Can Remote Desktop(s) Be Load Balanced?

Can Remote Desktop Be Load Balanced?

If you’re wondering, “Can a remote desktop be load balanced?” the simple answer is “yes.” There are actually a few different options available by way of remote desktop load balancing. In the case of a remote desktop based on Windows Servers, remote desktop load balancing is also commonly referred to as RDP/RDS load balancing. 

1, so many are unaware that this is even an option to consider. In reality, when most IT professionals think of load balancers, they associate the technology with the more commonplace server-reliant platforms such as websites, mobile apps, software systems, and networks. But it’s also very possible to use load balancing for remote desktop servers, allowing you to achieve improved speed and performance, amongst many other benefits. 

How Does Remote Desktop Load Balancing Work? 

The actual process for remote desktop load balancing is fairly standard. A centralized hub server intercepts the incoming client requests, which are then evaluated using an algorithm and distributed to servers in a server “cluster” or “pool.” The difference between remote desktop server load balancing and other load balancer applications lies in the technology that is used to perform this process.  

As mentioned, remote desktop load balancers are commonly called RDP/RDS load balancers, which are exclusive to Windows. A large percentage of remote desktops are Windows-based and it is this fact that has led many to adopt a synonymous view of RDP/RDS load balancers and remote desktop load balancers.

RDP — which stands for remote desktop services — provides Windows Server users with the ability to establish a connection using remote desktop protocol or RDP. The role of the RDP is to enable the transmission of requests between the client and the load balancer servers. While RDP/RDS load balancing is exclusive to Windows servers, other remote desktops can be load balanced using similar mechanisms and techniques. 

Most remote desktop load balancers — including RDP/RDS load balancers — leverage OSI Layer 7, the application layer, which is one of two layers that are commonly used for load balancing. The other commonly-used OSI layer is Layer 4, the transport layer, which uses a more “superficial” protocol to evaluate and distribute incoming client requests. Layer 4 load balancers manage the incoming server traffic by evaluating network information without examining the actual content as occurs with Layer 7 load balancers. 

The Layer 7 load balancers that are typically used for remote desktop load balancing operate by performing packet inspections and contextual evaluation of incoming server traffic. Layer 7 load balancing is far more comprehensive in its evaluation of incoming client requests. These load balancers can also perform server health checks, which are yet another measure that improves performance and overall reliability by identifying ailing servers, which can be promptly removed from the cluster and flagged for maintenance. 

Windows remote desktop load balancers for RDP/RSD are usually used in conjunction with two different resources: Microsoft Connection Brokers, Remote Desktop Gateway, and RDS servers. 

With Microsoft Connection Brokers, remote desktop load balancing is configured using multiple Gateway Servers and Web Access Servers. In the case of RDS servers, you can directly achieve remote desktop load balancing without the need to use connection brokers. Meanwhile, Remote Desktop Gateway load balancing leverages highly-secure HTTPS data to distribute incoming client requests in a manner that improves performance, availability, and reliability. 

In fact, Microsoft literature strongly recommends the use of remote desktop load balancing, especially in cases where you have high-scale, high-volume RDP/RDS workloads. RDP/RDS load balancing can be used to achieve elevated security, high availability levels, and fast, super-responsive server speeds. Microsoft documentation suggests that these measures are really essential for maintaining optimal performance when it comes to their remote desktop platforms. 

As mentioned, these remote desktop load balancing benefits extend beyond Microsoft’s server architecture; you can use load balancing for remote desktops that are based on other operating systems as well. 

One advantage to RDP/RDS load balancing is the ability to use this tech with Snapt’s Nova load balancers. Operating on OSI layer 7, the high-performance Nova load balancer can handle SSL/TPS by the millions. Features include AI-powered WAF security — which can be used with all network nodes — along with centralized controls for remote desktop load balancer management, monitoring alerts and notifications, anomaly detection, RDP/RDS load balancing wizards, and templates. 

Global Server Load Balancing (GSLB) for Remote Desktop

It is also possible to use a global server load balancing for remote desktop platforms. This is true whether the remote desktop is based on Microsoft servers or another system. 

Also called a geographic load balancer (GLB), global server load balancers work by distributing incoming client requests to server pools that are based in different geographic regions of the world. This prevents a scenario where a single event — think power outage or natural disaster — impacts all of the available servers, leading to the ever-dreaded downtime. 

With servers distributed across the globe, it is extremely unlikely that all would be impacted by a single event at the same time. The result is improved reliability that is especially beneficial for backup and recovery, mission-critical applications, and other cases where downtime simply isn’t an option.  

Not only can remote desktops be load balanced very effectively, but the right load balancer technology can bring lots of benefits in terms of performance, reliability, and availability. But the term “right” is the operative word here and that is where many fall short. You need the right load balancer for your precise needs and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But this is where Resonate can help. As a fast-growing load balancer service provider, the Resonate team is always happy to consult with clients to recommend the best remote desktop load balancer for their unique situation. 

Resonate’s area of specialty? Scalable, cutting-edge load balancing technology with exceptional performance, unmatched reliability, and cost-effective pricing. Contact the team at Resonate today to discuss your remote desktop server load balancing needs with our talented team of tech professionals.