Techsplaining 101: AppPortal and Remote Desktop

by Elizabeth Jenike, IT Services

Welcome back to another installment of Techsplaining 101. This week, we’re focusing on the AppPortal. 

Chances are that you’ve heard of the AppPortal—even if you don’t know it by that name. Maybe you’ve even wondered what it does or what situations it could be useful for. Enter Techsplaining 101! 

What is the AppPortal? How does it work?

A young male-presenting person sits at a desk in front of a computer

The AppPortal is our branded instance of Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS), which is a tool used to stream Windows applications or full virtual Windows desktops to any computer irrespective of client operating system (OS). It is also called Miami Resources in the folder on your computer, which may be a familiar name to you.

The technology behind this is all very cool. Essentially, you have to be a part of Miami’s system in order to use our instance of it—your UniqueID and password are the credentials necessary to get in. We have about 900 people with active licenses right now. 

There are no physical servers devoted to AppPortal—it’s 100 percent running on virtual servers. We’ve explained virtualization before—essentially, full servers with complete OSes run virtually on one physical server, allowing us to access the full compute power of several machines but only use the resources of that one machine. The AppPortal environment currently has more virtual servers running than any other system—somewhere in the ballpark of 40 machines. That’s more than even Banner!

The AppPortal is kind of like a virtual machine for streaming apps. When using the AppPortal, the applications (RemoteApps) don’t take up the compute power of your physical machine. Instead, you’re streaming these apps to your computer from our virtual environment!

When would you use the AppPortal?

There are several situations where using the AppPortal could be advantageous. Let’s walk through a couple of them:

  • When you need to ensure everyone has the same configuration/experience—Sometimes, it’s critical to make sure all users are seeing the same application. For instance, in situations where you need to walk someone through creating a complicated document in an application like Excel or PowerPoint, it can be difficult if you are on different versions, as menus change with each upgrade.
  • When using applications with specific dependencies that our Miami-managed machines no longer run—For instance, some applications require older versions of Flash or Java. With the AppPortal, applications can simulate those specifications. 
  • OS-bound applications—If you have an application that won’t run on your current operating system, AppPortal can be the way to go. For instance, Microsoft Access doesn’t have a version that will run on MacOS. However, with the AppPortal, you would be able to access this application even from a Mac computer.
And now you know! Get started with AppPortal on macOS by following these instructions in our Knowledge Base.


Read about AppPortal in the KB

As with everything else, we have a whole category of information in the Knowledge Base that pertains to AppPortal. Check it out and let IT Help know if you have any questions!