Monday, December 22, 2014

Microsoft Remote Desktop Preview V8.1.7 update for Windows Phone 8.1 available today for download

There is a new version available of the Microsoft Remote Desktop App for Windows Phone 8.1

The new features in this release are:

Pinning apps to the Start Screen
The ability to pin separate Remote Apps on the Start Screen of your Windows PhoneFigure2

Background refresh and notifications
If the list of apps available to you has changed (for example when your IT admin publishes new apps), then the list of apps on the apps pivot will be updated to reflect the changes which could include adding or removing entries.

Figure3

Source & more info: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/rds/archive/2014/12/22/microsoft-remote-desktop-preview-v8-1-7-update-for-windows-phone-8-1-available-today-for-download.aspx

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

Update: some people asked for this, here is an overview of the other options in the portal

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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/

Monday, November 24, 2014

Microsoft Azure RemoteApp (ARA) on Curah!

What is Curah!
Curah! is a new curation service specifically designed for and maintained by the technical community. With curations we aim to get users where they need to go faster and more reliably with aggregated-answer data, helpful advice, and prescriptive guidance.

Why a curation on Azure RemoteApp (ARA)?
Since ARA is part of Microsoft Azure platform, it's also part of Azure’s fast and continuous update cycles. The “Everything about Microsoft Azure RemoteApp (ARA)” Curation will provide you with a consolidated view of the latest news, combined with direct links to downloads related to ARA, in an easy to navigate format. To accommodate an easy entry I created azureremoteapp.net to point to this new curation!

Happy reading!

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Support for groups in Azure RemoteApp (ARA) will end in 10 days

If you are using the Azure RemoteApp (ARA) Preview you previously had the option to grant users access to ARA using Active Directory Groups (for Hybrid Scenario’s).

Note that this support will end soon: on November 30, 2014. To ensure continuity, any user group assignment you have before today will continue to work until November 30, 2014. All users in current groups will still have access , even though the groups are not shown on the User Access page.

If you have signed up for the ARA Preview, you should have been notified via e-mail on November 6th.

After this date, you will need to assign permissions per user. The reason behind this is making billing and usage simple and predictable. Microsoft has not disclosed pricing and SLA to the public yet.

imageTo make life a little easier, you can use a CSV based import. Click the Bulk Add Users option to upload a .CSV containing a list of e-mail addresses.

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Using a bulk import is of course a step back in regards to easy of management, but it apparently had to be done to be fully prepared for the upcoming billing model. Will it return as part of Azure’s fast release model?  let’s hope so! :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Brad Anderson: Success with Enterprise Mobility: Remote Desktop Services (Azure RemoteApp)

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Great blog post by Brad Anderson on Azure RemoteApp

“Effectively using Remote Desktop Services (RDS) can be one of those incredible accelerators for a growing company – and its massive adoption worldwide is a testament to just how valuable application and desktop virtualization has become.

The key value that RDS provides is the ability to centralize, control, and deliver the applications and data that employees need across the variety of devices that they use, including bring-your-own-device (BYOD).  This provides the “work anywhere from any device” functionality while ensuring that a company’s control and compliance needs are met at a reasonable cost. We are seeing an ongoing acceleration in the use of RDS as organizations look to deliver their inventory of Windows apps to their users on their mobile devices.

During the last two releases, one thing that we have heard loud and clear is that organizations want to get the value of RDS without the large up-front CAPEX (hardware) investments usually associated with Remote Applications and VDI deployment infrastructure. When you are hosting these solutions in your datacenter you have to plan for peak capacity, and, all too often, when you are not at peak that capacity isn’t being used for other workloads. Hmmm… sounds like a perfect scenario for a solution built on a global, elastic public cloud! Addressing these requests was what led us to build a pure cloud solution that is today known (and loved) as Azure RemoteApp. With Azure RemoteApp we have focused on application virtualization because, when using mobile devices, the UX is much better when focused on the app rather than the entire desktop. This is the top use case we also hear about from our customers.”

Read the full post here: http://blogs.technet.com/b/in_the_cloud/archive/2014/11/17/success-with-enterprise-mobility-remote-desktop-services.aspx

New documentation around Azure RemoteApp (preview)

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Today, some new Microsoft documentation around Azure RemoteApp (ARA) has been released.

There is a Best practices for configuring and using Azure RemoteApp and a Azure RemoteApp FAQ available.

