Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Kevin Jackson, John Katrick, Gopala Krishna Behara

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, @CloudExpo

Containers Expo Blog: Article

Understanding Remote Desktop Services (RDS)

The backbone of Microsoft VDI Solution

In Windows Server 2008 R2 (WS2008R2), Terminal Services (TS) has been expanded and renamed to Remote Desktop Services (RDS). RDS is the backbone of Microsoft's VDI solutions. And in Windows Server 2012, RDS is further enhanced and with a scenario-based configuration wizard. Still the concept and architecture remain very much the same since WS2008R2. The new and enhanced architecture takes advantage of virtualization and makes remote access a much flexible solution with new deployment scenarios. To realize the capabilities of RDS, it is essential to understand the functions of key architectural components and how they complement one another to process a RDS request. There are many new terms and acronyms to get familiar with in the context of RDS. For the remainder of this post, notice RDS implies the server platform of WS2008R2 and later, while TS implies WS2008.

There are five main architectural components in RDS, as shown, and all require a RDS licensing server. Each component includes a set of features designed to achieve particular functions. Together, the five form a framework for accessing Terminal Services applications, remote desktops, and virtual desktops. Essentially, WS2008R2 offers a set of building blocks with essential functions for constructing enterprise remote access infrastructure.

To start, a user will access a RDS webpage by specifying an URL where RDS resources are published to. This interface, provided by Remote Desktop Web Access (RDWA) and configured with a local IIS with SSL, is the web access point to RemoteApp and VDI. The URL is consistent regardless how resources are organized, composed, and published from multiple RDS session hosts behind the scene. By default, RDS publishes resources at https://the-FQDN-of-a-RDWA-server/rdweb and this URL is the only information a system administrator needs to provide to a user for accessing authorized resources via RDS. A user will need to be authenticated with one's AD credentials when accessing the URL and the RemoteApp programs presented by this URL is trimmed with access control list. Namely, an authenticated user will see and be able to access only authorized RemoteApp programs.

Remote Desktop Gateway (RDG) is optional and functions very much the same with that in TS. A RDG is to be placed at the edge of a corporate network to filter out incoming RDS requests by referencing criteria defined in a designated Network Policy Server (NPS). With a server certificate, RDG offers secure remote access to RDS infrastructure. As far as a system administrator is concerned, RDG is the boundary of a RDS network. There are two policies in NPS relevant to an associated RDG:

  • One is Connection Authorization Policy or CAP. I call it a user authorization list, showing who can access an associated RDG
  • The other is Resource Authorization Policy or RAP. In essence, this is a resource list specifying which devices a CAP user can connect to via an associated RDG.

In RDS, applications are installed and published in a Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) similar to a TS Session Host, or simply a Terminal Server in a TS solution. A RDSH loads applications, crunches numbers, and produces results. It is our trusted and beloved working horse in a RDS solution. Digital signing can be easily enabled in a RDSH with a certificate. Multiple RDSHs can be deployed along with a load balancing technology. Which requires every RDSH in a load-balancing group to be identically configured with the same applications.

A noticeable enhancement in RDSH (as compared with TS Session Host) is the ability to trim the presence of a published application based on the access control list (ACL) of the application. An authorized user will see, hence have an access to, only published applications of which the user is authorized in the ACL. By default, the Everyone group is included in a published application's ACL, and all connected user will have access to a published application.

Remote Desktop Virtualization Host (RDVH) is a new feature which serves requests for virtual desktops running in virtual machines, or VMs. A RDVH server is a Hyper-V based host, for instance a Windows Server with Hyper-V server role enabled. When serving a VM-based request, an associated RDVH will automatically start an intended VM, if the VM is not already running. And a user will always be prompted for credentials when accessing a virtual desktop. However, a RDVH does not directly accept connection requests and it uses a designated RDSH as a "redirector" for serving VM-based requests. The pairing of a RDVH and its redirector is defined in Remote Desktop Connection Broker (RDCB) when adding a RDVH as a resource.

