Windows Server 2008 : Configuring and Monitoring Terminal Service Resources

10/14/2010 11:34:35 AM
Monitoring any network service is an important task of an IT administrator. Once Terminal Services are deployed, the job of regularly fine-tuning and monitoring them becomes essential to ensure network resources are optimally utilized and the users are getting what they want. Installation of specific server roles, installation of terminal server aware applications and publishing them to make it available to remote users, monitoring user sessions, and deploying load-balancing solutions when the network grows, are the important tasks. In this chapter, we’ll discuss the Terminal Services management tools (snap-in/console in Microsoft terms).

Windows 2008 Terminal Services includes the following components:

  • Terminal Server Provides the ability to publish Windows-based applications or provide access to the Windows desktop remotely. Users can run programs from remote clients and store data on the network. Users access local applications alongside the remote applications seamlessly.

  • Terminal Services Licensing Manages the Terminal Services licensing including client access licenses (CALs). Every client requires a license to connect to a terminal server. You can install, assign, and monitor the CALs on your network.

  • Terminal Services Web Access Provides a Web platform to access remote applications through a Web site. Remote applications appear as a Web link on the corporate Web site. When users click on the link the remote application opens up.

  • Terminal Services Gateway Provides the ability to offer secure connection to your remote users without a need to establish a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Any Internet-connected device can initiate a Hypertext Transfer Protocol over SSL (HTTPS) connection. Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) traffic is encapsulated into the HTTPS traffic until it reaches the TS Gateway server and then HTTPS is removed and only RDP traffic gets passed to the terminal servers.

  • Terminal Services Session Broker Provides the session load balancing among the terminal servers in a farm. When a remote user session terminates for any reason, a reconnection is possible to resume the session from where it was left off.

For managing the sub-components of Terminal Services, various management and monitoring tools are provided by Microsoft. Figure 1 provides a pictorial view of the Windows 2008 Terminal Services components and management tools.

Figure 1. Microsoft Windows 2008 Terminal Service Components

Terminal Server management tools include:

  • Terminal Services Manager

  • Terminal Services Configuration

  • TS RemoteApp Manager

  • Windows System Resource Manager

Terminal Services Licensing management tool includes:

  • Terminal Services Licensing Manager

Terminal Services Web Access management tool includes:

  • Terminal Services Web Access Administration

Terminal Services Gateway management tool includes:

  • Terminal Services Gateway Manager

Terminal Services Session Broker management tools include:

  • Terminal Services Configuration

  • Network Load Balancing (NLB) Manager

The management and monitoring features offered by these management tools are:

  • Terminal Services Manager With this tool, you can view and monitor users, sessions, and processes that are running on the terminal servers. Routine administration tasks such as sending a message, logging off users, or disconnecting them from a terminal service session are part of this tool.

  • Terminal Services Configuration With this tool you can configure, modify, and delete RDP connection settings. You can configure on a per-connection basis or use configurations that apply to the whole terminal server. You can also configure farms; add members for a Terminal Services Session Broker load balancing.

  • TS RemoteApp Manager With this tool you can provide access to Windows-based programs and applications for remote users. Remote users need only an Internet connection. Modern hand-held devices powered with the Windows Mobile operating system supports Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) client. Access to applications hosted centrally in the corporate networks is made available to these hand-held devices without consuming much of the network bandwidth. Only keyboard depressions, mouse clicks, and screen changes travel across the network. You can publish applications and manage it centrally in a scenario where branch offices may not have IT staff to install and configure applications.

  • Windows System Resource Manager With this tool you can manage the resources by allocating memory and processing the terminal server on a per-user basis or per-session basis. Though this management tool is not specific to Terminal Services, you can configure resource allocation policies for Terminal Services.

  • Terminal Services Licensing Manager With this tool you can manage Terminal Services CALs and you can install, allocate, and track the CALs. This is an important activity for a Terminal Services administrator.

  • TS Web Access Administration With this tool you can access remote programs and desktops that are published by TS RemoteApp. You can also configure remote desktop parameters including devices and resources (printers, drives, serial ports, clipboard, and plug-and-play devices), sound, display resolution, and modem parameters.

  • TS Gateway Manager With this tool you can configure secure remote sessions to access a resource on a corporate network. Resources include terminal servers, TS RemoteApp programs, or desktops with Remote Desktop enabled. RDP over HTTPS is used to create a secure connection without a need for a VPN.

