Does Windows Server 2022 Support Multiple Concurrent RDP Sessions

Jan 13, 2022
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Hello,

I was attempting to previously build a VM server, but found the cost of VMWare ($17,500.00 per year) and Nvidia Grid ($15,000.00 for perpetual license at 4K) to be prohibitively expensive (for a 128 core core dual socket EPYC to serve 12 VM's).

While doing some Google searching, I found out that Windows Server used to support multiple concurrent RDP sessions:


From the looks of things, it seemed like multiple users could RDP (with different account usernames/passwords), and be able to share a single system without interfering with one another.

Is this still supported by Windows Server 2022 (as this seems to negate my previous requirement for VM software)?

If so, what sort of license would I need to purchase for a 64 core Threadripper Pro system (as I noticed Windows Server 2022 licenses with CAL, and others without, as well as licenses for 16 cores, 24 cores, etc)?

Lastly, can I assume that a multi-session RDP session is no different than a standard RDP sessions (with full access to all hardware/software)?

Thank you,
Nelson
 
Jan 13, 2022
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Last I used RDP, to connect to a Windows Pro PC, the instant that I remoted in, my applications that were using the GPUs dropped access to said GPUs.
Hello VirtualLarry,

Thank you for the input.

That said, I think there's a big difference (when it comes to RDP) between non-Windows Server and Windows Server (but I could be wrong).

Nelson
 

VirtualLarry

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That said, I think there's a big difference (when it comes to RDP) between non-Windows Server and Windows Server (but I could be wrong).
There probably is, but my understanding of how RDP works, is that it creates a "virtual console", and brings the logged-in user's applications to that virtual console, thus they lose access to the "native hardware" GPU.
 

Markfw

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This belongs in operating systems.
 

mxnerd

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RDP Wrapper is a hack and a license violation, and usually will be rendered useless after Windows update. You should go with Remote Desktop Services server role and purchase CALs.

Not cheap either. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/d/windows-remote-desktop-server-cal-2022/dg7gmgf0d7hx/0003

counted by users or devices. You have to balance the usage between users/devices. But if you are talking about 12 RDP sessions, it could be cheaper.

That said, since it has to support multi sessions, there is no way clients can use the real GPU hardware.
 
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Jan 13, 2022
52
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RDP Wrapper is a hack and a license violation, and usually will be rendered useless after Windows update. You should go with Remote Desktop Services server role and purchase CALs.

Not cheap either. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/d/windows-remote-desktop-server-cal-2022/dg7gmgf0d7hx/0003

counted by users or devices. You have to balance the usage between users/devices. But if you are talking about 12 RDP sessions, it could be cheaper.

That said, since it has to support multi sessions, there is no way clients can use the real GPU hardware.
Helllo MxNerd,

A huge thanks for the reply (this now makes sense)!

Thankfully, my company only has 6 or so Engineers (that would actually use the system in question).

If that's the case, can I assume that I'd need no more than 6 CAL licenses?

As for CAL Device licenses, can I assume what this means is some other system/program (i.e. a non-person user) accessing the system?

Or does a CAL Device license pertain to the devices (PCIe cards) on the target system itself?

As for clients not being able to use the GPU hardware, does this mean that if a particular program is using the GPU, that the program will lose the ability to access the GPU (if multiple clients log in at the same time)?

For example, let's say multiple users log into the system at once, and one of those users is using VLC (with GPU acceleration) to render/playout a video.

Can I assume that in this scenario, VLC would no longer be able to use the GPU and would instead have to rely on the CPU?

Lastly, is there any other way (other than VMWare-type software) for multiple users to log into a Windows 11 system at the same time, and be able to use all the hardware on the system (as if only one user was logged into the system)? I was looking at VNC solutions, but it looks like every VNC solution would simply have all users using the same desktop session at once (meaning that multiple cursors would be moving around on the same screen).

Important: After posting this, I found something called Parallels Remote Application Server, that seems to make it so applications (running on some central system) can be access via a browser session (from some other user on another system). Assuming that the program in question being accessed remotely has access to the physical hardware (e.g., one application may require a Mellanox NIC for some IP analysis) on the central system, this would also work for my company (as we don't absolutely need to use the OS file system, etc.) for some users, just accessing a specific application is more than sufficient.

Anything like Parallels Remote Application Server (assuming it does what I think it does), would work as well (if anyone has any recommendations).

Thank you,
Nelson
 
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Markfw

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When I was working, we used "term server". I think that is citrix ? Not sure about licensing(it was an enterprise client managed by a very large company), but all the users logged into the server and had access to everything on the server. Just like it was their own.
 
