Longhorn Terminal Services: Better than Citrix?

Since the introduction of Terminal Services, Microsoft has struggled to compete with thin client computing solutions such as Citrix. Terminal Services has never really provided the features or performance that could be found in other solutions. That is until now.

Microsoft’s next generation Terminal Services platform has many improvements over the previous generation. Much more than a remote desktop for administrators, the new Terminal Services provides a robust thin client solution for organizations that includes not only remote desktops, but integration of remote apps to local desktops.

These new features along with enhancements to existing features now make Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services a true Enterprise class solution for thin client computing and remote access solutions.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the following key improvements:

  • Terminal Services RemoteApp™
  • Terminal Services Gateway
  • Terminal Services Web Access
  • Terminal Services Easy Print
  • Terminal Services Session Broker

Terminal Services RemoteApp™ Centralizes Applications

Terminal Services RemoteApp™ provides local desktops with access to remote applications. This feature alone makes implementation in small and medium size organizations that have undersized IT departments worthwhile. For users, the applications appear to be local and they can be opened in one of four ways:

  • through an icon on the local desktop
  • through the Start Menu
  • by clicking on a file that is associated with the remote application
  • by following a link in a web site through Terminal Services Web Access

Terminal Services RemoteApp™ greatly helps organizations by reducing the need to roll out applications to multiple desktops. With Terminal Services RemoteApp™ installed, applications are maintained in one place and upgrade issues are reduced as you upgrade fewer devices.

Terminal Services Gateway … An Enhanced Remote Access Solution

Terminal Services Gateway allows users to connect to remote desktops from any internet connected device that is running Remote Desktop Connection 6. It alleviates the need for VPN solutions and provides a secure and robust remote access solution.

Terminal Services Gateway encrypts its connection using SSL and then tunnels the Remote Desktop Protocol over the SSL connection. It provides organizations with the ability to completely control access to assets within their networks. Additionally, a Network Policy Server can be deployed to store, manage, and validate access policies.

This is also a great solution for organizations that provide access to desktop applications remotely. Plus this would be a terrific solution for organizations that have large populations of laptop users. Frequently these organizations are challenged with upgrading or patching applications on laptop devices. By providing each user access to the corporate desktop via Terminal Services Gateway, issues of upgrading and patching applications are eliminated.

Terminal Services Web Access = Really Easy Access

Terminal Services Web Access provides users with access to Terminal Services RemoteApp™ applications through a browser. Access can be from either an Intranet web server or the Internet. Once a link is clicked, the application is opened and a Remote Desktop session is initiated.

Organizations with large populations of laptop users also benefit from deploying Terminal Services Web Access for key applications.

Terminal Services Easy Print: Your ONE Driver Solution

Terminal Services Easy Print finally simplifies printing from remote desktops. In previous generations of Terminal Services, the drivers for each printer required loading on the Terminal Servers. Every time a new printer is introduced, its drivers need to be installed on the various Terminal Servers before using.

Terminal Services Easy Print allows local devices to print to any printer installed locally from Remote Desktops or applications. It also allows administrators to lock down printing to only the default printer to reduce overhead and improve scalability.

Terminal Services Session Broker Reconnects … Hassle Free!

Terminal Services Session Broker provides load balancing and clustering services. In Terminal Services Session Broker, new sessions are distributed to the least-loaded server, providing optimal performance and allowing users to reconnect to broken sessions without having to know which server they were connected to.

Another new feature in Terminal Services Session Broker is a mechanism that lets you decide if a new user connection should be allowed or denied to the terminal server. This cool new mechanism also eliminates the interruption of user experience while the server is offline for maintenance.

Longhorn Terminal Services … A Thumbs Up for Microsoft!

These new features combine to produce a product that greatly benefits many organizations. Organizations that seek a cost effective, easy to implement, and easy to use thin client solution should look no further. With all the improvements and new features in Terminal Services, Microsoft is providing organizations with a tool that increases productivity and reduces IT costs.

Another benefit is in the area of compliance … by providing secure methods for trading partners and organizational members to access data in a secure and controlled manner.

It’s finally all here … a true enterprise class thin client solution from Microsoft!

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