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Azure Virtual Desktop on ThinkAgile MX

Solution Brief

30 Apr 2024
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8 pages, 352 KB


Azure Virtual Desktop on Lenovo ThinkAgile MX650 V3 is a hybrid cloud based VDI solution that can be used to deploy and scale Windows desktops and apps to enable secure, remote work. The solution brings all cloud benefits on premises by using familiar tools and applications based on Windows with a fully managed, cloud hosted VDI management plane.

Remote hybrid workplace solution

The pace of technology change is accelerating everywhere, especially in the workplace. In recent years companies have come to realize that a flexible secure workplace is here to stay. Azure Virtual Desktop is a hybrid cloud based VDI solution that can be used to deploy and scale Windows desktops and apps on Azure Stack HCI in minutes to enable secure, remote work.

Companies of all sizes are pushing to set up VDI with remote connectivity, security, and management capabilities so that employees can remain productive and access necessary apps from wherever they are. Moving to the cloud offers many benefits to enterprises, including scalability, cost efficiencies, and near-limitless data capacity. However, many industries are required to keep their data on premises due to data-sovereignty needs and regulatory requirements.

Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) brings all cloud benefits on premises by using familiar tools and applications based on Windows with a fully managed, cloud hosted VDI management plane. Azure Stack HCI with Azure Virtual Desktop on Lenovo Systems helps companies overcome their remote work challenges in a powerful and efficient manner.

Lenovo Solutions for Microsoft Azure Stack HCI and AVD on ThinkAgile MX650 V3 are optimized for both scale and performance and are Accelerated by Intel offerings. This technical brief features Microsoft Azure Stack HCI and AVD running on a high-performance Lenovo dual socket 2U rack mount enterprise server. The server is configured with 4th Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, TruDDR5 4800MHz memory and P5620 NVMe drives among a variety of storage options, including support for the PCIe 5.0 standard devices for I/O. These 4th Gen Intel Xeon processors offer anywhere from 16 to 60 cores and 16x 4800 MHz DDR5 DIMMs per socket.

The MX650 V3 server is a storage dense offering, with up to 40x 2.5" drive bays in the front, middle and rear of the server and 5 different slot configurations at the rear of the server. Onboard NVMe PCIe ports allow direct connections to 16 NVMe SSDs, which frees up PCIe slots and lowers NVMe solution acquisition costs.


  • Reduce time to value with pretested and sized hardware configurations
  • Simplified evaluation, fast and easy deployment and workload optimized performance
  • VDI sized solution with optimal compute, memory, storage and networking components
  • Reduce TCO through better performance, rapid deployment and advanced hardware
  • Optimize performance with pretested ThinkAgile MX650 V3 hardware configurations

Business VDI solutions with faster time-to-value

Lenovo MX650 V3 systems are methodically tested and tuned to save you months of configuration, setup, testing, and tuning. With these new servers, you get the following advantages:

  • Realize better performance for popular workloads running on 4th generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors than on similar servers equipped with previous generation processors
  • Improve performance and scale of VDI solutions with higher core counts, memory bandwidth and PCIe Gen 5 devices
  • Improve density and support more and larger virtual desktops per host

Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop

With Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI, IT administrators can create a full Windows 10, Windows 11, or Windows Server desktop virtualization environment that can be used on any device.

With AVD, IT administrators can view all components on the same management plane, and it is simple to create and use Azure Virtual Desktop sessions on an Azure Stack HCI cluster. With the support of Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI, Windows 10 and Windows 11 multisession capabilities are available for on-premise environments. IT staff can support multiple users on a single virtual machine (VM). This greatly reduces the number of VMs and the system-resource overhead costs while still providing the same resources to all users. Azure Virtual Desktop also simplifies management and user support. Because Azure Virtual Desktop is a managed service, organizations don’t need to deploy a VDI themselves or have the burden of upgrading infrastructure. This is a huge advantage compared to other VDI solutions.

