Tag : client

Microsoft RemoteFX for Remote Desktop Services – Terminal Server

Windows introduces a new set of remote user-experience capabilities that enable a media-rich user environment for virtual and session-based desktops. RemoteFX can be deployed to a range of thick and thin client devices, enabling cost-effective, local-like access to graphics-intensive applications. RemoteFX also supports a broad array of USB peripherals to improve the productivity of users of virtual desktops. Microsoft RemoteFX leverages the power of virtualized graphics resources and advanced codecs to recreate the fidelity of hardware-assisted graphics acceleration, including support for 3D content and Windows Aero®.  RemoteFX is a new set of technologies that will be integrated into the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to improve the remote end-user experience by building on the improvements Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 made related to bi-directional audio, Windows Media Player playback redirection to the client, and desktop composition (enabling remote Aero).
RemoteFX expands this rich end-user experience to other types of workloads, such as 3D applications, DirectX, WPF, Silverlight, and basically any media type, giving remote users an experience that’s equivalent to local execution. The exact technologies to be included are still being finalized and could change up until release time. RemoteFX builds on technologies Microsoft got as part of the Calista Technologies acquisition.  RemoteFX will be available to users who connect to Server 2008 R2 SP1 Remote Desktop Services or Windows 7 SP1 virtual desktops using the SP1 Remote Desktop Connection client.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure-VDI-Pro’s and Con’s

In the past 6 months BVA has seen a tremendous push towards (VDI) Virtual Desktop Infrastructure which is unique in my eyes, for the most part it is because we have come full circle.  About 10 years ago there was a tremendous push toward thin-clients and dumb terminals which had a lot of success back then.  After a few years of this, organizations decided to move back to heavy client models mostly due to workstations lowering their cost.  Regardless of how we got to this point, VDI is back and more popular than ever.  BVA has deployed over four VDI solutions in the past three months with minimal hurdles and we are getting great reviews from the client via user experience.

Lets talk about VDI and what it is and is not.  Basically Virtualization technology can provide virtual desktops to your users which, over time, will save you on hardware cost as well as administration. All of us are familiar with the concept of virtual platforms/servers and using this technology to virtualize server applications (like SQL server, print servers, or other dedicated servers). VDI takes this a step farther.

Here are the steps to using VDI:

  1. Create a virtual machine
  2. Install a VDI Connection Broker – this Connection Broker is what determines which Remote Desktop Host a user is assigned or should be connected to. Here are some of the connection brokers available today:
    • ChipPC Virtual Desktop Center
    • Citrix Desktop Broker for Presentation Server
    • Dunes Virtual Desktop Orchestrator (VD-O) and Virtual Service Orchestrator (VS-O)
    • LeoStream Virtual Desktop Connection Broker
    • Propero workSpace
    • Provision Networks Virtual Access Suite (VAS)
  3. Install a desktop operating system on that VM, such as Windows XP or Windows Vista
  4. Install desktop applications on the VM
  5. Allow remote access to that virtual desktop system over the network using any number of possible remote control options

VDI is basically thin-client computing (such as Citrix/Terminal Services). With VDI, you are taking the processing off of the end user’s device and bringing it onto a server. The difference with VDI, unlike thin-client, the virtual desktop is dedicated to a single end user or mapped to provide the desktop OS & applications to a single client viewing device.  Many VDI packaged solutions, of course, uses VMware or Microsoft’s virtual platforms as the underlying virtualization product.

Why should an organization use VDI?

  • SecurityDesktops are more secure
  • Rollback – Can use VMware’s snapshot and revert technology on desktop machines
  • Centralized Apps – Applications upgrades are easier because systems are all in a centralized location
  • Speed Deployment – You can quickly clone existing machines and roll out new systems because machines are all in a single central repository
  • Provide a full desktop PC – You are providing full access to a virtual machine and each virtual desktop is mapped to a single user or a single client device.
  • Reliability – If you could quickly restore any PC OS to a usable state, free from viruses or corruption, how reliable could your desktop systems be?

