I think most of us have used Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection (mstsc.exe), which is used to connect to a remote server using RDP protocol. If you have more than several remote servers to connect, it can be very inconvenient to navigator through them. Microsoft knew that and created a new tool called Remote Desktop Connection Manager. You can download it for free at Microsoft site here.
A big benefit of the Remote Desktop Connection Manager is that it consolidates all the connections within single application and organizes them in a nice tree hierarchy. Clicking on one node in the tree brings up the remote screen in the content pane. You can also display several resized screens in the content pane.
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Another benefit is derived from the tree hierarchy, which is inheritance. It’s not the same inheritance in object oriented programming, but similar. A child node in the connection tree can inherit properties like username and password from its parent. If your virtual machines share same username and password, you can define them at the highest node in the tree. It can be a huge time saver. Other properties can be inherited too, but I found this to be most useful.
Now why is it a must-have for VMware administrators?
Like it or not, Windows operating systems are the dominant OS running on ESXi in typical enterprise. It’s even true when it comes to VMware View, which only supports Windows. Therefore, VMware administrators mostly have to deal with many Windows. In theory, VMware administrators just need to take care of the lower level virtual machine hardware. In reality, many, if not all, administrators have to deal with operating systems too. If that is the case, you will find the Remote Desktop Connection Manager handy as I do.
Another important factor that makes the tool a must-have is performance. You actually use the Windows via the virtual machine console in vSphere Client. Better than Remote Desktop Connection Manager or RDP is that it does not even require Windows is installed and assigned an IP address on the machine. But the price is that the traffic goes to the hypervisor management network, therefore it can slow down when you have many virtual machine consoles open.
When you have many Windows machine to manage, you want to use the Remote Desktop Connection Manager. You can manage much larger number of virtual machines without performance issue, and cleaner interface without distraction by details on virtual machine, cluster, storage, etc. Update: I’ve created a tool called DoubleCloud VM Connector that retrieves virtual machine inventory tree from vCenter/ESXi and launches Remote Desktop Connection Manager with one click.
When I searched Internet, I also got a similar tool at Sourceforge which hosts the vijava API I created. It seems to have pretty good features, in particular its support of multiple protocol thus makes it a choice for cross platform connections. I haven’t used but found it interesting. Should you have experience using it, please feel free to share.