Let’s Face It, Small Shops Running SBC Solutions Are Not Well Supported
In the Server-Based Computing (SBC) community (e.g. Citrix, Microsoft RDS, VMware Horizon, etc), it’s fairly well-known that the vast majority of SBC implementations consist of 500 users or less. In contrast, the majority of marketing resources from vendors in the space go after chasing companies with 500 users or more. There’s a perception in our industry, rightly or wrongly, that the little shops are simply too expensive when it comes to acquiring their business and supporting them.
My area of expertise in the SBC community is Microsoft Remote Desktop Services, as I design monitoring software for that platform, and am currently a Microsoft MVP in this space. For many smaller shops who need to run SBC environments for teleworking, Microsoft RDS has been the platform of choice, as it only requires a single client access license (the RDS CAL), as opposed to Citrix, which requires not only the Microsoft RDS CAL, but the Citrix Concurrent License that runs on top.
Microsoft Has Recently Made Remote Desktop Services on Windows Server 2012 Harder To Deploy and Manage
Recently, I think that the partitioning of the SBC market that I talked about above (in terms of vendors only wanting to acquire and support medium to larger sized customers) has started to affect product architectural decision making as well. Citrix has continued to move up market, so much so that implementing their products almost always requires outside consulting expertise. In contrast, for the longest time, Microsoft RDS was relatively easier to deploy for even the smallest of shops – you’d turn some of your Windows Servers into Remote Desktop Session Hosts, and if you were a larger farm, you’d consider adding a Connection Broker Server, Remote Desktop Web Server, and Remote Desktop Gateway Server into that mix. Management was done through a handful of tools (TSAdmin, TSConfig, etc) that were fairly straightforward to use.
Enter Microsoft Windows Server 2012. Remote Desktop Services got a radical overhaul in Server 2012, and that overhaul has caused a considerable amount of pain for shops trying to migrate their RDS implementations from Server 2008 to Server 2012. One of the biggest painpoints in the Server 2012 ecosystem has been the restructuring of management tools for RDS. In order to manage user sessions and other configuration aspects, Microsoft moved these features out of those simple tools I mentioned earlier (TSAdmin, TSConfig, etc) into the Remote Desktop Services Manager overlay in the Windows Server Manager utility. Moreover, to even get the RDSM to work at all, the RDS implementation now must have a connection broker installed. And don’t even think about trying to stand up a full Windows Server 2012 RDS implementation in a workgroup – a domain environment is required.
If your implementation of RDS does not have enough roles to activate the RDSM in Server Manager, to date you’ve been forced to manage your session host servers predominantly with PowerShell scripts and command line tools.
PureRDS.org – a Resource Site For the Neglected Small Shops Running Microsoft Remote Desktop Services
All the above said, there are tons of organizations, with 500 users or less, who need quality resources for both their conventional (e.g. all RDS roles deployed) and unconventional (e.g. some RDS roles deployed, workgroup environments) RDS deployments. Thus, I decided to create PureRDS.org. Over time, it will become a rich repository of PowerShell management scripts, free tools, and other tips/tricks for smaller RDS deployments. The RDS community, while small compared to Citrix, continues to grow and deserves more resources. I hope PureRDS.org will help further fill that niche. Please check it out now and take advantage of all it can offer you!