What in the world is a Remote Desktop Services (RDS) server?
An RDS server allows you to easily access your shared documents and applications from a multitude of devices. This isn't a new technology; the RDS server concept has been around for over a decade in both Citrix and Microsoft flavour.
What does an RDS server allow my business to do, that I can’t do over VPN?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is widely recognized and used in lots of businesses requiring people to work remotely, A VPN solution allows access to the internal company network. An RDS server solution in my opinion leaps right out there in front of a VPN solution by a country mile.
A RDS server solution, allows you to see a desktop environment, so you have the familiar desktop, with the familiar icons, my computer is where it should be, all your mapped drives are as you would see on your office desktop now.
All your applications, Microsoft Outlook, Sage, Excel and so forth are visible. The really nifty bit comes into play, when you open for an example a word document, instead of the word document data being pulled down over the VPN connection, it stays on the office network and perhaps even the same physical server you’re connected to. Your documents open on the screen as it would if you were in office sat in front of your regular desktop.
Hot shot give me an example of the benefits to Business for using a RDS server?
The benefits? I hear you ask, how about this practical example to start with, your people all 15 of them, who have a mix of desktops and laptops computers, they all need to use Microsoft Office 2013. Normally your IT support person, will need to go around 15 machines and install Office 2013, he’s a good chap and will do this no problem, then a few weeks later, an important patch needs to applied to Office 2013 and again the IT support person is at hand and happily goes around leaning over shoulders installing the app. High Five all round, job done.
But hang about what if you had a RDS server solution? Well then Office 2013 would be installed just the once! The patch? Well that would only need to be installed once too. No leaning over people’s shoulders, no back ache for the IT person with this method and no loss of time to your 15 employees.
What just happened is that the business saved money in support costs, it saved money in regards to employee downtime.
The RDS server solution also helps your work force to be more mobile, think back to our recent winter, many business suffered because of the snow, a lot of folks could not get into work. Employees used to working from home perhaps used a VPN connection and carried on working. But what about the support staff that never have the need to work from home? They will not have company laptops to take home? In most cases they do have access to a machine at home, well with a terminal server solution, all they would have to do, is fire up the remote desktop connection app, which is installed by default on all windows machines from windows XP onwards, type in the address for their company terminal server, login using their regular username and password and that person is up and running as if they were in the office.
Saving your work.
Folder re-direction and roaming profiles, have you heard these terms before? Well I have, they are all methods of shepherding important business data, in one location, that location usually being a server. One of the tasks I’ve carried out countless times, is remind clients to always save their documents in a particular folder, where I know it’s being saved on the server and the server is being backed up. In the case of a desktop going down, I know I can move the client to another machine and they will still have access to their data.
The wonderful benefit of a RDS server solution, is that no one needs to worry where the work is being saved, because no matter what happens the work will always be saved on the server. Whether the document is saved on the desktop/my documents or some other random location, I know it’s on the server and the server is being backed up.
In situations where the local desktop or laptop is not useable. I know all I need to do is provide a spare machine, a remote desktop connection made to the terminal server and voila, my client is up and working.
With ever increasing up take of smart phones and tablets, clients are asking how they can stay in contact with the office. The company’s emails can be setup on these new devices relatively simply, most tablets and smart phones have in built apps that deal with getting access to emails. But this isn’t always true of data on your works server.
With the RDS server, you can use these devices to remote on to the server, see a desktop as you would in the office, albeit smaller. I wouldn’t say accessing the server on a smart phone is going to be the high light of your day, but it might allow you access to an important to file you forgot to take to a meeting. The experience on a tablet device is much better, but there again, the remote session would be best used to view your document and make small changes, a on screen keyboard can be a bore for prolonged use.
The RDS server solution is a great way for businesses to move forward, it allows flexibility in all kind of ways, No longer are you tied to a single machine in the office. The hassle of making sure your saving files in the correct location is finished with this solution, slow network access to files is greatly reduced.
Clients who can’t make it into the office, can now work from home, knowing all their files and just as importantly their apps are available instantly.
I like the RDS server, because I’ve seen it in action, I’ve seen client use it and love its simplicity. I’ve also seen it’s not without its drawbacks, i.e. what if the terminal server is zapped by solar flares? In that kind of scenario all of the users accessing that server can no longer work. The doomsday scenarios unfortunately do happen, that’s where a good workable disaster recovery plan comes in to play. Good backups are essential as well as a well-rehearsed disaster recovery plan.
I’m an optimist, I’m always thinking of technology in terms of bringing business benefits rather the other way round.
I mean c’mon solar flares? NO CHANCE.