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I wasn't sure whether this question should be asked here or over in Super User... I'd like some guidance for setting up a Remote Desktop scenario for users in a reliable yet cost-effective way. Factors are:

  • 5x frequent staff who work from home or out of the office
  • 8x Windows 7 Enterprise licenses available in our VLA
  • MY 2008 IBM x3650 server with 2x Xeon-4C CPU's, 8GB RAM, 5x 300GB SAS drives in HW RAID-5 and a single 146GB SAS drive as a volume
  • A brand new Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard OEM license which was purchased for use on this hardware (but hasn't been used yet and I'm not thinking of using elsewhere)
  • IPv4 CIDR /27 block of public IP's available
  • Hardware Firewall router with 4 ethernet zones (Trusted, Untrusted, 'DMZ' for public IP's, and spare)

Do I:

  1. Install the Server 2012 R2 Standard license, join to AD domain, configure Windows RDS and Windows 7 Desktop Experience, setup the RDP port and public IP for all 5 users to connect to this server. Or should I setup VDI's for each user? Either way, I'd need to purchase RDS CAL's for each user
  2. Install the free VMware ESXi HyperVisor and create a Windows 7 guest (licensed with existing VLA licenses), enable Remote Desktop Connection, configure for user and clone (x4). Setup firewall for each machine to have one of the 30 public IP's and the appropriate open TCP port. Advise each user of their machine's IP and port for the RDP client

I can see pro's and con's of both (especially when it comes to $), but which is a better scenario in terms of managing security, resources and staff productivity (based on user experience and RDP performance)?

  • Why not just give the remote workers laptops? – MDMarra Apr 18 '16 at 1:26
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    8GB of RAM isn't enough to do VDI for 5 users, each running Windows 7. It would be enough for 5 users on RDS. – joeqwerty Apr 18 '16 at 1:56
  • @MDMarra - they have laptops. But we have applications that can't be run over a VPN due to the shitty Australian internet, so RDP is the best option. – Reece Apr 18 '16 at 3:36
  • @joeqwerty - you mean not enough for Windows Server VDI's or ESXI guests? I was thinking 2GB RAM each guest. Not all guests will be in use at the same time. – Reece Apr 18 '16 at 3:36
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    @ReeceDodds: I don't think 2GB of RAM for a Windows VM is enough, whether they're running under Windows or ESXi. With 2GB of RAM I think your users will probably complain about performance. 8GB of RAM for an RDS server will easily support 30 RDS sessions. IMO, you'll get more bang for your buck going with an RDS solution. – joeqwerty Apr 18 '16 at 11:04
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I don't think 2GB of RAM for a Windows VM is enough, whether they're running under Windows or ESXi. With 2GB of RAM I think your users will probably complain about performance. 8GB of RAM for an RDS server will easily support 30 RDS sessions. IMO, you'll get more bang for your buck going with an RDS solution.

The RDS Role will come with a self-signed certificate so there's no need to purchase one unless you don't want your users "blindly" trusting the self-signed certificate.

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