How to price up the Windows Virtual Desktop solution accurately? One of the hardest things with cloud can be to get an accurate, up front cost for how much a solution will cost you. There are numerous variables and similar, but slightly different, ways of doing, and pricing, the same thing.

When talking about the costs of WVD, it’s important to consider these four primary building blocks:

  1. Azure infrastructure cost
  2. Consumption cost
  3. Software licensing cost
  4. WVD Management Services (i.e. Control Plane)

Azure infrastructure cost

You need an Azure account and subscription to quickly deploy and manage your virtualization environment. These are the Azure components that factor into the price of a Windows Virtual Desktop deployment.

  • Virtual machines
  • Operating system (OS) storage
  • Data disk (personal desktop only)
  • User profile storage (Azure files or Azure NetApp file storage)
  • Networking

Consumption cost

The consumption cost for Azure resources supporting WVD session hosts VMs will depend on many factors such as:

  • Average number of users per vCPU (e.g. 3 users per vCPU)
  • Average GB of RAM per user (e.g. 1GB RAM per user)
  • Azure VM family (e.g. B, Dsv3, Esv3, NVv2)
  • Type of storage used by each VM (e.g. Premium SSD, Standard SSD, Standard HDD)
  • OS disk capacity of each VM (e.g. 128GB, 256GB, 1TB)
  • Amount of data transferred out of Azure per user (e.g. 25GB/month)
  • Other infrastructure services such as
    • Backup
    • Replication
    • Disaster recovery
    • VPN, etc.
  • Reserved Instance use

Software licensing cost

WVD Management Service that is hosted and managed by Microsoft in Azure is a benefit that comes at no additional charge with a subscription to Windows 10 Enterprise license. There are multiple ways to purchase a Windows 10 Enterprise subscription. Including:

1. Microsoft 365 (E3, E5, A3, A5, Business)
2. Windows (E3, E5, A3, A5, Business)
3. Windows 10 Enterprise VDA

In the legacy RDS world, you would need to purchase a Windows Server license and an RDS Subscriber Access License to create a desktop deployment in Azure and use additional VMs to run and manage the RDS roles.

WVD Management Service

The job of a control plane is to orchestrate the creation and management of desktop and app session hosts, authenticate users who are logging into their desktops and to determine where to “land” a user’s desktop connection (meaning what desktop VM to patch the user through to). 

In the RDS world, this was handled through a number of “RDS roles” namely: RD License Server, RD Web, RD Webclient, RD Connection Broker and RD Gateway. 

With WVD, it is no longer necessary to install and manage any of these roles as they are now part of the WVD Management Service, which is hosted in Azure and operated by Microsoft. It is a PaaS product that can be controlled via RestAPI, PowerShell and soon the Azure admin portal.

This is a key distinction between legacy RDS deployments and WVD. With RDS, IT departments and MSPs had to build one or more domain-joined Windows Server VMs, and then install and configure the RDS roles on those VMs. This meant that additional Azure infrastructure (i.e. cost) was needed to support the control plane. 

With WVD, Microsoft has taken over the responsibility for the control plane and there is not an incremental cost for this service. Not to say that it is free, but rather that it is included with a software license subscription.


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