Remote Desktop Connection Broker (RDCB), an expansion of the Terminal Services Session Broker in TS, provides a unified experience for setting up user access to traditional TS applications and virtual machine (VM)-based virtual desktops. Here, a virtual desktop can be running in either a designated VM, or a VM dynamically picked based on load balancing from a defined VM pool. A system administrator will use the RDCB console, called Remote Desktop Connection Manager, to include RDSHs, TS Servers, and RDVHs such that those applications published by the RDSHs and TS Servers, and those VMs running in RDVHs can be later composed and presented to users with a consistent URL by RDWA. And with this consistent URL, authenticated users can access authorized RemoteApp programs and virtual desktops.

A Remote Desktop (RD) Client gets connection information from the RDWA server in a RDS solution. If a RD client is outside of a corporate network, the client connects through a RDG. If a RD client is internal, the client can then directly connect to an intended RDSH or RDVH once RDCB provides the connection information. In both cases, RDCB plays a central role to make sure a client gets connected to a correct resource. With certificates, a system administrator can configure digital signing and single sign-on among RDS components to provide a great user experience with high security.

Conceptually, RDCB is the chief intelligence and operation officer of a RDS solution and knows which is where, whom to talk to, and what to do with a RDS request. Before a logical connection can be established between a client and a target RDSH or RDVH, RDCB acts as a go-between passing and forwarding pertinent information to and from associated parties when serving a RDS request. From a 50,000-foot view, a remote client uses RDWA/RDG to obtain access to a target RDSH or RDVH, while RDCB connects the client to a session on the target RDSH, or an intended VM configured in a target RDVH. Above is a RDS architecture poster with visual presentation on how all flow together. Http://aka.ms/free has number of free e-books and this poster for additional information of WS2008R2 Active Directory, RDS, and other components.

The configuration in WS2008 is a bit challenging with many details easily overlooked. Windows Server 2012 greatly improved the user experience by facilitating the configuration processes with a scenario-based wizard. Stay tuned and I will further discuss this in an upcoming blog post series.

Recommended additional reading on RDS/VDI/App-V, cloud essentials, and private cloud

[This is a cross-posting from http://blogs.technet.com/yungchou.]

