What’s New in Parallels RAS 18
Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) 18 integrates and enriches the Azure Virtual Desktop experience, supports FSLogix Profile Containers, significantly improves IT service delivery and reduces infrastructure costs.
Azure Virtual Desktop Integration
Parallels RAS 18 greatly extends and simplifies the capabilities of Azure Virtual Desktop by integrating and managing all workloads and resources from a central point—the Parallels RAS Console. Organizations can integrate Parallels RAS deployments with Azure Virtual Desktop, delivering a single solution to end users.
Azure Virtual Desktop is a desktop and app virtualization service that runs on Microsoft Azure. Azure Virtual Desktop enables access to applications and desktops hosted on Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH), including Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session hosts.
There are numerous advantages to managing and deploying both Azure Virtual Desktop and existing applications and desktops on Parallels RAS 18, including:
- Single pane of glass: Manage deployments and tasks from a centralized console.
- Manageability: Administer Parallels RAS and Azure Virtual Desktop environments, users, sessions and processes efficiently with advanced metrics and comprehensive management capabilities.
- Automation: Easily automate and streamline administrative routines with a range of automation tools.
- Flexibility: Deploy apps and desktops in hybrid and multi-cloud environments.
- Legacy apps:Support and deliver legacy applications along with newer Azure Virtual Desktop workloads.
- Auto-scaling: Scale Azure and on-premises infrastructures up or down depending on demand.
- Advanced functionality: Access cutting-edge features such as Session Pre-launch (ultra-fast logon), drag and drop functionality, accelerated file retrieval and Universal Printing and Scanning.
FSLogix Profile Containers Integration
FSLogix Profile Containers is a robust profile management solution for application publishing and VDI. Easily manage and configure FSlogix Profile Containers from the Parallels RAS Console, required in multi-user virtual environments.
Benefits of leveraging FSLogix Profile Containers include:
- Reduces logon and logoff times
- Lowers traffic and processing load on file servers
- Mitigates the risk for profile corruption
- Centralizes profile management and storage control
- Optimized for Office 365 delivery
By utilizing Profile Containers, both applications and users see the profile as if it's located on the local drive of the workload host.
Administrators may easily manage and automate the deployment of the FSLogix agent for RDSH, VDI and Azure Virtual Desktop workloads, without the need for manual registry changes or scripting.
UX Evaluator & Advanced Session Metrics
In Parallels RAS 18, administrators have a complete overview of user session details, improving service delivery. When users report anomalies, administrators or helpdesk can pinpoint issues faster and more accurately, providing a quicker root cause analysis (RCA). Also, administrators can proactively check user sessions and determine which users might need assistance.
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.
Other important metrics in Parallels RAS 18 include:
- Logon duration and logon duration breakdown
- Incoming and outgoing data within a session
- Bandwidth availability and usage
- Network latency
- User connection flow
- Number of reconnects and disconnect reasons
Monitoring settings with customized thresholds may be set to identify warning and critical levels to assist administrators.
Automated Image Optimizations
Parallels RAS 18 provides more efficient and streamlined delivery for virtual apps and desktops with more than 130 built-in automated optimization capabilities.
With increased flexibility, administrators can leverage different pre-configured optimizations for RDSH, VDI or Azure Virtual Desktop workloads depending on the server type.
Utilizing RAS 18, IT can perform all image optimizations from a single pane of glass, and benefit from:
- Reduced hardware footprint
- Fewer storage requirements
- An increase in user density
- Improved user experience with faster boot, logon and clone times
- Faster route to market
The pre-configured optimizations may be easily updated to support future releases of Windows operating systems (OSs). Administrators may use preconfigured scripts, including those from third-party tools, saving time in optimizing images.
RDSH & VDI Local Storage Distribution
Parallels RAS 18 provides the ability to deploy clones from templates to the local disks of multiple independent Microsoft Hyper-V hosts, rather than only using centrally shared storage such as SAN.
The advantages of using RDSH and VDI local storage distribution include:
- Cost-effectivity compared with SAN solutions
- Simplified local storage—no need for complex configurations
- The ability to maintain a single template for use with multiple providers
- Faster disk access
- Reduced risk of performance issues during boot-up times
Parallels RAS 18 enriches the IT admin experience by offering an alternative to the traditional desktop console. Designed with a mobile experience in mind, administrators may perform daily tasks on the go.
From any device, including mobile, IT administrators can centrally deploy, manage and configure the fundamental Parallels RAS components, including RDSH, Publishing Agents and Secure Client Gateways, along with the ability to publish resources and monitor and manage user sessions.
