Windows Server 2012 / 2012 R2 - RDS - Set up high availability on your RDS infrastructure (step by step)

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When you want to implement an RDS (Remote Desktop Services) infrastructure in a production environment, it's important that it's highly available.
To do this, you will need to make sure that there is no single point of failure that can knock down your RDS infrastructure.

Warning: this tutorial is very long and refers to many concepts related mainly to RDS.
We therefore recommend that you first learn how RDS works, through our previous tutorials, before attempting to implement its high availability.

In addition, we apologize in advance for the length of the tutorial, but it's the minimum necessary (for RDS) so that your RDS infrastructure is fully highly available.

  1. Configuration used
  2. Installing the 1st RDS server
  3. Configuring the 1st RDS server
  4. Add a server to the RDS deployment
  5. Add a session host server to a collection
  6. RemoteApp programs
    1. Installing RemoteApp programs
    2. Publishing RemoteApp programs
  7. RDS web access test
  8. High availability (HA) of license servers
  9. High availability (HA) of RDS web access
    1. Install web access on the 2nd RDS server
    2. Clustering of web access
    3. Add the 2nd web access to RDS deployment
    4. Secure the 1st RDS web access
    5. Secure the 2nd RDS web access
    6. Test access to the RDS web access cluster
  10. High availability of the Broker service
    1. Downloading SQL Server 2012 SP1 and its tools
    2. Installing the SQL Server 2012 Express server
    3. Installing the management tool : SQL Management Studio 2012
    4. Installing the native SQL Server 2012 client
    5. SQL Server configuration
    6. Allow the SQL Server port in the firewall
    7. Creating a group for Broker servers
    8. Creating the folder to store SQL data
    9. Creating the round robin DNS record for your brokers
    10. Allow your brokers to connect to the SQL Server 2012 server
    11. Enable the high availability of the broker service
    12. Adding the owner right on the SQL database
    13. Adding the 2nd broker server for the high availability of this service
  11. Current state of the high availability of your RDS infrastructure
  12. High availability of the RDS gateway
  13. RDS infrastructure certificates
    1. Certificate request for the broker
    2. Export the certificate in pfx format
    3. Import the certificates on your RDS infrastructure
    4. Certificates summary
  14. Final tests

1. Configuration used

As for the RDS infrastructure, we will use 5 servers :

1 Active Directory server with a certification authority (to generate the various certificates required for RDS) on Windows Server 2012.

2 servers running Windows Server 2012 that will be fully redundant for all RDS services (except the virtualization host) :

  • session host : for hosting desktops and/or RemoteApp programs
  • web access : for quick access to desktops and/or RemoteApp programs
  • broker service : to manage connections to your RDS infrastructure
  • licenses server : to assign CALs to your users or devices
  • RDS gateway (optional) : to secure access from the Internet to your RDS infrastructure

2 RDS gateway servers (if you want to provide secure access from the Internet to your RDS infrastructure) which will also be redundant.

For client PCs, we will only use 1 client under Windows 8.

2. Installing the 1st RDS server

To get started, install Remote Desktop Services on your 1st RDS server through the "Remote Desktop Services installation" option.

Choose : Standard Deployment.

Choose : Session-based desktop deployment.

The wizard displays a description of the different roles.

For more information about these RDS roles, refer to our "RDS - Deploy a RDS infrastructure (session-based desktops)" tutorial.

Select your 1st RDS server and click on the arrow in the center.
Then, click Next.

Check the "Install the RD Web Access role service ..." check box on your 1st RDS server and click Next.

Select your 1st RDS server again and move it to the right.

At the end, the wizard will deploy the Broker service, web access and session host on your 1st RDS server.

Check the "Restart the destination server automatically if required" box and click Deploy.

Wait while deploying and installing Remote Desktop Services on your 1st RDS server.

When the deployment is complete, click Close.

3. Configuring the 1st RDS server

For the configuration of your 1st RDS server, follow our tutorial "RDS - Deploy a RDS infrastructure (session-based desktops)" up to step 6 included.

Once you have followed the tutorial mentioned above, your license server will be activated and configured correctly.

You will have created a share on your Active Directory server for user profile disks of the RDS collection.

You will have created a collection hosted by your 1st RDS server.

The collection should not contain any RemoteApp programs.
Indeed, these can be published only after adding all the desired session host servers to this collection.

For the moment, your collection will be hosted by a single session host server.