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Matt W.
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Office in the cloud using Azure or AWS

I have a customer that I want to create a "office in the cloud" type solution for. They have 6 total users, 3 physical locations. They all need access to Office 365 for business, Quickbooks Enterprise and file shares. I want them to be able to use RDP connections from their devices (PCs, Macs, Tablets and Phones). They have about 250GB of file shares total at this point.
What is the best way of going about this? I'm open to using Azure or AWS or even a third party if a better option exists. My current plan is to deploy a couple of Servers running 2012 R2, 1 as a DC and 1 as a RDS gateway. I don't have any experience in this arena and would welcome any help here.
What would you do?
AzureCloud ComputingQuickBooksCloud Services

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8/22/2022 - Mon

I am thinking if the Azure  RemoteApp (uses RDP) that comes with template images that contain Office 365 or Office 2013 (for trial use) programs. The article has the steps in getting this up and consideration req. I do see it can be an easy fit subjected to custom request on storage and access security with Azure Active Directory and your on-premises Active Directory.

Also using Azure VNet will segment your resource to your network access and give your hybrid collections direct network access to other Azure services and virtual machines deployed to your VNET. supposed to give you better performance and easier to setup compared to VNET-to-VNET. AWS has VPC of similar context but since it is O365, likely Azure has tighter integration and support escalation to the RemoteApps with O365.


main doc - https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/services/remoteapp/
•Which deployment method (cloud or hybrid) is best for my organization? Hybrid collections provide the most complete experience if you want full integration with single sign-on (SSO) and secure on-premises network connectivity. Cloud collections provide an agile and easy way to isolate your deployment by using multiple authentication methods.

•We have SQL or another database either on-premises or in Azure. Which deployment type should we use? That depends on where your SQL or backend database is. If the database is in a private network, use the hybrid collection. If the database is exposed to the Internet and allows client connections to connect to it, you can use the cloud collection.

•What about drive mapping, USB and serial port, clipboard sharing, and printer redirection? All of those features are supported in Azure RemoteApp. Clipboard sharing and printer redirection is enabled by default.

•How about authentication? Which methods are supported? The cloud collection supports Microsoft accounts and Azure Active Directory accounts, which are Office 365 accounts as well. The hybrid collection supports only Azure Active Directory accounts that have been synced (using a tool like Azure Active Directory Sync) from a Windows Server Active Directory deployment; specifically, either synced with the Password Synchronization option or synced with Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) federation configured.
Matt W.

I am trialing the RemoteApps in Azure.  One issue I'm seeing is, the O365 that is installed does not recognize my accounts.   We use hosted O365 for business.    Also with Azure, do I need a seperate VM operating as a DC and fileshare or just use the storage?

One other issue with RemoteApps is the 20 user minimum!

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Matt W.

I should have been more specific.  Our hosted O365 is from Intermedia.
Your help has saved me hundreds of hours of internet surfing.

Looks like then hosted in cloud via intermedia already is sort of RemotApps with O365, they either run their own cloud private to you or hosted on premise with their cloud office apps too. It is more costly as expected since it is fully managed. Thought some public sharing from other may be useful insight
Intermedia is a fair bit more expensive for the basic options but I've found the support far superior. Also, whilst Office 365 has caught up with it's feature list, Intermedia is far better equipped if you want to do things like multiple domain names for small businesses. Office 365 does do them but you need to get the more expensive enterprise versions at which point Intermedia becomes the cheaper option.

I've got the Intermedia reseller package and I've been able to get contact (via telephone) and things fixed within hours. A couple of simple support queries with the Office 365 Small Business took days to sort out.

Out of the two, for a bog standard SME, with one domain, I'd recommend Office 365 but if your setup requirements are a bit non-standard, Intermedia is the way to go.
Most moving to Office 365 is strongly for significant cost savings and to certain extend have better control of the accounts. I am not so sure about the interface and use of the "Intermedia Office Apps" but I do see O365 will fare any bad then any sort of Office Apps. Key is probably the effort to migrate out and long term management for operation readiness. Of course RemoteApps O365 may not be the best but it does meet those wanting to have to do hybrid or totally cloud outsourced scheme. The portfolio compared to intermedia may be lesser since it revolved only around Office. If you have other needs like voice call, maintenance etc requirement then Intermedia may be capable to make it "transparent" (at cost as expected).

I am not totally savvy with the pricing and limit but the minimal for Azure RemoteApps is probably for its running and you add on as demand grows, it scale up and down so much of the time. Maybe the trial will make sense before as move out take place.

Eventually, hassle free vs build DC in VM and move it to Cloud platform will be the effort requirement for the migration or staying on decision
...for Azure discussed, it is more DIY...and hand-ons which we may have to reconcile against the "pampered" Intermedia services
Shalom Carmel

Look also at AWS Workspaces. I think that the licensing model is a bit more flexible.

AWS workspace is not bad either with its Marketplace for Desktop Apps, WorkSpaces Application Manager (Amazon WAM) and WorkDocs Sync. Users have their persistent workspace they used hosted via AWS with security safeguard on identity and data comms via VPN is possible as well.
Q: How do I use desktop applications from AWS Marketplace?

You can subscribe to applications from the AWS Marketplace for Desktop Apps via Amazon WorkSpaces console. Start by selecting the Application Catalog in Amazon WorkSpaces console, browse and add applications from the AWS Marketplace to your application catalog. Once the applications are in your catalog you can assign the applications to your WorkSpaces users. The applications can then be accessed by users via the Amazon WorkSpaces Application Manager (Amazon WAM) desktop app.

Q: How will I be charged for applications from the AWS Marketplace for Desktop Apps?

You will be charged the price listed on AWS Marketplace for Desktop Apps for each application on a monthly subscription basis. A subscription is activated and charged the first time a user launches an application and will renew monthly until access to the application is removed for that user. Charges for an application are prorated for the remainder of the first month in which a user launches them. Subsequent months are billed for the entire month. Subscriptions that are removed in the middle of a month will not receive a refund for the remainder of the month.

Q: How can WorkSpaces be managed?

The WorkSpaces Management console lets you provision, reboot, rebuild, and delete WorkSpaces. To manage the underlying OS for the WorkSpaces, you can use standard Microsoft Active Directory tools such as Group Policy to manage the WorkSpaces. In the case when you have integrated WorkSpaces with an existing Active Directory domain, you can manage your WorkSpaces using the same tools and techniques you are using for your existing on-premises desktops. If you have not integrated with an existing Active Directory, you can set up a Directory Administration WorkSpace to perform management tasks.
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Matt W.

Your responses have been helpful.  Thank you.   In my labs I've found out that to use O365 for a RDS deployment I still have to have a Office VLK to install on the server.  This would be if I deploy with AWS EC2 instances and build the environment, or if I build the environment on prem.  

I've messaged my rep with Intermedia to see how we can have this done with them.    My ultimate goal here is to provide my customer with a scalable, secure and easy to use from anywhere with any device virtual desktop platform.   I also have to keep in mind the requirements for purchasing, managing, monitoring and BDR on such an environment.   I have a lot to think about here!

eventually all is good to provide what you need but as for "Want" the cost effectiveness need more convincing from the existing provider and how interoperable with other cloud services as well as for sensitive services or apps, they have contingent provider as fallback and need to failover easily and running fast. Hence this is can also be a factor of the winner for your eventual one main provider. There are multi-CDN (content delivery n/w) which acts like cloud load balancer - one instance is Cedexis (http://www.cedexis.com/openmix/global-load-balancing.html) and other simply use DNS (primary/secondary) to balance and shift. The cloud provider by themselves already can load balance within their ground and apps..