Giorgio Bonuccelli, Marketing Director of Parallels has published an article titled Maximize your Remote Desktop Services that we at Revelation Software find extremely informative when deploying an OpenInsight application over a Wide Area Network (WAN).
Virtualization has added facets to information technology. Today, businesses look not only at optimizing business resources, but also at management of when, where and how data are accessed. Remote networks are among the aspects of IT that need attention. Nowadays, remote desktop services (RDS) allow businesses to deliver secure remote services to end users effectively.
RDS is a component of the Windows Server operating system, and was formerly known as terminal services in Windows Server 2008 and earlier versions. It enables users to remotely access a computer or a virtual machine on a network. With RDS, any computer that supports remote desktop protocol can remotely access the full desktop and Windows software. Windows NT 4.0 first featured RDS in the form of terminal services, which improved with every new version of Windows Server OS. Microsoft added advanced remote desktop features to terminal services and changed the name to Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2008 R2 edition and Windows Server 2012. Today, users can take advantage of RDS to access corporate networks from the comfort of their homes.
In simple terms, RDS runs applications or user desktops on the server rather than on user workstations. The RDS server sends screen images of the user desktop to the end-user workstation, and keystrokes and mouse clicks are returned to the server. Terminal servers either use a VDI environment or shared sessions to deliver user desktops remotely.
RDS offers a low-cost virtualization solution to businesses of all sizes. RDS runs on Windows terminal servers wherein the client connects to one or more servers. Unlike VDI environments where user applications run in a virtual environment, applications are run on the terminal server. The user desktop is remotely delivered, providing a native-like experience to the end user.
Businesses can choose from two options to deliver virtual desktops: VDI and RDS. The latter provides low-cost virtualization solutions, and the complexity of handling virtual machines is comparatively low. Today, small businesses are considering the implementation of RDS as a cost-effective solution. According to Business News Daily, more and more small and medium businesses are looking at Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) as a good solution when it comes to re-allocating resources or outsourcing IT processes. Windows 2008 R2 offers additional benefits in the form of the RD Web Interface feature. This new feature allows businesses to publish RDS applications over the internet, and users can simply type the URL in the browser to access them. For enterprise networks, this results in more reliable and faster networks, streamlined IT services, and cost-effective remote solutions with enhanced security.
A thin client is a program that depends on another computer to perform computing tasks. As they are not fully-featured computers, thin clients cost less than regular PCs. In a RDS environment, regular PCs can be replaced by thin clients to reduce costs. A user first connects to the terminal server using a thin client. The terminal server, in turn, connects to various other servers like file servers, Microsoft exchange servers, application servers or SQL servers to deliver the required data to the end user with a native-like desktop experience.
While RDS provides innovative features like RD Virtualization Host, RemoteApp and RD Gateway, security challenges come up as users access corporate information from outside the organization; the security issues depend on the type of RDS deployment. Windows 2008 R2 comes with powerful security features. A Network Level Authentication (NLA) for every connection offers the best security. Before every session is created, NLA requires every user to be authenticated with the RD Host Session server.
Additionally, every RDS session can be protected with three types of security layer:
a) RDP Security layer
b) Negotiate – TLS 1.0 (SSL)
c) SSL – TLS 1.0
SSL-TLS encryption offers the best security. In addition, you can choose the level of encryption for a connection in the Group Policy settings for RDS.
RD Web Access provides browser-based remote access to computers that do not have remote client software installed. The RD Web Access interface is configured with SSL to provide a high level of security. Moreover, customized access to remote applications can be provided based on user privileges using an Access Control List (ACL). Computers that use RD Gateway to access remote networks on the internet are monitored by a Network Policy Server (NPS) using two different policies that check what devices and which users can connect to that network.
Today’s Remote Desktop Services offer highly scalable remote network solutions that run in a secure environment. By properly deploying RDS, businesses can optimize resources and improve revenues.
RDS is an amazing tool to create a cost-effective virtualization environment, but it has some hidden costs in its configuration and maintenance. For instance, server load balancing and application virtualization require extra components, and the process to get them up and running is far from easy.
2X RAS effectively meets these challenges with low complexity: it can be up and running in less than five minutes. Advantages listed below:
Publish applications instantly: you just need a few clicks to deliver whatever you wish to your network. Using the console, you can easily manage the entire remote connection.
Corporate data security is enhanced with user- and group-based filtering. 2X RAS can reinforce the active directory policy with filters on the Gateway, MAC address, IP address and the client.
Resource-based load balancing is embedded to guarantee the best possible performance. 2X RAS controls and monitors user activity, license usage and network load, allowing you to be in control of your infrastructure.
2X RAS administers and controls Windows devices from XP up to Windows 8.1. The Windows desktop can be converted into a pseudo thin client to maximize security. 2X RAS adds functionality to RDS to guarantee outstanding performance in application and remote desktop delivery.