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I was looking at the AWS pricing guide and it seems very impractical to do this. For even a small-medium deployment (say 15 users), I would assume I need at least 32 GB of RAM (2GB each + the OS). This is assuming they are just running programs like Outlook and Browsers as I see many users are able to use this easily.

This would mean I would need a Quadruple High Memory instance @ ~$2/hr. This comes out to 1468.8 per month.

I found open box & refurb Dells on eBay with 128 GB of RAM and 2x Quad Core for ~$2k.

Has anyone ever done an a terminal services AWS deployment for RDP thin clients? If so what was your experience like (plan, number of users, what they did, issues, etc.).

Thanks for the suggestions guys.

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Your thoughts are essentially correct, though the amount of RAM per user is likely high if you're only running the program you mentioned. The RAM requirements do vary wildly per the applications that are running. –  Chris S Apr 12 '13 at 12:28
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3 Answers 3

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You may be mis-understanding how RAM usage is actually determined in windows. For many applications, including Outlook and Internet Explorer, some of the memory is shareable. Each session would not need to have a private copy of every page.

If you have a line of business application that has a working set of 1 Gbyte of memory, but 900 Mbytes of that is shared, each user only incurs a 100 Mbyte private section of the memory required to run that application. For 100 users of that example application, that would be (100 * 100 Mbytes) + 900 Mbytes, or 10.9 Gbytes.

Terminal Server Capacity Planning
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc786809%28v=ws.10%29.aspx

"A terminal server shares executable resources among individual users, just as Windows shares executable resources among individual programs. As a result, the memory requirements for additional users running the same program are typically less than the requirements for the first user who loads the application. Although you cannot make precise estimates based on these factors, they give you a basis for projecting program performance."

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I've done this, although it was running on a Micro (or possibly a Small) instance, and was only for 2 users so I could do some browser-based testing for a CI project.

In the end we canned the idea after a month, because it was insanely expensive. The end result was buying a Dell R520 and hosting it in Colo.

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Yes, people have run Terminal Servers on AWS. You don't need that much RAM for your intended user count. Security, performance and cost are the main reasons it's not a common solution.

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