Currently Azure RemoteApp is still into preview, but you can sign up to do a free trial. If you want to be up to date with the latest news around ARA join then open LinkedIn group here: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/Microsoft-Azure-RemoteApp-7401732

RD Gateway Farm deployment guide is updated with Client IP Affinity within Azure Load balancer

imageClark Nicholson from the Remote Desktop team announced an update to the existing guidance around running a load balanced RD Gateway setup in Azure.

There was an incompatibility between the Azure Load Balancer and RD Gateway. Previous documentation recommended that deploying RD Gateway virtual machines in 2 separate cloud services and then use Traffic Manager to load balance those.

“Now, this work-around is no longer necessary and we have just published updated versions of the Windows Azure Desktop Hosting Reference Architecture Guide and Remote Desktop Web Access and Gateway Farm Deployment guide. These documents are part of a larger set of guidance on Azure Desktop Hosting using Remote Desktop Services.”

Source: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/rds/archive/2014/11/18/microsoft-azure-desktop-hosting-rd-gateway-farm-deployment-guidance-updated-to-support-azure-load-balancer-client-ip-affinity.aspx

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Azure RemoteApp now available in Microsoft Remote Desktop Preview V8.1.6 update for Windows Phone 8.1

Microsoft just announced new features for the Remote Desktop client for Windows Phone! The featureset for this client is growing, making it a more enterprise ready client with every step.

In this update: Adding an Azure RemoteApp account! You can now add your Azure RemoteApp subscription to start running Azure RemoteApps on your Windows Phone.

For all detail, check out David BĂ©langer's blog post from the Remote Desktop team here: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/rds/archive/2014/11/12/azure-remoteapp-now-available-in-microsoft-remote-desktop-preview-v8-1-6-update-for-windows-phone-8-1.aspx



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Additional guidance published on: RemoteApp and Remote Desktop Session Host Farm Deployment Guides

Clark Nicholson from the Remote Desktop team has published additional guidance on previously released deployment guides on Microsoft Azure Desktop Hosting: RemoteApp and Remote Desktop Session Host Farm Deployment Guides. This also includes scripts to automatically scale down RD Session Host servers to save costs in an Azure Scenario.

Hello everyone, this is Clark Nicholson from the Remote Desktop team. We have just published additional guidance to extend a basic Remote Desktop Services (RDS) deployment in Azure virtual machines. The RemoteApp Programs Deployment document provides steps to create a RemoteApp collection. This allows users to access Windows applications that are running in Azure virtual machines from their favorite internet connected devices.

The Remote Desktop Session Host Farm Deployment document provides steps to add RDSH servers to RemoteApp or desktop collections to create RDSH server farms for higher availability and scale out. Once an RDSH farm has been created in Azure, the RDSH scaling script can be deployed to automatically stop and start RDSH server VMs to reduce VM costs.

These documents assume that a basic RDS deployment has been created based on the Windows Azure Desktop Hosting Reference Architecture Guide and the Windows Azure Desktop Hosting Deployment Guide. For additional information, please see Remote Desktop Services and Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines.

Note: Questions and comments are welcome. However, please DO NOT post a request for troubleshooting by using the comment tool at the end of this post. Instead, post a new thread in the RDS & TS forum. Thank you.

Source: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/rds/archive/2014/11/10/microsoft-azure-desktop-hosting-remoteapp-and-remote-desktop-session-host-farm-deployment-guides.aspx

Saturday, November 8, 2014

As of 11/12/2014 ‘Active Directory group’ support for Azure RemoteApp will be deprecated.

Microsoft has announced that as of 11/12/2014 ‘Active Directory group’ support for Azure RemoteApp will be depricated to align with the new upcoming UI!


 Dear Customer,

Thank you for your continued interest in Azure RemoteApp.
We are continuously working to improve the Azure RemoteApp service, as part of this we are refreshing the user experience for the service and adding a number of great new features to the service soon.

This is to inform you that in order to align with the new upcoming UI, we are deprecating ‘Active Directory group’ support for Azure RemoteApp. You will be able to assign individual users to RemoteApp, but not AD groups.

As of 11/12/2014, any groups assigned to Azure RemoteApp instances will be automatically removed.
Please add individual users back in order to ensure your users have access to Azure RemoteApp.

