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.
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.