Organizations find themselves in uncharted territory with the advent of COVID-19 – one where a distributed remote work force is not only necessary, but perhaps the new normal. Employers across the world have shown a sensitivity to their employees’ health by allowing those that can to work remotely. This not only helps the business move forward, it keeps employees productive and engaged. Web apps for email and a few productivity tools work well for simple and light tasks, but CloudJumper has a number of customers who are most comfortable with a full desktop experience for segments of their user population. Some require access to applications that are performance driven and graphically intense and only a full desktop experience will do. That’s where NVIDIA and the Azure cloud come in.
Instead of a heavy investment into additional expensive workstations and laptops, many organizations have found cloud desktops with dedicated graphics as their ideal option. A cloud desktop benefits from all of the economics of the cloud – pay only for what you use; rent versus buy; and scale to demand; easy to backup; fast to restore/reset. CloudJumper furthers the value of your cloud choice with automation tools, orchestrated workflows to make desktops and applications available to end-users with minimal administration. Further, we can save you money on your cloud spend.
The public cloud providers, like Azure, still allows organizations the agility to centrally manage their line of business applications as well as the security and convenience of SSO and deployment tools. Remaining in control of applications and data for users is a huge boon to organizations – especially so in an urgency such as the current pandemic scenario. Security cannot be disregarded, even in urgencies such as this.
Microsoft’s newest DaaS/EUC/PaaS desktop solution, Windows Virtual Desktop, has been the focus of most customer inquiries at CloudJumper. We’ve onboarded thousands of new users/desktops in WVD in the last week. Customers correctly see WVD as a way to provide users with a sense of normalcy with a secondary desktop. Most users are onboarded smoothly within a couple hours and enjoy access to the same familiar applications they already on-premises. For administrators, SSO is simple to setup through to your existing Active Directory structure. File security and permissions can work similar to the on-premise network and access to the necessary apps can be ensured.
Heavy graphic/visualization applications are supported in WVD. When the workload demands it, a dedicated graphic card can be assigned and provisioned for user VMs in WVD – or in RDS in Azure. For those that aren’t aware, Azure as IaaS can run workstation VMs for desktop and application virtualization, or organizations can do the same in Windows Virtual Desktop. WVD is a PaaS service that requires quite a bit less overall management, reduces the attack surface, and offers a higher density Windows 10 OS (multi-session) to consolidate multiple users onto a single VM – which is normally under-utilized. Both Azure IaaS VMs and Azure WVD VMs offer dedicated graphics options.
Reference NVIDIA’s blog: How virtualization delivers a foundation for working remotely
GPU use cases are a prime example of this – work-from-home laptops almost certainly lack the horsepower required by AutoCAD, ArcGIS and other apps that require specific configurations. Instead, WVD empowers these users to leverage cloud-based desktops with the specific GPU resources their job demands.
One of our customer success stories is an organization going through an M&A and needed to provide a solution to engineering users required to use a specialized, graphics intense application. Each user leveraged the industry leading ArcGIS Pro, which builds 2D and 3D maps to do geo-spatial analysis of the data and predictive analysis, as well as a few developer tools.
The customer evaluated multiple options:
- An additional workstation/laptop for the engineers
- A cloud solution powered by NVIDIA, Azure and orchestrated by CloudJumper
- A competing, legacy VDI vendor’s solution
- A do it yourself solution in the cloud
The customer found the cost of additional on-premise hardware prohibitively expensive and the offering from a competing legacy VDI vendor inflexible for their needs. The customer smartly called the software vendor, Esri, and was referred to CloudJumper. We provided a solution on Azure that was budget friendly, fully deployed by CloudJumper, easy to manage going forward and eliminated end-user disruption while IT was consolidating.
NVIDIA provided the horsepower with their solid Tesla M60 offering. This provided more than enough horsepower for the workload and the customer states the customized configuration of their environment done by CloudJumper along with the NVIDIA GPU performance has been a surprising benefit.
The customer evaluated a do-it-yourself option in Azure but reported that they verified a 7X savings using the CloudJumper solution to orchestrate and automate all of the needed backend services and cloud components to serve the remote desktops to the end users.
And to save customer’s money, CloudJumper’s software automatically consolidate users onto shared VMs, when possible. When the GPU VM isn’t being tasked, users piggy-back off of consolidated VMs to reduce your compute costs. This is done automatically in CloudJumper’s software without any end-user interruption.
A dedicated GPU isn’t just for graphically intense workloads, it’s also for information workers and those who could benefit from additional GPU processing. One of the strategies customers are using in WVD is to provision a multi-session Windows 10 host large VM with a dedicated graphics and have the users share the session, without knowing realizing they are piggy backing on a VM. For example, you could initially over-provision a larger GPU and not worry about a 1-to-1 ratio of user need to the GPU. A shared VM isn’t sharing a session. All of the user sessions are completely isolated from the others to ensure the proper security silos. It’s just the compute resources that are shared to give you the benefit of cloud economics.
For more information, the data sheet on the Tesla M60 (associated with the NVIDIA NV VMs in Azure) is: https://www.nvidia.com/content/dam/en-zz/Solutions/design-visualization/solutions/resources/documents1/nvidia-m60-datasheet.pdf.
More advanced, non-EUC solutions can be moved from on-prem as well if they the data points produced to live closer to the EUC workers who will utilize that data: https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/data-center/quadro-virtual-workstations/
CloudJumper’s friendly UI for Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) provides organizations a turnkey solution to deploy, manage, secure, and maintain a full digital workspace in Azure without the use of PowerShell. You can learn more about CloudJumper’s automation solution vs. PowerShell in our 2-part series here and here.
NVIDIA was just in the news partnered with Microsoft’s Azure Stack Edge. Microsoft “Azure Stack Edge is a cloud-managed appliance that brings Azure’s compute, storage, and machine learning capabilities to the edge for fast local analysis and insights,” per Dean Paron General Manager, Azure Stack Edge and Data Box.