Unexpected reboots of RD Session Hosts on Azure Using Tags

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The last couple of months I was involved in a project of building a fresh new Remote Desktop Services environment on Microsoft Azure. One of the advantages of having your RDS environment on Azure is that you can scale the number of Session Hosts based on the user load. In this project the number of Session Hosts were defined upfront, so no dynamic scaling based on the actual user load. Based on Tags on the Azure Virtual Machines we defined the different Start/Stop Profiles and based on those profiles servers were stopped and started on pre-defined times. The tags on the virtual machines needed to rotate so that not always the same servers will stay on and every server gets a shutdown. After building this solution we faced a strange error.

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Retirement of Azure RemoteApp

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During my summer holiday Microsoft has announced the retirement of Azure RemoteApp. You can find the information in this blogpost of the RDS team. Citrix announced their replacement product ‘XenApp Express’, in their words they call it ‘Azure RemoteApp v2.0’. You can find more information about Citrix XenApp Express here, here and here. So based on all information the following timelines will apply to the retirement of Azure RemoteApp and the release of XenApp Express:

  • [Microsoft RemoteApp] –> Retirement announcement made on 12th of August
  • [Microsoft RemoteApp] –> New purchases of Azure RemoteApp will end as of October 1st, 2016
  • [Citrix XenApp “express”] –> Tech Preview of Citrix XenApp Express in Q4 2016
  • [Citrix XenApp “express”] –> General Availability of Citrix XenApp Express in early 2017
  • [Microsoft RemoteApp] –> End of service on August 31st, 2017

Citrix will host an event where more information will be provided about the strategy of both Citrix and Microsoft. You can register here.

The last 2 years I’ve blogged and presented a lot of information about Azure RemoteApp. I really liked the product and the future of the product(roadmap). Of course based on the announcement blogging about Azure RemoteApp will end and I will focus more on Remote Desktop Services. With the release of Windows Server 2016 a lot of improvements are made to Remote Desktop Services. I will also focus on building RDS environment on Microsoft Azure. Next week I should present together with Maarten Goet on Monitoring Azure RemoteApp with OMS at System Center Universe Europe. This session will change so that it will include Remote Desktop Services 2016 instead of Azure RemoteApp. In this session I will discuss all new things in RDS 2016 but also the migration steps needed to migrate to RDS 2016. You can find the session here.

Configure the RDS 2016 HA Database on Azure SQL PaaS

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One of the new features which will be introduced in Windows Server 2016 Remote Desktop Services is storing the RD Database in Azure ‘SQL Database as a Service’. Since Windows Server 2016 is now in the Technical Preview stage we can test this feature. More information about all improvements can be found here. In this blogpost I want to describe the end-to-end process to update your existing RDS single Connection Broker environment to a RDS High-Available Connection Broker environment and storing the RD Database on Azure SQL.
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SharePoint Online/OneDrive for Business Support in RDS/RemoteApp

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Since a couple of weeks the documentation around the support of SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business is changed. So I want to describe the current support state is this short blogpost. The Azure RemoteApp documentation is updated and now states ‘OneDrive for Business is not supported with Azure RemoteApp’. You can find this information here. This information also applies to Remote Desktop Services which is described here. But some remarks can be made to these statements and I want to describe them here.
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Improved User Profile Disk Management with Azure RemoteApp

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Since a couple of weeks there are some improvements made to Azure RemoteApp regarding the management of the User Profile Disks. Management of the User Profile disks was not possible for the users of Azure RemoteApp. If a copy of the User Profile disk was needed you had to contact Azure Support and they could provide you the link to the User Profile Disk. Also removing a corrupted User Profile disk was also only possible through contacting Azure Support. With the release of the following 2 PowerShell cmdlets the user can now execute these actions themselves: Copy-AzureRemoteAppUserDisk and Remove-AzureRemoteAppUserDisk. Both cmdlets are available from Azure Module version 1.5.0.
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User Environment Management in Azure RemoteApp – Part 5

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This is the 5th part of the blog series about User Environment Management within Azure RemoteApp. In the first 2 blogposts which you can find here and here I discussed the use of Microsoft User Experience Virtualization in combination with Azure RemoteApp. In the 3rd part I explained why you should disable the User Profile Disk when using another solution for User Environment Virtualization. In the 4th blogpost I showed how AppSense can be used in combination with Azure RemoteApp. This post will describe the use of RES ONE Workspace in combination with Azure RemoteApp. A couple of months ago RES contacted me about writing this last part of the series. They give me access to their Azure RemoteApp environment where they had implemented RES ONE Workspace. Continue reading

Comparing Azure RemoteApp with RDS on Azure IaaS

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blogpost about designing and building a Windows Server 2012 Remote Desktop Services environment on Microsoft Azure IaaS. In this blogpost I want to focus on comparing Azure RemoteApp against a Remote Desktop Services Deployment on Azure IaaS. I will start with explaining how both solutions are placed in the NIST cloud models. This is very important to keep in mind when comparing both solutions.

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Pros and Cons about building a RDS environment on Azure

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The last couple of months I was involved in designing and building a Windows Server 2012 R2 Remote Desktop Services environment on Microsoft Azure. During these months I’ve learned some interesting things about Azure and the combination of Remote Desktop Services. I want to share these experiences through this blogpost. I want to make clear upfront that I’m not going into detail on each item. But I want to share my experiences and point to possible solutions. Detailed solutions and choices are based on different types of requirements like costs, manageability and future-proof of the solution. I’ve divided this blogpost in Pros and Cons based on the experience of this last project.
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Using Azure AD Self-Service to deploy Azure RemoteApp Applications

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Last week Microsoft released the private preview of ‘publish applications to individual users’. In this blogpost I’ve described the steps needed to activate this functionality and how you can use it with Azure AD groups. In this blogpost I want to explain how Azure AD Group Self-service can be used to grant access to applications and provide user self-service functionalities. The Azure Groups functionality requires an Azure AD Premium license for each user. This license is included in the Enterprise Mobility license.
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Azure RemoteApp: Publish applications to individual users or a group of users

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Last week the Azure RemoteApp team introduced the ‘most-voted’ feature in Azure RemoteApp: ‘Publish applications to individual users’. This functionality is now in private preview and can be requested by filling in this survey: http://www.instant.ly/s/AY83p/nav. When it’s enabled for your subscription you can publish applications to individual users. In this blogpost I want to explore this new functionality and look into how it can be activated and configured. I’m also looking into combining this new functionality with publishing applications based on group membership. If you want to try it yourself you can find the documentation here: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/remoteapp-perapp/
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