Tuesday, December 16, 2014

First Glance at Ericom AccessNow for Microsoft RD Connection Broker (RDCB)

I’ve had the honor and pleasure of test-driving Ericom AccessNow for RDCB during the private beta, and providing Ericom with some early feedback. In this blog post I’d like to share some of my experiences with the beta.

A little background info
Microsoft Remote Desktop Services has evolved a lot over the past few years. The release of Windows Server 2012 (and later R2) represented a huge step forward, with major improvements in both user experience, by way of the
RemoteFX (RDP8) Protocol, and in central management via Server Manager. On the RDP client side, previously Microsoft’s statement had always been, “we’ll deliver a great RDP client for Windows based devices and leave space for partners to do so for RDP clients for non-Windows based devices”. That all changed in October of 2013 when Microsoft launched their own RDP clients for iOS, Android and Mac OS X, available as a free download in the various App Stores, making it possible to run a Microsoft RDP client on various operating systems.

Where does AccessNow for RDCB step in?
Microsoft however does currently not provide their own HTML5 client for Remote Desktop Services. So what’s the use case for an HTML5 solution, with the availability of a Microsoft RDP client for most major operating systems? I personally don’t see an HTML5 client being the primary client in all scenarios. However, supporting HTML5 in a Microsoft RDS environment can help organizations that are implementing BYOD initiatives to simplify their client software management. It also makes a great second or backup option in specific  scenarios where a user cannot install an RDP client, or only needs to connect real quickly to review a document without having to install and configure a client first. This is where
AccessNow for RDCB steps in.

What I personally like about this approach is that you can integrate this with your current Microsoft RDS environment without having to replace or reconfigure anything. That way, you can offer the option to connect via HTML5 and have that be a backup or secondary way of connecting.

Installing AccessNow Beta in the lab
I’ve been test-driving AccessNow for RDCB in my lab. I cannot go into too much detail about the installation process and the architecture itself, because Ericom is not disclosing that information at this time. What I can say, however, is that I’m impressed by the ease of install and the smooth way of incorporating it with an existing RDS deployment. I did provide some feedback on the chosen backend architecture, installation process and the deployment guide, so hopefully some of that feedback makes it into the General Availability version.

End user experience
As an end user, you log in via a Web Access Portal that is created during installation. Obviously this can (and should) be HTTPS, but for the sake of this demo I used HTTP.

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After logging in with your domain credentials, you are presented with the remote applications and desktops that have been assigned to you. The Ericom Portal retrieves those using your existing RDS deployment.

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Thus, you will see the same applications that are available to you when logging in with the same user account using, say, RD Web Access.

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As an end user, you simply click on a remote application (RemoteApp) to trigger the login process. Basically, this launches an RDP session with the RD Connection Broker as the initial connection, which then directs users to an RD Session Host, similar to a regular RDS session.

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After the login process, users can begin using the RemoteApp from within the browser, without the need to install any agent, fully based on HTML5. Of course, you can also publish a full desktop session in the same way.

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In conclusion, integration of AccessNow for RDCB in the existing environment makes it really easy to set up and provide HTML5 browser based access to your end users as a secondary means of connection as well as for supporting BYOD scenarios, fulfilling the needs of various use cases. I’m looking forward to the GA of AccessNow for RDCB as well as the accompanying licensing models!

Ericom plans to announce the GA release of AccessNow for RDCB soon! To learn more about Ericom AccessNow for RDCB visit:http://www.ericom.com/AccessNowForRDCB.asp

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Taking a look at the new HTML5 connector in Dell/Wyse vWorkspace 8.5

Dell/Wyse has released the latest version of their vWorkspace product this week, which is version 8.5! I have been upgrading a first environment this week, which went smooth.

For an overview of all that’s new in 8.5, see: http://documents.software.dell.com/vWorkspace/8.5/Whats%20New/

In this blog post I’ll focus on a specific new feature, the HTML5 connector. The HTML5 connector allows users to connect to applications or desktops without having to install a vWorkspace connector. HTML5 can be enabled or disabled for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux and Chrome OS.

Obviously the experience of running a RemoteApp or Desktop on a (installed) connectors or RDP client is much better than HTML5. In most use cases HTML5 will therefor not be the primary way of connecting. However, it does allows users to connect to applications or desktops without having to install a connector or client. Which makes a great way of providing a secondary or backup way of connecting in situations were users are not allowed to install or configure a client locally or just want to check a document real quick on a device they’ve never used before and don’t want to download, install and configure a connector or client first. Or, in case of using one of the few devices for which a vWorkspace connector is not available (like e.g. Windows RT).

HTML5 can be enabled an configured within the vWorkspace management console on a per client type level.

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After doing so, you log on to vWorkspace Web Access (which is also improved to support scales to the size and orientation of the endpoint device).

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You select a Remote App

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And after logon we are now running multiple RemoteApps inside our browser, bases on HTML5, without installing any client.

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Do note that in most scenario’s you will see NLA enabled in an environment. By default however, NLA is disabled for the vWorkspace HTML5 connector. To enable HTML5, edit the following file C:\inetpub\wwwroot\web\Freezer\Web.Config

And set EnableNLA to the value true.

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Azure RemoteApp is GA, previously created Previews are changed to a 30-day trial

It’s December 11th today, which means Azure RemoteApp is now officially generally available.