More Stories By Yung Chou

Yung Chou is a Technology Evangelist in Microsoft. Within the company, he has had opportunities serving customers in the areas of support account management, technical support, technical sales, and evangelism. Prior to Microsoft, he had established capacities in system programming, application development, consulting services, and IT management. His recent technical focuses have been in virtualization and cloud computing with strong interests in hybrid cloud and emerging enterprise computing architecture. He is a frequent speaker in Microsoft conferences, roadshow, and TechNet events.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
The past few years have brought a sea change in the way applications are architected, developed, and consumed—increasing both the complexity of testing and the business impact of software failures. How can software testing professionals keep pace with modern application delivery, given the trends that impact both architectures (cloud, microservices, and APIs) and processes (DevOps, agile, and continuous delivery)? This is where continuous testing comes in. D
"WineSOFT is a software company making proxy server software, which is widely used in the telecommunication industry or the content delivery networks or e-commerce," explained Jonathan Ahn, COO of WineSOFT, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In a recent post, titled “10 Surprising Facts About Cloud Computing and What It Really Is”, Zac Johnson highlighted some interesting facts about cloud computing in the SMB marketplace: Cloud Computing is up to 40 times more cost-effective for an SMB, compared to running its own IT system. 94% of SMBs have experienced security benefits in the cloud that they didn’t have with their on-premises service
Gaining visibility in today’s sprawling cloud infrastructure is complex and laborious, involving drilling down into tools offered by various cloud services providers. Enterprise IT organizations need smarter and effective tools at their disposal in order to address this pertinent problem. Gaining a 360 - degree view of the cloud costs requires collection and analysis of the cost data across all cloud infrastructures used inside an enterprise.
There is a huge demand for responsive, real-time mobile and web experiences, but current architectural patterns do not easily accommodate applications that respond to events in real time. Common solutions using message queues or HTTP long-polling quickly lead to resiliency, scalability and development velocity challenges. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ryland Degnan, a Senior Software Engineer on the Netflix Edge Platform team, will discuss how by leveraging a reactive stream-based protocol,...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...
The goal of Microservices is to improve software delivery speed and increase system safety as scale increases. Microservices being modular these are faster to change and enables an evolutionary architecture where systems can change, as the business needs change. Microservices can scale elastically and by being service oriented can enable APIs natively. Microservices also reduce implementation and release cycle time and enables continuous delivery. This paper provides a logical overview of the Mi...
Our work, both with clients and with tools, has lead us to wonder how it is that organizations are handling compliance issues in the cloud. The big cloud vendors offer compliance for their infrastructure, but the shared responsibility model requires that you take certain steps to meet compliance requirements. Which lead us to start poking around a little more. We wanted to get a picture of what was available, and how it was being used. There is a lot of fluidity in this space, as in all things c...
The notion of improving operational efficiency is conspicuously absent from the healthcare debate - neither Obamacare nor the newly proposed GOP plan discusses the impact that a step-function improvement in efficiency could have on access to healthcare (through more capacity), quality of healthcare services (through reduced wait times for patients) or cost (through better utilization of scarce, expensive assets).
Some people are directors, managers, and administrators. Others are disrupters. Eddie Webb (@edwardawebb) is an IT Disrupter for Software Development Platforms at Liberty Mutual and was a presenter at the 2016 All Day DevOps conference. His talk, Organically DevOps: Building Quality and Security into the Software Supply Chain at Liberty Mutual, looked at Liberty Mutual's transformation to Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and DevOps. For a large, heavily regulated industry, this task ...
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
The past few years have seen a huge increase in the amount of critical IT services that companies outsource to SaaS/IaaS/PaaS providers, be it security, storage, monitoring, or operations. Of course, along with any outsourcing to a service provider comes a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to ensure that the vendor is held financially responsible for any lapses in their service which affect the customer’s end users, and ultimately, their bottom line. SLAs can be very tricky to manage for a number ...
"I focus on what we are calling CAST Highlight, which is our SaaS application portfolio analysis tool. It is an extremely lightweight tool that can integrate with pretty much any build process right now," explained Andrew Siegmund, Application Migration Specialist for CAST, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
As many know, the first generation of Cloud Management Platform (CMP) solutions were designed for managing virtual infrastructure (IaaS) and traditional applications. But that's no longer enough to satisfy evolving and complex business requirements. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, Embotics CTO, explored how next-generation CMPs ensure organizations can manage cloud-native and microservice-based application architectures, while also facilitating agile DevOps methodology. He expla...
DevOps promotes continuous improvement through a culture of collaboration. But in real terms, how do you: Integrate activities across diverse teams and services? Make objective decisions with system-wide visibility? Use feedback loops to enable learning and improvement? With technology insights and real-world examples, in his general session at @DevOpsSummit, at 21st Cloud Expo, Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, explored how leading organizations use data-driven DevOps to close th...
Admiral Calcote - also known as Lee Calcote (@lcalcote) or the Ginger Geek to his friends - gave a presentation entitled Characterizing and Contrasting Container Orchestrators at the 2016 All Day DevOps conference. Okay, he isn't really an admiral - nor does anyone call him that - but he used the title admiral to describe what container orchestrators do, relating it to an admiral directing a fleet of container ships. You could also say that they are like the conductor of an orchestra, directing...
The dynamic nature of the cloud means that change is a constant when it comes to modern cloud-based infrastructure. Delivering modern applications to end users, therefore, is a constantly shifting challenge. Delivery automation helps IT Ops teams ensure that apps are providing an optimal end user experience over hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments, no matter what the current state of the infrastructure is. To employ a delivery automation strategy that reflects your business rules, making r...
"We started a Master of Science in business analytics - that's the hot topic. We serve the business community around San Francisco so we educate the working professionals and this is where they all want to be," explained Judy Lee, Associate Professor and Department Chair at Golden Gate University, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Gone are the days when application development was the daunting task of the highly skilled developers backed with strong IT skills, low code application development has democratized app development and empowered a new generation of citizen developers. There was a time when app development was in the domain of people with complex coding and technical skills. We called these people by various names like programmers, coders, techies, and they usually worked in a world oblivious of the everyday pri...
The “Digital Era” is forcing us to engage with new methods to build, operate and maintain applications. This transformation also implies an evolution to more and more intelligent applications to better engage with the customers, while creating significant market differentiators. In both cases, the cloud has become a key enabler to embrace this digital revolution. So, moving to the cloud is no longer the question; the new questions are HOW and WHEN. To make this equation even more complex, most ...