What are Terminal Servers and Why Remote Workers Should use them
Understanding what terminal servers are and how they secure remote work.
As you're are reading this you may be on a terminal server and not realize it. The technology of terminal servers is quite old, relatively speaking. However, as more work is being done remotely the use of terminal servers may jump up - as they provide cost and security advantages vs. not using them. We hope that this article will answer your questions on what terminal servers are and why you might want to start using them.
What are terminal servers
Describing terminal servers can quickly become complex and as a people manager, controller or operations person there might be a little too much tech jargon as we go down the rabbit hole. The best way to describe a terminal server might be that it is a central location (on your corporate network) that holds the programs and services you want to use vs. having everything on individual machines, workstations or in the cloud. It's sort of like a shared file but for the apps that you use like Microsoft Windows, Word, Excel, Sage, etc. It is very similar to the concept of cloud computing in that many remote computers can access the terminal server and work within shared apps at the same time. It works best for apps or software that doesn't work well or can't work on web-based cloud environments. You might hear the term RDS when doing more research on terminal servers as RDS stands for Remote Desktop Services and is essentially a rename for the term terminal server. You may also hear the term RDP, RDP stands for Remote Desktop Protocol and it enables the data transmission between the terminal server and the individual workstations. I think if we go much further it will start to get a little too tech-heavy and blur our intent to keep this simple.
Why use terminal servers (or RDSs)
Why you would use a terminal server would be because you have many remote workers and they all need reliable, quick access and use of programs, apps and software. Due to the central nature of how these apps are stored, it allows fast access and response to the various programs you use. The way the protocol works makes it a lot easier for information to go back and forth. This can be done with one server, one terminal server license and with remote desktop services on each workstation device you can create a central host for all your apps to be used by your remote workers with ease. It's a very efficient process.
However efficient remote work is not the only benefit that a terminal server can provide. Security is a major benefit. You can lock down access to a terminal server so that only specific, users, apps, websites, and programs can be used. Effectively all the data stays on the server making it more secure. You want to be careful here as limiting it too far can reduce productivity but if you only want a certain kind of work or access given to remote workers this can be achieved using terminal servers, RDSs and RDPs. This makes implementing a security policy a lot easier.
Reducing the costs of licenses is also a significant benefit of terminal servers. Having your programs centrally managed reduces the cost burden of individually setting up each workstation. Changes and updates can be done once and centrally. Also, licences operating systems, programs and apps are generally cheaper with terminal servers vs. individual machines.
Certainly, not the last benefit but worth mentioning is that the hardware requirements for individual workstations don't have to be as robust. Meaning you can use lower spec equipment as the taxing programs and apps are being hosted on a terminal server not your individual machines. This can save you costly upgrading!
If you want to learn more or have us help you set up a terminal server, please contact us below!