Everything You Need to Know
About RDS CALs

Remote Desktop Services is a powerful role available with Windows Server. It enables businesses to centrally host resources and securely publish them to remote clients. However, there are different types of licenses that need to be purchased before setting up an RDS environment. It is important for companies to understand RDS CALs (Client Access Licenses) and obtain proper licenses for their RDS environments.

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What are RDS CALs?

To use the Windows Server OS and the RDS components, you need to purchase licenses. Normally, resources are centrally hosted on the RDS server, and clients connect to the RD session host server to access resources. The actual RDS server that hosts the resources should have a server CAL, and it should match the OS version. Remote client devices that access the server should also have a CAL. With new RDS CALs, you can access old, dated TS servers. However, old CALs cannot work with new servers, and you need to purchase new licenses.

Normally, RDS CALs are installed on the RD licensing server. This server keeps track of these licenses. When a user or a device tries to connect to the RD session host server, the server checks to see if the user/device has a CAL. It contacts the RD licensing server to obtain the license on behalf of the requesting client. If the RDS CAL is available, it is obtained and a session is established.

RDS CALs in application delivery

When application virtualization enters the picture, you need an additional license called the App-V CAL on the TS/RDS server that hosts the applications. However, the application virtualization environment doesn’t come with a licensing server, so the organization needs to ensure compliance with App-V license requirements. In addition, you might require additional licenses based on the type of deployment you choose. If an SCCM server is used to deploy virtual apps, you will need an SCCM license. An SQL Server and Active Directory might need separate licenses as well. Businesses need to closely follow the changes in App-V licenses to ensure business continuity.

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How to extend Windows capabilities while resolving limitations

While RDS comes with several useful features, the complexity in understanding the RDS CAL license model can be a challenge for businesses, as can the cost. Fortunately, if used with Terminal Services, Parallels RAS requires RDS CALs and an all-in-one license. Customers are allowed to experience the full power of the tool without making any changes to the package. The gateway and the powerful reporting engine come free of additional cost. In addition, Parallels Remote Application Server removes several limitations of RDS environments. Firstly, installing the Windows Server OS and RDS environment is a lengthy and complex procedure. You need to install and configure multiple components. As there is no centralized database, you need to install each server separately. Secondly, there is not a centralized management interface, which makes it tough for administrators to monitor the infrastructure. It requires extra administrative attention, which invites automation. Parallels Remote Application Server, however, offers a centralized management system that allows you to monitor and manage the entire infrastructure from a single dashboard. Moreover, it offers secure access via SSL while supporting second-level authentication as well.

The main focus of RDS is Windows and Mac environments; it provides limited support for other platforms. However, Parallels RAS supports a range of devices and platforms including Android, iOS, Chromebooks, Linux, Mac, Windows, and Raspberry Pi. Another major challenge with RDS is printer redirection. Configuring printers and scanners in the RDS environment is a complex task. However, Parallels Remote Application Server allows you to use local printers and scanners without installing the drivers on the server. In fact, Parallels RAS is the only comprehensive virtualization tool that offers all virtualization components in a single package while being easy to use and cost-effective.