Are Remote Desktop Services ready to stand on their own two feet?
Ever since Windows 2008 R2 was released, I have been getting questions from our clients whether or not Remote Desktop Services (formerly Terminal Services) are ready to supplant Citrix. In the past, many companies have been forced to pay for Terminal Services licensing as well as Citrix licensing. The cost of the two, frankly, was expensive. They paid the costs because Windows Terminal Services wasn’t able to stand on its own two feet and therefore needed Citrix to get the full potential of terminal services. Companies paid the price but didn’t feel they were getting a full return on their investment.
The good news is that Windows 2008 R2 and Remote Desktop Services are drastically different than their predecessors. Remote Desktop services can now stand on its own and can offer a full complement of features. Companies can finally push applications to end user through published applications. As well, companies can provide secure access to these published applications through a web browser. Companies using RDS can also provide high availability to their RDS environment by incorporating RD Broker Services.
There are some areas that can be improved upon with RDS. Citrix has had many years to build out and improve upon farm management. Microsoft is working on improving the management of RDS but still has some work to do in order to catch up. Lastly, is connections from a truly heterogeneous environment. RDS is highly slated towards a Windows-based infrastructure. Microsoft has provided some clients such as a Macintosh client but there is room for improvement of the client connectivity. Citrix, on the other hand, has receivers or plug ins for virtually all client types including Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix, etc.
So the answer to whether Microsoft Remote Desktop Services can live without Citrix is a qualified maybe. As with all IT projects, it truly depends on the business needs a company is trying to meet and evaluating which solution will address those needs at the fairest price.
-Jacob Eker, PEI