Getting Up to Speed with the Microsoft Azure RemoteApp Service
Editor's Note: Microsoft announced on August 12, 2016, that it will be shutting down the Azure RemoteApp service. The company will continue to run the service and support Azure RemoteApp customers through August 31, 2017, and Microsoft will also be working with its customers on a transition plan from Azure RemoteApp.
Microsoft Azure RemoteApp is a cloud service that allows organizations to publish standard or line-of-business (LOB) applications in the Azure cloud and then enable users to access these applications from any device.
Azure RemoteApp has been gaining attention from organizations that are already using the Azure Public cloud as well as those interested in Azure services. We've been working with Azure RemoteApp recently and have found it quite promising.
The Azure RemoteApp Service is provided to organizations with the Windows RDSH host role installed on Windows Servers running in Microsoft datacenters around the world. Microsoft hosts a scalable RDSH infrastructure, which in turn enables delivery of cloud applications seamlessly.
It is important to understand that you can publish more than just cloud-based applications with Azure RemoteApp. You can also deploy in-house-designed applications or third-party applications in RemoteApp.
There are several benefits of using Microsoft Azure RemoteApp service, including:
Works on Any Device: Azure RemoteApp service has been designed in such a way that applications deployed in Azure RemoteApp can be used on Windows as well as smartphones. Users running Windows x86, Windows x64, Windows 8.1 RT, Windows Phone 8.1, Android, iPad and iPhone, and Mac devices can all download the Azure RemoteApp client and use the applications deployed in Azure RemoteApp. You can download RemoteApp client for your specific device at: https://www.remoteapp.windowsazure.com/ClientDownload/AllClients.aspx.
No On-Premises Infrastructure Required: Microsoft hosts scalable infrastructure in the cloud to enable the delivery of applications deployed in Azure RemoteApp. A customer who has subscribed to the RemoteApp service just needs to deploy the application in the RemoteApp cloud. In other words, there are no on-premises infrastructure requirements before RemoteApp app delivery can occur. In contrast, if you were to deploy your applications on premises, you'd need to host a scalable infrastructure or even deploy failover clusters to make sure the applications remain available to users in case a server hosting the applications goes down.
Cost-Effective App Delivery: Azure RemoteApp does not require any Windows or RDP licenses. All you need to do is subscribe to the RemoteApp service, which takes care of RemoteApp licensing terms. You also don't need a license for an existing Azure VM image that has the applications installed and that you wish to use for RemoteApp service. Microsoft follows its standard pricing model for all its cloud services — Pay As You Go including Azure RemoteApp service.
Microsoft provides a flexible pricing structure for its RemoteApp service. If you use less, you will pay less. There are four pricing plans available: Basic, Standard, Premium and Premium Plus and pricing plans are per user per month.
The minimum price for a user per month is $10, which includes 40 hours of usage. The maximum price is $25 for a user per month, which applies to the Premium Plus plan. You can also opt for unlimited hours, which would cost you $17 in the basic RemoteApp plan and $43 if you choose a Premium Plus plan. All RemoteApp plans provide a maximum of 50 GB storage per user.
Two Deployment Methods or Collections: A collection holds the applications deployed in RemoteApp and their resources. There are two deployment methods or collections available with Azure RemoteApp: Cloud and Hybrid.
A cloud collection is sometimes referred to as a "Cloud-Only collection" in which application data is saved in the Azure cloud. In a cloud-only collection, applications can save data to a VM running in Azure or Azure File Share.
A hybrid collection allows you to connect applications deployed in RemoteApp to an on-premises network. You need to create a VNET to connect a RemoteApp Collection and On-Premises network. The Hybrid collection method allows you to store RemoteApp application data to a server running on On-Premises.
Quickly Deploy Applications: One of the major benefits of using Azure RemoteApp is that you don't need to make any adjustments to your applications before you can host applications in the RemoteApp cloud. You can deploy in-house-designed applications and third-party applications as long as they meet the basic requirements. RemoteApp supports deploying Windows 32-bit and 64-bit applications. Before you plan to deploy apps in RemoteApp, make sure your application meets the basic requirements as listed below:
- Applications meet all the Windows desktop application certification requirements.
- Applications do not store the data locally on the RemoteApp collections. Any data that your application stores on a RemoteApp collection will be lost. As a result, it is recommended to host application data outside the RemoteApp image.
- If you are planning to use a custom image for RemoteApp, make sure the image does not contain any data. Data on an image that is made available to RemoteApp collection will be lost.
Although Azure RemoteApp is gaining momentum, there are some limitations to the service that you need to know before you plan to publish LOB applications in the Azure RemoteApp service.
One of the biggest limitations is that a user who is configured for the RemoteApp service can only use one RemoteApp collection at a time.
The maximum number of applications you can publish in a RemoteApp collection is 100, but this won't be a significant drawback for most companies from starting to use the RemoteApp service.
The other limitation is the maximum number of concurrent connections allowed across all RemoteApp Collections in an Azure subscription. At this time you can allow a maximum of 5000 users to remain connected to apps deployed across all RemoteApp collections.
Nirmal Sharma is a MCSEx3, MCITP and Microsoft MVP in Directory Services. He specializes in directory services, Microsoft Azure, Failover clusters, Hyper-V, System Center and Exchange Servers, and has been involved with Microsoft technologies since 1994. In his spare time, he likes to help others and share some of his knowledge by writing tips and articles on various sites and contributing to Health Packs for ADHealthProf.ITDynamicPacks.Net solutions. Nirmal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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