Remote Desktop Connection is a very good way to manage machines within the enterprise. The protocol, RDP, is quite extensive and allows you nearly full access to the machine as if you were standing in front of it. For anyone accessing a large number of servers, Remote Desktop Connection does leave a few things to be desired.
Terminal Server Console, or TSCon, addresses these issues and wraps RDP into a neat package to help system administrators organize frequently used servers and workstations.
TSCon can connect to Active Directory and Windows Networking to locate servers and workstations to connect to. All remote sessions are displayed in their own tab which makes it very easy to see what connections you have open, and switching between them is as simple as switching between tabs.
Groups can be created (One group is visible on this screen shot - ISS Group) to organize frequently used servers and workstations. TSCon makes connecting to servers within groups as easy as double clicking on a server name, or connecting to the entire groups all at once, opening each server in it's own tab.
Adding machines to a group is as simple as dragging it from the Active Directory or Windows Networking tree's, or manually by typing the server name. There is no limit, other than a practical one, as to how many servers can be within a group. TSCon will however, limit the number of open sessions to 15 so the resources of the host machine is not exhausted.
TSCon offers some connection options when connecting to a server. The Device name, or server name can be manually typed in, the last 10 connections are remembered via the drop down list. The default domain and the default user name to display in the login dialog of the server. Smart size will ensure the entire desktop of the remote connection is visible within the tab.
For advanced users, the Start Program option can be used to replace Explorer as the default shell on the remote machine. For example if you wanted to open a command window you could type CMD in the Start Program Edit Field, check the Start Program check box and connect to the server. All that will open on the remote server, is a command window. No desktop or any portion of the shell will be available.
Once the command shell is closed, the remote session will also close. This has great uses in installing hotfixes on a large number of servers very quickly. All you need do is create a command file with the command line options to install the hotfixes in a central share, then enter the UNC path to this command file and connect to the servers.
Once the command file has installed the hotfixed, the session terminates. Much faster than manually logging into each and running it by hand.
Post Script offers some options to run a script as each remote session closes. Again this is very useful with hotfixing to retrieve any logs created by the hotfix and copying them to a central location.