Parallels RAS 18.1 Is Now Available!

We’re proud to announce the first update to the most value-packed release of our all-in-one virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution — Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) 18.1. Although technically a minor release, this update brings tons of functionality that benefits small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), large enterprises, service providers and independent software vendors as they navigate the new normal.

The major improvements and new features in this latest release greatly improve Parallels RAS administration efficiency, user experience (UX), security, and performance even as they further enhance Parallels RAS’ renowned ability to securely and effortlessly deliver virtual applications and desktops to just about any device, anytime, anywhere. Some of the key features we’ve added in Parallels RAS 18.1 include:

In addition, we also incorporated a host of stability, security and scalability improvements that make Parallels RAS 18.1 even more capable of meeting the growing demands of today’s remote-work-heavy business environments.

Let’s break down those key features so you can better understand how your organization can benefit from them.

Combined User Session Management

Parallels RAS provides customers with a range of methods for delivering virtual applications and desktops to their end users. Depending on their specific needs, customers can freely choose from VDI, RD Session Hosts, Remote PCs, to even Azure Virtual Desktop as their method of delivery. Now, because Parallels RAS also offers the flexibility to mix and match these various options, most customers use two or more of these methods at the same time.

Fully aware of how IT administrator workloads have risen to atrociously high levels lately, we knew it was important to improve administrative efficiency in Parallels RAS wherever we could. For this update, we focused on making it faster and easier for administrators to view and manage user sessions irrespective of the delivery method that was used.

Once you install/upgrade to Parallels RAS 18.1, you’ll see a new Sessions category in both the Parallels RAS Console and the web Management Portal. This new category combines all user sessions and associated session details regardless of whether the user session is delivered via RD Session Hosts, VDI, Desktop or Remote PCs. By putting all user sessions in one place, admins can easily view user session information at-a-glance.

To provide even more context during session management and further improve efficiency, we also added a new resource tab that shows all running published resources. In both Users and Resources view, admins can make use of the advanced session details introduced in RAS 18 and take advantage of all the benefits that come with it, including a deeper analysis of the session such as logon duration and breakdown, bandwidth usage, etc. All this information can be easily exported for management purposes.

Self-Service Remote PC Access

The new Sessions category isn’t the only new feature that helps IT administrators work more efficiently in Parallels RAS. In fact, this second feature completely frees admins from a key but time-consuming exercise. Starting with Parallels 18.1, IT administrators will no longer have to be bothered whenever users require Remote PC access, as they (the users) will be able to handle that task themselves.

In 18.1, users will already be able to enroll their preferred Windows PC to the Parallels RAS Farm through a self-service feature. The enrolled PC will be automatically added as a Remote PC and a corresponding published desktop will likewise be automatically created for it. Accordingly, access will be granted to the user in question, who should then be able to connect to the resource from any device, anywhere.

Ever since the pandemic started and organizations began rolling out remote work initiatives, the demand for Remote PCs has gone off the roof, further inundating already overloaded IT administrators in the process. This new self-service Remote PC access capability addresses this difficulty perfectly because it gives users quick and easy remote access to their office workstations while reducing administrative overhead.

If they wish, administrators can also programmatically enroll users’ PCs on their behalf. This added automation can likewise lower IT overheads.

Azure Virtual Desktop Integration: New features

When we rolled out Parallels RAS-Azure Virtual Desktop (previously Windows Virtual Desktop) integration in Parallels RAS 18, it was already packed with lots of functionality. But with many customers becoming increasingly comfortable with cloud-based application/desktop delivery, we thought it would be a good idea to enhance Azure Virtual Desktop integration even more and continue to bring in new features through Azure Virtual Desktop in Parallels RAS 18.1 include the following:

Parallels Client for Apple Silicon (M1)

Apple’s latest Silicon M1 chip offers substantial benefits to remote workers by providing M1-powered Mac devices with significantly faster performance and much longer battery life. Prior to Parallels RAS 18.1, users of M1-powered Mac devices who wished to access hosted applications and desktops via the Parallels Client for Mac were able to do so through their Mac computer’s built-in binary translation software, Rosetta 2.

Now, the Parallels Client for Mac, which used to only support Intel-based Mac devices, already comes with native support for Apple M1-based devices as well. Having native support for M1 means Parallels Client for Mac on an M1-powered Mac will perform more efficiently and, in turn, provide a much better user experience.

Dynamic Session Resolution Update

Previously, whenever a user resized a remote desktop session window, the resolution of that particular window would remain unchanged. If the user wanted the resolution to adapt to the new window size, he/she would have to reconnect the session. In Parallels RAS 18.1, users get a much better UX in this area. The remote desktop session’s resolution would adjust dynamically as the window is resized with no reconnection required. This capability is supported in both single and multi-monitor setups.

Bidirectional Clipboard and File Transfer Control

One of the major issues in remote work environments is the increased risk to corporate data. With end users no longer operating behind the corporate firewall, the chances of data leakage increase significantly. One way Parallels RAS 18.1 mitigates this risk is restricting clipboard redirection, a feature that normally allows copy-pasting from client to session host and vice versa.

In Parallels RAS 18.1, administrators are given more control over clipboard redirection security by allowing them to set bidirectional, unidirectional, or completely disabled configurations. This means you can, for example, allow users to only copy data from their local device to the remote host but not the other way around.

Similar restrictions may also be applied to the HTML5 Client file transfer feature, which normally allows users to transfer files between the client and session host. In this particular feature, administrators may also set a default location where users can upload or download files to/from as well as force users to use this predefined location by default.

These security features can be very useful in industries like Education, Healthcare, and Finance, wherein the handling of sensitive data is governed by stringent security policies or even laws and regulations.

Better Scalability

While there are certainly several other new features and improvements in Parallels RAS 18.1, one thing we’d like to mention before ending this post is 18.1’s increased ability to scale. A single Parallels RAS site can now support 2,000 VDIs (now both on Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware vSphere – vCenter) and 5,000 Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) sessions. In addition, a site can also support 1,000 Remote PC connections per VDI provider. As always, if you need even more, you can simply add more sites. This capability is exactly what organizations need in order to meet the demands of their remote workforce, which, in the new normal, is much larger than what it was pre-pandemic.

View a complete list of improvements and new features in Parallels RAS 18.1.