Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Recap of the session I presented at Microsoft Ignite 2017

I’m at Microsoft Ignite in Orlando this week and yesterday I presented a session on hosting RDS and VDI in the Cloud. This blog post is a recap of the session including links to demos I showed.

I started my session with the question whether RDS or VDI would still be relevant today. I pointed out that the application landscape of an average organization today already contains a lot of SaaS and Web based applications. Also, Apps from App stores are becoming more common in the corporate world. These types of applications are already enabled for the modern workplace and can already be accessed from any device at any time. I continued by pointing out the traditional Windows Applications. How these types of applications are not enabled for the modern workplace, that they demand a Windows Desktop to run and that in many cases they rely heavily on an application backend. I talked about how many might argue that the Windows Application will disappear in the future. That the Windows Application will be transformed into other form factors like Web-Based and Apps. I agree with that statement but showed the diagram below indicating that the number of Windows Applications currently still out there is in the millions and that these types of Applications have different requirements. Key take away being that as long as Traditional Windows Applications exist, RDS or VDI can still help you provide those traditional Windows Applications on top of the modern workplace.

After the introduction, I covered what it takes to run RDS or VDI on top of Azure. I talked about ways to optimize for the Cloud by leveraging PaaS like Azure SQL. I shared ways to auto scale an RDS or VDI environment on Azure IaaS by using scaling scripts. I also talked about ways to integrate Azure MFA into an RDS environment.

During the second half of the session I covered 2 demos. In the first demo, I showed how to leverage Azure Resource Manager and JSON scripts to perform a fully automated deployment of RDS running on top of Azure IaaS. The ARM template I showed creates an entire HA deployment in 30 minutes including things like SQL, SSL Certificates, Branding and Customization. I uploaded the 5-min video that I shared in the session and it’s available on my YouTube channel here:

The second demo was related to benchmarking the end user experience in a remoting session. I started by explaining that only benchmarking performance counters does not always fulfill the needs and how being able to see the actual end user experience can be extremely helpful. The demo I showed was based on a Framework called REX Analytics. Amongst other things, this framework provides an analyzer tool that allows you to see and compare the end user experience of various remoting sessions. To get a detailed overview of all the capabilities of this Framework check out the following links that also contain the demo I shared during the session:

Outlook Performance in Non-Persistent Environments Using FSLogix’s Office 365 Containers
OneDrive for Business Performance in Non-Persistent Environments Using FSLogix’s Office 365 Containers

I got a good turn up for my session and a lot of positive feedback! I want to that everyone who attended my session and hope to be back next year!

If you have additional questions about the topics I covered, feel free to contact me!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

First look at updates coming to Remote Desktop Services

There is a new Microsoft Mechanics video published that provides a great overview of the recently announced changes on the Remote Desktop Services platform, RD Modern Infrastructure.

"...The RDS team has innovated in three key areas:

Security: RDS-hosted environments can use authentication with Azure Active Directory – see how you get advantages like Conditional Access policies, Multifactor Authentication, Integrated authentication with other SaaS Apps using Azure AD, and the ability to get security signals from the Intelligent Security Graph. Moreover, by isolating the infrastructure roles (Gateway, Web, connection broker and others) from the desktop and app deployment hosts, we add another layer to separation for higher security of your virtualized environments.

Cloud readiness: There are updates coming to infrastructure roles with innovations in the existing RD infrastructure roles – Web, Gateway, Connection Broker, Licensing – see how to take advantage of the elasticity and scale capabilities of Azure. Get a first look at the new Diagnostics role that helps you monitor your deployment effectively.

Windows apps on ANY device:  RDS has long had the flexibility to run on cross-platform desktop and mobile operating systems using apps, but we are now building support for HTML5 browser-delivered experiences. Of course, RDS works with Windows – even Windows 10 S – offering even more flexibility for how your apps and desktops are accessed..."

There will also be several session at Microsoft Ignite next week that talk about this new infrastructure in more detail.

Source & video:

Friday, September 15, 2017

Remoting Graphics and GPU’s in End User Computing

Remoting Graphics and GPU’s in End User computing are becoming commodity. The days where GPU was beneficial to only very specific applications like AutoDesk, AutoCad, Solidworks et cetera are definitely over. Today, almost every Remoting Windows environment can benefit from Remoting Graphics. Even applications like Office and also browsers can leverage a GPU in a Remote Windows environment. With the N-series on Azure being available for some time now, Remote Desktop Services or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure hosted on Azure IaaS is also able to use GPU. Companies like Frame offer options to leverage that same GPU in their solutions, even with a fully web based client. I recently attended a webinar where they showed this in an impressive demo.
With GPU being commodity and several remoting protocols being available that can offer it, the question arises which one to use. As always, it can be answered by the usual IT answer; “it depends!”. Comparisons are interesting to match use cases to remoting protocols. This is exactly what Benny Tritsch and Kristin Griffin recently did in a test where they compared the user experience of RDP vs PCoIP.
The primary focus of the test was on benchmarking the performance of graphics workloads in Hyper-V virtual machines accelerated by NVIDIA M60 GPUs attached through Discrete Device Assignment (DDA).
“In our test environment, we used the REX Analytics framework to benchmark remote end-user experience (REX) by simulating a range of user interaction workloads. The REX Analytics framework includes fully automated (synthetic) test sequences, control services, management consoles, agents, screen and telemetry data recorders, analysis tools and a unique visualization component. The framework works on-premises and in cloud environments.”
The results of these test show contain some interesting comparison videos. Read the full article, including links to various video’s here: