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One of the biggest factors in delivering a great Cloud PC experience comes down to simple physics: deploying Cloud PCs as geographically close to users as possible. Windows 365 leverages the global network and datacenter footprint of Azure to provide geographically distributed Cloud PC deployment options to help ensure that every user in your organization will have a great Cloud PC experience, regardless of where they work. In practical terms, that means selecting the right Azure datacenter for each user's Cloud PC and mitigating against datacenter capacity or availability issues.
Creating a worry-free software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that enables you to deliver Windows in the cloud in exactly the same way you deliver Windows on a local device today has been, and remains, our top priority. In pursuit of this, we've gone to great lengths to take datacenter capacity considerations off your shoulders and to simplify regional deployment choices with Windows 365.
In this post, we'll take you through what we're doing today in this area and call out where we're making major investments that will take this mission even further. We'll also outline the benefits and tradeoffs of the networking option you choose.
Windows 365 supports both Microsoft-hosted and bring-your-own (BYO) network options. Some organizations instinctively choose BYO because it provides more direct control and aligns with the way they have always thought about adopting cloud services, particularly if they have experience with desktop virtualization options in the cloud. But with the additional control provided by BYO network comes unavoidable tradeoffs where regional deployment options and protection from capacity constraints are concerned. Let's take a look at these.
Microsoft-hosted = pure SaaS simplicity and flexibility
In short, when you choose Microsoft-hosted, you don't have to worry about managing or configuring routing, capacity, or network security, as the Windows 365 service takes care of these. Today, all that is required if you choose Microsoft-hosted is to simply specify an Azure region for the placement of Cloud PCs. That's it. All the parameters listed above are handled by the service automatically.
As we make further planned investments and our region list expands, we'll be able to provide maximum simplicity and resilience with the Microsoft-hosted option versus the BYO network option. Our goal is to provide the best possible employee remoting experience, without you having to care about which Azure datacenter your Cloud PCs reside in and without compromising data residency requirements.
With the performance and security inherent in Microsoft's Azure network backplane, and with multiple points-of-presence for resilience, we think this option will be the most appropriate for the majority of organizations.
BYO network = customer control (and responsibility)
For organizations that need local connectivity to Azure resources (ExpressRoute, access to internal resources without relying on VPN, etc.), Windows 365 offers a BYO network option. You bring your own network in order to get the maximum amount of direct control, but with the tradeoff of forgoing a lot of the simplicity and increased resilience provided with the hosted option. With BYO, organizations are responsible for their network, and can control their routing, firewall rules, on-premises connectivity, etc. But, you are also responsible for making sure there are sufficient alternative regions with adequate infrastructure available to support your Cloud PC users in the event of regional issues. Direct control over all the variables above means that Windows 365 cannot provide the same regional flexibility and resiliency enabled with Microsoft-hosted networks, where the variables are controlled by the service. For this reason alone, we highly suggest organizations start with the Microsoft-hosted option. If requirements compel the selection of BYO, you should understand that selecting this network opens your organization up to regional capacity constraint impacts, which you'll have to plan for and mitigate yourself if and when it becomes necessary.
How are we making regional selection more flexible moving forward?
For Microsoft-hosted organizations, we'll be generalizing the Windows 365 region selection to further simplify deployment and create additional flexibility with the investments we're making in new features in this area. For example, you will only need to select a data residency geography for your Cloud PCs instead of assigning them to individual regions. Geographic-based selection (as opposed to Azure datacenter selection) will allow the service to automatically select the most appropriate region for a Cloud PC, enabling you to focus on your Windows endpoint experiences rather than having to think about the underlying infrastructure.
For Windows 365 BYO-network organizations, we'll be providing new guidance to help you prepare alternate Azure Network Connections (ANCs) to use when capacity constraints exist in certain regions. Alternate ANCs can be used as a way to improve provisioning success rates and will allow BYO-network organizations to move Cloud PCs between regions if and when regional capacity constraints arise. With the BYO-network option, you will continue to select individual regions as you have established infrastructure in those regions. Alternative ANCs will provide further resilience to a BYO organization's region strategy, while continuing to provide all the control and responsibility of our BYO-network concept.
So, how should I think about Microsoft-hosted vs BYO-network?
Our vision for Windows 365 is to provide the best expression of Windows in the cloud with maximum simplicity. We believe you should be able to deliver Cloud PCs just like you do physical PCs, without having to worry about the underlying Azure infrastructure, capacity concerns, or individual Azure regions. Our Microsoft-hosted offering allows us the ability to fully deliver on this vision. Simply put, if you want a true Windows SaaS experience, Microsoft-hosted networks are the option to enable that.
On the other hand, if your specific requirements dictate full control over the network, our BYO-network offering is available. But BYO organizations should come in with eyes wide open. Datacenter capacity constraints can and do happen, so admins of the BYO-network option need to be prepared with deployments in alternate regions. Ideally, BYO should be treated as a transitional phase until you can move to Microsoft-hosted and take full advantage of the SaaS benefits of Windows 365.
Whatever you choose, it's important to understand that we're always pushing forward to make both options simpler and more worry-free. We're excited about where we are and where we're headed, and encourage you tell us what you think in the comments below. And if you have ideas for improvements or new features, as always, we invite you to submit your feedback via the Windows 365 feedback portal.