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New business looking for solution along the lines of citrix, but not citrix?

Hello Experts,

So I'm working for a client who has a new-ish business.  He was working out of his house, but business picked up so he moved into a storefront.  He currently has one server running Windows Server 2012 r2 datacenter edition which is also running Exchange 2013.  He has six or so computers.  One of them is a desktop running Windows 8.  His other computers are laptops running Windows 7 Home Premium.  He currently uses the program, Xactimate for estimates (one license), Office 365 (five licenses), and Adobe Acrobat (one license).  He wants to get the most out of his software without spending a ton of money.  He wants to have all of his employees connect to a centralized place and be able to use all of the aforementioned software.  This is why I was thinking of Citrix, but he does not want to use Citrix because of the cost involved and because it might be overkill for what he needs.  Since he has the datacenter version of Windows Server, can we do anything with that? Any help, ideas, suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Brent Johnson
Brent Johnson
6 Solutions
Hypercat (Deb)Commented:
Why not use Windows 2012 remote desktop services?  For that small a number of users, it should run OK, even if locally logged on users are also accessing the server resources.  You can set up that server to run all of the RDS roles and set up the apps for Remote Webapp so they can use a browser interface.  His costs will be the remote desktop services licenses, and also he'll need additional licenses for Adobe Acrobat (assuming it's full Acrobat and not just the Reader) and his estimating software if all 6 users are going to use all of those apps.  

The only catch is that you would need to make sure that the 3rd party apps he's using will run in a RDS environment, plus you will have to uninstall the apps, set up the RDS services, and then reinstall the apps in order for them to run properly in a RDS environment.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Some cheaper options than Citrix, and just as good...

2X -  http://www.2x.com/

Application Server (similar to Citrix!)

TSPLus - http://www.tsplus.net/

Even cheaper than citrix, and the Best Alternative!
To add to Hyper's comment - Office 365 licenses are not for use on Remote Desktop.  Microsoft allows only Volume License Office to be installed in a Terminal Environment.
NFR key for Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365

Veeam is happy to provide a free NFR license (for 1 year, up to 10 users). This license allows for the non‑production use of Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 in your home lab without any feature limitations.

Brent JohnsonAuthor Commented:
He is trying to get away from having to purchase all those additional licenses... Is there a way to use what he has but for multiple people?
Hypercat (Deb)Commented:
Not without violating the software licensing agreements. However, if they connect to the RDS server for other apps using Remote Webapp then they can use web access for Office 365 too.  As long as they're not running Office itself on the RDS server they don't need additional licenses.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
@Brent, look at TSplus !
Just to add in some information into the discussion :) :)

I'm quite a fan of some of the features Citrix offers (not all of them :)). They have taken over Kavizaa a few years back and changed it to VDI-in-a-BOX and that is quite frankly what it is. You only need a virtual server (just choose your own hypervisor, i believe it supports the 3 big ones) or use XenServer, it's free.. Add an appliance and within a few hours you have a complete VDI environment.

IMHO licenses will always be an issue whichever way you take it. If you have multiple desktops/sessions/workplaces you will need multiple licenses, can;t come around that one.

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