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What to know about remote desktop connection brokers

Remote desktop connection brokers are an important part of your VDI environment, so make sure you know how to pick the best one for you, and how to troubleshoot problems with it.

A good remote desktop connection broker is a vital link in the virtualization chain. If you want good performance, it's important to know what to look for in a connection broker, as well as what issues may arise.

Your connection broker is the facilitator for your virtual environment. A broker authenticates users and connects them to the right virtual machine (VM). A broker will also keep users' connections running smoothly if there's an interruption in the network.

Because the user experience can make or break your VDI deployment, the broker's role is critical. To that end, you need to know what you want out of a remote desktop connection broker, how to pick it, and how to handle problems with it.

Which features should I look for in a remote desktop connection broker?

When you're picking a connection broker, choose one that fits both your current and future needs.  There are no one-size-fits-all brokers.

Vendors offer similar basics in their brokers, such as robust local display protocol performance, plus support for application virtualization, Windows 7 and compatible hypervisors. What you should be concerned with is the features that set the brokers apart: the remoting protocol, provisioning and management systems, licensing model, and whether or not the broker integrates with your application virtualization setup. Asking questions about these features for each broker you consider will help you determine if that broker is a good fit for your organization. The best way to know is to try them out and see what works.

Can I mix and match hypervisors with remote desktop connection brokers?

Most brokers are a part of a VDI management and deployment package.  For example, Citrix, VMware and Microsoft all offer brokers designed to support their own hypervisors. You can use different brokers with these hypervisors, but not all brokers play nicely with every hypervisor. VMware View only works with VMware's ESXi Hypervisor, but Citrix XenDesktop and Microsoft Hyper-V work with ESXi, as well as the proprietary hypervisor from each company, respectively.

If you want even more flexibility, pick a vendor-neutral connection broker, such as Leostream, that offers extended capabilities that allow for your choice of hypervisor.

What can go wrong with a remote desktop connection broker?

If your broker isn't working the way it should and you're having remote desktop connectivity problems, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can take. Make sure the problems aren't caused by a network failure, firewall problems, Secure Sockets Layer certificate issues, network-level authentication or exceeded capacity. You can prevent all of these problems if you address them in the planning phase of your VDI deployment.

If your VDI setup is broken and you don't know why, be sure your broker is on a separate host from your other VMs -- desktop VMs needed dedicated hosts.

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This was last published in November 2014

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How and why did you pick your connection broker?
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We chose Leostream based on their longevity, upgrade schedule, patches and ease of use for a first time user of such services.
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