  • NLB Manager With this tool you can ensure servers’ availability by load balancing between several identical roles. Load balancing can be extended to any service. However, in this context, NLB can be used to create terminal server clusters and efficiently load-balance the traffic. Dedicated hardware-based load balancers can also be considered for your network.

Allocating Resources by Using Windows System Resource Manager

Windows System Resource Manager (WSRM) allows you to allocate memory and processor resources to users, Terminal Service sessions, applications, and other services. Often, leaving the resources allocation to the applications or sessions will create a situation where some other services have to compromise their share of resources. Using WSRM you can ensure that the services offered by a server is allocated to all (applications, users, or services) on an equal basis or based on the prioritization of the organization.

WSRM gets into the act through policies and actively manages the resource allocation when the load of the server is greater than 70 percent. However, normal scenario WSRM policies do not play a role. This means contention of resources result in invoking the policies.

WSRM features include managing system resources through policies, calendar rules to define time-based policies, dynamically allocating resources based on server capability (such as powerful processor or higher memory), and accounting.

Resource allocation policies (RAP) specific to Terminal Service scenarios are equal per session and equal per user policies.

We’ll briefly discuss the installation of WSRM and later configure resource allocation policies for Terminal Services.

Installing WSRM

Windows 2008 treats individual services as server roles. Some of the server roles are Domain Name System (DNS), Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), Fax, and ADS. Roles can be considered as logical software packages. Features are not directly part of any roles, but can enhance or support the functionality of a role in the Windows 2008 environment. Some of the features include Simple Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)/Internet Protocol (IP) services, .Net Framework 3.0, Failover Clustering, and Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) services. WSRM is also a feature. You need to access Server Manager to add WSRM to the server.

To install WSRM:

Click Start | Administrative Tools | Server Manager (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Windows 2008 Server Manager

Select Features on the left pane, and click on Add Features on the right pane under the Features Summary.

Scroll-down to select Windows System Resource Manager under the “Select one or more features to install on this server” list (see Figure 3).

Figure 3. Adding Windows Resource Manager

Click on the Add Required Features button in response to the prompt to add Windows Internal Database, a pre-requisite to install WSRM (see Figure 4).

Figure 4. Alert Message to Add Windows Internal Database Feature

Click Next.

Click Install.

Click Close to complete the installation.

Click Start | Administrative Tools | Services, and check that the Windows System Resource Manager service is started.

To allocate resources for Terminal Services:

Click Start | Administrative Tools | Windows System Resource Manager (see Figure 5).

Figure 5. WSRM Resource Allocation Policies

Click on This Computer and then click Connect in the “Connect to computer” dialog box.

Click on Resource Allocation Policies on the left pane (console tree).

Click on Equal_Per_Session policy.

Click on Set as Managing Policy on the Actions pane (third window on your right).

Click OK on the warning dialog box, The calendar will be disabled. Do you want to continue?

Configuring & Implementing...: Allocating Resources: Resource Allocation Policy

Computer resources such as memory and central processing unit (CPU) are allocated to various processes running on the server. Resource allocation policy determines the usage of such resources. Equal per user or Equal per session can be configured as managing policy for Terminal Services. You may find more such resource allocation policies based on the services installed on your server. For example Internet Information Services (IIS) adds Equal_Per_IISAppPool policy. Default is the Equal_Per_Process policy.

Configuring Application Logging

WSRM’s accounting feature logs accounting information of applications running on the server. To log accounting data, you need to ensure the policy is configured as managing policy (through Set as Managing Policy) or profiling policy (through Set as Profile Policy).

WSRM accounting captures the following information:

  • Details on applications that exceeded the resources

  • Changes to the managing policies

  • Name of the process

  • Name of the domain

  • Name of the user

  • Name of the resource allocation policy

  • Policy time (when it was set)

  • Process matching the policy criteria

  • Program location

  • Detailed information memory, disk, and processor operations

You have the option to store the data in the local WSRM database or on a Structured Query Language (SQL) database server. You also have the option to archive, export (.txt or .csv format), group similar items, sort items, and filter events for ease of viewing (through Filter View). Figure 6 shows the accounting screen of WSRM.

Figure 6. WSRM Accounting Data

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