Amazon Workspaces Review, Pricing, Benefits & Features – ClearCube

Introduction

With increasing mobility trends in today’s workplace, company-owned PCs and endpoints no longer remain primary devices for users. Employees seek more flexibility in how they achieve professional goals as they now demand secure, 24/7 access to documents, applications, and data. So, how can you facilitate the tools and techniques for users to remain productive, competitive, and satisfied?

Amazon to the Rescue

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has the answer to our question. Its suite of services includes secure and reliable Amazon WorkSpaces desktops. These allow users to access, store and work with applications, files, and IT resources with time, location, and device independence.

Primarily, the solution delivers cloud-based virtual desktops and scales them to users around the world. It simplifies IT systems management, giving IT teams greater operational control of their programs, applications, and operating systems. Employees receive easy-to-access workspaces from a variety of locations and devices which improves productivity and overall UX.

Businesses also benefit as they can minimize capital expenditures that would otherwise be incurred by having corporate-owned devices. Moreover, ‘which IT product can help us improve our services to customers’ is a common question in the business world. Today, many companies search for solutions that can bring them the power of the data center without the usual hassles.

There are many VDI products, solutions, and configurations available in the market. Companies can always undertake a VDI readiness assessment for a fair idea of maximizing gains on a specific deployment. Even then, zeroing in on the ideal formula for different business models and use cases can be overwhelming and time-consuming. This is where WorkSpaces comes in. It provides 4 desktop configurations in its Amazon VDI range with different levels of memory, vCPU, and SSD storage. So, companies can match user categories with their virtual desktop requirements in one of the following instance types:

Value: 1 vCPU, 2 GB memory, & 10 GB SSD storage.
Standard: 2 vCPU, 4 GB memory & 50 GB SSD storage.
Performance: 2 vCPU, 7.5 GB memory, & 100 GB SSD storage.
Graphics: 8 vCPU, 15 GB memory, 1 GPU with 4 GB dedicated video memory, & 100 GB SSD storage.

This offers all the advantages of virtual desktops on demand with no additional need for large-scale virtualization infrastructure. Simply put, VDI on AWS matches similar storage and IT demands with user types for faster and high-performance configurations. Let’s further explore why it is a viable platform for businesses.

Simple

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To begin with, the solution provides pre-installed OS and specific software or applications such as Microsoft Office. Furthermore, the service does not involve the complexity of managing virtualization, layering, hardware inventory, and OS updates and patches. Installing and configuring responsive desktops for users then becomes all too easy. This is because the solution eliminates long administrative tasks in the desktop lifecycle management process.

It also has the ability to integrate existing users in a matter of an hour or so. The process takes a little extra time if IT must configure and migrate existing legacy servers with data and applications. Once done, packaging and rolling out updates to desktop applications is a snap.

Affordable

The Amazon WorkSpaces pricing policy is straightforward as customers have just two billing options. They can choose to pay an hourly price or a fixed monthly fee for the bundle type and WorkSpaces they implement. Note that the overall cost of running cloud desktops depends on specific demands and configurations.

With monthly billing, users pay a fixed fee for unlimited usage during the month and the WorkSpace runs in the AlwaysOn mode. Choosing hourly billing requires clients to pay a low fixed monthly rate which covers infrastructure costs and storage per WorkSpace. Users also pay a small fee for each hour the WorkSpace is used during the month. For this option, the WorkSpace should be configured to run in AutoStop mode. Clients can also save on an extra hour by switching to AutoStop during lunch or official breaks. This applies to all hourly bundles.

The following is the minimum breakdown of monthly and hourly expenses for the US East and West regions. Clients can use WorkSpaces to facilitate either Linux or Windows Desktops.

Linux

BundlevCPU/

Memory Allocation

Root

Volume

User VolumeHourly PricingMonthly Pricing
Value1 vCPU, 2 GiB Memory80 GB10 GB$7.25/month + $0.17/hour$21
Standard2 vCPU, 4 GiB Memory80 GB10 GB$7.25/month + $0.26/hour$29
Performance2 vCPU, 7.5 GiB Memory80 GB10 GB$7.25/month + $0.53/hour$51

Windows

BundlevCPU/

Memory Allocation

Root

Volume

User VolumeHourly PricingMonthly Pricing
Value1 vCPU, 2 GiB Memory80 GB10 GB$7.25/month + $0.22/hour$25
Standard2 vCPU, 4 GiB Memory80 GB10 GB$7.25/month + $0.30/hour$33
Performance2 vCPU, 7.5 GiB Memory80 GB10 GB$7.25/month + $0.57/hour$55
Graphics8 vCPU, 15 GiB Memory, 1 GPU, 4 GiB Video Memory100 GB100 GB$22/month + $1.75/hour$735


Note: prices also depend on the user volume. The monthly model best suits employees who use their WorkSpaces full-time or as their primary desktops. Conversely, hourly billing is ideal when WorkSpaces are utilized for less than a complete working day or only a few days/month. This option works well for part-time users and employees who focus on short-term projects or travel frequently.

