Microsoft® Terminal Services (MSTS) provide the solution to running data intensive applications over a heavily used local area network, and many wireless connected devices (tablets and smartphones) offer remote desktop or remote applicaiton clients.
A Windows® application running in the usual way, accessing data held on a server can generate a lot of network traffic. On physically large sites such traffic, jostling for bandwidth with everything else that is going on this can result in slow application response times. NHS Trust site campuses are typically very large, both physically, and in terms of numbers of connected PCs and other devices. As a result provision for high bandwidth application needs can be a problem. As well, many Facilities Management (FM) departments require to maintain connections with PCs that are distant from the main site, sometimes several miles away. These distant PCs can be almost impossible to cater for.
MSTS turns a Windows® server into a multi-user application server, where the users access the application rather than run it. This is similar in principle to the way in which Unix operates, and provides reliability and speed benefits for exactly similar reasons.
Running the applications on the server instead of the PC eliminates most of the network overhead. Instead of data requests being handled by each connected PC, only screen update and report information is transmitted, representing a fraction of the data load.
The results in terms of application speed are startling, especially where lists of data are being presented for browsing and selection. Even on lightly loaded networks, lists of data will normally take a little time, perhaps a second or so, to display, and on a large network with a lot of traffic this time delay can become long enough to be a distraction for users.
With the application running on the server containing the data, this delay is eliminated, resulting in sub-second response times in virtually all aspects of the application. The most extreme scenario has been that of a reporting situation reduced from thirty plus minutes to less than five minutes, simply by implementing MSTS in place of "long haul" direct data handling.
This data-centre style architecture is also more efficient and reliable in its file handling compared with sharing the data across the network to a number of PCs, where file integrity can be compromised by events ranging from a badly behaving network segment to users switching off without logging out of the application.
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