An important part of really finishing a deployment of Remote Desktop Services is the Licensing role, or “RDLI”. Without this role the RDS environment will function for 120 days in a “grace period” before connections will be refused. This means you do not need to deploy the RDLI role if you’re just testing things out or want to do a Proof of Concept for a few months. That said, there are free keys available for the Trial, RC and Beta editions of Windows Server 2012 from Microsoft here. You can read a great step-by-step guide on TechNet on this topic as well.
Assuming you already have an RDS environment in place (use one of my earlier guides), there are basically four steps to getting your RDLI in place.
Open the Server Manger that knows all of your RDS servers. I like to co-locate the Licensing role on the same server that runs the Connection Broker role so I do not need to add any new servers to the manager or the deployment.
From the Remote Desktop Services section click the “RD Licensing” icon from the Overview page.
Select the Connection Broker server and add it to the Selected list.
The Confirmation page is pretty bland but click Add.
Once installed click Close.
From the Tasks menu select Edit Deployment Properties.
Here you can select the RD Licensing mode (or type). I tend to see customers using Per User instead of Per Device, but you can pick either one based on your usage scenario. You should see your RDLI server is already added to the list of License Servers, so you can click OK.
From the Servers page, right click the server you installed the RDLI role on and select RD Licensing Manager. Note: This has to be done on a computer that has this MMC installed already, so if you get an error that the console is unavailable you should either install the feature or do this from the RDLI server.
In this console you can see the server has a red X indicating it is not working yet. Right click it and select Activate Server.
This will launch the Activation wizard. We’ll leave the Connection Method at its default of Automatic.
Fill out your name and company information including a valid email address. When you click Next the RDLI server will Activate.
Once Activated, UNcheck the “Start Install License Wizard now” and click Finish.
If you are using the Trial, RC or Beta of Windows Server 2012, you can request a License Code by visiting https://licensecode.one.microsoft.com/ and filling out the form. Be sure to use the same email address that you activated the License Server with and select the same Licensing Type (per user or per device) that you selected earlier. You’ll get an email that’s good for 20 Users/Devices.
If you are going to put this into production, you’ll want to get your license key from your license vendor, from you Microsoft Licensing site like eOpen, or use your Enterprise Agreement number.
From the RD License Manager, right click your RDLI server and select Install Licenses.
This will start the wizard.
There are several license programs that can be used to obtain RDS Licenses from and which one you use will depend on your organization and how you purchase licensing for Microsoft products. For this example I am going to use the Retail “License Pack”.
Just enter the code, click Add then Next, then Finish the wizard.
Now the Server 2012 License is installed, but there is a yellow ! on the server still.
Right click the RDLI server again and this time select Review Configuration.
You’ll see that this server is not yet a member of the “Terminal server License Servers” group in Active Directory which prevents it from being able to issue per-user licenses. Since that’s the license mode I selected, I want to click Add to Group.
To see that licenses are being issued to RD Session, simply access the RDS Environment. For example, launch a RemoteApp and then refresh the License Manager. You should see that a license has been issued.
You’re all set!