Windows Virtual Desktop Officially Announced – My Take

This week at Ignite, Microsoft is announcing the introduction of Windows Virtual Desktop, a multi-user version of Windows 10 Enterprise that is deployable in Azure. Please see their blog post here about it.

I will have much more to say about this in future blog posts, but coupled with their heavy investments in “Remote Desktop Modern Infrastructure” (a.k.a RDmi for short) where RDS roles like the Connection Broker, Web Access, and Gateway are now simply PaaS components in Azure, this is going to upend the EUC/virtualization industry in an extreme way. The downward cost pressure Microsoft will place on user desktop and app hosting with this play will be tremendous. In the future at this blog and in webinars we host, we will analyze Windows Virtual Desktop licensing (with RDmi and compute costs factored in) versus traditional on-premise or datacenter-based Remote Desktop Services hosting on Server 2016/2019.

At first glance, I don’t think Windows Virtual Desktop will be good for Citrix, and I certainly think it will threaten Amazon’s DaaS offering. It’s also probably going to put a good swath of non-Azure based MSPs and CSPs out of business. I could be wrong, of course, but that’s my read on it right now.

Fortunately for our customers, we will be Windows Virtual Desktop ready in Q1 2019, and will be able to monitor multi-user Windows 10 instances just like Windows Server RDS session hosts. We look forward to continue to serving the Remote Desktop Services management and monitoring needs of all organizations, whether they run Windows Server or Windows 10 on premise, in the datacenter, or in Azure.

Version 4 of Remote Desktop Commander Almost Ready!

Hello friends and existing customers! We’re excited to let you know that the release of Remote Desktop Commander v4 is just about ready, and wanted to give you a sneak peak of all of the new features it contains.

We will be releasing Version 4 shortly after the start of the new year, along with a small price increase – our first price increase in over 18 months. If you’d like to test drive a release candidate of version 4, please complete the form here and mention that you want to try the release candidate of Version 4 in your comments.

New Remote Desktop Commander 4 Features

Now You Can Pinpoint Historic CPU, Memory, and Other Session Load Bottlenecks on Servers Instantly With the “Historical Performance and Load Across the Farm” Dashboard

Previous versions of Remote Desktop Commander allowed you to view recent performance metrics across your servers, as well as pull up snapshots of performance for all user sessions given a specific period of time. However, the new Historical Performance And Load Across The Farm Dashboard allows you to scroll through hour-by-hour graphs of when your RDS session host servers were under peak load, in terms of memory, CPU, or session count. The graph is interactive, so you can click on a point of interest, and you will immediately be transported to another dashboard that shows you all of the sessions active in that time frame, so you can review the user session(s) that contributed most to the server load and determine what they were doing at the time.

Historical Performance And Load Across the Farm
Track CPU, Memory, and Session Counts On Your RDS Servers Over Time
Historical Performance And Load Across the Farm (2)
Pinpoint Times of High Resource Utilization on RDS Session Hosts.

Historical Performance And Load Across the Farm (3)

Review Which Users Caused High Resource Utilization
After Clicking On a Timeframe of High Resource Utilization, Immediately See Which Users Impacted the Session Host(s) Most.

Quickly Filter Dashboards By Date Range and RDS Collection Name / Server Groups

For organizations with larger RDS deployments, attempting to review all of the session host servers in a single dashboard can get complicated. Version 4 of Remote Desktop Commander allows you to quickly filter dashboards by an 1.) RDS collection name, 2.) a user-defined group of RDS servers, and 3.) in some cases, a date range lookback. By doing so, you can keep multiple dashboards up and running inside the Remote Desktop Commander Client, with one dashboard per RDS collection.

Filter Dashboards By RDS Collections
Limit the Scope of Session Hosts Shown in Dashboards By Filtering By Collection Name or Computer Grouping.

 

Filtered Dashboard By Computer Group
A Dashboard With Fewer Elements Filtered By RDS Collection Name / Computer Group

Azure and Standard SQL Server Authentication Support

Previous versions of Remote Desktop Commander required use of a local SQL Server deployment with Windows Integrated Authentication. Version 4 now also allows you to use a.) an on-premise SQL server with Standard (explicit username/password) Authentication and/or b.) a Microsoft Azure SQL Server deployment. This provides organizations with the flexibility to create multiple SQL databases for multiple RDS deployments on a single SQL Server, even when each deployment is isolated in a different, non-trusting Windows domain.

