Parallels RAS 18 is now Generally Available (GA)

We’re thrilled to announce the General Availability (GA) of Parallels ® Remote Application Server 18 (Parallels® RAS). This latest update enables organizations to cost-effectively deploy Windows Virtual Desktop, Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH), Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and virtual applications as a seamless, unified solution to knowledge workers wherever they are located.

Parallels RAS 18 further extends IT agility by enabling businesses, service providers (SPs), healthcare and education institutions to mix and match private, hybrid and public cloud deployments. The flexible and scalable architecture of Parallels RAS addresses demands for new applications or desktops by enriching the user experience for Windows Virtual Desktop, desktop-based VDI, server-based VDI and session-based VDI—all accessed through the Parallels Client.

In the last few months, Parallels RAS teams have seen an increase in inquiries and business orders as organizations seek a quick and reliable solution to enable remote work during the pandemic. Parallels RAS immediately delivers virtual desktops and applications to any device, so that remote workers may securely work from anywhere.

With significantly enhanced support for Windows Virtual Desktop, the latest version of Parallels RAS delivers more options, customizations and resources to organizations to unlock new levels of infrastructure flexibility and employee productivity.

Unified Windows Virtual Desktop Integration

Windows Virtual Desktop is one of the most powerful integrations in Parallels RAS. It enables you to harness every major capability of Windows Virtual Desktop, including:

More importantly, you can manage Windows Virtual Desktop capabilities directly in the Parallels RAS Console. The unified management of Parallels RAS helps you to administer Windows Virtual Desktop and other non-Azure-based resources from a single pane of glass.

There are numerous advantages to managing and deploying both Windows Virtual Desktop and existing applications and desktops on Parallels RAS 18, including:

FSLogix Profile Container Integration

Another important integration you’ll find in Parallels RAS 18 is with FSLogix Profile Container, which is a profile management solution designed for non-persistent computing environments.

FSLogix redirects user profiles to a network location but appears to users and applications as if the profiles are stored in a local drive. This is a useful technique because many applications can’t function properly if the user profile path isn’t visible as local.

On its own, FSLogix Profile Container already offers many benefits, including:

With the release of Parallels RAS 18, admins no longer have to carry out manual registry changes or write complicated scripts to deploy and configure the FSLogix agent. Instead, they can leverage the Parallels RAS console to set up automated agent deployments and manage and configure Profile Containers.

UX Evaluator and Advanced Session Metrics

Parallels RAS 18 offers administrators an overall picture of user session details, helping to improve service delivery. Administrators can pinpoint issues faster and more accurately with a quicker root cause analysis (RCA) when users report anomalies.

The UX Evaluator provides an indicative and quantitative measure of the user experience by calculating the time elapsed between user interaction with published resources and corresponding response.

The UX evaluator is reinforced with several metrics, such as:

Admins can also set thresholds that send out alerts when critical levels are breached, which will enable them to act on issues before they can seriously impact performance.

Automated Image Optimizations

In line with our efforts to further improve the user experience, we’ve included 130 built-in automated image optimizations in Parallels RAS 18. These image optimizations are readily available out-of-the-box.

One big advantage of this new set of features from an administrative standpoint is that IT admins will have easy access to preconfigured actions for optimizing images. Optimizations for RDSH, VDI and Windows Virtual Desktop workloads are all accessible from the Parallels RAS Console, so admins can easily build them in no time. This is very different from similar tools offered by competing solutions in the market, which are packaged as a separate download and used separately.

In addition, these new optimizations provide the following benefits:

RDSH and VDI Local Storage Distribution

There are two prevailing schools of thought when it comes to storing RDSH and VDI template clones. Some say it’s better to store these clones in a shared storage solution like a Storage Area Network (SAN). Others say it’s better to store them in a local drive. Regardless of which school of thought you subscribe to, Parallels RAS has you covered.

Parallels RAS 18 supports both shared storage and local storage options for storing template clones. In addition to shared storage clone deployments (which were already supported in previous versions), you can now deploy template clones to the local disks of multiple independent Microsoft Hyper-V hosts. Parallels RAS 18 truly gives you the best of both worlds, enabling you to utilize a SAN for shared services and local storage for RD Session hosts and VDI to minimize performance issues during boot up.

Local storage distribution is suitable for customers who wish to avoid the cost of expensive SAN solutions or the complexities in cluster and hardware requirements commonly associated with shared storage options.

Updated Web-Based Management Portal

Parallels RAS has always enabled mobility—working from anywhere, anytime. These attributes have primarily been enjoyed by end users. In Parallels RAS 18, these capabilities are now also provided to IT administrators through the new web-based Management Portal.

The Management Portal makes it possible for admins to carry out administrative duties on any device, be it a PC, a laptop, a tablet, or even a phone. From this web-based administrative portal, admins can centrally deploy, manage and configure fundamental Parallels RAS components on the go, such as RD Session Hosts, Publishing Agents and Secure Client Gateways. Admins can also use it to publish resources from RD Session Hosts as well as monitor and manage user sessions.

As a web-based application, the Management Portal makes it easier and faster to manage your Parallels RAS infrastructure regardless of where you are, providing a modern and mobile approach for better management.

Accelerated File Retrieval

In Parallels RAS 18, users can retrieve and traverse redirected files and folders more than 90% faster in poor network conditions compared with standard RDP. We’ve made this possible by optimizing communication between the end point client and the hosting workload server and by adding file-caching capabilities.

To give you an idea just how fast file retrieval has become in Parallels RAS 18, here are some actual time durations of a test involving 5,000+ files:

File retrieval duration
Standard RAS/RDP Parallels RAS 18 w/ Accelerated File Retrieval
First run 12 seconds 2 seconds (using optimized communication)
Consecutive runs 10 seconds < 1 second (using caching mechanism)

What we’ve discussed here is only a partial list of the changes and improvements we introduced in Parallels RAS 18 that can benefit your users, IT admins and organization as a whole. Read more for a complete list of changes and improvements.

Want to check out the latest features for yourself?