Remote Desktop Services is dead. Oh sure, Microsoft is still supporting and building features into each release. But as a method of computing, it’s on its way out. And we have the cloud to thank for that.

For those that do not know, Remote Desktop Services (RDS) is when a person uses a secondary device to connect to a primary device to use the primary’s computing power. Think about the Facebook app on your phone – its a portal to Facebook’s servers. You use the app to share photos and memes, but all the data is coming from the servers. Your little phone is not doing any heavy lifting to show you Aunt Betty’s latest anti-vax status…

In the 70s and 80s terminal computing was big deal – after all your PC was not powerful enough to do everything you needed it for. While servers taking up entire floors were. So you would hand all your work over to the server and have these massive beasts do all the hard work, while your machine just needed a screen and keyboard.

But these days, with the proliferation of cloud computing and modern management policies, having users log on to a local server’s desktop to check email is not only stupid, but a complete waste of resources. Every computer built in the last 10 years has the ability to connect to the internet and do 90% of what is needed by todays office drones. I mean Excel is even in a web browser these days!

The shift to modern management also allows users to work from anywhere, on any device, in any way they wish. Tying them a server siting in your datacenter inhibits them from doing their jobs in any way thats different. They are limited to work exactly how they have worked before. And when has a company grown and been profitable doing the same thing the same way for years on end?

RDS is dead in a world with such a robust public cloud. Look around you – without even noticing it,, you’re using Amazon’s or Microsoft’s cloud at any one point.

With the speed at which the public cloud iterates, it does not make sense to use RDS as your primary method of computing. Its use case is solely on the “working from home and needing access to the J drive”, and even that use case is (and should be) rare. Modern management of devices mean your IT team work from anywhere to support the business that works from anywhere. And it doesn’t matter if you’re mobile or static. Forcing office users to connect to an aging server to do their every day work should stay in the eighties where it belongs.

The truth is that any business using, or looking at RDS, as a solution, should seriously reconsider their options. If you’re not moving to the cloud now, you’re going out of business. It may take a few years, but your company will not survive. The future is in the cloud, and while you may argue that it is just another form of RDS, it allows so much more to happen.

I dislike RDS as a solution. I dislike the thinking that goes into providing RDS as a solution. If an engineer were to implement RDS at a business, he’d need a very good reason on what makes that business different. A reason that should take up more than just an email to justify.

There is more I can say about RDS and why I think its a terrible idea. But I will leave that here tonight. Since this is my first Tech Tuesday post, I have learnt that I now need a few days to prep for each one if I am to get my point across – something I have to work on. If you feel the same, or if you disagree with me, I’d love to hear why. Reach out to me on Twitter or LinkedIn, and we can chat.


Rebekah · July 17, 2019 at 4:58 pm

Oh my word! RDS is so frustrating! I used to work at a hide processing plant and the lab computer was a screen and keyboard connected to the factory server. I mean sure, if you were happy to do everything ‘the way it’s always been done’ then it was serviceable. But try to streamline anything? Try to improve your user experience? Try to do anything new?
All that to say “I feel your pain.”

    Kyle · July 18, 2019 at 11:28 pm

    I completely agree. RDS is not a good end user experience, and the only reason its used is to “cut costs”. As a tech solution, its pretty dead. Everyone just needs to get the memo now.

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