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Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2012, Step-by-Step Guides

Author by Shannon Fritz

Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2012 is awesome.  With highlights like huge performance improvements and an incredibly simplified deployment process, you’re going to want to see what this can do for your business and you can, for free!  Microsoft has the Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate available which you can download and install today. I’ll show you how you can set up several scenarios.

  1. Quick and Easy, RemoteApp on a single server
  2. Quick and Easy, RemoteApp using three servers
  3. Adding a Gateway and Configuring Certificates
  4. Adding a Licensing Server
  5. Adding a Windows Server 2008 R2 RemoteApp source

Some articles I intend to be adding soon (more of a note to myself really)…

  1. Configure a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Pool and PVD
  2. Building and Maintaining VDI Personal Virtual Desktops
  3. Delivering RemoteApp to end users via RSS Subscription

Let me know if you want to see something added to the list! Throughout these guides there are a couple acronyms I’ll be using pretty regularly and my servers will tend use them in their names because I like to name my servers after the roles they will be delivering. There are three fundamental roles to an RDS deployment:

image RDCB – Remote Desktop Connection Broker. This is the “hub” of the RDS environment. It ensures that all user connections that are established to the various Session Hosts are maintained through disconnects and reconnects and play a key role in simplifying the single sign on experience
image RDWA – Remote Desktop Web Access. A web site that simply hosts the list of available resources that can be reached through RDS. It also hosts an RSS feed that can be used in various places.
image RDSH – Remote Desktop Session Host. The server that actually runs the user processes. This is what people sometimes refer to as a Terminal Server, although that term has officially been depreciated. When a user runs a RemoteApp or connects to a Desktop, it’s running on a Session Host.

  In addition to those three, there are a couple other roles that you can deploy to add more functionality:

image RDGW – Remote Desktop Gateway. Another web site that is actually used as a way of tunneling RDP traffic over HTTPS to allow users who are outside the corporate network to gain access to internal resources. I usually like to co-locate this role on the RDWA server, and I end up referring to RDGW as the “Gateway and Web server”.
image RDVH – Remote Desktop Virtualization Host. A new role for Windows Server 2012, this is a physical server running Hyper-V and is used to deploy and manage Virtual Machines for VDI.
image RDLI – Remote Desktop Licensing. Installing RDS will give you 120 days to try it out, but if you decide to keep it you’ll need to get licensing from Microsoft, and the license key gets installed on the RDLI server. I usually like to co-locate this role on the RDCB.

  Many of these roles can be co-located so you can have one server operating many of the roles, or you can deploy a new server for each one.  The only role that requires a physical server is the RDVH because that is a Hyper-V Host. Personally I like to start out a deployment with three Virtual Machines:

  1. A Connection Broker and License Server
  2. A Gateway and Web Access server
  3. A Session Host / RemoteApp server

A deployment like that can be easily expanded to fit the needs of the business, like making the roles highly available or adding on a VDI deployment. N’joy!


Shannon Fritz

Infrastructure Architect & Server Team Lead