Nvidia GPU-Powered Workstation Service Released in Microsoft Azure Marketplace

By offering Quadro vWS, customers can spin up their own instances as needed.

Jeffrey Schwartz

February 7, 2019

5 Min Read
Cloud Desktop

In a move that will ease the provisioning of GPU power on-demand to standard desktop and mobile clients, Nvidia’s high-end Quadro virtual workstation is now available as a service in Microsoft’s Azure Marketplace.

Nvidia’s Quadro Virtual Workstation (vWS) is available as either Windows Server 2016 or Ubuntu 18.04 virtual machine images (VMIs). It will also be an option for Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows Virtual Desktop service, which is expected to go into preview this quarter.

The new marketplace option, which Nvidia claims is the first, gives systems integrators and CSPs an alternative and simpler approach to delivering 3D rendering, artificial intelligence (AI) and interactive simulation to customers who can’t afford or justify the cost of deploying expensive, GPU-powered client devices.

Targeted at engineers and designers in industries such as energy, manufacturing, media and architecture, it’s suited for customers who employ contract workers or employees with occasional need for vGPU capacity. Nvidia said the service can run GPU-intensive applications such as Adobe Premier, AutoCAD and Revit from Autodesk, CATIA from Dassault Systèmes and Solidworks’ CAD and modeling software.

Virtual GPU (vGPU) services from Nvidia and rivals including AMD and Intel already are available in all of the major public clouds, but Nvidia underscored that its new Azure-based offering is the first time a Quadro Workstation is available on-demand in a marketplace. Nvidia estimates customers can spin up a Quadro vWS in Azure for less than $3 per hour, per user.


Nvidia’s Anne Hecht

“It’s a great value proposition for someone who just wants to quickly take a set of employees and give them access to an app in a data set and get them right to work on a project,” Anne Hecht, Nvidia’s senior director of product marketing, told Channel Futures. Asked if Nvidia plans to bring it to other marketplaces, notably Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud, Hecht only said: “Stay tuned.”

By offering Quadro vWS in the Azure Marketplace, customers can spin up their own instances as needed. Hecht said the marketplace model shouldn’t be viewed as a threat to partners.

“We’re just giving our partners that are working with enterprise customers another option to help deploy and integrate, depending on what their what their business needs are,” she said.

Sean Roberts, general manager with hybrid cloud service provider Ensono (No. 4 on the 2018 MSP 501), agreed.

“I think it’s good, and if it’s good for the IT consumer, it’s good for us as a business too because those type of workloads are almost the perfect fit for a cloud scenario,” said Roberts, who noted that he’s seeing increased interest in virtual workstation services.


Ensono’s Sean Roberts

Partners can mix and match the new Quadro vWS for Azure in hybrid scenarios for customers with existing traditional workstations and with data-center-connected VDI deployments. Dell, HPE, Cisco, Nutanix and NetApp are among those that offer servers and hyperconverged infrastructure with Nvidia GPU options.

The release comes as a footnote to other news from Nvidia, which issued a warning that revenue for the fourth quarter is projected to be $500 million lower than forecast. The Jan. 28 announcement drove Nvidia’s shares down 14 percent thatday, and another 3 percent on Jan. 29, leading to numerous downgrades by Wall Street analysts. While Nvidia’s shares have risen incrementally in the following days, the company is trading at only slightly more than 50 percent of its 52-week high. Nvidia will report on Feb. 14.

Nevertheless, the release of Nvidia’s Quadro vWS comes amid increased focus on …

… virtual cloud-based workspaces.

“Customers are looking for new ways to deliver virtual desktops, especially for their contractors, offshore employees and those with occasional usage requirements,” said Bob O’Donnell, president and chief analyst of TECHanalysis Research. “Virtual desktops have never been a huge market but there’s always been interest in some kind of virtual workstation. As we move more and more to a cloud-based computing model, this is a further extension of those ideas.”

The new offering is based on Nvidias’s Tesla GPUs, currently its P40 (ND6, ND12 and ND24), delivered with a 24GB of frame buffer on each GPU, which the company said offers the same benefits as on-premises VDI without requiring the infrastructure.

In addition to spinning up vGPU workloads via the Azure Marketplace, the Quadro vWS will work with the forthcoming Azure Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), announced last fall and expected to go into public preview imminently. WVD, based on Microsoft’s Remote Desktop modern infrastructure (RDmi), is targeted at knowledge workers and those looking for core VDI as a cloud service.

Notably, Microsoft has noted that its WVD will be the only desktop as a service (DaaS) that enables multisession Windows 10 virtual environments connected to any device via the company’s RDS. Besides Microsoft’s RDS, Nvidia said the new service will work with all of the major VDI streaming protocols including Citrix HDX, VMware Blast Extreme and Teradici’s PCoIP.

Hecht noted that Teradici performed validation tests in advance of the launch with its cloud-access software. Workspot, a cloud-based, desktop-as a service provider, also tested Quadro vWS with its Workstation Cloud service in Azure and claimed a 15-100 percent increase in performance when running GPU-intensive workloads.

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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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