Replacing a Windows 2003 Terminal Server - RemoteApp, RDS, or Run over VPN?



  • I have the blessing of still having a Server 2003 box in place as our production terminal server. Its primary use is for those who do not office at our main site where most servers are to use to run our ERP system application (Epicor).

    Not that we weren't going to get rid of this terminal server sometime soon (i.e. right around its end of life), but there is now a directive to upgrade Epicor to its latest version by Thanksgiving weekend. Actually it's been set in stone from what I was told. Well, as you know, with upgraded systems come upgraded client software. The new Epicor client won't run on Server 2003 (and I did not expect it to, really, but thought we had more time). This shiny new version of Epicor does have a web client, but I know for a fact it does not contain all the features of the full desktop client. The shortcomings of the web client for Epicor prevent it from being used as a standard for our remote site users.

    We do have a Datacenter license for Server 2012 (not R2) for our ESXi box that will run the new Epicor VMs, but we do not have RDS licenses (unless they are somehow already included in our current licensing). I figure we have 3 real options here - use RDS (similar to the terminal server experience now), use RemoteApp, or try to run Epicor over VPN.

    I'm in favor of RDS or RemoteApp as a standard, but I am not sure which would work better. People are used to the RDS experience now but might appreciate an experience more like what RemoteApp can deliver. In all of this, I fear I may be strong-armed into attempting to have folks run Epicor over VPN from our remote sites to avoid additional expenditures (not something I want to do...at all).

    I should also add that we have about 50 remote users across 5 different sites in the DFW metroplex which are all connected back to command central (site where the servers are) via site-to-site VPN.

    What I would like to know from ML folks is...

    1. How do you decide whether RDS or RemoteApp will work better for your environment? What worked better for you?
    2. How expensive is RDS licensing? From what I have been reading online, having the RDS CAL should cover use of RemoteApp in conjunction with Epicor.
    3. What kind of bandwidth savings would you estimate getting by using RemoteApp / RDS over a local client over VPN?

    Thanks for the help. If there is something else I may be missing here, please feel free to set me straight.


  • Service Provider

    I have a client that uses Epicor's Prophet 21 accounting system. They just purchased the upgrade for their old old old version of it to current.

    Epicor wanted to install it as a physical server and I refused. The conceded that they can run it in a VM. My client still chose not to take my advice and purchased the overpriced and severely overspec'd server from Epicor. It arrived and I racked it and pin holed RDP through their firewall restricted to the Epicor IP addresses provided.

    Epicor then setup the VM of Prophet 21 and gave access to all users as a RemoteApp. There is no client on any workstation, only a RDP file I pushed out to everyone's desktop.

    At another client I run their accounting system called Dysel as a RemoteApp for the people in the branch offices.

    I really prefer the remote app over the full RDS workspace because the users never see a second desktop or anything related to the terminal session.



  • That does sound pretty attractive. I think it would help those who are less tech savvy. So when users try to print from the application that is via RemoteApp, they see a list of printers on the server rather than the ones installed on their local machine, right? But as long as the proper print drivers are installed on the RDS server, users should theoretically be able to print back to a local printer with no issues.



  • Epicor is pretty big about trying to strong arm people into going physical. Their hardware sizing guide recommends it, even after they re-wrote their app in .NET to run faster and more efficiently. I'm running ERP 9 virtual (which we went against them on), and it runs just fine. And ERP 10 will be even leaner, so I am certainly not worried there.


  • Service Provider

    @NetworkNerd said:

    That does sound pretty attractive. I think it would help those who are less tech savvy. So when users try to print from the application that is via RemoteApp, they see a list of printers on the server rather than the ones installed on their local machine, right? But as long as the proper print drivers are installed on the RDS server, users should theoretically be able to print back to a local printer with no issues.

    When you create the Remote App you can choose which, if any, remote resources to allow. I would highly suggest nothing but clipboard.

    I just logged in to the Epicor system... They apparently installed Server 2012 + Hyper-V as the base Host and then the Prophet 21 VM is actually Server 2008 R2 running SQL Server 2012. I guess I will have to be "that guy" that pesters them about using such an old OS for the main application.

    Anyway, here is a screenshot of the RDS Remote App settings..
    LIE54K5.jpg


  • Service Provider

    If a user does get really hosed, then you can always log in to a full RDP session as the user. It has been pretty rare for me at the client with the Dysel accounting system.


  • Service Provider

    @NetworkNerd said:

    Epicor is pretty big about trying to strong arm people into going physical. Their hardware sizing guide recommends it, even after they re-wrote their app in .NET to run faster and more efficiently. I'm running ERP 9 virtual (which we went against them on), and it runs just fine. And ERP 10 will be even leaner, so I am certainly not worried there.

    Yeah look at this config..
    8SHJzH5.jpg


  • Service Provider

    RemoteApp is an aspect of RDS.


  • Service Provider

    @scottalanmiller said:

    RemoteApp is an aspect of RDS.

    We know that.


  • Service Provider

    @NetworkNerd

    Yes you need the normal Windows CAL and then a RDS CAL for each RDS user. Epicor charged $115 for it.

    You could also get RDS Machine CAL instead. not sure on the pricing of those.



  • @JaredBusch said:

    @NetworkNerd

    Yes you need the normal Windows CAL and then a RDS CAL for each RDS user. Epicor charged $115 for it.

    You could also get RDS Machine CAL instead. not sure on the pricing of those.

    I remember Epicor trying to sell us the SQL licenses for 2014 / 2012 to use with their new ERP product, but with the runtime license (or whatever they call it), you get the full SQL but only license to use it for Epicor and nothing else. We have a few custom SQL databases in addition to the one for Epicor and had to get the full version.

    But if they can do RDS CALs for cheap we will definitely check it out. My guess is that would mean your RDS server is really only licensed to run Epicor and no other applications, but I do not know.


  • Service Provider

    @NetworkNerd said:

    But if they can do RDS CALs for cheap we will definitely check it out. My guess is that would mean your RDS server is really only licensed to run Epicor and no other applications, but I do not know.

    This all standard Microsoft Open Licensing. I have the admin access to that account, so it is anything we want it to be.

    I quoted this against Epicor and lost because they wanted it all in one. Such a pain in the ass simply because the owners do not understand. That IS what they pay us to know. I mean of course, let Epicor set up Prohpet 21, but really I would have liked to setup the server myself and not be stuck with SQL1 and HV1 when there was already XXXXHV01, XXXXDC01, XXXXDC02 on the network....


  • Service Provider

    @NetworkNerd My vendor quoted me $106 for the RDS CALS for a bid I recently sent to another potential client.



  • @JaredBusch said:

    @NetworkNerd My vendor quoted me $106 for the RDS CALS for a bid I recently sent to another potential client.

    Yep - that's essentially what I am seeing in terms of price.



  • @JaredBusch said:

    If a user does get really hosed, then you can always log in to a full RDP session as the user. It has been pretty rare for me at the client with the Dysel accounting system.

    So do you direct your users to the site where the RemoteApp gets published to use to connect to it, or do you put a shortcut on their desktops for the RemoteApp as well? I'm assuming there is no difference in functionality but don't really know at this point.



  • Well, I have a shiny new RDS server built and somewhat working. RD Web Access seems to work fine to get into Epicor. Next I will need to test printing, saving PDFs to mapped drives, and probably look at SSO.


  • Service Provider

    @NetworkNerd said:

    So do you direct your users to the site where the RemoteApp gets published to use to connect to it, or do you put a shortcut on their desktops for the RemoteApp as well? I'm assuming there is no difference in functionality but don't really know at this point.

    I push a shortcut. You cannot trust users to find anything via direction.