Sunday, March 16, 2014

Deploying Remote Desktop Services In Windows Azure

Windows Azure has indeed made deployments much easier and less costly in some cases. One of those cases being a remote office that needs their clients to connect to a server for remote app works. Applications such as Microsoft Office, Quickbooks and others can now be deployed and accessed with the great of ease using Windows Server 2012 R2 in Windows Azure.

For a quick deployment and single server setup connect to a Windows Azure account. Don't have one. no worries. Obtain one for free at

Once your account is active the next step is to configure a storage account. To create a storage account click New, Data Services, Storage and then Quick Create. Enter the name of the storage account one you can remember and is not use. I selected Locally Redundant for Replication as this is a lab. You can choose to have it Geo-Redundant to replicate your storage account based on your needs. As seen below.

Our Next Step is to set up the network in which our RDS Server will be utilizing. Click New, Network Services, Virtual Network then Custom Create as seen below.

On the Virtual Network Details Page enter the Name of your Virtual Network and Select Create a New Affinity Group as seen below. Select the Region and then name the Affinity Group. Click next.

Leave the DNS Servers blank as we will be adding one in later in the lab. As seen below. Click Next.

On the Virtual Network Address Spaces page select your space and add your subnet as seen below. Click OK.

Now that our network is successfully created! We can now create out Virtual Machine in Azure where our RDS Role will be installed.

From the Azure Platform Click New, Compute, Virtual Machine and then From Gallery as seen below.

 In Choose an Image Select Windows Server 2012 R2. Click Next.

Enter the credentials for your virtual machine and the click next.

In the Virtual Machine Configuration Screen. Enter the Virtual Network which we created earlier as well as the storage account. Click Next.

On the End Points page add HTTPS and click OK to finish the Virtual Machine configuration.

Now that our Virtual Machine is up and Running lets get connected to configure Active Directory.

Open Power Shell and enter the command "Install-WindowsFeature AD-Domain-Services -IncludeManagementTools" to lay down the binaries for Active Directory. Next enter the command "Install-ADDSForest -DomainName (your domain name here)" The virtual machine will shutdown and restart once completed. The next step is add the DNS Server to our Azure Virtual Network. From the Virtual Network click configure then add the name of the AD Server we just created as well as the IP Address as seen below. VERY IMPORTANT!!!! (Also enable Remote Management in the local Server. It will need to be enabled for the installation of the Remote Desktop Services role to succeed).

To check the IP Address of the server view the network configuration. You may have to stop and start the virtual machine for the IP configuration for the network to take affect. Once it does you will have the same IP Configuration as we do below.

Once confirmed our next is to do a little DNS Cleanup. This will remove any issues we will have with DNS resolving not only internally but externally as well. Will need to remove all forwarders and have DNS listen only to the IPv4 Address as seen below.

Once you have removed the forwarder and only checked the IPv4 Address to listen on. Please perform and Security Updates from Microsoft and restart the server.

Our next steps are to install the RDS Role. Click Manage from Server Manager then Add Roles. Select your server and then Remote Desktop Services Installation. Click Next.

In the deployment type select Quick Start then click next.

Select Session-based desktop deployment and then click next.

With your server added click next. On the complete install page check the box to Restart the server automatically during the configuration. The server will restart one time and then complete the install.

Once the install is complete you will be given a link to connect to your newly created RDS deployment. As seen below. Once logged in you will see the default applications you can connect to As seen below.

To configure a SSL cert for secure communications create a certificate request for your Trusted Certificate Authority and complete the request once the certificate is received. 

You have successfully completed the deployment of Remote Desktop Services in Windows Azure!!!!

By: Adnan Cartwright

Resource Links:

Windows Azure and Server 2012 R2 Downloads: