legal IT | 18 October, 2019

Is Windows Virtual Desktop a game-changer for law firms?

VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) is a fully formed Windows 10 desktop delivered directly to an end user via the cloud. To date, it has been a popular use of the cloud amongst legal firms. And it’s no surprise - VDI Cloud desktops offer the mobility, security and performance needed to support a modern firm. Even more so than the traditional RDS (Remote Desktop Services) cloud desktop model - which is increasingly being seen as a less effective approach.

But how the solution is delivered is just as important as its design. And, with a rise in public cloud use in the professional services sector (22% in 2018), many firms have looked to take advantage of the resilience and cost-effectiveness of public offerings to deliver VDI based cloud desktops.

Until recently, all but the largest firms delivering a VDI cloud desktop via the public cloud found it costly and often complex - with most firms utilising the public cloud via a “fat client”, infrastructure-as-a-service type model. Or, indeed, deploying a virtual desktop via the private cloud.

But change is on the horizon. With the recent release of Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), the provision of a virtual desktop via the public cloud may become a lot more cost-effective, allowing smaller legal firms to reap the benefits of the public cloud too.

At a basic level, despite considerable improvements to the user experience, Windows Virtual Desktops will feel very familiar to the end-user. What’s important for smaller law firms is the cost savings that can be made in deployment, which ultimately make the public cloud a far more viable option.


The difference between WVD and traditional virtual desktop

Multiple users

Until now the Windows 10 licensing model has meant that an individual virtual machine must be created for each user. For the uninitiated, a virtual machine is an operating system which acts as its own machine. With ring-fenced resources allocated to each individual - it is essentially a computer within a computer.

With WVD though, Microsoft will be making a new version of Windows 10 that allows multiple users to connect to it at once. What this means is that a single virtual machine can be used by multiple people, reducing the cost per user significantly.


Simplified licensing

The licensing process for delivering a cloud desktop used to be extremely complex - with 3 different licenses involved in its delivery. For WVD, Microsoft has greatly simplified the licensing model so that only one license is required - and for those already utilising Microsoft 365, they may already have all the licenses they need.

This means reducing licensing costs and reduced complexity in delivery. So, whether adopting WVD through a CSP or internally, the cost savings make it a much more viable option.


Less complex delivery

Overall, the delivery of Windows Virtual Desktops is much simpler than previous desktop delivery models. This means fewer man hours in the design, delivery and maintenance of the solution - reducing the overall cost.


For all these reasons, it seems the public cloud is now a much simpler, more cost-effective and attractive option for small to midsize law firms. Yet as always the devil is in the detail and information about WVD to date is limited.


The big question is whether WVD will be enough for law firms. With simpler construct, it is still unclear whether the solution is comprehensive enough for law firms that need that extra level of security and flexibility. So, it’s too early to tell if WVD will be a true game-changer and is therefore very much a case of “watch this space”.

Posted by Matthew Newton

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