Ajit Aloz


Key Takeaways

  • The cost benefit analysis of soft cost expenses is more difficult to ascertain than hard cost but the impact can affect the bottom line.
  • Cloud desktops enable businesses to eliminate server hardware and related licensing costs.
  • Fees for cloud desktops are generally based on the number of users and resources consumed each month.

CFO Viewpoint: How Do Cloud Desktops Help Save Costs?

Many businesses face dilemmas determining which services are best maintained in-house versus those that should be subcontracted. Some decisions, such as a yard maintenance service, are straightforward, whereas decisions related to technology require careful business and technical consideration.

Looking at IT-related decisions from the standpoint of the CFO, financial viability and service advantages are key considerations that should be addressed alongside technical feasibility. As such, we shall review the costs associated with in-house IT systems and compare those with cloud desktops.

In-House: Hard Costs and Soft Costs

Hard costs are the primary consideration for CFOs; these include items such as employee/management costs, consulting, server hardware, asset financing, and licensing. Soft costs secondarily impact financial decisions, including employee productivity, competitive advantage, and flexibility.

DaaS providers maintains all computing systems, all costs associated with procuring server hardware and related network equipment, including licensing, are eliminated.

Paying for the right people, systems, and equipment affects the bottom line. Where an in-house computing solution is deployed, paying the salaries of high-level IT staff, including security experts, may be financially prohibitive. Further, recruiting fees, employee benefits, and staff training must be factored into total costs. In addition, the costs associated with the computing systems, including server hardware, network equipment, service agreements, and data center space, power, and services, as well as operating system and application licensing, have a profound impact on the IT budget. Hard costs are straightforward and easy to calculate.

Although soft costs are more difficult to quantify, these items do indeed impact every business. Will an IT-related expenditure enable the business to compete more effectively or gain an advantage in the market? Will employee productivity increase due to a new application or a new computing process? Will system flexibility enable more employees to work from home, saving real estate space? The cost/benefit analysis of these items is more difficult to ascertain than hard cost expenditures, but the impact can indeed affect the bottom line.

Small businesses in particular struggle with maintaining end-user computing services. For example, hiring a security expert is cost prohibitive for a small business, but yet, leaving the IT systems vulnerable and falling prey to hackers could destroy the enterprise.

Cloud Desktops

Adopting cloud desktops is particularly appealing for small businesses; however, many medium-sized enterprises also find this technology advantageous. In addition to minimizing hard costs, engaging a Desktop as a Service (DaaS) provider delivers additional functionality that would likely be otherwise out of reach for in-house systems.

Cloud desktops enable businesses to eliminate server hardware and related licensing costs entirely. Because the DaaS provider maintains all computing systems, all costs associated with procuring server hardware and related network equipment, including licensing, are eliminated. For example, if an in-house system is dependent upon large servers that support hypervisor functionality, these costs, as well as related network equipment, would no longer be necessary. In addition, the in-house staff needed to support cloud desktop administration is minimal. The savings related to hard costs alone is typically enough to justify cloud computing. And there are many additional benefits.

DaaS providers take responsibility for support desk associates, system maintenance, and security. This includes not only the IT staff, but also change control systems, help desk ticket applications, after-hours anti-virus updates, backup/restore processes, system reliability commitments, and more. The service level that DaaS providers offer is often far superior to that which a small- or medium-sized enterprise can provide in-house.

Fees for cloud desktops are generally based on the number of users and resources consumed each month. DaaS providers are able to offer services based on a mass scale, and the cost is thus more reasonable for each enterprise. For example, DaaS providers are able to employ security experts that oversee the resources of a large number of clients, thus the salaries, benefits, and training costs for this expert group are a fraction for each enterprise and built into the charges. Small and many medium-sized businesses cannot afford to have this breadth of staff expertise.

If a major issue were to arise, such as a security or application access issue, DaaS providers have sufficient staff to address an issue quickly. Once a Priority 1 (P1) status is declared–implying an emergency situation wherein many users cannot access resources–numerous individual with various areas of expertise s are assembled to focus on remediating the problem in short order, as well as communicating status with the client.

