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Amazon Launches Packaged Virtual Desktop Offering Amazon WorkSpaces

Amazon Web Services has launched Amazon WorkSpaces, a public cloud-hosted standard virtual desktop offering. The offering mirrors the IaaS Amazon EC2 offerings of Amazon Web Services, with shared IT infrastructures, multi-tenancy, fast provisioning and opex models.

Amazon Workspaces features include:

  • A choice of different CPUs, memory, storage
  • Storage is attached to each virtual desktop and has an option for access of a given folder trhough Amazon WorkSpace or other devices. Storage availability is 99. 999999999% from Amazon Simple Storage Services (Amazon S3)
  • A Windows 7-like desktop based on Windows Remote Desktop Services
  • Standalone directory or integration with Microsoft’s Active Directory for PC administration rights and access to applications
  • Access options include VPN access based on Amazon Virtual Private Cloud or AWS Direct Connect.

Workspace offerings are:

  • Standard: $35 per user and per month
    - Hardware: 1 virtual CPU, 3.75 GiB memory, 50 GB user storage
    - Applications: Adobe Acrobat Reader; IE 9 or Mozilla Firefox; 7-Zip; Adobe Flash and JRE
  • Standards Plus: $50 per user and per month
    - Hardware: same as Standard offering
    - Applications: same as Standard offering; in addition: Microsoft Office Professional 2010; Trend Micro Worry-Free Business Security Services
  • Performance: $60 per user and per month
    - Hardware: 2 virtual CPUs; 7.5 GiB memory; 100 GB user storage
    - Applications: same as Standards offering
  • Performance Plus: $7 per user per month
    - Hardware: same as Performance offering
    - Software: same as Standard Plus offering.

Amazon WorkSpaces is the latest standard virtual desktop offering to be launched in the past few years. These standard offerings are pre-packaged with a set of pre-available office and personal productivity applications, virtualization software hosted in the datacenter of the vendor, single-tenant or multi-tenant, and have cloud features including fast provisioning and an opex model. The success of these offerings has been rather limited despite the quality of such offerings and their relative low prices.

There are several reasons for this lack success: several of such offerings are targeting SOHOs and small businesses. In spite of their low prices, such offerings have had to compete with the continuously dropping prices of  traditional laptops and desktop prices. Amazon’s Standard offering starts at $420 per year: the pricing is therefore similar to laptops with similar characteristics in the U.S. and shipped with Microsoft Office. In other words, Amazon WorkSpace’s price for a year is similar to brand new hardware. This is too expensive.

Large enterprise clients would have stronger interest in desktop and application virtualization than SMBs, as they have more sophisticated needs. However their adoption of standard virtual offerings has been limited. Cost is one inhibitor to such adoption of standard offerings. Lack of interest in overall in public cloud, as compared with private clouds, is another important inhibitor. Success for this offering is likely to be marginal.

Meanwhile, Amazon has launched AppStream, an application virtualization. See separate article.

NelsonHall recently launched a new report on virtual desktop services and BYOD. For more information, please contact [email protected].

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