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Installing and Using Terminal Services in a VMWare Environment

Hi Experts,

Is it possible to install and use Terminal Services in a VMWare environment?  Currently, I have 80 users, split among 4 termial servers via network load balancing.  Our terminal users use applications such as MS Office, Great Plains, and other client/server programs.  I'm in the process of replacing some equipment, and one idea was to virtuallize the terminal servers, using VMWare.  Would would be the pros and cons in doing so?

3 Solutions
If your hardware is powerful enough then there is no reason not use TS on a  VM. Virtual Machines makes you more flexible if something stops working, as it is a generic installation that doesn't care if it is moved from one Hardware flavor to another.

We experienced a serious performance hit when moving from physical hardware to VMWare ESX.  User interaction is much slower. Terminal server and Citrix don't virtualise very well.
As I mentioned, you need powerful hardware (multiprocessors, plenty of RAM, blade servers would be ideal).
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>As I mentioned, you need powerful hardware

We went from 4 year old, low end (physical) servers to top-of-the line multi core/multi processor ESX machines and still got complaints from the users that things are *a lot* slower.  

We virtualise all kinds of servers with success, but TS just doesn't virtualise well. A search on the internet will confirm that many sites have similar experiences.
FCER ITCommented:
I recently replaced two Dell 1850 (dual single-core 3ghz, 4gb ram, scsi raid1) 2003 terminal servers with four virtualized 2003 terminal servers running under ESX on a Dell 2950 (two dual-core 3ghz, 20gb ram, three scsi raid1). Each VM has 4gb ram and min/max cpu caps established and two virtual CPU's.

Previously I tried this under VMware server, and performance was completely dismal.  It is drastically improved on ESX vs VMware server, but it's still not as fast as the old setup. I'd estimate it's roughly 30% slower from a "seat of the pants" user experience. Network performance is the biggest hit, but just overall it seems more sluggish. There is a secondary problem of video resolution/color depth under ESX. It does not appear to support my 30-inch monitor at 2560x1600 above 8-bit color depth.

Main downside is network performance. I've done file transfer testing from within an ESX TS session, and from a "regular" win2003 to a win2003 file server.  The ESX TS transfers at roughly 87mbit, while the "real" win2003 transfers at 363mbit (all 1gb network on a Cisco with hard-coded speed/duplex). Most apps are Office 2007 and a web-based patient information system (Centricity) that uses IE.

Having said all of that, I am sticking with the ESX setup. The reason is it's "acceptable" performance, although not quite as snappy as running natively, and the disaster-recovery benefits outweigh the performance hit(i.e. if a VM gets trashed, I have copies of the vmdk files I can put it back where it started in a few minutes instead of days reloading TS and all the apps).

I am going to try and migrate to even faster hardware as a test (2950-III, dual quad-core 2.5ghz with 32gb ram). I'll report my findings back here if they are improved.
I too use centricity in terminal servies. In two weeks we plan to upgrade to faster and powerful server.
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