Compare that with an in-house system that relies on calling technical support or a consultant in order to determine where an issue lies and then working through remediation. The cost for these emergency services from the DaaS provider is included in the monthly fees and actually represents a cost savings because downtime is minimized. Because downtime equates to lost revenue within every enterprise, having a group of technical experts immediately available ensures that service impact is minimal.

How Do Cloud Desktops Save Costs?

While the exact numbers for each enterprise will vary, cloud desktops invariably represent a cost savings, especially for small businesses. Hard costs alone will likely justify the financial aspects of cloud desktops. Of course, each CFO should calculate the current hard and soft costs in order to determine specific savings that can be realized by adopting cloud desktops.

For companies in the financial services industry, taking advantage of cloud desktops has not typically been easy. Although a variety of cloud desktop and Desktop-as-a-Service solutions are available from vendors like VMware, Citrix and Amazon, most don’t deliver the compliance and security benefits that financial services companies often require.

Yet there is one cloud desktop platform that addresses this challenge: Azure Virtual Desktop, or AVD. Delivered as a hosted service in the Azure cloud, AVD, which debuted in 2019, is one of the newest offerings in the Desktop-as-a-Service market. It’s also a solution that provides the security and compliance features that are often missing from other cloud desktop services.

What financial services companies need in cloud desktops

For the financial services industry, replacing expensive, hard-to-maintain physical desktops with cloud-based alternatives has not always been an obvious proposition due primarily to the fact that cloud desktops required businesses to move sensitive desktop workloads into the cloud. In turn, they made it difficult to meet regulatory compliance requirements and high security standards.

In other words, it can be difficult to run applications that interact with customers’ personal financial data on cloud-based desktops because doing so means moving the data to remote environments that your company no longer controls. Some cloud desktops are also harder to isolate from Internet-borne attacks because the services that host them can’t be securely protected behind a firewall, due to the design of cloud networking configurations.

In order to address these challenges, then, businesses in the financial services sector need cloud desktops that allow them to meet regulatory rules regarding data security and compliance, while also maintaining the same standards of desktop security that on-premises workstations provide.

AVD’s compliance and security model

AVD was designed from the start to address these requirements.

Cloud desktops stay behind the firewall

When you host cloud desktops in Azure Virtual Desktop, desktop instances and applications are securely segmented from the public Internet by Azure Firewall. This means that security vulnerabilities that may exist within desktop environments (such as unpatched applications or insecure open ports) cannot be discovered and exploited by attackers on the Internet.

Physical security

In fact, cloud desktops running on AVD are in one respect even more secure than on-premises workstations because in addition to being protected against attacks that originate on the Internet, they are also physically secured.

With a service like AVD, you don’t need to worry about malicious parties gaining unauthorized physical access to your desktops, as you would with traditional workstations that are hosted in office buildings or other locations that may not be as secure as you need.

Compliant by default

On top of this, because the Microsoft Azure cloud has achieved more than 90 compliance certifications with regulatory agencies spread across the globe, its cloud services very likely meet whichever compliance rules your business faces without extra effort on your part.

Put another way, AVD is compliant by default with most regulatory rules that impact financial services and other industries.

Data sovereignty controls

Relatedly, if you need to keep data in a specific geographic region in order to meet data sovereignty requirements, AVD makes it easy to do so by allowing you to choose which cloud region hosts your data. This flexibility enables companies to minimize their compliance exposures by restricting data storage to certain jurisdictions.

Minimal third-party exposure

Finally, because Azure Virtual Desktop is an all-in-one cloud desktop platform that runs entirely in the Azure cloud, it doesn’t depend on integrations with third-party tools or services that could lead to unnecessary data or compliance exposure. From configuring firewall rules to adding new users, everything that you need to do in a AVD environment can be achieved from within Azure itself.

Getting started with AVD

Perhaps the only major drawback of Azure Virtual Desktop is that it’s a complex solution that can be difficult for IT departments to implement and manage if they lack extensive experience with Microsoft tooling and the Azure cloud.

