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Cloud and Datacenter Management by Anders Bengtsson

Service Manager in the cloud with Azure RemoteApp power

Last week I tried Microsoft Azure RemoteApp together with System Center Service Manager. Azure RemoteApp is a service that you can use to support your organization to stay productive anywhere and on almost any device. Your applications runs on servers in Azure or locally, clients install a Microsoft Remote Desktop client and can then access the applications same way as if they were running locally. The great value is that you don’t need to administrate a service to publish applications to clients, you buy that component as a service. The application that you publish can run in Azure or it can run locally, or a combination.

When you deploy RemoteApp you can set it up in either Cloud only mode or Hybrid mode. Hybrid mode comes with VPN to local datacenter and all users must be users from your local Active Directory. It also have an option to join the custom template to a domain.

When running in Cloud only mode everything is running in Azure and your users can be a Microsoft account. There is no option to join your custom template machine to a domain.

In this blog post I want to show a couple of screens and share some experience from when I configured RemoteApp in Hybrid mode together with Service Manager.

I wanted to run the Service Manager console in RemoteApp, therefor I needed to build a custom template. There is a default Windows Server template (think with Office) that you can use if you just want to test RemoteApp a bit. But in this scenario I installed a local virtual machine and installed the Service Manager console on it. Then I ran Sysprep. All steps you need to go through to build a customer template are documented here.

Once the image was uploaded I created a RemoteApp service, as I want to access resources in my local datacenter I selected “Create with VPN”. When deploying the RemoteApp template you can’t select which virtual network it should be deployed in. Instead it will create a new virtual network. If you want to connect your RemoteApp host machine to an existing virtual network in Azure you can build a VNET-2-NET connection, see this blog post. If you have for example have a domain controller or application server running in a VNET today, in Azure, and you want your RemoteApp template to connect to those servers you will need to configure a VNET-2VNET connection as the blog post describes.

Once RemoteApp is deployed you can upload the customer template image. You can upload it with a script that you will find in the Azure management portal. In the portal under RemoteApp/Template Image you can click Upload. A wizard will start and give you a script that should be used to upload the VHD file.

In the RemoteApp service, in the Azure management portal, you get a “wizard” to step through to configure everything. First part is about connecting local network with the new RemoteApp network in Azure. Second part is about linking a RemoteApp template image. Third is about configure programs to publish and configure user access. In the need is the URL for the client software.

You can connect an existing virtual network or create a new network. “Get Script” will give you a script you can run on your locally edge device to configure a VPN. “Get Key” will show the VPN IP to use to connect to the RemoteApp network and it will also show the pre-shared key for the VPN.

“Link a RemoteApp template image” let you pick the remote app you uploaded earlier.

Options to join the local domain

 

Options to publish applications either by a path or by start menu. I installed the Service Manager console on the template image machine before running Sysprep. I can now select the Service Manager console from the start menu programs option, as it was in the start menu on the template machine.

 

Programs published to my users

Users can now start the Microsoft RemoteApp client and start a published application

 

The Service Manager console running in Azure RemoteApp connected to a Service Manager server running in a VNET in Azure. I looks very much as it is running locally J

 

Summary. We use Azure RemoteApp to publish consoles to applications that are running either in Azure only or in both Azure and locally. Azure RemoteApp works on many different types of devices. The service is easy to get started with, especially if compared running to Remote Application infrastructure locally.

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