Best Method for Small Business to Host Apps on Windows Server

Hey Guys -

My parents have a small business where some of the workstations are ancient (like with 1ghz CPUs.)  They are considering a few new workstations, but don't want to spend much yet currently have a powerful server.  Being a systems admin and having set up and managed Citrix environments in the past, I'm considering an alternative to getting them new systems.  Below is my idea - please tell me your thoughts...

As mentioned, they have a single server which I installed for them a year ago which runs Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials.  The workstations really only run 304 applications - none of which are very resource hungry.  My thought is to create some sort of terminal services environment where they may either purchase thin clients or even use old PCs (with a client installed) and stream the applications to them where they actually run on the server.  Basically a XenApp environment - but on a budget.

If done, there would start of being 4 connections with the potential of up to 8 within a year.  All connections would be on local network (1gbps) even though it would be nice to have remote or even web access.  Trying to talk them into Azure or other online host, but for now need to make due with local hardware.  Below are the server's specs, what it's current load is, apps I want to host, and a few questions:

Server Specs
- Xeon E31270 3.40Ghz
- 16GB RAM
- Dual 10/100/1000 NICs
- Drives / Partitions
   - 128GB C:\ - Operating System + Apps  (Pair of SSDs in Raid 1 - Mirroring)
   - 80GB E:\ - Drive for app cache - nothing special
   - 981gb G:\ - Old RAID 5 array (3 disks) I kpet from old server - currently barely used for fileshares
 - Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials (New name for SBS Server)
- What's Hosted
   - Domain Controller
   - Hyper-V Installed (Not hosting an VMs - Considered creating Exchange VM, but haven't had time yet)
   - Sage 50 Accounting Software "Server Role"
   - File shares (SMB - Local Only
   - Mozy online Backup - takes 4-5 backups of folder selection daily - only differential
   - Various other non-critical apps & tools
- Load (Samples taken during standard load and no recent reboot)
   - CPU - goes between 1%  -2%
   - RAM - 62% free
   - Disk - All 3 partitions barely used

Apps To Host
None really resource hogs - Office probably most intensive
- Sage 50 Accounting
- Office 2013 (Really just Word, Excel, & Outlook)
- Couple other small apps

1. Do you believe this can be done on current server given it's current load?

2. What (if any) hardware upgrades would you suggest besides more RAM?  The SSD RAID would obviously be ideal to install apps onto and perhaps a 2nd pair for the app installs.  It currently has 50gb free and could probably free up 10-15 more.

3. Is there any other cheap or open sourcesoftware besides XenApp / Microsoft you'd suggest which is cheap / open source which would work well, better, or just as good?

4. Assuming it's possible with Windows Server, what would be the best method (most user friendly) to set this up?  I can search for links to guides, but honestly don't know what the specific service I need to set up is called :)

That's about it - Thanks Guys!


Was doing research and found that RemoteApp sometimes clashes with servers which are DCs.  Read about an app named WSE RemoteApp 2012 which is made for Essentials.  Anyone ever used it?
Who is Participating?
Brian BConnect With a Mentor EE Topic Advisor, Independant Technology ProfessionalCommented:
Even though your RAM isn't fully utilized, some more might help if the server can hold it. Citrix may be a bit overkill, depending on your users. Windows terminal services might do you just as well and it's built in to windows, so less licensing to purchase.

Keep in mind that in a terminal services environment (or Citrix) Microsoft requires you purchase a license of Office for each possible user of the server.
Hypercat (Deb)Connect With a Mentor Commented:
You don't say what version of OS is running on the workstations.  If they still have any Windows XP workstations, you'll have a problem with Windows 2012 remote desktop services.  It requires an RDP client that can use Remote Desktop Connection Protocol 8.0.  There's no update to the remote desktop client for XP that will run that version of RDP.  There is an upgrade for Windows 7 SP1 and it comes natively with Windows 8 and above.
BzowKAuthor Commented:
Thanks Guys -

The workstations are a mix of versions however I was planning on reinstalling the OS on any of them used as clients to keep it clean so probably Win7.  Have the licenses for it.  However, is there a linux distro which is compatible that may provide better performance with the legacy hardware?

Also, so what roles would i need to install on the server?  Since it's a dc should i use that app i mentioned in the update?

Brian BEE Topic Advisor, Independant Technology ProfessionalCommented:
You can use the app you mention. Server essentials is a unique beast. Normally you wouldn't allow user to remote desktop to a DC at all, but either your third party app, or remote desktop (formerly terminal services) will work.
BzowKAuthor Commented:
Trying out RemoteApp now.  Looking over what you suggested as well.  Update shortly - Thanks!
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