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    BlogRDS CALs: Definition, Comparison & Solutions

    RDS CALs: Definition, Comparison & Solutions

    Emily Stewart • Nov 3, 2023
    Emily StewartNov 3, 2023
    7min read

    With remote work and virtual collaboration becoming the norm, the Remote Desktop Services (RDS) has emerged as a critical tool. It helps businesses streamline their operations and foster efficient communication. Central to this technology are the RDS Client Access Licenses. These licenses act as the key that allows you to access and use all the features and capabilities of Remote Desktop Services to their fullest extent.

    By enabling secure access to remote desktops, applications, and data, RDS CALs have become vital for organizations. This article examines the aspects of RDS CALs, clarifying their fundamental meaning, examining their diverse variations, and offering a comprehensive comparison of the choices at hand.

    Part 1. What Are RDS CALs (Remote Desktop Services Client Access Licenses)?

    Remote Desktop Services Client Access Licenses (RDS CALs) represent a fundamental component of the Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS) infrastructure. It plays a vital role in facilitating remote access to Windows-based applications or desktops. Essentially, RDS CAL acts as a license that allows users to connect to a remote desktop session host and utilize the resources and software installed on the host system.

    These licenses serve as permissions granted by Microsoft to enable access to the various services provided by the RDS. These include RemoteApp, Remote Desktop Gateway, and Remote Desktop Web Access. RDS CALs effectively regulate the number of simultaneous remote connections to the server. It ensures compliance with Microsoft's licensing policies and enables businesses to easily manage their access control.

    By implementing RDS user CAL, organizations can enable their workforce to access critical applications, data, and resources from remote locations. This fosters collaboration and productivity across distributed teams. Furthermore, these licenses facilitate secure and efficient data transmission.

    Part 2. Distinguishing Between RDS Device CAL and RDS User CAL

    When considering the implementation of RDS CALs, understanding the distinctions between the two primary types, namely RDS Device CAL and RDS User CAL, is crucial. It helps businesses determine the most suitable licensing model for their specific operational requirements.

    RDS Device CAL

    RDS Device CAL (Client Access License) is linked to a specific device, allowing any user utilizing that device to access the Remote Desktop Services on the server. This type of CAL is particularly advantageous in scenarios where multiple users share a single device to access the RDS infrastructure. For instance, in a call center or shared workstation environment, RDS Device CALs enable cost-effective management of remote access.

    RDS User CAL

    On the other hand, RDS User CAL is associated with a specific user account, permitting that user to access the Remote Desktop Services from any device. This type of CAL is beneficial for organizations with a flexible or remote workforce. It provides users with the freedom to connect to the RDS infrastructure from various devices. This facilitates smooth remote access and enhances productivity across diverse work environments.

    Part 3. Comparing Server CALs and RDS CALs: Which One Do You Need?

    Server Client Access Licenses (CALs) and Remote Desktop Services CALs share similarities in their licensing principles. However, they serve distinct purposes and apply to different aspects of the IT infrastructure. Understanding the differences between Server CALs and RDS CALs is imperative for businesses to ensure compliance and optimal management of their resources.

    Server CALs

    Server CALs authorize users or devices to access and utilize the services and resources provided by a particular server. It includes file services, print services, or other network services. These licenses grant permission for users or devices to connect to the server itself and do not specifically enable remote desktop services.

    Server CALs are essential for organizations operating on a client-server network model. This allows them to manage access and ensure compliance with licensing requirements for utilizing server resources.

    RDS CALs

    RDS CALs, on the other hand, pertain specifically to the Microsoft Remote Desktop Services infrastructure. It enables users or devices to connect to remote desktops and applications hosted on a central server. These licenses facilitate secure access to remote desktops, virtualized applications, and other RDS features.

    This fosters efficient remote collaboration and enhances productivity in distributed work environments. RDS CALs are tailored to regulate and manage access to Remote Desktop Services, ensuring secure and compliant usage of the remote desktop infrastructure.

    Part 4. How to Activate RDS CAL?

    Enabling RDS Client Access Licenses involves a series of steps that must be carefully executed. Only then you will be able to ensure the proper activation and functionality of the licensing within the Remote Desktop Services infrastructure. This process typically includes the following simplified step-by-step instructions:

    Step 1: Start by accessing your preferred server using your administrator credentials. Enter "Server Manager" in the search field on your Windows system, and subsequently select “Server Manager” to launch the Server Manager console.


    Step 2: Here, select “Add roles and features” from the “Configure this local server” tab. It will lead you to the "Before you begin" window, where you need to click "Next." Afterward, choose "Role-based or feature-based installation” and follow it by tapping “Next.”


