In an earlier blog,  we had discussed what is Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) and why it is gaining popularity. In this blog, we present various community and vendor resources that can help you choose the right Azure instances for your Microsoft WVD deployment.

Windows virtual desktop logo

In a recent survey of 1,050 digital workspace professionals, eG Innovations and xenappblog reported that 34% of respondents were already using Microsoft WVD. WVD was also the most popular DaaS service in the cloud.

Key Questions Regarding WVD Deployment on Azure

Here, at eG Innovations, we offer a wealth of monitoring and simulation tools to allow you to monitor what real users are experiencing when accessing Microsoft WVD. You can also use our tools to benchmark user experience when using different configurations for WVD. There are a vast array of different Azure instances, storage, and networking options available to administrators.

At the same time, Microsoft WVD is a relatively new product. Hence, many administrators are looking for data points and recommendations from the community on what they can expect when using different Azure instances and methodologies they can use to baseline and sanity-check configuration choices.

Digital workspace administrators want to know:

  • Which Azure instances to select from the large number of instance types available for WVD?
  • What user densities they can expect with multi-user WVD relative to their traditional RDSH deployments (How many users can be supported for a VM)?
  • Man thinkingWhat user-densities to expect for a single-user VDI?
  • What GPU, networking, and storage is needed?
  • Cost vs. density balance

So, I thought I’d collect some community and vendor data around benchmarking and baselining specific Azure instances to use as external data points. This is really a collection of links to other people’s real-world methods and experiences that I can reference if folks ask me for external independent data. I’d like to keep updating this list as new instances become available – so if you spot or generate any data-testing specific instances that might guide choice, do comment on this blog or let me know so that I can add it!

Choosing the Right Azure Instance Types for WVD

For many larger organizations looking to use Microsoft WVD, they are choosing to retain their existing Citrix management stack and organizational expertise by leveraging a Citrix Management Stack on Azure. Often, their administrators have experience with deploying both Citrix Virtual Apps (was XenApp) via RDSH or full VDI Citrix Virtual Desktops (formally XenDesktop) on on-premises hardware. With multi-user Windows 10 being only available on WVD via Azure, to offer a full native desktop experience (vs. what was a “Windows 10 desktop experience” via RDS on a Windows Server OS), many are looking for to move RDS workloads across and have expectations on user densities thatcan be achieved.

In practice, most reference architecture seem to be looking to a few specific Azure families of instances, notably the D and F series, and the NV series when GPUs are required.

Citrix Consulting themselves state: “Most Citrix deployments use the D-Series and F-Series instance types. The D-Series are commonly used for the Citrix infrastructure components and sometimes for the user workloads when they require extra memory beyond what is found in the F-Series instance types. F-Series instance types are the most common in the field for user workloads because of their faster processors which bring with them the perception of responsiveness.”

Further details as to why are within an excellent recent reference architecture (Feb 2021) from Loay Shbeilat: Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Service on Azure.

There is also some guidance for WVD Azure instance sizing available from Microsoft including guidance on multi-user usage and considerations, available here.

Nagaraj Arumugam, System and Network Engineer at Vembu Technologies, has a great blog summarizing the differences between the different Azure instance series relevant to EUC and VDI use cases. It’s a great summary reference, although the comprehensive Microsoft site will always be the ultimate reference.

Community and Vendor Resources detailing Azure Instance Choices

AuthorArticle / BlogKey Methodology Points Azure Instances InvestigatedDate
Ryan Mangan, ex-CTO at Systech IT Solutions and now CTO at appCURESizing and Performance benchmark testing – Windows Virtual Desktop – Ryan Mangan’s IT Blog
  • PC Mark 10 benchmark
  • Compared AMD vs Intel
  • Investigated NVIDIA GPU-enabled N6 instances
  • Investigated burstable Virtual Machines
D64as_v4, D16as_v4, D8as_v4, D4as_v4, D2as_v4, DS3 v2, D4S_v3, NV6, F16s_v2,
E16-4s_v3, B4ms, NV6
August 2020
Patrick van den Born, CTPWhat is the best Azure Virtual Machine size for WVD using Citrix Cloud? | GO-EUC (go-euc.com)
  • Investigated lower user density due to hyperthreading and CPU exploit mitigations (spectre)
  • Investigated cost/value and concluded that the D-series VM’s (D4S_v3 and DS3_v2) are the best VMs for multi-session workloads based on the user density results
D4s_v3, DS3_v2, F4S_v2, B4msJuly 2020
Loay Shbeilat, Solutions Architect, Citrix Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Service on AzureDetails of appropriate VMs to use for Delivery Controllers/Cloud Connectors and other components as well as user desktopsF16s_v2, DS2_v2, DS2_v3, DS5_v2, F4_v2, F8_v2,
F2_v2 Also are mentioned are GPU enabled options NVv3 (NVIDIA) and NVv4 (AMD)
Feb 2021
Loay Shbeilat, Solutions Architect, CitrixThe scalability and economics of delivering Citrix Virtual App and Desktop services on Azure
  • Focus on cost vs user-density considerations
  • Compares density expectations of RDS on Server 2016 and 2019 with Windows 10 Multisession
DS2_v2, DS3_v2, DS4_v2, DS5_v2, D12_v2, D13_v2, D14_v2,
L8s, E8_v3, F2s_v2, F4s_v2, F8s_vs, F16s_v2
Oct 2020
Stefan Dingemanse (Senior Platform Engineer @Veerman ICT) & Neil McLoughlin   Technical Architect @New Signature (Now UK CTO Nerdio)PPT from Microsoft meets the WVD Community – Episode 1!
  • Includes investigations and discussions comparing F-series and D-series
  • Includes real application tests including Word, PowerPoint and Excel
Ds2_v3, D4s_v3, F16s_v3, F8s_v2, D8s_v3, D4s_v4Oct 2020
Marius SandbuWrite up of a session at Microsoft Meets WVD Community – 3rd Edition A general migration guide including some details on instance choicesD2_v3, D4_v3, Das_v4, NVv3 / NVv4Nov 2020
Torbjörn Tbone Granheden, Solution Architect, Coligo ABTeams Media Optimizations on Windows Virtual DesktopA great investigation into Microsoft Teams and Teams on WVD with Media Optimizations
Investigated benefits of choosing a GPU-enabled instance
NV4as_v4, D4s_v4Feb 2021
VDI Drones – Performance GurusBenchmarking the Windows Virtual DesktopA close look at the WVD IOPS valuesDS1_v2, DS2_v2, DS3_v2Feb 2021