The following is a high-level summary of what is needed to run Azure Virtual Desktop on Azure Stack HCI:

  • An Azure Stack HCI cluster with a minimum of 2 nodes. It’s recommended to have at least 16 cores with 256GB memory per node, but this is largely determined by your workload requirements.
  • For starters, 1TB of storage capacity in your Azure Stack HCI storage pool used to store virtual machines. However, this will also be determined by your workload requirements.
  • External internet connectivity for both the Azure Stack HCI nodes, and the Azure Virtual Desktop components.
  • An Azure subscription for Azure Virtual Desktop Session Host Pool with the appropriate permissions.
  • Network Validation for AVD Links, reference -
  • Configure UEFI (Bios) settings to set Secure Boot as Enabled.

The high-level AVD deployment steps include the following:

Network Preparation

  1. Choose Network Layout:
  • Select a pre-defined network configuration that matches your physical server cabling. This will serve as a template for configuring your virtual network settings later.

Domain Preparation

  1. Active Directory:
  • Verify your Active Directory domain is properly configured to integrate with Azure Stack HCI 23H2.

Cluster Deployment

  1. Download Installation Media:
  • Obtain the Azure Stack HCI version 23H2 ISO file from the Azure portal.
  1. Install OS on Servers:
  • Install the downloaded Azure Stack HCI operating system on each server that will be part of the cluster.
  1. Configure Proxy (Optional):
  • If your network utilizes a proxy server for internet access, configure the proxy settings on all cluster servers.
  1. Register Servers & Assign Permissions:
  • Run the Azure Arc registration script on each server intended for the cluster.
  • Assign the necessary permissions required for deployment.
  1. Create Azure Stack HCI Cluster:

You have two options for creating the cluster:

  • Azure Portal: Use the Azure portal to select the Arc-registered servers and create the Azure Stack HCI cluster.
  • ARM Template (Advanced): Utilize an Azure Resource Manager (ARM) template for automated cluster creation (refer to documentation for details).

Azure Virtual Desktop Deployment (Separate Process):

Note: These steps are for deploying Azure Virtual Desktop on your newly created Azure Stack HCI cluster and are not directly part of the Azure Stack HCI deployment itself.

  1. Choose a VM Image:
  • Azure Marketplace: Browse the Azure Marketplace to find a pre-configured virtual machine image that aligns with your needs. These images often include pre-installed applications and configurations, saving you setup time.
  • Custom Image: Alternatively, if you have specific requirements, you can use a custom image that you've prepared beforehand. This image should contain the desired operating system and any necessary applications.
  1. Create a Virtual Network:
  • Match Your Network: Design a virtual network that mirrors your existing network layout within Azure Stack HCI.
  1. Create a Host Pool:
  • This is the initial step for setting up your virtual desktops.
  1. Define Your Workspace:
  • This step involves defining the workspace environment for your virtual desktops.
  1. Designate Application Groups:
  • Here you will organize your applications into groups for easier management within your virtual desktop environment.

Lenovo ThinkAgile MX650 V3 offerings are ideal for modernizing your data center because of their low cost and high-performance capabilities. They are industry standard x86 servers providing cost effective computing and fast high-density local storage.

Lenovo ThinkAgile MX650 V3 servers offer the necessary performance for bare metal or virtualized workloads. High performance can be achieved using Azure Stack HCI and Storage Spaces Direct technology which are built into Windows Server HCI OS. Several technologies like NVMe storage and Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) networking are natively supported in Windows Server to enable the highest levels of performance.

A typical AVD node configuration features the following main components:

  • Servers: 2x or 4x Lenovo ThinkAgile MX650 V3
  • Processor: 2x 4th Gen Intel Xeon Platinum 8480+ processor with 64 cores
  • Memory: 1TB per node of TRUDDR5 4800 MT/s memory
  • Storage: 8x Solidigm NVMe mixed use SSDs 1.6TB
  • OS Storage: 2x 480GB M.2 SATA SSDs for the operating system (RAID 1)
  • Software: Microsoft HCI OS

This high-performance VDI solution with Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop features the latest Solidigm NVMe mixed use SSDs. These SSDs help build a low latency solution for mission critical VDI environments.