Now Use Standard SQL Connections and Azure SQL Connections to Store and Review RDS Data
Now Use Standard SQL Connections and Azure SQL Connections to Store and Review RDS Data

Other Performance Improvements

In addition to the features listed above, we’ve made many other performance improvements and bug fixes in this version. Stay tuned for our official launch announcement shortly!

Remote Desktop Commander Lite Is Now Free!

Greetings fellow Remote Desktop Services and Citrix admins – we hope you’re doing well.

Remote-Desktop-Commander-Lite-Web

Here at RDPSoft, we’re proud to announce that we’re making Remote Desktop Commander Lite COMPLETELY FREE for everyone in the server based computing community.

Previously priced at $99 per admin, you can now download and use it freely in perpetuity. It’s our gift to you all, and we hope you enjoy it.

It is also our hope that, with the free version of Remote Desktop Commander Lite, Windows Server 2012 RDS admins will no longer have to struggle with Server Manager to perform fundamental, basic tasks like shadowing, viewing connected users, resetting user sessions, terminating hung processes, and sending messages. Now workgroup deployments of Remote Desktop Services or “connection-broker less” deployments can be managed as well!

Moreover, we think that you will enjoy the superset of features found in the latest version of Remote Desktop Commander Lite that are not found in Server Manager or the legacy TSAdmin tool, such as…

  • The ability to view and monitor RDP latency and connection quality on RDP 8 connections.
  • The ability to automatically group and sort sessions intelligently by user, computer, activity level, bandwidth consumption, and client OS level.
  • The ability to add in user-defined, parameterized PowerShell scripts to extend the functionality of Remote Desktop Commander Lite.
  • The ability to manage RDS connections on any Windows OS level or role, be it Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012, or Windows Server 2016.

Move past Server Manager for RDS management, and start using Remote Desktop Commander Lite today.

Review Remote Desktop Commander Lite features, screenshots, and video(s)

Learn more about how Remote Desktop Commander Lite replaces TSAdmin for both legacy Server 2008 and newer Server 2012 RDS deployments.

Download the Remote Desktop Commander Lite free tool

Need personalized support for Remote Desktop Commander Lite? Purchase support incidents here.

Learn more about the full Remote Desktop Commander Suite solution, for session recording, historical reporting on RDS/Citrix farm metrics, license tracking, performance monitoring, and much more. All for only $9 per server monitored per month.

Why XenApp Monitoring Is So $#%!?@ Expensive

This post is likely going to irritate some folks in our industry, and that’s OK. Frankly, that’s the point.

Let’s Pull Back the Curtain On How Server Based Computing (SBC) / End User Computing Software Is Sold

I’ve now been in the SBC industry for nearly 2 years. Prior to that, I was the CEO of Dorian Software, a Windows log management vendor that helped governments and businesses shore up their network security and compliance.

At Dorian, we sold some through the channel, but sold direct to the end user most of the time. Because of this, we we could deliver max value because we didn’t have to pad our pricing to leave tons of margin for channel partners. It was a win-win for everyone involved – we could close deals quicker, and our customers saved a ton of money and realized a quicker return on their investment.

The Citrix and Server Based Computing Markets Are Heavily Channel Driven. Which Means Businesses Of All Sizes Get Soaked By Higher Costs Down the Line.

In my two short years as RDPSoft’s CEO, I’ve been amazed by how insular the server-based computing / end-user computing market is. Big channel players effectively act as gatekeepers of the market, and unless you bring an expensive product to them from which they can extract healthy margins, they’re not going to talk to you.

When I’ve challenged them in conversations on why more customers don’t buy solutions directly from vendors, they speak with open contempt about how “businesses don’t have the skill or expertise to deploy these solutions on their own.” Given how complex, buggy, and temperamental SBC solutions have become, they may well have a point.

However, there are plenty of admins who deploy these products every day with nothing more than online E-Docs and message boards to guide them. I know, because I talk to them each and every week.

As a consequence of the above, most XenApp Monitoring solutions sold through the channel cost more than $600 per server or $50 per concurrent user. When compared to the nearly $300 difference per concurrent user between XenApp Advanced Edition and XenApp Platinum Edition (which ships with all the EdgeSight / Director monitoring goodies), I suppose $50-$100 per concurrent user becomes a relative bargain for larger enterprises. But it’s still out of reach for most SMB shops. And it’s a complete non-starter for Managed Service Providers.