    Step 3: Now, choose "Select a server from the server pool," tap the targeted server, and hit "Next." Follow it by checking the “Remote Desktop Services” box and tapping “Next.” Afterward, leave both “Features” and “Remote Desktop Services” windows on the default settings and click “Next.”


    Step 4: Within the “Role Services” tab, choose “Remote Desktop Licensing” and tap "Add Features" in the pop-up window. Then, tap "Next," and on the following screen, tick the “Restart the destination server automatically if required” checkbox. Click “Yes” to confirm your choice, and tap "Install" to initiate the installation process.


    Step 5: With the RDS license server installed, the next part is to activate it. For that, access “Service Manager," tap "Tools," and click "Remote Desktop Services.” Here, choose “Remote Desktop Licensing Manager” to access it.


    Step 6: Expand the list by clicking the “+” icon beside the “All servers” option, then go on to right-click your server’s name and choose the “Activate Server” option. It will open the Activate Server Wizard, where you need to click "Next."


    Step 7: Set the “Connection method” to “Automatic connection (recommended)” and hit “Next.” You will now be required to fill out your and your company's details, and when you are done, press "Next." On the final screen, disable the “Start Install Licenses Wizard Now” checkbox and tap “Finish.”


    Step 8: Now is the time to install RDS CALs, and for that, access "Server Manager." Here, click "Tools," tap “Remote Desktop Services," and follow it by clicking “Remote Desktop Licensing Manager.” Now right-click on the name of your server, and subsequently choose the option "Install Licenses.”


    Step 9: On the “Install Licenses Wizard,” tap “Next” and choose the “License Program” using which you bought your license. Now, press "Next," enter your "Agreement Number," and hit "Next." Then go on to choose “Product Version,” “License Type,” and “Quantity.” Finally, click "Next" and tap "Finish" to complete the process.


    Part 5. Making Remote Access Safer and Simpler: Replacing RDP with an Improved Solution

    In the era of heightened cybersecurity threats and the growing need for smooth remote access, businesses are seeking alternatives to traditional RDP CAL solutions. Avica Remote Desktop, a cutting-edge remote access platform, emerges as the frontrunner, offering a robust combination of enhanced security features and user-friendly functionality.

    Designed to streamline remote connections while prioritizing data protection, Avica stands out as the ultimate RDP alternative for organizations. The end-to-end encryption feature guarantees that all information exchanged between the remote devices is kept encrypted. This reduces the potential for unauthorized access or data breaches. This software establishes a fresh benchmark for user-friendly remote access solutions, presenting a simplified interface that streamlines the remote connection procedure for users.

    Key Features of Avica

    • It provides a 4K resolution for high-quality visuals, and with 4:4:4 color support, Avica ensures vibrant and accurate color representation.
    • Additionally, Avica boasts multi-monitor support to enhance productivity and versatility.
    • Avica, the remote-control software, offers multiple simultaneous connections.

    Steps to Use Avica to Remotely Link A Device to Your Computer

    Feel free to download Avica software by clicking the button below. If you're seeking additional information about Avica product downloads, you can visit the Avica download page. Rest assured, Avica guarantees the safety and virus-free nature of all products obtained from the official website or app store.

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    To help you out, we have given the simplified steps to link a device remotely with your computer using Avica below:

    Step 1: Launch Avica and Initiate the Remote Control Session

    To begin using the most recent iteration of Avica on your devices, first complete the installation process. After installation, access the application and log in by providing your registered credentials. Navigate to the main interface and enter the remote device's "Avica ID" in the "Remote Session" section of the local device to initiate the remote connection.


    Step 2: Adjust Settings and Control the Remote Desktop

    Once your device is connected, you can effortlessly access files and complete tasks remotely. Additionally, you can fine-tune the "Quality," adjust the "Screen Resolution," and set the "Frame Rate" on the client's device. You also have the option to make modifications using the "Monitors," "Display," and "Shortcut keys" buttons.


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    In conclusion, as the landscape of remote work continues to evolve, the critical importance of implementing secure and user-friendly remote access solutions cannot be overstated. The exploration of Remote Desktop Services Client Access Licenses (RDS CALs) has shed light on the details of licensing and access management within the Remote Desktop Services infrastructure.

    However, with the growing need for enhanced data security and simplified remote access, the adoption of a robust alternative to traditional RDP has become paramount. In this context, Avica has emerged as a comprehensive blend of advanced security features and intuitive functionality. By prioritizing end-to-end encryption and defined access controls, Avica presents itself as the ideal RDP alternative.

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