Lenovo ThinkAgile MX650 V3
Figure 1. Lenovo ThinkAgile MX650 V3

Performance Testing

Details and results are coming soon

Bill of Materials

Table 1. Bill of Materials
Part number
Feature code
Product Description Qty
7D76CTO1WW Server: ThinkSystem SR650 V3 - 3yr Warranty 1
BLKK ThinkSystem V3 2U 24 x 2.5" Chassis 1
BNOM Intel Xeon Platinum 8480+ 64C 350W 2.0GHz Processor 2
BNFC ThinkSystem 128GB TruDDR5 4800 MT/s (4Rx4) 3DS RDIMM 32
B8NY ThinkSystem RAID 940-8i 4GB Flash PCIe Gen4 12Gb Adapter 1
BNEG ThinkSystem 2.5" U.2 P5620 1.6TB Mixed Use NVMe PCIe 4.0 x4 HS SSD 8
B8LU ThinkSystem 2U 8 x 2.5" SAS/SATA Backplane 1
BH8D ThinkSystem 2U/4U 8 x 2.5" NVMe Backplane 1
BM8X ThinkSystem M.2 SATA/x4 NVMe 2-Bay Enablement Kit 1
AUUV ThinkSystem M.2 128GB SATA 6Gbps Non-Hot Swap SSD 2
B93E ThinkSystem Intel I350 1GbE RJ45 4-port OCP Ethernet Adapter 1
BLKM ThinkSystem V3 2U x16/x16/E PCIe Gen4 Riser1 or 2 2
BMUF ThinkSystem 1800W 230V Platinum Hot-Swap Gen2 Power Supply 2
BLL6 ThinkSystem 2U V3 Performance Fan Module 6
BRQ1 ThinkSystem SR650 V3,SATA CBL,SLx8-SLx4,M.2-M.2(MB),150mm 1
BSYM ThinkSystem SR650 V3,PCIe4 Cable,Swift8x-SL8x,2in1,PCIe 6/5(MB) to BP1/BP2 1
BETS ThinkSystem V3 2U SFF C0 (RAID) to Front 8x2.5" BP1 1
BPE3 ThinkSystem SR650 V3 MCIO8x to SL8x CBL, PCIe4, 8x2.5AnyBay, 200mm 2
BQ12 G4 x16/x16/E PCIe Riser BLKM for Riser 1 Placement 1
BQ19 G4 x16/x16/E PCIe Riser BLKM for Riser 2 Placement 1
7S0XCTO2WW Lenovo XClarity XCC2 Platinum Upgrade 1
5641PX3 XClarity Pro, Per Endpoint w/3 Yr SW S&S 1
1340 Lenovo XClarity Pro, Per Managed Endpoint w/3 Yr SW S&S 1
QAA8 SR650 V3 3Y Standard 1

Accelerated by Intel

To deliver the best experience possible, Lenovo and Intel have optimized this solution to leverage Intel capabilities like processor accelerators not available in other systems. Accelerated by Intel means enhanced performance to help you achieve new innovations and insight that can give your company an edge.

Why Lenovo

Lenovo is a US$70 billion revenue Fortune Global 500 company serving customers in 180 markets around the world. Focused on a bold vision to deliver smarter technology for all, we are developing world-changing technologies that power (through devices and infrastructure) and empower (through solutions, services and software) millions of customers every day.

For More Information

To learn more about this Lenovo solution contact your Lenovo Business Partner or visit:


Lenovo ThinkAgile SR650 V3:

Lenovo ThinkSystem SR650 V3:

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Lenovo and the Lenovo logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Lenovo in the United States, other countries, or both. A current list of Lenovo trademarks is available on the Web at

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Intel® and Xeon® are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries.

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