Azure RemoteApp supports mobile workers, scaled deployments
- By Kurt Mackie
- Dec 05, 2014
Mobile government IT managers will have a way to deliver Internet access to their cloud apps when Microsoft’s Azure RemoteApp service becomes generally available next week.
Applications available via Azure RemoteApp service run on virtual machines housed in Microsoft Azure. Users connect via Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol, and client applications are available for most operating systems.
Because the applications accessed via the Azure RemoteApp service are running atop Windows Server, not the Windows client, it's possible that the user experience might not be the same as with traditional, natively installed apps. However, Wes Miller, an analyst with the Directions on Microsoft independent consultancy, had positive things to say about the Azure RemoteApp scenario.
"I've been pleased with Azure RemoteApp performance during the preview," Miller said via e-mail. "But much comes down to how good your Internet connection is, and how demanding the graphic needs of the application are. For many knowledge worker scenarios with a good Internet connection, I think most users will be happy with the experience."
The Azure RemoteApp service works across multiple operating system platforms. Microsoft has RemoteApp client applications available for Android, iOS, Mac OS X and Windows platforms. Windows Phone 8.1 is supported, too, according to Andrew Conway, senior director of enterprise mobility at Microsoft. Microsoft even has a Windows RT Azure RemoteApp client, which is notable for enabling Windows RT devices to access older "desktop" or Windows 7-style apps remotely.
"The use cases for this [Azure RemoteApp] capability, in many ways, is very similar to how customers are using RemoteApp [on Windows Server] today," Conway said, in a phone call.
"We see it used in mobile scenarios where there's a Windows-based application. The customer or company has decided not to rewrite that [application] for a new mobile paradigm, and so RemoteApp gives them a very easy way to make it available across devices. They publish it, and then their employees can remote-in from any device using these clients. So there's a clear mobile use-case scenario," he explained.
"We also see it used in scenarios where you have got a geographically distributed company," Conway said. "Maybe they have workers in a different geo. Obvious examples might be, say, a call center or a team of developers. And rather than make infrastructure available in that different geography, you just decide to container the applications and all of the data in an existing datacenter and allow them to remote in,” he explained.
“And then the third scenario where we see this used is in areas where there is a lot of variability in demand,” Conway said. “This is an area where the cloud in particular gives you unique advantages in terms of scaling up or scaling down your deployment. This is where you might have, say, folks coming in for the holidays. You want to make a certain set of apps available for them, and then they leave, and so you can readily scale up and scale down. You might see it in vendor scenarios where you have vendors or temporary workers. You might see it in education … where [students] aren't there at the end of a [school] session."
Conway noted that the Azure RemoteApp service supports organizations uploading their own line-of-business apps to a template. Microsoft added that much-requested capability back in July. It's also possible to tap Office 365 applications. Microsoft's pricing FAQ states that Office 365 ProPlus customers "are allowed to use one of your installs on Azure RemoteApp at no extra cost."
Azure RemoteApp will be sold as a monthly-based subscription service on a per-user basis. The service has been at the preview stage since May, but it will reach the commercial "general availability" stage on Dec. 11, 2014, which means organizations will be able to purchase access with a 99.9 percent service level agreement.
Current preview users will get switched over to a 30-day trial service starting on Dec. 11, according to Microsoft's announcement. This free trial will end on Jan. 11, 2015.
A longer version of this article originally appeared on Redmond, a sister site to GCN.