to understand the impact of latency:

Challenge 2: Graphical processing power

 The use of Graphical Processing Units or “GPUs” in short, can be very beneficial for your users experience even if they don’t require much graphical power. It can help when loading webpages, starting up teams or doing a videocall.

Azure Stack HCI supports a technology called GPU partitioning or “GPU-P” which enables dividing the GPU cores on a single physical card to multiple virtual machines. This way multiple session hosts can make use of one physical GPU providing graphical power to all users on them.

It also enables specific use cases such as CAD drawing using AutoCAD that needs the graphical power to function. Combine that with the low latency connection and there could be a chance you can finally say goodbye to the decided devices these users typically need.


Challenge 3: Data sovereignty

Do you or your company ever worry about your sensitive data in the public cloud? There is a lot going on in the data sovereignty sphere, especially with the ‘Cloud Act’ and the European Union.

If you have a need to keep your data in a location you prefer or control but still make use of the cloud model, you now can.

With Azure Virtual Desktop on Azure Stack HCI you get the benefits from using a cloud service with central management and governance but still store your data on the place you manage. Win-win scenario.


Challenge 4: Central management

 One major benefit from using the cloud is central management, one pane to manage all your resources wherever they are.

From Microsoft Azure perspective it does not matter if your AVD session hosts are running in a Microsoft managed datacenter or your own. The management for AVD infrastructure running on Azure Stack HCI is no different than the same infrastructure running in Azure.

With the integration of Azure Arc you can even take things a step further, integrating the same deployment methods and automation for your session hosts or using Azure Policy to enforce desired state in your datacenter. 


Bonus: Windows 10/11 multisession support

Azure Stack HCI is Azure infrastructure and therefore we also get the benefits from Microsoft Azure.

One of those is being able to use the Windows multi-session editions that were previously only available in Microsoft Azure. This special edition of Windows allows multiple concurrent interactive sessions allowing to share the session host with multiple users making it a more cost-efficient solution.


Darryl’s blog was originally posted on