If you are looking at implementing Microsoft's Terminal Services under Windows 2000 there are a few things you need to look at before you go ahead.
If you are looking at implementing Microsoft's
Terminal Services under Windows 2000 there are a few things you need
to look at before you go ahead. I am going to explain the Pros
and Cons as I see them for implementing Terminal Services. I
have been running Thin Clients off our server for about 6 months and
I had to go through all this information in order to get management
to buy into our server so all this is based on personal
Terminal Service has two different
modes of operation, first is Remote Administration which
allows 2 concurrent connections to your server for Administrators to
do their work like adding users. The other mode in
Application Server which is what I am looking at here.
Below is a section breakdown of all the pros and
cons of running Terminal Services in Application Server
mode. Please note that these points do not take into count
the added advantage of Citrix Metaframe for Windows 2000.
Since I have no experience with Citrix I can't add those points.
Here is a breakdown of the main pros of Microsoft Terminal
Services for Windows 2000.
Terminal Services includes a remote control ability that allows
you to take over one terminal session from another session.
This allows you to connect to the server from your own workstation
and access another users desktop to help fix any problems he has or
to show him how to do things.
Since all the users are logged onto a single machine software
installation and upgrades are only needed at one place. This
will greatly reduce the amount of time you need to keep all your
main programs up to date for all your users, and free you up to do
other maintenance and upgrades that are needed.
Reuse low end hardware
The client requirements for Terminal Services are either a
hardware based Thin Client usually running Windows CE or a PC
running Windows 3.11 or higher. These requirements allows you
to reuse your aging 386's, 486's and lower end pentium's as simple
thin clients running either Windows 3.11 or Windows 95 until they
are no longer operational. You also need very little hard
drive space. I am using our old 200MB drives with plenty of
If you have any of this older hardware Terminal Services is a
great way to get the maximum value for it possible.
Minimal effort on Client
Installing the Terminal Services Client is a very
simple procedure. First you install your base operating system
(Windows 3.11 or 95) and set it up to be able to connect to your
server, and then you install the client software. The
configuration involves selecting the name of the server and the
screen resolution to use. After that you are ready to use the
client. I usually put a shortcut into the startup folder for
the session I want the user to be using.
Hardware Based Terminal
These units are even easier to set up than the PC
based solution. All you need to do is tell it what the address
of the server it needs to connect to is and whether to autostart the
Quick Replacement of Clients
Since terminal clients are so easy to set up and all the data is
stored on the server, replacement units only take a matter of
minutes to setup and put in place. I even keep a spare thin
client on hand in case any of our Full PC's break down I can put a
thin client in place while doing repairs or upgrades.
Overall Network Load will be less
The only traffic traveling to and from the terminal server is the
GUI display and the keystrokes. This greatly reduces the
demands on the network over having the full data from Word or Excel
Documents. I have been using a thin client to connect to our
network from my house over our VPN connection without any problems
with bandwidth. I am also in the process of setting up one
site with 5 thin clients running over a 56K line to the Terminal
Server and all our preliminary tests show that there will be an
improvement of performance getting files from the head office and
from the Email server in Head Office
Here is a breakdown of the main cons of Microsoft Terminal
Services for Windows 2000.
Because everything runs off of the Terminal Server there is more
requirements for hardware. In my experience the average user
(Outlook Email, IBM Client Access Express, and the occasional
Internet Explorer session or Word) requires between 10 and 20 MB of
Ram. Also Windows 2000 with Terminal Services running takes
between 120 - 200MB just to run. My server has ~780MB of Ram
and is currently servicing 15 Clients with more being added
everyday. I expect to encounter memory problems when we have
about 50 Clients accessing the server regularly and then I'll just
add some more memory.
The other major requirement is processor power. My server
is running Dual Pentium II-400 and with our current load we are
sitting around 15% utilization consistently. This value was
created by Performance monitor logging over a 24hr period.
If you keep a regular check on the Performance Monitor logs you
can be prepared for the increased load that Terminal Server will
Some Programs don't work properly
What I find to be the biggest pain of running Terminal Server is
that some programs don't work properly and some don't work at
all. The main one I've encountered is Microsoft Photo Editor
that comes with Office 2000 doesn't run under terminal server.
Even when programs do run there may be compatibility scripts that
must be used when installing to make sure that they do in fact
The biggest thing I can say about this is test and make sure your
important software either works under terminal server or can be
replaced with a program that works under terminal server.
Server Security needs to be strong
This one is fairly self explanatory. Because your users are
logging onto your server directly you need to either trust them
explicitly not to go playing around or you need to lock down the
important areas to prevent them from playing around. Since I
don't really trust my users (been called out to many times to fix
PC's because they do play around) I implemented policies to prevent
them from accessing the boot partition, control panel and everything
else they didn't need to access. I also redirected their start
menu, desktop and my documents to their personal directories.
The main thing to say here is test your installation on a spare
box before implementation and backup the server first just in case
something goes wrong. Once you have installed the service on
your server install the programs needed and test your setup on
yourself before setting up the final users.
You are going to need to set up your default profile to only
display the programs the users need and get rid of everything
else. It also helps to log on as some of the users to make
sure the profile changes work. I also implemented a common
start menu that everyone uses and that is only stored in one
location so changes are only made to one place.
Microsoft Licensing Model
This has to be the worst part of the whole setup. You have
to buy licenses for terminal services, then register them online
with Microsoft, and finally they are per machine licenses that will
go with the machine should it fail or be rebuilt. The only way
to recover these licenses involves contacting Microsoft and getting
your license reset which, I've heard, is not that easy to
The other licensing option is to get a Microsoft Enterprise
License Agreement and then you can run as many Terminal Services as
you want. It also gives you license to a bunch of other
Microsoft Desktop Software, but you agree to pay a set amount of
money per desktop for a 3 year period.
Here is the list of all
those pros and cons
| || |
Reuse low end hardware
Some Programs dont work
Minimal effort on Client Installs
Server Security needs to be
|Quick Replacement of Clients|
Overall Network Load will be less
In my opinion Terminal Server is a good option to install on your
Windows 2000 Server. If you don't plan on allowing your users
to access it in order to run programs it can also be used in
Remote Administration mode to do all you server
maintenance. If you set up the Advanced Web Client from
Microsoft with your IIS Server then you can access your server from
any Internet Explorer 4 or Higher browser.
This article was originally published on Thursday Jan 11th 2001