Remember, you can always talk directly to the engineering team with your issues and questions at our weekly ‘Ask the Experts’ webinar.

-Azure RemoteApp team

Friday, November 7, 2014

MVP Summit 2014



 
 
This week I’ve been in Redmond attending the Microsoft Global MVP Summit. It’s an invitation-only event where Microsoft MVP’s are being invited to come over to the Microsoft Campus to join to various Product Teams to discuss the current state and future of their technology expertise. Obviously there are various technical breakout sessions from overview sessions to deep dives, but the best part about MVP Summit is meeting the Product Team and fellow MVP’s in person to discuss current challenges, future releases and provide feedback to the product members in person. Since I’m under NDA I cannot disclose any of the content presented and discussed there, but the Microsoft Desktop Virtualization space has an interesting future ahead! You can expect more details as soon as we’re allowed to share them!
Thanks to everyone at Microsoft for arranging this event, and special thanks to Benjamin Meister, our RDS MVP Community lead!

 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Preview availability of RemoteIE: Powered by Azure RemoteApp

Microsoft has released the preview availability of a new service called RemoteIE. It allows you to run the latest version of Internet Explorer on the Windows 10 Technical Preview operating system. Since this service is powered by Azure RemoteApp it can run on various devices like Windows, Mac OS X, iOS or Android! Microsoft states that going forward, this will be the recommended way for developers who are not running Windows 10 to test the latest IE preview versions.

How to set it up?

Browse to https://remote.modern.ie and sign in with a Microsoft account

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Accept the App Access

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And select the location in which you want the service to run

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Next, you should have received en e-mail with that allows you to confirm the signup.

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And that’s it!

If you haven't already, download and install the Azure RemoteApp client from here
https://www.remoteapp.windowsazure.com/

After logging on with the account you provided earlier, you will now be presented with a Remote App called IE Technical Preview.

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Upon launching we’re presented with the IE Technical Preview running seamless on the local desktop, based on Azure RemoteApp, leveraging Remote Desktop Services 2012 R2!

And, since this is all based on Azure RemoteApp, we’re also bale to use non-Windows based clients. For example, here’s how to set it up on an iphone.

You open the Remote Desktop App and accept the Internet Explorer invite:IMG_4777

You are precented with a separate tab “Internet Explorer” with a single RemoteApp called “IE Technical Preview”
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And upon launch we’re now running Windows 10 Technical Preview IE as a RemoteApp on iPhone.
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To conserve resources, sessions are limited to 10 minutes. After that sessions will bed disconnected with the following error.
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Some considerations (taken from this source)

  • IE will be the only application available, though that includes the F12 Developer tools!
  • Remote App requires Windows Server 2012 or newer so no older versions will be available (although you can use the F12 Developer tools to change the compatibility modes).
  • Sessions are limited to conserve server resources. Sessions idle for 10 minutes will be logged out and no session can last more than 60 minutes – you’ll need to start a new session.
  • Performance will not be the same as running IE natively (e.g. no GPU acceleration). If you want to run it natively join the Windows Insiders program to get the Windows 10 Technical Preview or download a VM from modern.IE.
  • RemoteIE will not be able to navigate to local sites or domains behind a firewall. Be sure to have a publicly accessible IP address or URL to test with.
  • Because RemoteIE and Azure RemoteApp are in preview, there may be service interruptions.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

TechEd Europe 2014, staffing the Desktop Virtualization Booth


Last week I attended Microsoft TechEd 2014 Europe in Barcelona. Together with people from the RDS Product team I have been staffing the Desktop Virtualization booth in the MSE area of the Expo Hall. Just like the previous editions this has been a great way to demo the various Desktop Virtualization deployments Microsoft offers and hear about what challenges people are facing or new features the would like to see.
This year the Desktop Virtualization booth was fully dedicated to Microsoft Azure Remote App! Attendees who saw this Azure Service (which is currently into preview) for the first time were very excited about the technology and it’s potential! And the ones who had heard about it, provided some great feedback and features to consider.

Want to try Azure Remote App? https://www.remoteapp.windowsazure.com/

TechEd is only just finished, and I’m already heading to the next conference, the annual Global MVP Summit in Redmond! In fact, I’m flying to Seattle while posting this blog post using the on flight Wifi :)
I had a great time staffing the booth, thanks to everyone who dropped by!

