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Windows Server 2008 R2 : Remote Desktop Services - Why Implement Remote Desktop Services

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Remote Desktop Services is a versatile product that can be implemented to meet many different business needs. In some cases, it is implemented to give administrators the ability to remotely administer a server, group of servers, or applications. Remote Desktop Services can also be used to allow users access to applications and network resources through a terminal session. Or, Remote Desktop Services can be implemented by an application service provider (ASP) to create managed application services, eliminating the need for its customers to buy server hardware, software, and support.

Regardless of the reason why Remote Desktop Services is implemented, there are several benefits to implementing it:

  • Centralized deployment of applications— By deploying applications using Remote Desktop Services, those applications reside only on Remote Desktop Services and can be centrally managed. In addition, deploying applications in this manner allows them to be rapidly deployed and updated.

  • Remote access to applications— Remote Desktop Services allows users to access applications within a local network and remotely. Connections can even be made to applications in bandwidth-constrained connections, such as dial-up or shared wide area network (WAN) links, and over Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS).

  • Windows Anywhere— Remote Desktop Services allows users to access feature-rich Windows applications from many different devices. These devices can include underpowered hardware, non-Windows desktops, thin clients (terminals), and even mobile devices.

  • Virtual desktops— Using Remote Desktop Services in conjunction with Remote Desktop Virtualization, users can be allocated their own personal virtual desktop or given access to a virtual desktop instance within a virtual desktop pool.

Note

Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Media Center and Tablet PC Editions, Windows Vista Ultimate, Enterprise, and Business Editions, and Windows 7 Ultimate, Business, and Professional include a scaled-down version of Remote Desktop Services that can be enabled and used for remote administration or remote workstation access.


Remote Desktop for Administration

As a remote administration tool, Remote Desktop Services gives an administrator the option of performing server administration from a server console or from any other server or workstation using the Remote Desktop Connection client (previously known as the Terminal Services Client). Remote Desktop is installed by default, but is not automatically enabled. Using Remote Desktop can simplify server administration for an IT department by allowing personnel to do their jobs from almost any console on the network. This can improve IT response times to complete trouble tickets concerning access to network resources or user account management. Server maintenance tasks such as reviewing logs or gathering server performance data can be accomplished through the client.

Applications and updates can be installed through a Remote Desktop session, but should be done only when the installation does not involve a Windows component installation or when users are running Remote Desktop server sessions. Installing applications from the local server console is recommended, but if an application must be installed remotely, some changes with Session 0 introduced in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 make doing so easier.

Note

With the release of the Terminal Services Client 6.0, the client was renamed Remote Desktop Connection.


Remote Desktop for Users

There are many benefits of making Remote Desktop available to users. For example, company hardware costs can be reduced, application availability and licensing management can be simplified, and network performance can increase.

Because a Remote Desktop session is really a remote session running on the Remote Desktop Session Host, all Remote Desktop users run applications on a Windows server, utilizing the processing power of the server while reducing the load on the local workstation. This can extend the life of an underpowered machine whose deficient resources might impede workflow through high processor, memory, or disk utilization.

From a desktop support perspective, a Remote Desktop Session Host can be put in place and used as a secondary means of providing users access to their applications if problems are encountered with the applications on their local workstations. Although this approach might seem to be overkill, providing a secondary means of application access can be vital to user productivity and company revenue when support personnel might not be readily available to fix end-user application issues.

Providing centralized applications for users though Remote Desktop Services can also simplify application management by reducing the number of machines on which application upgrades, security updates, and fixes need to be installed. Because all the applications run on the Remote Desktop Session Host, only the server itself needs to be updated, and the entire user base benefits from the change immediately. This way, the updates can be performed for all Remote Desktop Session Host users at one time.

Remote Desktop for Remote User Support

Remote Desktop can be used to provide application support for end users within a Remote Desktop session. When users are running in a Remote Desktop session, an administrator can configure remote control or shadowing functionality to view or completely interact with a user’s session. This feature can be used to train users, provide application support, or create configuration changes, such as installing a printer or connecting to a network file share. This capability can greatly reduce the number of administrators needed during the regular workday because multiple users can be assisted from one location.

Note

To comply with many organizations’ security and privacy policies, Remote Desktop Services provides an option for the remote control function to be completely disabled. Alternatively, rather than completely disabling the function for all users, Remote Desktop Services can be configured to give users the ability to choose whether to allow an administrator to interact with their Remote Desktop session.


Remote Desktop for Application Service Providers

Installing the Remote Desktop Services role service allows applications and services to be made available to users in any location. Companies that provide services to businesses through proprietary applications can standardize and provide their applications exclusively through Remote Desktop Services and gain all the benefits outlined in the preceding sections. An added bonus for these companies is that Remote Desktop Services reduces the need to send application media out to each client, and end-user support can be provided in a way never before possible.

Application service providers that make several applications available to clients can use Remote Desktop Services to service hundreds or thousands of users from different organizations while charging a fee for application usage or terminal session time usage.

Note

Windows Server 2008 R2 does not provide a standard reporting mechanism to present Remote Desktop session data. However, some valuable information can be gathered by filtering the security event log for user logon and logoff events, using the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager tool, as well as teaming this information with data gathered by creating performance logs configured to monitor Terminal Services (an item not renamed) session counters using the Performance Monitor Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in or through information provided by Windows System Resource Manager (WSRM), included with Windows Server 2008 R2. It is also important to note that System Center Operations Manager 2007 and some third-party solutions for Remote Desktop Services provide exceptional reporting functionality.

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