- Deploy Parallels RAS environments and publish RDSH-based applications and desktops
- Secure Parallels RAS environments with the addition of multi-factor authentication
- Manage Parallels RAS Universal Printing and Scanning
- Monitor user sessions from anywhere
- Carry out configurations and day-to-day tasks from any device without having to install the Parallels RAS Console
- Manage Parallels RAS licensing
- Reach out to help and support resources directly from the Management Portal
Quickly retrieve and enumerate local files and folders when using drive redirection. Achieve a more than 90% increase in speed and stability over poor networks compared with standard RDP.
Fast file retrieval and enumeration are attained by optimized communication between the endpoint client and the hosting workload server, and by adding a file-caching capability.
A new dedicated user interface for CPU optimization is introduced in Parallels RAS 18, providing improved CPU load balancing management and control, including customized thresholds.
Enable the smooth running of services by preventing any application from consuming too much processing time, which could affect other processes or even other user sessions. Maximize resource usage while improving the end-user experience.
Parallels RAS 18 optimizes application delivery when using third-party load balancers to connect to the RAS environment, including Citrix ADC or Gateway (formerly known as NetScaler ADC or NetScaler Gateway).
Parallels RAS 18 introduces an easier and more flexible way for users to access published resources through the HTML5 Client.
Administrators may add a unique published resource ID to provide direct access to applications or desktops, enabling users to find resources with browser shortcuts, bookmarks or third-party portals such as Azure My Apps Portal.
Decrease login times and enable users to quickly access apps and resources. With automatic login, the end-user does not have to re-input stored credentials as soon as the Parallels HTML5 Client Portal is opened.
End-users may be asked to enable auto login which can later be managed from the HTML5 Client settings or centrally controlled by administrators from Parallels RAS policies.
Improve and extend the load balancing capabilities of the Parallels RAS HALB. Parallels RAS 18 allows multiple HALB virtual servers (instances) to load balance traffic to different Secure Client Gateways in the same Parallels RAS site.
Administrators can configure multiple HALB virtual servers for isolated access. For example, when using different Secure Client Gateways for internal and external access or different office branches.
In addition, various HALB configuration settings have been added for advanced management, including:
- Connection settings (max connections, connections per second)
- Timeout settings (client queue and inactivity, gateway connections)
- Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol (VRRP) settings
Organizations can enhance their original load balancing investments and provide a better user experience, especially in wide area network (WAN) scenarios.
Easily configure Microsoft USB redirection by simply enabling a checkbox, rather than through the more complex process of group policy objects (GPOs) or registry changes on Windows client devices.
This new redirection policy is especially useful for unmanaged Windows client devices, which might otherwise be tricky to configure—especially in organizations employing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategies and service providers with multiple customers.
Parallels RAS 18 provides high availability configuration support for two RADIUS servers. High availability modes for RADIUS servers may be set as Active-Active, to make use of both servers simultaneously, or as Active-Passive, for failover purposes.
Improve user experience when using multi-factor authentication (MFA), specifically when using RADIUS as an MFA provider, for increasing security access. Users can choose their preferred security verification methods from a configurable list, including push notifications, phone callback, SMS and email.
Administrators may customize the one-time password (OTP) experience when using the Parallels Client by:
- Configuring available security verification methods
- Custom commands to be sent to the RADIUS server(s)
- Adapting messages to show to end-users
Different security verification methods can be assigned priority and configured to be automatically used.
The Parallels Client is supported on Apple’s next–generation macOS 11 Big Sur, running on Intel and the latest Apple Silicon ARM-based Macs, leveraging the new design, powerful technologies and performance.
In Parallels RAS 18, the session prelaunch for Windows is extended to other platforms, including macOS, Linux, Android and iOS.
The session prelaunch provides ultra-fast logon for users and can be configured to make use of artificial intelligence (AI), enabling the Parallels Clients to analyze user login habit to pre-launch sessions.
In addition to the existing support for SAML SSO HTML5-initiated authentication using the HTML5 Client or Parallels Client for Windows, Parallels RAS 18 extends client methods for initiating SAML authentication with:
- Parallels Client for Windows initiated SAML Authentication
- Parallels Client for MacOS initiated SAML Authentication
- HTML5 Client Portal initiated SAML for MacOS, Linux, Android & iOS
Parallels RAS 18 Clients supports Dutch, bringing the total client language support to 12 languages: English, German, Dutch, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Japanese, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional and Korean. Parallels Client languages may be configured directly from the Clients or centrally through RAS policies.
Assisting helpdesk and support personnel, the Parallels RAS 18 Client shows information about what RAS policy has been applied by policy ID and version. This provides clarity when using RAS policies to understand which one is in effect, helping to troubleshoot issues.
iPad OS 13.4 enables the use of a Bluetooth mouse or trackpad with iPads, providing greater precision. Parallels Client 18 for iOS/ iPad OS supports this new capability, increasing end-user productivity.