If you previously signed up the the Free Preview, that preview is now automatically changes to a 30-day trial. If you open the Azure Portal and browse to your Azure RemoteApp you will be notified with the ability to activate the service.

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For more info on Azure RemoteApp also see: azureremoteapp.net or join the LinkedIn group here https://www.linkedin.com/groups/Microsoft-Azure-RemoteApp-7401732

Friday, December 5, 2014

Azure RemoteApp Series – Weekly Ask the Experts Webinar

Yesterday was the announcement on the GA date of Microsoft Azure RemoteApp, December 11th, 2014. Basically, next week! :) Back in October I attended TechEd Europe in Madrid, staffing the Microsoft Desktop Virtualization booth, which was fully dedicated in Azure RemoteApp. Back then, the interest and attention for this service was already huge. Overall, the interest for the service has been growing a lot over the past few months.

The Remote Desktop Services team is running a Azure RemoteApp Series – Weekly Ask the Experts Webinar series, you can join here to attend the webinars:

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https://azureinfo.microsoft.com/US-Azure-WBNR-FY15-11Nov-AzureRemoteAppAskTheExperts-Registration-Page.html

And here are some links of recordings of previous sessions:

11/19 webinar  https://wcc.on24.com/webcast/previewlobby?e=897606&k=771C3CB420F89654082297C28BC5626B

12/3 webinar https://wcc.on24.com/webcast/previewlobby?e=903716&k=2D5579C2FB7DECCB3E33B007C4F177BC

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Azure RemoteApp (ARA) will be GA on December 11 2014, pricing model is online!

imageFaster then anyone expected, we RDS MVP’s were notified earlier, but it was just announced publicly that Azure RemoteApp will be GA on December 11, 2014!!

“Azure RemoteApp will be generally available on December 11, 2014. Existing preview customers’ subscriptions will automatically be transferred to a 30-day free trial at this date.

The service will be available as Pay-As-You-Go on Azure starting December 11, 2014. Customers will also be able to purchase Azure RemoteApp through a Volume Licensing/Azure Plan SKU starting February 1, 2015.”

Source: http://blogs.technet.com/b/enterprisemobility/archive/2014/12/04/microsoft-azure-remoteapp-general-availability.aspx

The pricing model is also announced:

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More info on billing check out: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/details/remoteapp/?WT.mc_id=Blog_EntMob_General_PCIT

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Azure RemoteApp (ARA) now supporting Office 365 ProPlus!

The Microsoft RDV Team released a new bog post about support for Office 365 in Azure RemoteApp (ARA). This means that you can now publish Office 365 ProPlus applications as a RemoteApp to your end-users!

As a results, you can now choose from three different Microsoft Images to create Azure RemoteApp cloud collections which are available out of the box in Azure!

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Below is a description of the images currently available today!

Windows Server 2012 R2 (a.k.a. "the vanilla image")

  • This image is based on Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter operating system and has the following roles and features installed to meet the requirements of Azure RemoteApp template images:
    • .NET Framework 4.5, 3.5.1, 3.5
    • Desktop Experience
    • Ink and Handwriting Services
    • Media Foundation
    • Remote Desktop Session Host
    • Windows PowerShell 4.0
    • Windows PowerShell ISE
    • WoW64 Support
  • This image also has the following applications installed:
    • Adobe Flash Player
    • Microsoft Silverlight
    • Microsoft System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection
    • Microsoft Windows Media Player

Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus (Office 365 Enterprise E3 or E4 subscription required)

  • Office 365 is the most requested application and therefore we have provided you with a pre-created "custom" image for you to work with.
  • This image is an extension of the vanilla image and has the following components of Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus installed in addition to the components described in the Windows Server 2012 R2 image:
    • Access
    • Excel
    • Lync
    • OneNote
    • OneDrive for Business
    • Outlook
    • PowerPoint
    • Project
    • Visio
    • Word
    • Microsoft Office Proofing Tools
  • Full functionality of Office 365 ProPlus apps is available only for users who have Office 365 Enterprise E3 or E4 subscriptions. Please contact your Microsoft account representative for more details on Office licensing.

Microsoft Office 2013 ProPlus (trial only)

  • During the preview, we thought that it would be good idea to provide a pre-created "custom" image for you to test the service with.
  • This image is an extension of the vanilla image and has the following components of Microsoft Office 2013 ProPlus installed in addition to the components described in the Windows Server 2012 R2 image:
    • Access
    • Excel
    • Lync
    • OneNote
    • OneDrive for Business
    • Outlook
    • PowerPoint
    • Project
    • Visio
    • Word
    • Microsoft Office Proofing Tools
  • Our legal team wanted us to emphasize: This image does not include Microsoft Office license and hence cannot be used for production. Office 2013 ProPlus is for preview only and if you want to use Office apps in Azure RemoteApp for production, please use Office 365 ProPlus image. For more details on Office licensing, please contact your Microsoft account representative.

Source and more info: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/rds/archive/2014/12/02/azure-remoteapp-now-supporting-office-365-proplus.aspx

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

RDS User Session Control GUI tool

Free tool by Ramon Bruin to allow helpdesk users to shadow a user session running on RDS 2012 R2 without the need for them to connect to Server Manager or user PowerShell commands!

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More info and download: http://easyinit.nl/rds-user-session-control-2/