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Requesting application rental insights

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Hey all, While this is not strictly game-related (although the technique in question can be used with games), I hope I'll get some good responses. Does anyone have practical experiences regarding so-called "application rental" method, whereby the application is run wholly on the server but the user interface I/O is routed to the user via the 'net? A good example is MSDN virtual labs, where users can test Visual Studio and other applications running on Microsoft's servers for free. I'm looking to build a server that could support ten or so concurrent client connections, each with their own sandbox in memory and resources. The applications would not be written by my company, but we would be providing remote hosting for them - hence not being able to necessarily use web services for the interaction with the applications. The clients are required to use the latest MSIE for ActiveX/.net compatibility. The hardware can be very top-end if necessary, and will use Windows Server 2003 R2 as the platform. Thanks for any insights!

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The problem is mostly the networking between the user and the server. The internet can be a finicky beast at times, and it's mighty inconvenient for users if some infrastructure-related problem causes the application to not work right.

Make sure you actually test the set-up at full load, with long-haul networking typical of what your customers will use, before you commit to this particular solution.

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Then again, any mission critical application running on a webserver will have the same problem, regardless of the user interface paradigm. Good point though!

I forgot to mention that we can build dedicated connections if the clients require them - it just costs them a "little" more [wink]

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Since you are using W2K3 anyways, why not leverage their "Terminal Server" and "Disk Quota" technology?

Out of the box, W2K3 gives you Remote Administration which allows two concurrent connections to the server. For more than two, you have to a) Install Terminal SErver and b) buy Client Access Licenses.

Since you want 10 concurrent connections and "I believe" W2K3 comes with 5 CALs bundled, you would only need to buy 5 more and they only run about 100 USD a piece.

Furthermore, using "Disk Quotas", another native W2K3 feature, you can limit the HD footprint that each of your 10 users gets.

Thus, since you are using W2K3 as your OS anyways, this ~500 USD investment frees you up from having to develop this network interface yourself and you can focus exclusively on the application itself.

The only requirement not met is having your own RAM footprint, but depending on what your app does, this may not really be a necessity.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
For a fully separated system, you could use vmware virtual servers, either as a native host or under windows. Each virtual host can have its own operating system, where users can even have administrator privileges. If a user messes up its system, then the software has a web interface for rolling back the state to a previous copy. The latest version supports the new virtualization techologies, so the guest operating systems run on the bare cpu with hardware support.

Viktor

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Thanks for these suggestions. Especially Terminal Server looks promising nowadays - when I last tried it a long while ago, it had some unacceptable problems but they are probably fixed in the last generation.

I'll also check out WMWare. I don't have any experience on it yet, but it would also seem like a good solution judging by a quick glance.

I don't think developing my own network interface would be very practical at this point anyway, because it would cost us much more than the licenses for the aforementioned solutions. We shall only develop the application portal on top of the virtualization platform.

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Just a follow-up - we're going to use Windows 2003 Server R2 running Terminal Server as the platform for our process rental system. Thanks for the other suggestions also!

Happy holidays [smile]

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