Microsoft Azure RemoteApp Part 1: Microsoft Azure RemoteApp (ARA) first steps

What is ARA?

Azure RemoteApp, also known as ARA, is a scalable, flexible solution to get secure access to company applications worldwide by means of Microsoft RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol). It can be compared to RemoteApps that are being provided by a regular terminal/Remote Desktop Server Host (RDSH)-server, but then on the cloud platform of Microsoft, Microsoft Azure.

Why ARA?

RemoteApp can be used relatively easy to access applications from many devices (Windows, iOS, Mac OS X en Android) by a secure connection. Relatively easy because no complicated infrastructure needs to be in place. Microsoft updates the Azure Platform regularly, so there’s no need to be done by yourself. Though in some cases this can bring unwanted problems, so there’s also the possibility to install you own Azure RemoteApp servers that can be managed. Applications can be provided in a scalable way, which means that the more servers are needed, the more servers can be published on the Azure platform. Pay only for what you use.

Besides many advantages of ARA there are also some disadvantages, like management of the applications isn’t that mature and still the non RDSH-aware applications won’t work on Windows Azure, but that last thing is by design.

How to use and configure ARA? Employees using ARA can execute their business applications from different devices. With an internet connection, a supported device, a Microsoft- or company account and a RemoteApp client ARA applications can be started.

Part 1 of this Microsoft Azure RemoteApp blogs covers how a Microsoft Azure RemoteApp is being configured, published and started and how RemoteApps are being made available on a device using one of the two templates that Microsoft provides.

Microsoft Azure RemoteApp Part 1: Microsoft Azure RemoteApp (ARA) first steps

Due to the fact my computer has been configured to Dutch language, some screens are in Dutch.

To get access to Microsoft Azure, there has to be an e-mail account that is attached and entitled to use Microsoft Azure. The steps below depend on such kind of account to that is entitled and attached to Microsoft Azure.

First browse to http://portal.azure.com and use the entitled account to log into Microsoft Azure.

Click ‘Azure portal’ in the portal screen.

Browse to the RemoteApp services in the Azure portal. At this time there is no RemoteApp collection available where RemoteApps can be published. Click ‘Create a RemoteApp collection’.

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A ‘Quick Create’ RemoteApp collection can be created based on two default existing templates: an Office 365 and an Office 2013 template. Accept the default settings, choose the Office 2013 template and click ‘Create RemoteApp Collection’.

Remote App - Deel 1 - afbeelding 05A RDSH Azure server will be created and configured based on the Office 2013 template. Provisioning can take upto 1 hour, so patience is desired. When the RemoteApp collection is created and available the message appears that the application collection is ‘Active’.

When the collection is available, applications can be published and user access can be configured. Double click the application collection.

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Click ‘Publish RemoteApp Programs’ to see if there are any RemoteApps being published already.

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There are some default applications being published. The ‘Publish’-button can be used to published more applications based on their path name or from the Start Menu. For now, he default publish application will be fine. Now it’s time to test the published RemoteApps. Browse to http://www.remoteapp.windowsazure.com to download the client of your choice.

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Select ‘Download RemoteApp client for Windows’, after that installation will start.

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Click ‘Get Started’.

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Use a registered Microsoft username and password that is entitled to use Microsoft Azure resources. After being validated this account will show a screen with the published Azure RemoteApps.

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RemoteApps are being clicked one by one to see if they are successfully being started. First time en application starts, will take longer to start, as also seen with regular RDSH-servers. Session has to be set up. When the other RemoteApps of this same application collection re being started, starting up will be faster. In this example, Microsoft Office Excel is being started first.

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As this is the first RemoteApp being started ‘Show Details’ will be clicked so we can see what happens in the background. As can be seen a undefined server name and user name are being used to log in. The user name is the one being entitled to use the Azure RemoteApp application collection.

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Microsoft Excel 2013 starts.

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When Excel 2013 has been started, a demo spreadsheet will be shown and the Print option is being tested. The connecting device’s printers are available as session printers. As there is a OnetNote printer available on the connecting device, printing to One Note is selected and the demo spreadsheet will be printed to OneNote 2013 on the local device successfully. Also, starting the other existing applications like Word, Outlook, Visio, PowerPoint and so on start without any problems.

End of part 1!

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