Review: Windows Server 2008 R2

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Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Originally called Terminal Services, the Remote Desktop Services (RDS) umbrella includes solutions for the new virtualized desktop infrastructure, or VDI. With VDI, you can deploy Windows Vista and Windows 7 to centrally managed virtual machines. This lets employees and contractors work in a consistent, managed environment from any location without a major investment in client hardware and the management difficulties usually associated with a remote scenario.

An important new feature of RDS is the new connection broker, which takes service requests from clients both on- and off-premises and connects them with virtual or real desktops, applications and anything in between. The broker supports virtual desktops that maintain their state on a per-user basis or that destroy themselves after each session. This is great for contractors, overseas employees and temporary workers who only need access to resources while engaged in their work. With RemoteApp, Web Access and RD Gateway services, the connection broker allows seamless access to both hosted desktops and applications. If you are considering application and session virtualization, this is worth a look; in the past, such capabilities required using a third-party solution like Citrix with Windows Server.

RDS also includes traditional Terminal Services features like Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and presentation virtualization technologies. There are also enhancements to the RDP experience, like multiple monitor support, enhanced audio support, Windows Media redirection, Windows Aero Glass support and enhanced bitmap acceleration.

RDP itself hasn't been left untouched. Efficient command remoting, which allows applications to use Direct3D to provide hardware accelerated graphics on the remote PC's graphics processor, reducing the need to transmit bitmaps, is employed where sensible, and bitmap remoting is used in other scenarios, making activities crisper and more responsive to users. The RDP compressor has been improved as well for both bitmap and command remoting, allowing RDP to consume less bandwidth than was used in both the XP (5.2) and Vista (6.0) versions of the protocol.

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