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!

Repping RDS at Techmentor 2017

Check out our CEO Andy Milford speaking at last week’s prestigious Techmentor event, at Microsoft’s renowned Redmond Campus.

RDPSoftTechmentor2017

This was Andy’s second straight appearance as an expert speaker at Techmentor – this year giving back-to-back talks on the topics of Remote Desktop Services in Window’s Server 2016, as well as alternatives to Azure Remote App.

RDS and Citrix enthusiasts also had the opportunity to break bread with Andy at the “Bird’s Of A Feather” luncheon.

RDPSoftBirdsOfAFeatherLunch

Watch our blog or follow our twitter @RDPSoft for upcoming posts with highlights from these talks!

Why I Created the PureRDS.org Resource Site

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

purerds.org

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!