Effectively using Remote Desktop Services (RDS) can be one of those incredible accelerators for a growing company – and its massive adoption worldwide is a testament to just how valuable application and desktop virtualization has become.
The key value that RDS provides is the ability to centralize, control, and deliver the applications and data that employees need across the variety of devices that they use, including bring-your-own-device (BYOD). This provides the “work anywhere from any device” functionality while ensuring that a company’s control and compliance needs are met at a reasonable cost. We are seeing an ongoing acceleration in the use of RDS as organizations look to deliver their inventory of Windows apps to their users on their mobile devices.
During the last two releases, one thing that we have heard loud and clear is that organizations want to get the value of RDS without the large up-front CAPEX (hardware) investments usually associated with Remote Applications and VDI deployment infrastructure. When you are hosting these solutions in your datacenter you have to plan for peak capacity, and, all too often, when you are not at peak that capacity isn’t being used for other workloads. Hmmm… sounds like a perfect scenario for a solution built on a global, elastic public cloud! Addressing these requests was what led us to build a pure cloud solution that is today known (and loved) as Azure RemoteApp. With Azure RemoteApp we have focused on application virtualization because, when using mobile devices, the UX is much better when focused on the app rather than the entire desktop. This is the top use case we also hear about from our customers.
Azure RemoteApp is in trial today, but it will not be long until it is fully released. However, we know many customers still need to host specific applications and desktops within the corporate datacenter for compliance and policy reasons. To serve these customers we have continued to invest in our on-premise solution. As I mentioned in the 2012 R2 wave series that launched the summer of 2013, RDS got a giant makeover with some very valuable new functionality. To see the details of what was added with Windows Server 2012 R2, read this post.
For both on premise RDS, and our Azure RemoteApp service, the industry has an incredible BYOD story with what we brought to market last October: Making Remote Desktop client apps available for iOS, Mac OS X, and Android. You can see my announcement post about the launch here, but even more impressive is the follow up post after we reached a million downloads a few days later. Now we have over 9.2 million downloads and the count is still growing strong. That is a huge amount of downloads!
The centralization that app/desktop virtualization enables comes from being able to run these things within the company datacenter where you can control, provision, and patch as necessary. The improved end-user experience is a natural result of this control. For example, you can use the CAD app on a tablet to access a huge file that’s back in the datacenter – and that experience is simply projected across a WAN link instead of downloaded and processed on the device.
To give you a sense of where RDS is getting used every day, consider a couple quick examples:
- RDS supplies a subset of the apps that employees need to use their own devices – this is a pretty foundational part of any mobility strategy.
- Another use of RDS is in call centers spread across multiple regions. In this scenario, all of the company data is hosted centrally so that there are no local copies of data. This means client provisioning separate from app/desktop provisioning.
Comparing RDS to other Solutions
When you’re evaluating your own Enterprise Mobility needs and examining how RDS fits into those needs, I really recommend that you do a close comparison of RDS + EMS with other available solutions.
There are a handful of things that I believe really set EMS apart, specifically: Integration with the Office mobile apps, integration with identity, integration with your existing investments, and simple purchasing/licensing. I think about RDS as another method or tool to deliver Windows apps to mobile devices (MAM) and you will see RDS and Azure RemoteApp become more and more integrated into our Enabling Enterprise Mobility promise as we continue forward.
From the moment you get started with RDS, your existing Windows Server, Hyper-V, and SCVMM investments are all powerfully leveraged. The integration is impressive. RDS is built directly into Windows Server and Hyper-V for VDI scenarios. With Hyper-V for VDI we also provide RemoteFX vGPU which can provide hardware graphics acceleration for DX based apps and now, just announced with the Windows Server Technical preview, OpenGL 1.2 – 4.4 and OpenCL support!
We’ve built RDS as a platform that can be extended by partners such as Citrix – i.e. starting out with a smaller deployment and then really scaling out. You can read more about the RDS + Citrix solution here.
With RDS, the licensing is super simple. Check out the RDS CAL|SAL for each user or device, and either SA customized for 1 to 500 seats. On top of this, we’ve also included Windows Multipoint Server as a role in Windows Server that includes support for “direct connect” thin clients to even further lower the hardware cost for specific use cases.
Where RDS Stands Out
RDS is a full-featured solution and platform. Organizations can start with a very cost effective smaller deployment and then ‘upgrade’ as their needs change by leveraging a partner solution, such as Citrix XenDesktop. For all solutions, the value that session-based virtualization provides is the most cost effective and the density and performance of Hyper-V for VDI deployments compares extremely well against alternatives. The addition of highly performant RD clients on Windows, iOS, MacOS, and Android enables a complete BYOD solution.
With the introduction of Azure RemoteApp, we now provide three different solutions that can be chosen:
- RDS within a company datacenter.
- RDS on Azure IaaS which provides the benefits of the cloud and greater management control (and architecture) to the customer (see Desktop Hosting Deployment Guide and the Automation Scaling of RDS Hosts in Azure VM’s).
- Azure RemoteApp which provides a turnkey solution without the management cost of the first two options.
And if you prefer video, to see how easy it is to deliver custom Office experiences with Azure RemoteApp, check out this quick video with RDS guru Klaas Langhout.
To see more DV in action (but notably less technically sophisticated than Klaas), check out this video from the Master of Mobility video series: