Remote Desktop Services (RDS) in Windows Server 2008



to understand what microsoft offers related to desktop virtualization you first need to understand what they call RDS Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services or RDS is actually a suite of different components that are part of the Windows Server 2008 operating system now some people might say that RDS is a replacement for terminal server or Terminal Services if you're familiar with that however that's just one piece of RDS you should also know that the different components while contained within Windows Server 2008 may require separate client licenses once you start connecting and user desktops or thin client devices to the server to provide remote desktops or desktop virtualization so now let's talk about the different components that make up Remote Desktop Services the suite of components that make up Remote Desktop Services are listed here they are Rd SH or remote desktop session host this is actually the piece that replaced a terminal server if you're familiar with that it's the workhorse where Remote Desktop sessions are running then there's our SWA or remote desktop web access this is a web front-end for the Remote Desktop Services where end-user client devices on your local network would connect to gain their Remote Desktop Services if your end-user devices are external or out on the public Internet they would go through a Remote Desktop gateway or an RDG then you've got our dvh that's a remote desktop virtualization host this is actually a hyper-v server where virtual machines are running that end-users connect to so this would be more of a traditional desktop virtualization solution here the Rd VH and of course the Rd VH for desktop virtualization needs a connection broker which is also part of a traditional desktop virtualization implementation and that's the RDC v or the remote desktop connection broker let's look at a picture where we can see how all these fit together if we start from left to right here on the left hand side you've got the remote desktop client so that could be just like the laptop that I'm working on right now that could be your home desktop computer or your work desktop computer you've got a desktop client device and then from that desktop client device you need to connect to the remote desktop infrastructure to do that if you're out on the public Internet you would go through the RDG or the Remote Desktop gateway if you're on the internal land you would go through a Rd WH or remote desktop web access a web portal basically from there you're directed to the RDC B that's the remote desktop connection broker the connection broker is actually the go-between that really glues all these different solutions together so from there the client is directed to the Remote Desktop session host if they need to run individual applications or if they need access to a full remote desktop on the other hand if they're configured to be provided their own virtual desktop an entire virtual machine just for themselves they would be directed to the RT VH or the remote desktop virtualization host where they get their own desktop and then of course other important pieces of the Remote Desktop Services infrastructure are the Microsoft Windows Active Directory the Active Directory is going to be used to authenticate these users and it's also going to map them to remote desktop sessions or remote desktop virtual machines over on the RT vh and then you've got the licensing server which is going to license these remote users and devices to access the different types of resources they'll be using in the Remote Desktop Services infrastructure just a little bit ago I talked about Terminal Server and Terminal Services this has been renamed Remote Desktop Services and this form of virtualization is actually sessioned virtualization of course this is done now with an RDS H and this is the traditional Terminal Server model if you're familiar with that if not I'll be demonstrating it here in just a second basically with session virtualization and users are accessing shared applications on a shared operating system in other words they're all accessing the same physical server that physical server is running a single operating system so they're all running on top of the same operating system and then there's an installation of the different applications every user on that system is running the same installation of that application so this has good and bad let's say you install Microsoft Office on an RDS H hosts the end-users access let's say Microsoft Word they're all running the exact same word exe executable and then through configurations you actually try to separate out their registry settings it is fully supported it is very successful at many companies in fact I've used it myself successfully in production for years but it also has it's good and bad side again I'll be demonstrating this in just a second but for more information make sure you check out my other lesson in this series on desktop virtualization versus terminal server now let's compare session virtualization to desktop virtualization with Remote Desktop Services desktop virtualization of course is done with an RD VH or the remote desktop virtualization host so this is actually a hyper-v server and on that hyper-v server there's multiple virtual machines every end-user client device or let's say every end user accesses their own personal virtual machine running on that hyper-v hosts so every end user or every device however you want to map it has its own virtual machine that virtual machine has its own operating system and that operating system has its own applications installed so you could have different users all going to different virtual machines with different versions of the operating system let's say Windows XP Windows 7 Windows Server they're all running different operating systems maybe even Linux and then they all have their own applications installed on those different virtual machines they could even be configured as administrator they could install applications they could make changes you don't have to worry about these users really affecting each other unless their individual virtual machine uses more resources than the other virtual machines on that host so Microsoft Remote Desktop Services is going to offer you either one of these solutions session virtualization or desktop virtualization and it's the RDC V or the remote desktop connection broker it's going to make the determination based on your configuration where the end-user will be directed to will they be directed to a session on an RDS H I and only given let's say an individual Microsoft Word application and that's all they can use perhaps they could get a full desktop through the RDS H but it would be running on a shared operating system with shared applications on the other hand you could configure them to get their own individual virtual machine running on a hyper-v server with their own operating system and their own applications alright so that's the difference between session virtualization and desktop virtualization and again Microsoft's RDS offers both now before I move into my RDS demo I want to first talk about app-v you may have heard of app-v and you might be wondering at this point what is a P and how does it relate to RDS well a P is Microsoft's application virtualization and what it does is it packages applications so that they can be run without installations in other words you can package let's say Microsoft Office or Microsoft Word just by itself and then that Microsoft Word executable could be run just by itself without you having to install word without you having to affect the registry and you could even run multiple versions of word all at the same time on the same computer because you've now virtualized these applications with app-v so it provides you a lot of benefits related to easier application deployments easier application upgrades portability of applications and so on and this is all very similar in concept to VMware's thin app so at this point let's jump into the demo of Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services and now I'd like to demonstrate Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services for any of you out there who have used the Windows application remote desktop connection to connect to a Windows server like an exchange server or an Active Directory controller or even to an end-user desktop to support them or perform administrative tasks you know what I'm talking about this is the remote desktop connection client this is the same client I'm going to use to administer my Remote Desktop Services Windows Server so here I'm going to click connect and login as administrator and then I get the desktop on the windows server where I've configured Remote Desktop Services if we go down here to start right click on computer and go into properties you can configure remote desktop on any Windows server but it's disabled by default so I usually go in here and I allow the Remote Desktop connections and then by default it's just the administrator account they can perform that remote desktop or remote console control something else I can do here to demonstrate that this is a remote desktop connection is I can restore down this window and then you can see I've got this servers desktop in a window running on my local computer I can maximize that window and there I am back again a full screen on the server console now let's open up the remote desktop session host configuration as you can see here by default I've got one connection and that connection has its own settings such as restricting each end-user to a single session and then for licensing mode I've got remote desktop for administration meaning this is just for administration of this server this isn't for end-users to connect and run applications I've also got the Remote Desktop Services Manager this is another application here this shows me what users have connected to this server via the remote desktop connection client so I've just got one user the administrator user that's actually me and then I've got options for that connection on the right hand side I can disconnect the user I can send them a message there we go I just sent a message to myself this said hi there I can do other things I can check the status of the connection I can also reset or log off the user and then we can go into the sessions tab and you can see I've got one session that's actually me from here I can also disconnect send message reset or check status so the sessions tab shows us every user connected to this server remotely now if I go into the processes tab I see all the processes running on this server of course I could even view multiple servers from this MMC but this also includes processes running by users connected for remote desktop purposes so I can sort these by the session name the user name and so forth I'm actually logged in as administrator so I'm one of those users if I go and I start up a command prompt to simulate an edge user running a program here and I can go in I can find that command prompt actually there's the executable there under the image column so you see cmd.exe let's say I had 10 users logged in running Microsoft Word I would have 10 word executables running here in this process list so that way I can manage the processes running by those users I can see who's doing what I could kill malicious processes just like I killed that cmd.exe executable now that we looked at session virtualization let me show you how Microsoft's desktop virtualization works by going over to the same Windows Server 2008 system where will enable Remote Desktop Services install the connection broker and give it a try here on this Windows server to enable Remote Desktop Services I'm just going to go into the server manager here and click add roles I'll say next and then go down here to Remote Desktop Services we'll check the check mark there I'll click Next next and that here's where we get to select the different pieces of Remote Desktop Services that we want to install here's all the different components that I showed you earlier they were on that graphic from Microsoft you've got the session host the virtualization host licensing the connection broker the gateway and web access in my case I've already got a remote desktop virtualization host so what I'm going to do is simply install a connection broker here click Next we'll go through the install and then once the install is complete I'd like to give you a demonstration of Remote Desktop Services virtualization host so you can see how Microsoft's desktop virtualization works