20 January 2012

iOS RDS client with RDGW support - iTap RDS review

There are loads of Remote Desktop Services ( RDS) RDP clients for almost any client device.  However I have only found one that officially supports the Remote Desktop GateWay (RDGW)

Quick Explanation
RDP clients connect to RDS server on the native port 3389.  If however you want to securely publish your RDS server on the internet you would use the RDGW.  This allows your client to connect over the internet on SSL port 443.  You only need to expose a single RDGW to enable connectivity to any internal RDS server allowed the RD-CAP and RD-RAP policies.

iTap-Mobile offers a few clients for the iOS, Mac and Android platforms that supports RDGW

Search the app store for iTap
Purchase the "iTap Mobile RDP" application for $12 US

Pre configuration
Before you can connect via the RDGW you need to define it as an option

  • Under Global Settings
  • Select Settings
  • Select Gateways
  • Add new Gateway
  • Specify a label as a friendly name
  • For Host: Specify the TSGW public FQDN (You would need to get this form the RDS admin)
  • Port would almost always be 443
  • Credentials allows you to save a credential set.

This is handy as it allows you to re-use the set without the need to retype everything. ( They do offer some protection in the form of a pin)

Configure Server connection
They call it bookmarks. So add a manual bookmark

  • Specify a label as a friendly name
  • specify the servers's hostname (This does not have to be the FQDN or a public name)  This name will be used by the RDGW to create the secondary connection.
  • Port can be left as the default
  • Select the relevant System Proxy setting
  • Select the gateway you configured earlier
  • You can now also select your credential saved earlier

Under the setting section you can choose screen and specify basic setting such as resolution and colour depth.  Going to the advanced section allows you to specify a wide range of optimization options.

These is a connectivity test on this screen too.  It will indicate whether the RDS or RDGW is reachable.

Once you saved the bookmark you can now select it from the main screen.
It will connect to the server and tunnel through SSL 443 to the RDS server.

Once connect the experience is very pleasant.  I actually prefer the interaction here to the Citrix receiver's.

According to the Appstore info sheet the following is also supported:

  • RemoteFX!
  • NLA Network Level Authentication
  • Native Resolution Support on iPhone4S and iPad
  • Copy and Paste of Text
  • Support external video connectors
  • 60% less bandwidth than any other RDP client on iPhone (hmmmmm)

There are a few more too

Interesting for me is the planned future support for RemoteApp and Printing

The ability for iOS and other platforms to use the RDGW allows you to break away from needing a Citrix deployment.  You also benefit form being able to specify the RDCAP and RDRAP policies per user or groups. The only other developer I could find to offer anything like this is Wyse with it's Wyse PocketCloud app for $15.  It also states however that RDGW support is (experimental)

If however you give up on security and allow your clients to VPN into your organisation or connect directly with their devices, there are loads or RDP clients to choose form.

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