Windows Server 2019 with no RDSH and Windows 10 Multi-user and even RDmi, where do we go?


A good buzzing timeline in the morning is what makes my day, rumors, stories is what I need for breakfast. The newest rumors and stories in my timeline suggested that the RDSH role is depleted in Windows Server 2019. Windows Server 2019 is a preview version just released. Some are installing it and they find that you can’t install the Remote Desktop Services role anymore. Together with stories about a Multi-user Windows 10 version, Microsoft working on RDmi, rumors come easily. My thoughts on this are captured in this blog, they are thoughts only so far, the truth is out there but not available for us right now. Perhaps my thoughts are far-fetched but it is what came to mind. There is an update already, I woven it into the article.

RDS(H)

Remote Desktop Services Host is a role of Remote desktop services. RDS is the backbone of a lot of virtual environments. Since the late 90s, we’ve seen Citrix and Microsoft progress their offering based on this. You can’t deploy Citrix XenApp,  VMware Horizon RDSH server or Microsoft RDSH without this role enabled. Many companies rely on this role. Multiple users could access applications or a desktop session on one server and work together without interfering with each other. It paved the way to a centralized desktop (before VDI came into play) with a reasonable TCO. One of the key benefits of this model was that data and application managed was centralized.

The downside of the solution always was the fact that resources are shared, applications are not always supported and features like store apps are not supported. The performance was a challenge for some use cases and that’s one of the reasons VDI was introduced, a single user desktop with non-shared resources (shared on a different level).

Windows Server 2019

Soon after Windows Server 2019 – Preview Release was available stories came out of the RDSH role missing. I saw several stories about trying to install the role but failing to do so. Of course, this is a preview so we have to see if the final version also has this limitation. If the role is not available, and why would the preview not have a default role like this, there be no reason for that. It seems that the RDSH role is to disappear and that customers will be offered other option, read on for the other options.

Sign on the wall

There are signs on the wall that times are a changing. Let’s take a look at the different suspects in this case (watching a detective while writing). Windows 10 Multi-user and RDmi are the ones that come to mind.

Windows 10 Multi-user

Microsoft Windows 10 will be having a multi-user version. So the initial thought was that they are transferring the RDS roles to Windows 10. It would make sense in a way that several features are easier implemented when running Windows 10. Features like access to Store apps, OneDrive on demand are accessible for Windows 10 users. That, however, is only true when you run a single user Windows 10 platform and will not have issues with a multi-user environment no matter the operating system. A Windows 10 Multi-user to replace an RDSH server to bring certain features seems far sought.

One reason I can think of is licensing. Server licenses are less expensive and transferring RDS to Windows 10 would force customers to acquire Windows 10 Desktop licenses with the CALs. For a lot of customers that would be a huge issue perhaps even getting them to think of moving to physical devices again. Microsoft announced that Windows Server 2019 might be more expensive and forcing people to RDS-VDI environments might hurt them more than they like to. Initially, I thought this was the reason for the missing role but perhaps there is more. This is still a valid option I think but one for the future when RDmi is a more common scenario.

RDmi

Another announcement of Microsoft is RDmi, Remote Desktop modern infra. Another initial thought is about Citrix XenApp essentials and RDmi but that’s another topic. One I work on from the 1st of April. Back to the topic.

RDmi is Remote Desktop Modern infra is the evolution in RDS and is offered as a .NET service running in Azure. The idea behind it is that all the roles you need to set up an RDS environment (given you want a Microsoft environment) are offered as a service. I won’t go deeper into RDmi right now, the intent of this article is not to explain RDmi. What I see from this offering is that Microsoft is moving RDS to Azure and enabling it to work with HTML5 clients as well. It enables more flexibility and disconnect some components from your network. There is far more to learn about this but the drawing and link below give a very good insight.

RDSH
copyright Microsoft

More info is found at https://cloudblogs.microsoft.com/enterprisemobility/2017/09/20/first-look-at-updates-coming-to-remote-desktop-services/

There will be a migration strategy offered for customers when it goes live. we have to wait a bit for more info. there are some blogs online already so do your “google” search.

Windows 10 Multi-user, RDmi or “old skool” RDSH, where do we go?

RDmi is a more interesting suspect, it brings modern features to RDS. It brings Azure into the picture and would offer customers a route to migrate to the new RDS offering without huge investments and testing. not every customer is keen on moving their workload to the Cloud so that might be why Windows 10 Multi-User mode is coming, although I wonder if customers are looking for that one.

I think, but that is just me, that Multi-user Windows 10s use case is different. Not sure yet what that use case is but not to massively replace RDSH. Migrating to Windows 10 would cost a lot of effort for customers, assuming they now run a server version for their desktop environment. The Windows 10 features would not be usable with multiple users working alongside each other.

So there are two offerings on the table and if you ask me I think there will be a campaign to move customers to RDmi. It won’t take away the burden of image management but will offer the roles as a service relieving IT admins from that management. We’ve seen similar offerings from Citrix and VMware, take the management burden away and let IT admins take care of the image only. Customs that can’t or won’t still run an on-premises environment presumably with Windows 10 in the future (1809). Microsoft is mapping the future and their idea of how you offer RDSH, as a service that is.

The problem with this conclusion is that we don’t know what the answer is. I guess we have to wait for Microsoft Ignite for it. Just my thoughts about this matter.. interested in yours. Am I missing something, is something completely untrue, please inform me, eager to learn.


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