 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Microsoft Azure RemoteApp, taking a closer look at the Hybrid Deployment

1. INTRODUCTION
I’m sure you’ve all heard about Azure RemoteApp by now. If not, see https://www.remoteapp.windowsazure.com/ for more details. Currently Azure RemoteApp is still in preview, so you can try it out for free.

Azure RemoteApp comes is two different deployments, a Cloud Deployment and a Hybrid Deployment. Cloud deployment means the RD Session Host servers that run your Azure Remote Apps are not connected to your on premises Active Directory Domain and can therefor only interact with application and data on the RD Session Hosts itself. Hybrid Deployment means the RD Session Host servers are connected to your on premises environment and are also members of your on premises Active Directory Domain, connected via Azure Active Directory. This means these RD Session Host servers and the users it serves, are able to access resources like file servers, application servers, SQL servers etc. that are hosted on premises.

The Cloud deployment is very straight forward to set up and you can have that up and running in no time. Previously the Cloud Deployment only supported using the RD Session Host template provided by Microsoft Azure. This has changed since August 2014 when Microsoft announced the support to use your own RD Session Host template for Cloud Deployments as well.

In the mean time, Microsoft has also provided two guides to help you set up both deployments.

How to create a cloud deployment of RemoteApp
How to create a hybrid deployment of RemoteApp

In this blog post we’re taking a closer look at what Azure RemoteApp Hybrid, what it means for your local environment and how the elastic growing of the RD Session Host farm is performed.

2. HIGH LEVEL OVERVIEW OF THE SETUP
As there are already detailed guides out there, I won’t go into all the details of the step by step process to set up the Hybrid deployment, instead, we’ll do a quick high level overview to give you an overview of the required steps.

After signing up for the (free) preview, the first step is to actually create the Azure RemoteApp Hybrid deployment which in Microsoft Azure terms, is called a “with VPN” deployment.

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After the creation is finished we’re presented with a wizard to guide us through the steps.

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First step is to link the Virtual Network. I created the Virtual Network in advance, with the following details

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After the linking the Virtual Network, an option Get Script becomes available which allows you to download a PowerShell script you can run on your on premises VPN device or server to be able to accomplish the site-to-site VPN with Microsoft Azure. In my case I use Microsoft RRAS on Windows Server 2012 R2.

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If you run the script on your on premises RRAS server a VPN will be configured for you.

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Make sure the VPN is enabled and connectedimage

The next step is to provide the credentials to connect to your local Active Directory domain to allow Azure RemoteApp to add new RD Session Host servers to your domain, in the OU you provided. Obviously the specified account needs the appropriate permissions.

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Next, we link the RD Session Host image. In this case I re-used a previously uploaded image that I also used for a Cloud Deployment.

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Shortly after you perform this step, Microsoft Azure will start to provision the deployment including the creation of your RD Session Host servers, based on the template. As the warning states, this can take up to 30 minutes.

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In the mean time you can configure the Directory Synchronization between your on premises Active Directory and Azure Active Directory (AAD) which is needed to be able to assign users and groups to your published Remote Apps and allow users to authenticate to the Azure Remote App Client using their corporate credentials.

If not already in place, you need to create a new AAD in Azure and enable Activate Directory Sync on it. Microsoft Azure guides you through the process by outlining the required steps as shown below.

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Again, I wont go over all steps in great details, please follow the Microsoft guides as referred to in the introduction of the blog post.

Once you have created the AAD, you download and run the directory sync tool on your on premises server.

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A wizard which is launched right after the setup allows to you to configure the directory synchronization and perform the initial synchronization. You’ll need to provide your AAD credentials (a user with global admin permissions) and your on premises service account.

Once this wizard is finished an initial sync will take place and you should be able to see your users / groups in AAD become available.

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Using PowerShell you can also manually trigger synchronization by running the command Start-OnlineCoexistenceSync

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If synchronization does not correctly function, check the Application Event log for more details on the various synchronization steps.

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In the mean time you Azure RemoteApp will probably be provisioned. This means we can now perform the final steps: publishing applications and configuring user access.

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Publishing applications is very straight forward. Simply select the desired applications, notice that I also installed some custom test application in my RD Session Host template which I’m able to select here as well.

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Or, add published applications by specifying a name and full path to the executable.

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When you are done publishing Remote Apps, the final step is to configure who is allowed to connect and launch your remote apps.

