Resources required to host a client/server application using Remote Desktop Services

I need to provide my client with an estimate for the cost of setting up my application as a "hosted" application running on a dedicated server using a hosting company such as Rackspace.  I've read a number of articles, blogs, etc. in order to estimate my hardware requirements and have concluded (for the moment) that a 64GB solution from Rackspace should suffice (based on 100 concurrent users, small database sizes, and running the Windows Server 2008 R2 OS, SQL Server 2008 R2, AD, and Remote Desktop Services on the same server).  I'm attaching a screenshot from their website that provides more detail on their specifications.  I'm running a single application as a RemoteApp, which runs adequately on my own network on a 16GB (RAM) server.  The consensus seems to be that 64MB of memory per concurrent user is the "go-to" number for calculating the amount of memory required.  Since the current estimate is for no more than 100 concurrent users at any point in time, the 64GB solution appears to me to be more than adequate (in rough numbers, 6.4GB for user sessions, 2GB for the OS, leaves me 50+GB for SQL Server, AD, etc.).  Any and all feedback would be greatly appreciated as this is a major departure for my client who runs everything "in-house" currently, but whose end-users are desperate for a remote solution: Hardware specifications for RDS solution using Rackspace hosting company
Jim KlocksinOwner, Data ArchitectsAsked:
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
What is the price after the introductory offer? 1K/month now

I would go with Azure myself. It is about the same pricing but not dedicated
Is your app demanding as far as disk access?  The base level gives you 2 drives - I assume you will mirror these drives.  So, you will have a "single" 300Gb drive for OS, SQL server, your application, and RDS.  

(You don't need anybody to tell you that this is not optimal for SQL Server, but if the app isn't too demanding, it might be OK, at least initiailly.  But this would be a design that doesn't scale well)

As far as pricing, is the OS included?  How about SQL Server?  And RDS, and client CALs?

Dedicated is better, if you ask me.  If performance is not good, at least you know it's your problem, and not the possibility that somebody else on the server you share is beating up on their instance slowing everybody down.
Jim KlocksinOwner, Data ArchitectsAuthor Commented:
As far as introductory pricing, that only applies to the $599/mo. option.  I've since spoken with the company and am getting "ball-park" quotes which will specify exactly what is included (I believe the OS is included) and anything additional will be priced out as an additional line item.  They have their own pricing for SQL Server (or I have the option to install my own copy) and they do offer RDS CALs on a per user/per month basis, so I can easily scale the CALs based on need.  My application is not all that disk intensive and 300GB is more than enough for the databases.  As far as the actual implementation of SQL Server and AD, if I need more disk capacity, they claim they can provide it.  A hardware firewall (CISCO) is included.  I needed something for a meeting tomorrow, so, at the moment, this will have to suffice.  That said, I will pursue some other solutions, such as Azure, before we make any final decision.  Currently, we're at a point where all application end-users want a remote access solution, so we're basically down to either convincing or simply getting the OK from corporate IT.
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Jim KlocksinOwner, Data ArchitectsAuthor Commented:
What's the advantage of having say 12 cores vs. 8 cores vs. 4 cores for a standard client/server application being run via RDS?  My own network runs on an Intel Xeon E5 version processor with 6 cores and runs the application more than adequately.  My setup lacks sufficient bandwidth for data intensive operations (such as saving a file back to the user's local drive as an Excel spreadsheet).
If CPU utilisation isn't high, then there's probably little (if any) advantage to be realized with more cores.  But, it's always good to over-engineer at least a little bit  : )  

I think in many cases, performance is affected more by disk speed, then memory, then CPU.  YMMV
Jim KlocksinOwner, Data ArchitectsAuthor Commented:
OK, I'm becoming somewhat more confident with my situation.  Forget about the cores, I've got one quote (from Rackspace) that's using SSD drives, 64GB memory and a decent Xeon processor.  I believe for my application to be hosted remotely this will perform nicely (also with a 1Gbps bandwidth).  Can anyone recommend any other reputable hosting companies (I need to provide 3 quotes on this...) that are similar in nature to Rackspace and that are not just cheap web hosting companies?
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
When the users want 'remote' access do they really MEAN access from their mobile device? You could use your existing equipment with a vpn or a vpn + remote desktop services a lot cheaper.
I have had some experience with both Rackspace and Amazon (AWS).

If you want "cheap" and can forgo the handholding/excellent-tech-support that Rackspace provides, then Amazon can be cheap
(Amazon does provide support, but that is for an additional monthly charge)

Since this is a new deployment, I suggest this:
whoever you choose, build your environment keeping in mind that you might have to pick it all up and move it someplace else

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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
Another 2 are Level3 and Azure.. With Level3 you usually provide your own server, they just give you power and connectivity.
Jim KlocksinOwner, Data ArchitectsAuthor Commented:
Level3 appeared to be a potential solution although I don't really want to supply the hardware (seems to defeat the purpose of using the "magical cloud".  So, I checked out a couple other hosting options I found on the web as well as Azure (I looked the Amazon "alphabet soup" solution a few months back) and, based on what I can determine, Azure is pretty much like the Amazon solution.  So, I've decided to go with Rackspace and will work up a quote for my client and see if they are willing to pay their rates.  Although my client is part of the DOW, I'm really working with individual departments within the corporation so who knows?  Thanks for all of your input and I'm sure I'll have some more questions that will need expert advice (Active Directory for one...) in the near future.
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