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MS Terminal Server and Cloud computing questions.


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#1 mudslag

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 05:33

Im pretty ignorant on cloud computer and MS TS but from what I can gather it might be what my company is looking for.

A little background, we are a trading company with about 50 traders scattered around the US. We trade futures markets based out of Chicago, meaning all trades executed are done so in the Chicago land area. There are two main servers that the trades are done through, downtown Chicago at the CBOT and a center in Aurora Il.

The closer one is to these servers the faster the input and trading times are for the trader. For example Im in the western burbs and avg on a good day 20-30ms and 40-60ms when there is net congestion. The best times of 11ms is done by another trader closer to the exchange. We have a number of people, including the boss who live in Florida and some on the East coast, even one guy in Hawaii. They avg from 60-200+ms and for our business that's slow.

Those who live farther out tend on avg to get worse trades then us closer, at least during peak times. We recently had a custom auto trading program made for us that give us an advantage in terms of trading execution but is partially key on speeds. In order to get the most out of this, we need to find ways of getting faster speeds to the exchange servers. Hence the need to looking into other computing options like cloud and so forth.

The idea is, to setup a trading computer either in the same building as the servers, which we can rent space for but is very costly, or setup a similar machine outside but close to the servers to the point it still gets us much faster speeds then we currently get.

I have a very limited and basic understanding of MS Terminal Server. If I understand it correctly, it's one computer that offers multiple personal desktops for each client. So basically multiple virtual machines all bundled into one hardware unit. Am I correct in this thinking?

I guess what Im looking to get out of MS TS is the remote apps capability. Because the auto trading program is best taken advantage of when the speeds are in it's favor, I was hoping the remote app option would be perfect. We can set it up the way we want on our base pc and have it run off of the virtual machine setup close to the main servers.

So what I need to know is, is MSTS the option we should be looking at. Also in terms of cloud computing, is this what it is essentially, a remote app style system? Are there any suggestions anyone here can offer that I might be missing out on? Any help would be much appreciated.


#2 ITFiend

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 15:43

Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services (RDS, aka Terminal Services) can do what you’re asking in several different ways.

If you use it on its own, you have one server OS that is shared by many users at the same time. They have separate desktop environments, but a shared OS and application pool.

If you combine RDS with Hyper-V, you then have VDI and are giving everyone a private VM instance, and this in turns grants you RemoteFX which has many performance benefits on the right hardware (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/rds/archive/2012/08/06/remotefx-adaptive-graphics-in-windows-server-2012-and-windows-8.aspx).

In either scenario you can use RemoteApp. RemoteApp works through RDP and makes it look like a program is running directly on your local desktop, where normally you would have been connecting to an entire remote desktop environment.

If there are other products that can do it better, I’ve never experienced them. The best VDI / remote desktop experiences I’ve ever had have only been those using RDP. Your best bet is probably to talk to an experienced vendor in these matters, such as Citrix.

#3 n_K

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 15:49

I've used remoteapp for the old education place I was at using a web browser. You'd go to the login page, login, and it'd have all the icons for the remote apps you have enabled (for that user) and also a seperate tab for initiating remote desktop connections. Downsides? It's only works on windows 7 onwards (from what I remember of XP you can use the RDP and it opens the remote desktop application) using internet explorer with the remoteapp feature installed and the activex applet installed (which can be installed when you connect to the login page).
It was good but a pain in the arse it didn't support anything else. Always found it to be pretty fast and responsive (except when loads of people have logged in and not logged off, when you disconnect or log out of the remoteapp session you do NOT get logged out of the server and your account remains logged in with all running processes, to log out you have to open task manager, right click your user and select 'log user off') and another problem was that if an error message opened whilst starting a program such as explorer (cannot find path) then the remoteapp would say it's loading but it'd never load (there is a button for showing the current screen state but it's read only, i.e. accepts no mouse or keyboard input) and so you could be screwed if that happened.

EDIT: Also used Citrix ICA at another educational institute too, it was good in that there's clients for windows, mac, linux, unix, solaris, ipod etc. and a java client too. Apparently it's more secure then remote desktop (not sure about remoteapp) but I did find it slow to load things even on a fast connection, although the bonus of it being slow to load things is that it was actually usable on a 33Kbps modem, I kid you not, whereas remote desktop would just timeout. Problem with citrix is it's not included with windows and costs quite a bit extra, in fact I think it might even be subscription based per year. You also have to have it on a windows server OS, you cannot serve a workstation/client windows OS like W7 or XP as far as I know (well, how the place configured it anyway) and by default (for speeding things up) it does disable all visual effects. You can also get dedicated citrix thin clients which are cheaper and use much less power than standard desktop PCs whereas for using remoteapp you'd need full desktops to use it, or thin clients and windows thinpc (which as far as I'm aware is only available to very large companies with very large VLK contracts with MS)

Both remoteapp and citrix support clipboard (copy/paste), remote/local printers, remote/local drive sharing, encryption, password changing support. Try them both and see which you prefer.

Edited by n_K, 14 December 2012 - 15:55.


#4 SledgeNZ

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 15:58

Forget cloud computing what you need is purely down to connection speed if you are concerned about the time it takes from a trader pushing a button for the deal to hit the exchange.

Regardless of whether the machine posting trades to the exchange is right next door there is still lag from the trader to that machine.

What you should be looking at is better connections for your remote traders. Use something like http://www.visualroute.com/ to see where the bottle necks are for each of your remote traders. Based on that you can tell whether they have a rubbish isp etc. You might want to look at dedicated fibre as being the best option. I'm not sure whether you have this generally available to peoples homes in various US states.

You might also want to ensure your traders connections have no contention. i.e. sharing the available bandwidth with 50 other subscribers to the same exchange.

Remote Desktop, Terminal Services, Cloud computing won't help a bit and are just buzzwords which won't benefit you whatsoever.

If you do need a machine near the exchange to process trades then by all means stump up the cash and get one in close proximity or on the same backbone. Whether it's virtual or not is another question.

#5 OP mudslag

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 21:25

Thanks for the responses guys, got some calls out looking to test out our program via remote app. I should be able to get an idea on speeds and from there should have a better idea of if it's even something that will benefit us at all. At least I know Im on somewhat of the right track now.

#6 mrp04

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 21:28

I'm not sure adding another computer between the trader and the exchange is going to improve your ping time at all. Might even hurt it.

#7 sc302

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 00:27

You may be better off with a Citrix server if its compression in the ica protocol is still better than that of rdp. If it is it would be worth while for your company to look at that. I haven't setup a Citrix server since 4,5. Xenapp server is what u want.

#8 Aergan

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 15:47

You may be better off with a Citrix server if its compression in the ica protocol is still better than that of rdp. If it is it would be worth while for your company to look at that. I haven't setup a Citrix server since 4,5. Xenapp server is what u want.


Agreed, Citrix can help greatly with performance on RDS if there is a lack of bandwidth. Licensing costs however may not justify the expense of having to pay for Citrix and Terminal Server User/Device licences though.