Jan 13, 2022
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When I was working, we used "term server". I think that is citrix ? Not sure about licensing(it was an enterprise client managed by a very large company), but all the users logged into the server and had access to everything on the server. Just like it was their own.
Hello MarkFW,

A big thanks for the input.

When you say all the users logged in had access to everything, you mean all users had access to all the PCIe hardware (no matter what type of hardware)?

If so, this is super awesome, as it removes the complexities with PCIe pass-through (associated with something like VMWare - which doesn't support every piece of PCIe hardware), plus means that my company doesn't have to purchase additional vGPU licenses (for something like Nvidia GRID).

I feel pretty stupid for not having thought about this before, but am super glad I found out now.

I'll definitely look into Citrix's solution.

Thank you,
Nelson
 

Markfw

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This may or may not be the same thing. I used terminology from memory.


Also this sounds farmiliar


I found these by google searching for "citrix terminal server"
 

mxnerd

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When you login through RDP, client users just looks like they are in front of the server, except are limited by user account permissions and each user can have different his own Start Menu /desktop icons & application accessibility according to his permission.

When RDP server has multiple users logged in, if admin sits right in front of the server physically, the admin will not notice anything, since all remote sessions are running in the background.

I believe RDP users actually use virtualized GPU when they are logged in, but I never investigates that. With RDP server, you don't deal with hardware passthrough at all, you don't have to worry about that at all.

User/devices license work like this: one user account license can be associated with several devices the same user owns and being logged in the server at the same time, yet one device license can be shared by multiple users. In most cases, user license should work better. In you case, you are correct that you only need 6 user licenses at the same time remotely. If at most only 3 users will login at the same time, you only need

Seems CDW has very low license price, https://www.cdw.com/product/microsoft-windows-remote-desktop-services-2022-license-1-user-cal/6695294
You have to carefully find out what the difference is between vendors/products/license models.

Like @Markfw, I dealt with Terminal Server years back, haven't touch new RDP server for quite some time, but should be similar.

Believe that you can find tutorials on youtube. You should also use another server as RDP & application server, not running it on the domain controller.
 
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Jan 13, 2022
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When you login through RDP, client users just looks like they are in front of the server, except are limited by user account permissions and each user can have different his own Start Menu /desktop icons & application accessibility according to his permission.

When RDP server has multiple users logged in, if admin sits right in front of the server physically, the admin will not notice anything, since all remote sessions are running in the background.

I believe RDP users actually use virtualized GPU when they are logged in, but I never investigates that. With RDP server, you don't deal with hardware passthrough at all, you don't have to worry about that at all.

User/devices license work like this: one user account license can be associated with several devices the same user owns and being logged in the server at the same time, yet one device license can be shared by multiple users. In most cases, user license should work better. In you case, you are correct that you only need 6 user licenses at the same time remotely. If at most only 3 users will login at the same time, you only need

Seems CDW has very low license price, https://www.cdw.com/product/microsoft-windows-remote-desktop-services-2022-license-1-user-cal/6695294
You have to carefully find out what the difference is between vendors/products/license models.

Like @Markfw, I dealt with Terminal Server years back, haven't touch new RDP server for quite some time, but should be similar.

Believe that you can find tutorials on youtube. You should also use another server as RDP & application server, not running it on the domain controller.
Hello MXNerd,

A huge thanks for the information!

It really seems like I should be moving towards the RDP Server route.

One important question about all of this; can I assume that I need Windows Server 2022 (not Windows 11 Pro for Workstations) for this to work?

Even if I need to jump to Windows Server 2022, it's worth it (considering the VMWare alternative).

Lastly, if I do need to jump to Windows Server 2022, can I assume just the standard version (for the number of cores I have) is sufficient?

I only ask as I see two versions of Windows Server 2022, one is Datacenter version which costs quite a bit more.

Thank you,
Nelson
 

mxnerd

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Jul 6, 2007
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All versions of Windows Server should support RDS server role, Datacenter only have extra features that you probably don't need.

Don't know how many users are in your environment, however, even if not many users, the best way to configure a Windows domain environment is have at least one domain controller (which does not require a very powerful machine), all it does is running Active Directory/DNS/DHCP services, and another server running about everything else.

Domain controller shouldn't do anything else besides creating / authenticating users, assigning / denying permissions, and creating/applying policies
 
Jan 13, 2022
52
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11

All versions of Windows Server should support RDS server role, Datacenter only have extra features that you probably don't need.

