Next Level Remote Applications with Azure RemoteApp

Do you remember the early days of Windows 2000 and Windows XP, and how hard and time-consuming it was to deploy applications to client computers? I recall those days when I had to follow fairly rigid steps to build application packages and deploy them to computers, either by imaging or application deployment technologies; and if the employees needed an updated version of the application, I had to go back to the initial steps and recreate an updated package, uninstall the old application and replace it with a new one. Today the process is very different and a lot easier with technologies like Remote Applications and Cloud Computing.

Remote Applications or RemoteApps enable you to make applications that are accessed remotely through Remote Desktop Services and appear as if they are running on the end user’s local computer. It integrates the application with the client’s desktop, it runs on its own resizable window and can be dragged between multiple monitors. What is nice is that it has its own entry in the taskbar, making it look like the application is running in the local computer.

Now, Windows Server 2012 R2 provides a technology called RDS (Remote Desktop Services), which includes several roles that are necessary to publish RemoteApps to user’s computers. (See image below.)

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For example, the RD Session Host server provides RemoteApp programs to clients, but clients require RD licenses, which are managed by the RD licensing server. At the same time we can provide users with web access to RemoteApps by implementing The RD Web Access server and the list goes on.

Although Windows Server 2012 provides a robust environment to support remote applications, it requires a dedicated server environment with a well-defined administration and high-availability plan (which many companies simply cannot afford).

But the good news is that Microsoft offers a RemoteApp platform within the Microsoft Azure cloud services that can minimize the implementation and deployment effort, as well as providing applications to run not only remotely where there is an internet connection available, but they also run on any type of device.

Azure RemoteApp supports streaming 32-bit or 64-bit Windows-based applications from a Windows Server 2012 image, therefore we must follow some requirements:

  1. Applications will be compatible with RemoteApp as long as they meet all the Certification requirements for Windows desktop apps and adhere to the Remote Desktop Services programming guidelines.
  2. Applications should never store data locally on the image or RemoteApp instance.
  3. Applications should be installed for multiuser, not single user.
  4. Custom images should never contain data that can be lost.

In order to deploy Azure RemoteApp, you need to follow the steps below.

  1. Create a RemoteApp Service.
    • Sign in to the Azure portal (https://Manage.windowsazure.com) and then in the console tree, scroll down to RemoteApp.Directions-Training-Next-Level-Remote-Applications-Azure-RemoteApp-2
    • Click the (+) below the console tree and click (Quick Create). Fill out the form and click on “Create RemoteApp Collection”.Directions-Training-Next-Level-Remote-Applications-Azure-RemoteApp-3Because RemoteApp Quick Create must first make a virtual machine and then create an image of it, the process may take about an hour to complete.
    • After the provisioning process is completed, the status will change to Active. Click the RemoteApp Collection name and Your Remote App Collection has been created window will open.Directions-Training-Next-Level-Remote-Applications-Azure-RemoteApp-4
    • There are two buttons: “Publish RemoteApp programs” and “configure user access”. You need to execute both actions.Directions-Training-Next-Level-Remote-Applications-Azure-RemoteApp-5
    • Click on “Publish RemoteApp programs” and select the apps you want to run as RemoteApp programs.Directions-Training-Next-Level-Remote-Applications-Azure-RemoteApp-6
    • Select the button “configure user access” and add the users you want to deploy the application to and click “save”. These users must exist in AzureAD or you can sync them from your on-premise AD database.Directions-Training-Next-Level-Remote-Applications-Azure-RemoteApp-7
    • Finally, provide the user with the Remote Desktop client download URL. You can find it below the Publish RemoteApp Programs are.Directions-Training-Next-Level-Remote-Applications-Azure-RemoteApp-8

To access RemoteApp from the user’s computer, follow the steps below.

  1. From the user’s computer, open a browser and access the following link: https://www.remoteapp.windows.azure.com. Click on “Try it free”
  2. Install the client application by selecting “Download the client”.Directions-Training-Next-Level-Remote-Applications-Azure-RemoteApp-9
  3. When the client application is installed, login with the user account and enjoy the Company RemoteApp!!

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