Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Terminal headaches

We have been trying to implement some new software for the CRM – the product has been used by one of our sites for some time, but not on the other sites. They had tried to use it before, but it’s not designed to be used across a WAN, so it had been set-up as multiple databases and when they started getting issues, they just stopped using the product.

The company concerned have issued a new version and our sales people have seen it and really like it. The vendor has produced a modified client GUI to run in a web browser – the idea is that those users on the remote sites would make use of that and so we could run a single database for all sites.

Well, that WAS the idea – the software runs OK locally, but when it was running through the browser, it was not as fast. Although it was usable, there was a definite speed issue, and we were worried that the users on the other site might not be convinced enough to use the product if the speed was poor.

It then occurred to me – the database was installed on the server and we also had a copy of the client software installed on the server so that we could test it was running as it was being set-up. I did a quick RDP to a server on the other site, the from there did another RDP back to the server on our site. The speed of operation was good – as far as I could tell, the speed was the same as if we were running it directly at this site.

So I set-up some shortcuts and emailed them to the users at the remote site, and then talked them through how to save and use the shortcut. They agreed that this worked well and they were really happy with the speed of operation. But then we hit a snag – only 2 users at a time. As we are talking about having some 20 remote users, then there is clearly a bit of a problem.

Now my predecessor had bought volume licences for a lot of software which included some terminal server licences, but unfortunately, none of the paperwork specified what was what. I found the paperwork ages ago and set-up a profile on eOpen to manage all of the various items. - this is a great resource and I suggest that you check it out if you don’t already use it. It allows you to see what the various bits of paper refer to and it gives you details on date of purchase, vendor, type of licence, quantity etc.

However, when I double checked, the Terminal Services licence server had been setup and the licences applied – so that wasn’t the problem. I then searched through the various bits and pieces and subesquently realised where it was all going wrong. The server that the software was installed on was set to use Remote Desktop as the licensing mode, not the correct Terminal Services mode. A quick couple of clicks and problem solved.

So now the staff at the remote site can all connect to the server and all use the CRM software. It seems to run just as quickly when half a dozen of them are using it – so they are all happy!

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