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Windows 2000 server - local users all connect via terminal services

I have recently moved to a new site, at which we have the following configuration :-

Site 1 - 30 LAN users, mostly Windows XP Pro, some aging Win 9x machines but most have been replaced in the last 2 years
Site 2 - VPN Access to Site 1 for 2 X PC and 2 X laptop users
Remote engineers also VPN to Site 1 for laptop use

Site 1 users have shared their drives, and operate as a peer-to-peer network. Email is collected individually via pop3 accounts.

My question is this -  a Windows 2000 server has recently been installed at site 1, on the local area network, but all Site 1 users only ever access the server via Terminal Services, rather than logging onto the domain in the conventional fashion. This is done to use Microsoft Office applications and the accounts package, in order to 'store the documents on the server'.

The server is a generic build P4 based system, rather than a branded Xeon based machine, and they experience performance issues when a number of users are accessing the server (via Terminal Services) at once.

Can anyone list the pro's and con's of accessing the local server this way, as I have been told by the previous IT support manager that this installation is perfectly normal, and I have to provide a report to the board.

Thanks in advance

2 Solutions
1.  i wouldn't call that setup conventional
2.  even if they are logging into the Terminal server for whatever reason,,, why aren't they logging into the domain? If you have a domain setup, ALL users should be logging into the domain,,,, no need for local accounts at all.
3.  what is their reason for using Termianl services like this??  software licensing is the only real reason i can think of.
4.  since all of the processing is being done on the server in this setup rather than on the client (for office apps and so on) of course the server will be slower.
5.  why give the users full blown PCs with windows XP pro on it if you aren't even using that OS or computer really at all??  what you have is a thin client setup, but yet your users have full blown client PCs that aren't even being used (a total waste of the XP license and client hardware if you ask me)
6.  if their reason for doing this is to "store docs on the server", whoever set that up shouldn't be in the IT industry at all... ask them if they have ever heard of the highly technical "mapped drive" that will allow them to store docs on the server MUCH cleaner and with better all around performance.
Pros of running terminal services include:

Centralized management.  If you upgrade office on the server everyone is upgraded at the same time vs.  having to upgrade office on all computers.  

Allows remote users to run in real time and the same desktop as if they were at the office.

Security is a big advantage with terminal services.  The centralized management and allowing the use of thin clients allows for much greater security on the network.  

There aren't really any cons unless it is not setup correctly.  To take advantage of the centralized processing you should be using thin clients much cheaper and less maintenance (no mechanical components to go bad, ex... no harddrive, floppy drive, cdrom)

Do not let anyone tell you it is perfectly normal to have 30 users running terminal services off of a P4 box.
For 30 users you should be using a dual xeon processor server with at least 2gb of ram.  
The extra expense of the server should of been off set by using the less expensive thin clients.  Centralized computing vs. client/server is usually around the same cost up front but the benefits of centralized computing will save money in the long run by requiring far less maintenance and greater availability to your applications.

You need to decide which type of platform you are going to run.  Centralized or client/server.  Either one sounds like it will be fine for you.  The two are mixed now it you are not seeing the benefits of either.  

If you think you want to enjoy the benefits of centralized processing with 30 users you should take a hard look at running Citrix instead of terminal services.  


markfullartonAuthor Commented:
Thanks very much for the comments so far - very valuable

I get the impression that no informed decision has been made as to operate in either thin client or client server mode. The server appears to have been added to the network as an afterthought, and is certainly not powerful enough to support all users simultaniously.

Its a shame that no real benefits seem to have been gained from the addition.

Does anyone else have anything to add ?


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