Here’s What You Get To Pay For When You Buy a XenApp/XenDesktop Monitoring Solution From the Channel

Yes, let’s dissect this. It’s not pretty.

  • The portion of the sale paid to the channel partner by the vendor (typically anywhere from 20% to 50%)
  • All those steak dinners and “lunch and learns” the vendor gets to treat the channel partner to once a quarter, in the hope that the channel partner a.) actually knows how to sell their solution, and b.) doesn’t jump ship to a different vendor that’s promising higher margins.
  • All the “under the table” payments made by the vendor to those “independent” server-based computing / end-user computing “experts” you know and love, so said experts will hawk their products in blog articles, online reviews, and at trade shows. Yes, I know said experts have to eat too, but there’s an appalling lack of transparency about how prevalent this practice is in our industry. Could we have a little more voluntary disclosure, please??!!

The Net Result: SMBs Often Get Priced Out Of the XenApp Monitoring Market

Most of the channel fat cats described above (and by extension, the vendors they partner with) have no interest in dealing with Citrix and RDS deployments in organizations with fewer than 100 concurrent users. Many of them also don’t want to deal with shops that have fewer than 500 concurrent users. However, the irony in all of this is that the *vast majority* of Citrix and RDS farms feature fewer than 500 users. Because of this effective orphaning of the SMB market, admins in these smaller networks don’t have a lot of options in their budget range. They may cobble together some scripts, lean too heavily on traditional Network Monitoring Software that doesn’t have much depth when it comes to monitoring/reporting on SBC activity, or sadly, go without. This needs to change.

It’s Time To Disrupt This Industry To Benefit the SMBs and MSPs

Now that we’ve studied this market, and seen it for how it truly is, warts and all, we’re throwing down the gauntlet.

For only $9 per server per month, or $1 per workstation/virtual desktop per month, you can now acquire subscription licensing from us. Yes, you read that correctly.

Want to continually monitor 10 XenApp servers year around? No problem – that will cost you $1080 a year.

Want to do a simple 90 day assessment of remote worker productivity on your 5 RDS servers? Easy enough – just carry a subscription for 3 months, and pay only $135!

Have two RDS servers you need to check bandwidth consumption on for 30 days? We think you’ll find that $18 to be a bargain.

Now It’s Your Turn. Help Us Get the Word Out About Our New Flexible and Affordable Pricing.

Let your colleagues and friends know about our new offering, via social media, forum exchanges, trade shows, and simple word of mouth. As a token of our appreciation, if you send us a link to a post or share you made about our new pricing model and feature set, we’ll give you a 2-month subscription credit on monitoring in your own environment! Help us shake up this niche so that organizations of all sizes will benefit.

Free Remote Desktop Administrator’s Toolkit Just Released!

RDPSoft is proud to announce the release of Version 1.0 of its completely free Remote Desktop Admin Toolkit!  More blog postings will follow soon regarding the individual tools in the toolkit.  Version 1.0 of the toolkit includes the following tools (click on each one’s name for a help tutorial on how to use it)

1.) Enable Remote Desktop Remotely

Quickly turn on Remote Desktop on your workstations and servers for the purposes of administration without having to ever leave your desk.

2.) Enable Remote Desktop Management on Workstations

Turn on Remote Desktop Management on your workstations so you can manage user sessions, processes, and more with Microsoft’s Terminal Services Manager or any RDPSoft’s tools.  Avoid that annoying “The specified computer cannot be reached.  Make sure that the computer is accessible and verify computer name.” error going forward.

3.) Remote Desktop User Session Manager

Quickly discover all the servers and workstations where a particular user has remote desktop sessions open.  From there, send popup messages to, disconnect, or logoff all of the sessions with a single click.  It’s also great for remotely locking the console session on an unlocked computer.

4.) Remote Desktop Process Manager

Have a hung or problematic app?  Quickly locate and terminate all instances of one or more applications on your servers and workstations with a single click.

We plan on updating our toolkit soon with even more Remote Desktop Management Tools, including a RDP Bandwidth Monitor tool, so stay tuned!  In the meantime, keep managing your remote desktops, and don’t forget to take a test drive of our comprehensive Remote Desktop Reporter solution.