Azure RemoteApp, the Good and the Bad.


Azure RemoteApp is a nice progression to RemoteApp and it has come out of beta this month. RemoteApp enables you to make programs that are accessed remotely through Remote Desktop Services (RDS) appear as if they are running on the end user’s local computer. Instead of being presented to the user in the desktop of the Remote Desktop Session Host server, the RemoteApp program is executed by a client running on one of many supported operating systems. The infrastructure that supports a typical RemoteApp deploy usually exists within the four walls of your enterprise. Azure RemoteApp delivers applications or RemoteApp applications in much the same way but from the Azure cloud.

Customers can consume Azure RemoteApp in a couple different ways. These different deployment options come with pros and cons and I wanted to highlight them from my perspective. The two offering available with Azure RemoteApp today are “cloud collection” and the “hybrid collection”.

Cloud collection

Pros:

  • Microsoft updates all the software (OS and apps)
  • Microsoft protects against malware
  • Simple to set up and use
  • No need to domain join the RDS servers to Active Directory
  • Leverages Azure infrastructure

Cons:

  • Limited application support
  • Can not install additional application as you want
  • Public internet access only
  • RemoteApp client did not support Windows 7

This offering is mostly for small businesses that only need access to Office 365 ProPlus or Office 2013 applications. Great if you don’t want to support the operating system and applications.

I wonder why would customers use this option over Office 365?

Hybrid Collection

Pros:

  • You can present custom applications
  • You can domain join the RDS servers
  • Leverages Azure infrastructure
  • Site VPN connect to Azure cloud supported

Cons:

  • Creating the template image and uploading it to Azure is painful
  • Updating the template image is painful
  • Could not use virtual instances in Azure to build template image
  • Template image must be on a VHD file. Does not support VHDX
  • The VHD for the template image must NOT be a generation 2 virtual machine
  • Too many requirements (found here)
  • RemoteApp client did not support Windows 7

 I could not see myself consistently fumbling with template images in Azure RemoteApp given the many we deal with day-to-day in the enterprise already. The hybrid collect clearly needs to be polished up in a few areas but the direction, as a whole is welcoming. I could not believe this first offering did not support VHDX or Generation 2 virtual machines. What really had me floored was that I could not build my template image from an instance created in Azure.

I think the end goal for Microsoft should consist of a mix between the cloud and hybrid collection offerings. In my mind Microsoft could collapse the two offers into one. Then create options to either turn on and off different functionality within the collection.

If you’ve used Azure RemoteApp what do you think? And if I’ve misstated something don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

 

 


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