You can add individual users, but it’s obviously more convenient to select a group of users. In my cased I provided the name of a group I created in my on premises environment which was synced to AAD. (note that you can only add Users & Groups here that are already synced).

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We’re done. We can now use the Azure RemoteApp client on our endpoint device, and provide our corporate UPN and password. image

In this case I used the subdomain that comes with AAD (<yourAAD>.onmicrosoft.com) but you can also link your corporate domain by adding it and running the domain verification process which is done via a TXT DNS value you need to configure.

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And here my are Remote Apps available and ready to launch, hosted by Azure RemoteApp Session Host servers, which are domain joined to my on premises domain!

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Since this is a Hibrid Deployment, I’m able to access resources that are on premises. I can for example can create a drivemapping pointing to a server running on premises from within my published Remote App (cmd.exe).

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Also note that my printers are being redirected using Easy Print. USB redirection is  however not supported at this moment.

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3. A CLOSER LOOK
Now that we have the hybrid deployment up and running, and are able to launch Remote Apps, let’s take a closer look at what happens in your on premises environment.

After the initial RemoteApp deployment has been provisioned, 2 RD Session Host servers have been provisioned and have been joined to the on premises AD domain. A random hostname prefix is selected followed by a number 0000, 0001 etc.

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The IP-addresses are handled by Microsoft Azure, and based on the Virtual Network Address Space that we configured in Azure as part of the vNet, a DHCP server is used to supply IP-addresses starting by .20 and going up.

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An IPconfig on one of the RD Session Host servers shows the DHCP server, apparently 168.63.129.16 and also notice the reddog.microsoft.com DNS Suffix, which was the the original code name for Azure. :)

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A check on port 3389 shows that both RD Session Host servers are available and shortly after the initial provisioning.

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Shortly after that however, the 1st RD Session Host becomes unavailable.

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I’m assuming the VM is being put in pause as part of the elastic growing and shrinking mechanism since no user is logged on to the deployment.

As soon as the first users are logging on, a 3rd RD Session Host server is provisioned and after that being put into pause.

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Furthermore the 2nd RD Session Host server now becomes available again too.

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To summarize, at this point we have:

- 1 provisioned RDSH server which is accessible and contains active sessions.
- 1 provisioned RDSH server which is accessible but does not accept new sessions (yet)
- 1 provisioned RDSH Server which is not accessible (in pause mode)

When we start hitting the deployment with more users we discover that the first 5 users are being send to the 1st RD Session Host, the 6th user is being redirected to the 2nd RD Session Host servers. So apparently the configuration is max 5 users per RD Session Host server. And, as soon as we logon the 6th user, the 3rd RD Session Host server becomes accessible (but does not get new sessions yet). Etc.

This is how the elastic growing and shrinking is configured at the moment. Obviously Azure Remote Apps is still in Preview so these variables might be changed after General Availability. Who knows, we might even be able to configure this variable in upcoming releases? :)

4. TO CONCLUDE

These are some of the thing I’ve tested in my hybrid deployment so far. In this blog post I tried to give you a more detailed look on how the Hybrid scenario works, specifically how the elastic growing & shrinking works. Obviously there is still a lot more to discuss like performance when accessing your on premises servers, support for GPU, desktop integration, etc.

Personally I really like the concept of Azure Remote Apps, compared to other DaaS offerings this much more of a “It’s all about the apps” solution. Over a decade ago people were already talking about how Windows applications would all be gone in the future, replaced by Web Applications. In 2014 this is still not the case, and it probably won’t be for many years to come. Azure Remote Apps can fill the gaps there, by offering your (corporate) Windows Applications side by side with web based applications or specific locally running applications, accessible from any device at any time. There is however a long way ahead, Azure RemoteApp is currently still into preview. At this point there are no details in pricing yet, good pricing will be crucial in making Azure RemoteApp a success. And, although the Cloud Deployment setup is relatively straight easy and forward, The hybrid Deployment takes a lot of different (sometimes unstructured) steps to set it up. Hopefully Azure RemoteApp will inherit the extremely fast updating speed used in other Azure services to help make it a success.

To finish this blog post, a funny screenshot….I’m sure any sys admin has seen this pop up before, but in this case apparently, the provisioned Azure RemoteApp RD Session Host servers are equipped with temp licenses that last 10 years :)

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