with a remote desktop connection broker also called the remote desktop connection manager as well as the remote app manager successfully installed on this host I can now demonstrate for you how you would administer Microsoft's desktop virtualization solution as well as how an end user would connect to their personal virtual desktop as you can see we've successfully installed a number of remote desktop services roles here we've installed the remote app manager the remote desktop connection manager the RO desktop session host configuration and the remote desktop services manager now for this demonstration of Microsoft's desktop virtualization we're specifically interested in the remote desktop connection broker as well as the remote app manager now to start the MMC's that actually administer Microsoft's remote desktop services just go to start Administrative Tools and then remote desktop services here you can see the different MMC s related to Remote Desktop Services for example I've already got the Remote Desktop Services Manager up and running this is how you would administer the traditional Terminal Services host and then we have Remote Desktop session host this is the actual host configuration for the traditional terminal services server from here you can see we've got now the new remote app manager remote app manager is used to configure remote desktop web applications these are the applications that appear as if they're running on the end-users computer it's here that you bring everything together that makes those applications work moving on here's the remote desktop connection manager this connection manager is really the configuration application for the remote desktop connection broker or for the desktop virtualization connection broker so here you can see that the Rd connection broker is configured for personal virtual desktops for virtual desktop pools and for remote application programs you can see here that I've got one remote desktop web access server configured I've got a virtualization host server a host server for the traditional terminal services clients I've got a Rd Gateway server and then I've enabled remote app and desktop connections to be shown to my virtual desktop devices out there so far I haven't assigned a personal virtual desktop but that's something I'm about to do as you can see a lot of configuration has been done to make this work and I can tell you from my experience in working with various desktop virtualization products I don't feel that Microsoft's personal virtual desktop solution is very mature as compared to let's say Citrix XenDesktop or VMware view on the other hand Microsoft's session broker and session host the traditional terminal services products are very mature and they're very enterprise-grade in fact I use them myself so now let me give you a demonstration of what this Microsoft desktop virtualization solution looks like by going over to my web browser where I can demonstrate Microsoft's personal virtual desktops all right so here I am in my web browser I went to the URL for the server /rd web I logged in with my Active Directory username and password and then here I get my remote app program so I've got these different applications I can run that are actually going to run on the remote desktop session host and then underneath remote desktops here I can connect to my remote desktop that I've named Windows 7-1 I'll click connect here type in my username and password click OK and Here I am I've been directed over to my personal virtual desktop that's actually running on a hyper-v server let me show you what it looks like from the hyper-v server perspective here's the hyper-v manager and this is actually the same personal virtual desktop that I connected to through the remote app web interface by the way you'll find over in your Windows Active Directory if you go and edit the properties of an Active Directory user it's there that you can map that user to their own personal virtual desktop let me show you what it looks like Here I am on my Active Directory domain controller and as you can see I brought up the properties for a user here named Bob notice the personal virtual desktop tab this is where you would assign a personal virtual desktop to this end-user you would actually go in here and you would specify the computer that you want them to be able to connect to there I just specified that computer I say apply here or okay and now that user has their own personal virtual desktop map with a successful demonstration now let's go back to our slides now that you've seen Microsoft's desktop virtualization solutions in action let's move on to how you can try these out for yourself you can evaluate Microsoft's desktop virtualization solutions for free simply by downloading Windows Server 2008 r2 as I said at the start of this lesson all the different pieces that make up Remote Desktop Services are contained within the Windows Server 2008 installation so if you want to try out any of the components that make up Remote Desktop Services just head over to Microsoft comm and download that Windows Server evil here's what the web page looks like and in fact now you can even download a VHD or a virtual hard drive of the Windows Server 2008 operating system to bypass the installation and save you time on getting Windows Server up and running once you have Windows server up and running you can simply go in and start enabling and configuring Remote Desktop Services you

19 thoughts on “Remote Desktop Services (RDS) in Windows Server 2008

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  9. With the golden imagen is the same concept with microsoft, is something like Master Image, that is .vhdx with the image to create the desktop pool

  10. Hi Jake, Microsoft Application Virtualization requires Enterprise Licensing + MDOP = Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack 🙂

  11. This is fantastic!! So nice to finally have a clear, no-nonsense explanation of Microsoft's offerings in this space. Thank you! One question: with VMware View, they have the concept of a golden image so that each new VDI instance is just a differencing disk from that golden image. Does Microsoft have anything like that? Also, just to confirm, App-V requires Win7 Enterprise licensing, right?

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