Don't know how many users are in your environment, however, even if not many users, the best way to configure a Windows domain environment is have at least one domain controller (which does not require a very powerful machine), all it does is running Active Directory/DNS/DHCP services, and another server running about everything else.

Domain controller shouldn't do anything else besides creating / authenticating users, assigning / denying permissions, and creating/applying policies
Hello MXNerd,

Thank you for the information.

Out of curiosity, what are you thoughts on software like: Parallels Remote Application Server?

With RDS, I'm worried that if multiple users remote into the same box, they may not be able to fully utilize the hardware on the remote box (one user mentioned that they lost GPU functionality when multiple users remoted in at the same time).

Regarding my company, there are only 6 or so Engineers that would use the box, and for most of the Engineers, all they need is access to one specific application (i.e. video analyzer, ancillary data analyzer, HDMI capture, etc).

In such a situation, do you think something like Parallels (or the Citrix equivalent) would be better?

Or if you think that when multiple users login to the Windows Server remote box, that they should all be able to utilize all the hardware on the box (e.g., GPU, NIC, specialized video hardware, etc.) then I'm leaning towards an RDS solution.

Thank you,
Nelson
 

mxnerd

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Jul 6, 2007
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My past experience only worry about employees working remotely with MS Office and company's database, employees did not have the requirement to have exclusive GPU or other hardware use.

Since you kept talking about full/exclusive usage of GPU/NIC, I'm afraid Windows RDS is not the right answer.

Unfortunately you probably eventually have to resort to VMware ESXi hardware passthrough/nVIDIA Grid or other alternative solutions.


or probably cheap UNRAID server! But how do you remote into the VMs, you probably have to test yourself. But it's free to try!




==

You probably also need to have some dummy HDMI plugs for remote users, since without a monitor being plugged in, the remote session probably can't fully utilize the GPU max resolution.
 
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Jan 13, 2022
52
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My past experience only worry about employees working remotely with MS Office and company's database, employees did not have the requirement to have exclusive GPU or other hardware use.

Since you kept talking about full/exclusive usage of GPU/NIC, I'm afraid Windows RDS is not the right answer.

Unfortunately you probably eventually have to resort to VMware ESXi hardware passthrough/nVIDIA Grid or other alternative solutions.


or probably cheap UNRAID server! But how do you remote into the VMs, you probably have to test yourself. But it's free to try!




==

You probably also need to have some dummy HDMI plugs for remote users.
Hello MXNerd,

Thank you for clarifying that RDS does not allow usage of specialized hardware (e.g., GPU, etc.), as some users mentioned that previously, but they weren't 100% certain.

Also, a big thanks for the Unraid suggestion as I will try it out (along with other software like Parallels or Citrix).

Ultimately, if a user can interact with a single application via a browser/GUI app (while that application runs on the remote server with full access to all hardware - that should be sufficient for my company's purposes).

Once again, I can't thank you (and everyone else here) for all your help,
Nelson
 

mxnerd

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Jul 6, 2007
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Again, Remote Desktop probably can't fully utilize the GPU, you can ask the engineers to try remote into a VM (with GPU passthrough) using TeamViewer.

Sorry, I have no idea/experience about Parallels Remote Application Server.
 
Jan 13, 2022
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Actually you still can get a lot out of free ESXi, just with some limitation

Hello MXNerd,

A huge thanks once again.

Guacamole looks especially interesting (though ESXi might work as well).

To be honest, I'm not an expert when it comes to virtualization (but I'm willing to learn what it takes to get a system which I'm building for my company to work for their needs).

That being said, I'm not sure how much you're into the hardware side of things, but if you had some time and were interested, could you please look at the system configuration that I'm building out for my company (in the thread below):


...and let me know if you have any suggestions (or if anything looks problematic with the build - as I haven't built a system myself in nearly 20 years - and I'm worried I might've overlooked something).

Once again, I can't thank you enough for all your help.

Nelson
 

mxnerd

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Jul 6, 2007
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I'm basically retired. Just still interested in everything about computer technologies. :)

I used to work in MIS dept, so hardware is not my forte.

To get into virtualization, there are free VMware ESXi/VMware Player/Proxmox/VirtualBox/Hyper-V(of course it's MS stuff)/Linux KVM/containers you can download and experiment. I never touch KVM/containers though.

Youtube got a lot of virtualization tutorials. Remember that MS' RDP/RDS is not VM, it's just a user session.
 

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