Windows Server 2003 R2 - Terminal Server Solution

Posted on 2010-08-24
Last Modified: 2013-11-21
I am in the process of rebuilding an “HP Proliant DL380 G3 server”, 2-XEON 3.06 processors, 4GB ram, 2-HP Proliant 72.8GB hot-swap mirrored hard drives, Dual power supplies, Dual GB NICs. It will run a fresh copy of "Windows Server 2003 R2"

The server will be in an environment that will be connecting 3 sites via VPN. I will be using 3 “Netgear Prosafe FS228 VPN routers”. I've had good luck with these and they are very cost effective.

The Primary site
- Has 5 brand new Dell computers running Windows 7 premium (not professional). These computers are currently running in a peer to peer network where PC1 is acting as the server that runs the company's primary software "QuickBooks Point of Sale version 9" and
QuickBooks Pro 2010.

The 2nd site has 1 computer that will connect via the VPN
The 3rd site has 1 computer that will connect via the VPN

Both 2nd and 3rd sites have been running stand-alone but both have been acquired by the primary site - hence the reason to network all three centers.

Since this company is a small company with only a few PC's, I do not want to implement "Active Directory". I just want to keep the "Peer to Peer" network and have all users access the two databases, some 'word and excel" documents and share printers all from the server.

Can I effectively run “Windows Terminal Server” on a stand-alone server without Active Directory?

2nd question
-      There’s a 3rd party software called “Terminal Server Pro” It goes for  - $249 (5 users)
- or
-      For the Enterprise Solution at $399 -  I believe this is the only version of the two that supports Windows Server 2003

I’m not that familiar with setting up and configuring the Windows Terminal server and I thought this 3rd party software is a better way to go. In all my experience, the Microsoft licensing department has become more and more difficult to work with. Everybody in Microsoft is “Ala Carte”

Any help with any recomendations and my concerns would be appreciated

Question by:agieryic
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Expert Comment

by:Darius Ghassem
ID: 33513719
You can run Terminal Server without being a domain this is supported without issues.

Now when it comes to CALs no on EE is certified to answer your licensing questions properly since we do not represent the licensor which is MS in this case so if you want to have a license question answered properly then I would contact an authorized dealer or MS.

When it comes to TS CALs you need one CAL for each device or user connecting to the TS server.
LVL 59

Accepted Solution

Darius Ghassem earned 250 total points
ID: 33513731

Author Comment

ID: 33514600
dariusg: I totally understand the MS licensing thing. It changes quite often to the point I cant keep up. Any thought on the possibility of the 3rd party mentioned software?
LVL 59

Expert Comment

by:Darius Ghassem
ID: 33514684
I would stick with Terminal services not the third-party.
LVL 31

Assisted Solution

by:Cláudio Rodrigues
Cláudio Rodrigues earned 250 total points
ID: 33515009
As you are new to TS this is what I have to say:
1. Download and read the guide I wrote, "Terminal Services A to Z", available at no cost at It explains ALL you need to know about TS, how it works, how to setup it properly, lock it down, etc.

2. All solutions like the Elusiva one turn regular desktop OSs (XP/Vista/7) or SBS into a 'terminal server' that allows multiple users connected to it. The major issues with these are:
- As expected these are completely unsupported by Microsoft so if you have an issue you are on your own. If your business is ok about running a 100% unsupported solution by the main vendor, Microsoft in this case, then you are ok.
- On top of their licenses, to be legal from a Microsoft perspective, you will need additional licenses, in certain cases, FULL desktop OS licenses. This makes the solution WAY more expensive than the initial price tag. Of course I assume you want to be legal. If it is ok to run an illegal solution at your company then you are ok.

3. Running TS without AD poses some challenges if you want to lock the TS properly, so users do not mess with it AND at the same time you want NOT to lock the administrator. Given that you could possibly add a second small server just to be the Domain Controller (where the TS will be) OR add more memory/disk to the machine you have and then load something like VMWare ESXi (free) or even Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V (free as well) and setup two virtual machines, one for the DC and one for the TS. Assuming you will backup the VMs to external storage, you should be able to restore the whole environment easily in case of failure (actually much easier than restoring the TS itself using regular backup tools).

So basically: read the guide, stay away from the solutions you mentioned and do consider having AD in place. It will make your life MUCH easier down the road.

Cláudio Rodrigues
Microsoft MVP - Remote Desktop Services
Citrix CTP

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