Here are some key points about the solution for your reference:

  1. You could use older or existing PC’s but that doesn’t provide you all the benefits you could get from VDI. You could also use thin-client devices running RDP. Ideally, you might consider something like the new Wyse Thins OS-VDI, made just for thin clients that will be connected to VDI servers. More information can be found at: http://www.wyse.com/about/news/pr/2006/0802_VMwareVDI.asp and http://www.wyse.com/products/software/os
  2. With regards to remote control application, you can choose from RDP, VNC, or others
  3. For Legacy hardware you can use RDP, for example, which supports USB devices on the client and if you could put a parallel or serial device on the server, you could also access it from the client.
  4. You will have to do your own cost comparison, keeping in mind, the soft numbers related to the increased security and management functionality.  There are several case studies that outline a 5 year ROI that shows the cost comparison where you come out appropriately.

Windows Intune – Optimistic View

BVA has been in the cloud for sometime.  Obviously being in the cloud means alot of different things to alot of different people.  Everyone seems to have their own spin on the term.  For some time now we have wondered if Microsoft would come out with System Center for the cloud (BPOS). The overall BPOS solution has been fairly stable and successful yet there have been a few pitfalls but have worked through them with support.

As its core, Windows Intune is a cloud-based version of the desktop management capabilities customers could previously get by deploying Microsoft System Center technologies. For those that do not know that Microsoft System Center, it’s basically a bunch of older product put together via a large suite of applications.  That being said the applications contributed are valid and great products.  It’s basically the old SMS desktop management system and basically MOM.  These are tried and tested application that BVA has deployed for several years, yet all required their own on-premise servers.  Therefore, Window Intune, rather than hosting a System Center server on-premises and managing desktops from the server, administrators using Windows Intune load a client onto the desktops.  Administrators can access, via a browser, the management software and tools in the cloud and manage and secure those desktops through the cloud. In addition to the product features, the monthly subscription will include upgrade rights to Windows 7 Enterprise for every covered desktop and an option to buy the otherwise hard-to-get Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP).

When the first limited beta of Windows Intune arrived in April, Microsoft described it almost exclusively as a midmarket IT-focused offering, with a slightly lower-end core audience than the System Center suite of products reaches. Core capabilities of Windows Intune include the ability to centrally manage the deployment of updates and service packs to PCs, to manage protection of PCs through the Microsoft Malware Protection Engine, to receive alerts that help administrators proactively monitor PCs, provide remote assistance, track hardware and software inventory, and set security policies.  For users familiar with Microsoft’s other product families, Windows Intune combines a Web-based management console with the desktop malware protection and reporting of the Microsoft Forefront Protection Suite and the update management, inventory and software deployment of Microsoft System Center Configuration manager 2007 or Microsoft System Center Essentials. Windows Intune also has the operating system distribution capabilities of Configuration Manager.

After reviewing all the facts it seems that this will be a great offering for our client base.  We are going to try this out at a client next month and we are looking forward to really seeing the real-world applications and cost savings.  I think it is fair to say that I am a little apprehensive about the security associated in imaging desktops through the cloud, but time will tell.  As a collective unit, BVA is staying positive with the security and ease of use.

Microsoft Exchange Cloud Offering Has Limitations – BPOS

BVA has seen a lot of ups and downs with the Microsoft in-the-cloud offering with Exchange.  We have been a BPOS partner for over two years with great success overall but have run into some small and large problems that we want to disclose.  One of the biggest problems with the offering is that Microsoft does not backup the mail data over 14 days through an OST locally on the users hard drive as well as one in the Cloud Store.  Another problem is the sub-folder size and being extremely careful with the deletion process with those sub-folders.  Meaning in one scenario, a client deleted a sub-folder that was greater than 2GB in size and as a result deleted it from the OST for recovery.  There is an outlook rule where it states that any sub-folder deleted that is over the size of 3GB will not go to the recycling bin but rather delete completely off the store.  There is no way to restore the the file from the cloud or the local OST which can be quite painful.  This has been verified with Microsoft and they really do not have a good reason of why this is the case.  Microsoft’s suggestion is to purchase an additional service called Email Archiving for an additional $4.25.  The cost for some of the BPOS offerings are as followed:

Technical Support (All Break Fix issues, Partner Care questions and routing)

BPOS Technical Support

Available to customers and  partners who  are acting on behalf of their BPOS customers

1-866-MSONLINE, 1-866-441-8425, (425)-704-4614

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