That’s why companies across the globe have turned to Anunta to help them transition from traditional desktops to cloud desktops running on AVD. Although AVD has been available for under two years, Anunta has already deployed AVD-based desktops for tens of thousands of users. Anunta’s AVD experts not only know what it takes to manage AVD, but can also provide guidance to smooth the transition of workloads from physical desktops to cloud desktops and make recommendations to ensure the most secure, cost-effective and reliable desktop experience possible. Contact Anunta to learn more.

IT teams face enormous pressure to modernize their environments, go “cloud native” and embrace “digital transformation.”

Yet doing these things hasn’t always been easy. Your team may be able to move certain applications and data to the cloud easily enough. But it has traditionally been much harder to modernize legacy systems, like desktop computers, that have been in place for decades. Finding a way to move those systems to the cloud without breaking the bank, introducing new security problems or increasing your management burden is a real challenge.


Or at least, it has been a challenge, given that conventional platforms for hosting desktops in the cloud haven’t always been easy to optimize for cost, security and manageability.

That changed with the introduction in 2019 of Azure Virtual Desktop, or AVD, Microsoft’s Desktop-as-a-Service platform hosted in the Azure cloud. For the first time, AVD provides a cloud desktop solution that allows enterprise IT teams to square the circle between legacy infrastructure and cloud-native technology.

Here are five reasons why AVD is the desktop solution enterprise IT teams have been missing for years.

1. Cost-effective cloud desktops

Azure Virtual Desktops features simple, predictable pricing. Unlike most other Desktop-as-a-Service platforms, AVD charges just for the Azure resources that your AVD virtual machines consume. You don’t pay extra for orchestration layers or tooling.

Thanks in part to these savings, the total cost of a AVD-based desktop is about 90 percent lower than that of a conventional, physical desktop, according to research conducted by Anunta. That’s a fact that anyone responsible for enterprise IT budgeting can love.

On top of this, AVD offers a pay-as-you-go pricing model, meaning you don’t have to make upfront capital investments or commit to long-term fixed spending. IT budgeters will love that, too.

Cost-effective cloud desktops

2. Support for graphical workloads

A chief limitation of many conventional cloud desktop services is that they let you run only basic applications that depend on standard virtualized hardware.

AVD goes further. It supports GPU acceleration, making it possible to run specialized applications that don’t work on a conventional virtual machine. This is an especially important advantage for IT teams that need to support users in industries like engineering and manufacturing, where GPU-accelerated applications are sometimes a necessity.

GPU Powered VMs

3. Multi-tenant Windows 10

Azure Virtual Desktop is the only cloud desktop platform that allows for multi-tenant use of Windows 10. That means multiple users within your organization can share the same cloud desktop.

Multi-tenant desktops drastically reduce total costs while also making desktops easier to manage. If multiple users can share each desktop, you have fewer total desktops to pay for and maintain.

FSLogix Architecture diagram

4. Scalability

Azure Virtual Desktop is built from the ground up to be highly scalable. Not only can you add more virtual machines whenever you need to increase your number of cloud desktops, but you can also easily provision additional users directly from within Azure.

With AVD in place, IT departments no longer have to relive the struggles they faced to scale up their desktop infrastructure during the Covid-19 pandemic. You can quickly increase (or, just as important, decrease) capacity whenever you need.

Scaling Automation

5. Built-in licensing and compliance

Azure Virtual Desktop also simplifies cloud desktop management and deployment by offering built-in software licensing and compliance certifications. You don’t need to obtain and manage your own Windows licenses, and the Azure cloud’s broad set of compliance certifications ensure that your desktops comply with whichever regulatory laws are in effect in your jurisdiction.

Azure compliance documentation

Conclusion: No more excuses for on-premises desktops

In the past, it was easy to draw the conclusion that cloud desktops were too expensive, too difficult to manage or too complicated to be a practical desktop infrastructure solution for most users.

AVD has changed that. Today, there are few scenarios where it doesn’t make sense to take advantage of the cost-efficiency, scalable and manageability of cloud desktops.

When you’re ready to make the move to AVD, Anunta can help. Drawing on its experience setting up AVD-based cloud desktops for tens of thousands of users to date, the Anunta team offers the deep expertise necessary to plan and implement a AVD migration tailored to the needs of your business. Contact us to learn more.


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