One of the first things you need when you start managing multiple Windows Server instances is a really good Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) client.
To its credit, Microsoft has been on a tear lately with RDP clients, shipping an excellent Mac client (though they inexplicably removed the search functionality in the latest release) and, best of all, an iOS client that just works beautifully on my iPad mini tablet. With the iOS client, I can make emergency changes anywhere — it’s amazing how empowered you feel doing that. And it’s one helluva time saver. Just carry a cellular tablet with you on the weekends and never have to rush home again.
But the 600-lb gorilla, kitchen sink, does everything and washes dishes RDP client is Devolutions’ Remote Desktop Manager.
No blog post can adequately describe all that this product does. It’s so functional that RDM’s geyser of capability can daunt users. But the target audience isn’t end users; it’s deep-geek Windows admins who have lots of Windows instances, more than a handful of Linux machines and a password repository or two to contend with.
But what I like most about RDM is that it’s unapologetic about its complexity. This is an old-style “specialist” product. If you need it, it’s a great fit. If you are an occasional RDP-using admin or end-user, you will hate this product. And you should: it’s a total mismatch for your needs.
I use RDM with over 30 EC2 instances. I can log into any of them using LastPass credentials. It runs ssh sessions to Linux instances and contains built-in SFTP (or, if you prefer, it can integrate with Filezilla). It is database-driven, can template complex logins using Remote Desktop Gateway, manage RDP sessions in a hierarchy and more. Increasingly, I “live” in RDM each day at work. And that, I think, is the product’s design objective.
A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that Devolutions had a Mac client in the works (I run RDM on a Mac in a Parallels virtual machine…Sing after me to the tune of “Yellow Submarine:” We all live in a virtual machine, a virtual machine, a virtual machine…)
Of course, the Mac version is late and buggy. I sympathize with the Mac developers, one of whom wrote me in response to a bug that I reported that they were trying to catch up with “five years of development in the Windows version.”
And then, just to keep me in the fold, they sent me an extended license. Nice touch.
So, if you are doing some serious Windows Server administration using RDP to remote cloud instances (or you are still stuck managing physical servers — you poor shlub), try Remote Desktop Manager. It’ll quickly become indispensable.