Both options save big dollars that would otherwise be invested in provisioning desktops. To demonstrate this point, let’s perform a comparison between buying desktops and using WorkSpaces.

Desktops

As established, a virtual desktop is an excellent business enabler and productivity enhancement resource. Here’s the question. Is it the ideal fit for every business situation?

Before answering this, let’s evaluate a general pricing structure of virtual desktops. How much you invest in depends on the features they come with. Value configurations typically include basic Windows or Linux sessions with standard CPU core, RAM disk space, traffic, and helpdesk support capacity. These cost around $30-$40 per month for each desktop which translates into $360-$480 annually. At the high end, you receive advanced features like customizable applications, 24/7 technical support, antivirus programs, high redundancy across data centers, and patches applied regularly. In any case, it comes down to what exactly your managed service providers include in their offerings. There is also a small one-time setup fee, usually based on the number of users, licenses, and specific tech requirements.

Verdict: virtual desktops are rapidly gaining ground in many industries and even SMBs are utilizing them. However, they are mostly administered to enterprises with large, high-volume teams. So, smaller organizations must implement grounded research before transitioning to this technology.

Amazon-VDI

WorkSpaces

Let’s examine the cost of using WorkSpaces. Suppose that you utilize a standard Windows-based WorkSpace which is priced at minimum $33 and maximum $44/month. The cost/year would be $396 and $528 respectively. Assuming that you use WorkSpaces for three years, your total cost will amount $1,188 or $1,584 for either package. While this is slightly more expensive than virtual desktops, there are measurable benefits it helps you attain.

To start with, you can create custom bundles that can quickly provision newWorkSpaces installed with the applications you need. Secondly, data drives are stored separately from the OS drive. WorkSpaces takes automatic snapshots of the data drive twice on a daily basis. In case you need to update a WorkSpace, simply rebuild it from the latest bundle image. There is no risk of losing your data as long as your timing is correct in that twice-a-day system.

Thirdly, as of December 2017, you can configure the amount of storage your WorkSpaces receive when you launch them. You can increase the storage for a running WorkSpace anytime. Additionally, WorkSpaces enables you to modify the hardware bundle they are running on with a quick reboot. In this scenario, your storage, data, and applications remain unchanged. The advantage is that you can use a better bundle to support more resource-intensive applications, hence allowing you to optimize costs.

 

Disclaimer: all prices are accurate as of Jan 2019.

Last updated: Jan 2019

Secure

Users are given access to persistent, encrypted storage in the cloud where WorkSpaces are hosted by an Amazon Virtual Private Network. The service is consolidated into AWS Key Management Service and the local device does not store any user information. Instead, data in the cloud is compressed, encrypted, and coded. This enhances security and it is a safe way to transfer information from any device anywhere in the world.

Centralized and Scalable

With the service being offered in 11 regions, companies can facilitate access to cloud desktops wherever users perform job duties. Simply use the AWS console to manage a global deployment of multiple WorkSpaces.

The cloud also provides dynamic scalability. This is where each desktop does not need to be updated individually, hence saving IT teams time and effort. You can also select from multiple hardware and software packages. These deals offer varying amounts of computing, memory, storage, and power resources that match unique needs. As a result, you do not have to pay extra overhead on unnecessary hardware or services. You can scale up any time without having to worry about over-provisioning resources. What’s more, you can quickly provision and de-provision desktops based on the changing needs and size of your team.

Integration With Active Directory

The solution combines with Active Directory services to facilitate easy access to corporate resources. IT can utilize IP access control groups to gain complete user access control. In this way, you can easily monitor, control, and manage what users run on your enterprise servers.

Versatile Vendor Support

ClearCube offers PCoIP solutions (Thin Clients, Zero Clients, Blade PCs, and workstations) that support Teradici® All Access software. These plans integrate the latest support for PCoIP-based solutions through software and cloud-ready options that oversee, optimize, and future-proof deployments. ClearCube Zero Clients consist of the Desktop Access Plan. This allows you to receive all the resources needed to effectively manage and maintain a PCoIP Zero Client setup. The plan also features licensing for our PCoIP Management Console Enterprise. It consolidates an intuitive dashboard and operational metrics that manage and scale Zero Clients within a WorkSpaces or VMware Horizon setup. Moreover, Desktop Access comes with security and firmware updates for Zero Client solutions and certified professional support from Teradici.

Note: employees can directly connect to their WorkSpaces if their Zero Client devices support firmware version 6.0.0 or later. For firmware between 4.6.0 and 6.0.0,  prepare Teradici PCoIP Connection Manager for WorkSpaces and assign server URIs to users.

Concluding Remarks

Now that we have examined the benefits of adopting this Amazon service for VDI initiatives, let’s plan our next move. Work on the qualitative and quantitative bits with an expert who can help decide the best deployment for your business. Amazon has a supportive and responsive team that is ready to assist you with any queries you may have.

For further details, feel free to get in touch with the ClearCube team. We ensure that your enterprise stays competitive and updated with the right tools and processes in a successful virtualization setup.

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