Tools: RDCMan (Remote Desktop Connection Manager)
When you need to administrate hundreds of servers it is always complicated to remember every Servers that you manage. Whatever if you are administrating internal servers or different customer servers’, it quickly begin very difficult to remember the login/password/IP for each of them.
For this, you can use simple excel sheets containing these information, or, use a free and powerful tool provided by Microsoft: Remote Desktop Connection Manager (i.e. RDCMan).
RDCMan allow the IT guys we are to inventory all the servers we have to manage by Remote Desktop Connection in one window and to specify the login/password/IP/other settings for each of these servers.
For example, if you are administrating internal servers for your company, you can create some groups and sub-groups to order your servers by services/roles:
Or, if you are working in an IT services company, you can order the servers by customer/roles:
So, now maybe you will think “it’s good but I’m still a student… what can I do with that?”
Well, I will just say that you can also use it for your project when you have different servers to administrate, especially for the end of years project that can require nearly 10 servers to run through different computers. Then, you can setup RDCMan in order to administrate easily these different servers.
It can also be use, in the same way, if you are doing like me… creating many VMs for your personal training 🙂
Now we have seen what the purpose of RDCMan is, let’s start the explanation on “How to configure it”.
First, if RDCMan is not already installed in your computer, you may need to download it from this webpage: Download Remote Desktop Connection Manager 2.7
Then, you need to run the .msi file and install it. There is nothing special for this… just click next next finish.
Once the installation is completed, you can search for RDCMan in your computer:
When you open RDCMan for the first time you cannot yet add servers or groups, you need first to create your .rdg file. For this, go on File > New and name the .rdg file as you wish and save it somewhere in your hard drive.
Once done, you can see on your window Connected and the name of your .rdg file, Hyper-v labs for me.
Under the Connected group, you will see the different computer to which you are connected appear and disappear when you logoff. It is very useful when you have a lot of groups/sub groups.
And under the Hyper-v labs (or the name you have given to it) we will create the groups/sub groups/servers that we will manage.
In my example I will manage the RDCMan as an IT administrator… in SUPINFO, where I have to manage all the servers in different campuses. It is just an example, you can adapt it to your own purpose.
So, let’s say I will have to management servers in two countries France and China, for each I will have different campuses (Paris, Beijing, Tianjin, Nantes, etc.) with different servers which will host different roles (DHCP, DNS, Web, etc.).
In my RDCMan I will organize like the following:
Campus: Country sub group
Roles: Campus sub group
And inside my roles groups, I will configure my different servers.
(Note: if you first add servers, you will not be able to add groups after. First you need to create your groups hierarchy and after to add the servers.)
To add a group, right click and select Add group.
Enter the name of the group and click on Add.
Click click and there we are, we have the beginning of the hierarchy we will use to manage our servers.
To add a server, it is almost the same things, right click on a group and Add Server.
In the popup you will have to fill the Server Name and Display Name information.
Server Name: it can be the name that can be resolved by your DNS, like “dc01.company.lan” or the IP address, like “10.0.0.1” if the server is in the internal network or the public IP, like “184.108.40.206”.
Display Name: it will be the name which will appear in the RDCMan panel. You can add the name you want, like “DHCP 01”, “Web Server 01”.
In my example i will use the IP address for ease of use purpose.
Once the servers are created, we can see it appear in the left panel and in a thumbprint on the main window.
Now, if I double click on my server BJDC01 or right click > Connect server with the IP 10.0.0.1 it should connect me to the server running on my local Hyper-v with the corresponding IP address.
As you can see, once we are connected to a server, this one also appear under the Connected group. You can easily switch from one to another from here, without having to go through the whole panel list.
When you want to disconnect or log off from a server, you can use the usual way through the Windows Server interface, or, to be sure to not power off the server instead of just log off, do a right click on the server and Disconnect server/Log off server.
Note: If you try to log off from the RDCMan you may have an error message.
This is because when you try to log off, RDCMan will use the local account you are using, not the same domain account you use to login. If the local account of your computer is not a domain admin account, you will not be able to logoff by using RDCMan.
So, what we have seen are only the basic configuration which should allow you to access a local/remote server through RDP which doesn’t require specific settings like a TS gateway (Terminal Services Gateway). Of course, you also need to configure your server/firewall to allow RDP connection.
If you right click on a group, you can see different options, between them you have Connect group and Connect group as…
The Connect group option will automatically connect you to all the servers inside this group. It can make you save a lot of time when you need to connect to different groups with many servers, as for example during patching session, where you will have to patch many servers in the same time (i.e: apply windows updates to the servers).
Connect group as… is the same thing, except that it will allow you to connect to these servers by using a different credentials.
If you choose Connect group as… it will prompt you to enter the specific credential you want to use.
In the same way, if you are connected to one or more servers in a group, you can right click on the group and choose Disconnect group. This will automatically disconnect
And Logoff group will logout and disconnect you from the servers in this group.
You also need to be aware that disconnecting and logging out from a server is different:
- When you logout will stop all the process running for your session.
- When you disconnect some process may keep running in background and using resources.
We will now continue and go a little bit deeper in the RDCMan configuration, and it is from here that we can really see the real utility of RDCMan 🙂