Amazon WorkSpaces DaaS is now available. I'd write about but it's faster for you to just try it.

Yesterday Amazon Web Service launched their WorkSpaces DaaS platform to the general public. I've been using the preview of it for the past month, and now that the embargo is lifted I want to share my review of it.

Yesterday Amazon Web Service launched their WorkSpaces DaaS platform to the general public. I've been using the preview of it for the past month, and now that the embargo is lifted I want to share my review of it.

First, though, I have to say that after using it for a month, I'm a little confused about what my actual story angle is. I just spent the past 20 minutes taking screenshots, but now that I'm looking at them, they're all completely worthless. The desktop looks like a Windows desktop. The WorkSpaces client app's login box looks like a login box. The iPad app looks like a . . . You see the pattern here.

Ok, so maybe all that end-user stuff is the same as everything else, but what about the admin UI? What if I take a bunch of screenshots of that and tell you how that works? Here's the problem with that: WorkSpaces is available. You don't need some idiot blogger telling you about it, just go try it for yourself. Seriously, login with your AWS account to console.aws.amazon.com and click on the WorkSpaces icon and check it out. You can literally click "Get Started Now" and follow those steps to have real DaaS desktops provisioned faster than you can read a review of it here.

Another feature of WorkSpaces is called WorkSpaces "Sync" (which is Amazon's version of Dropbox but with way fewer features). I installed the Windows WorkSpaces Sync agent in my remote WorkSpaces desktop and the Mac agent on my local Mac. And guess what? It works too. My full review can be a Tweet. "You put a file in the folder. It shows up on the other computer. The end."

Soooo... Um.. What else???

Honestly readers of BrianMadden.com already know everything about AWS WorkSpaces, and we've already had our conversations, comments, and arguments about it. Everything AWS launched is exactly what we discussed in November with in the articles, "Amazon gets into the DaaS space with AWS "WorkSpaces." Here's what you need to know." and the follow-up from a week later, "I sent Amazon 50 questions about their new WorkSpaces DaaS product. Here are their answers to every single one!." Any comments we receive today are most likely just going to rehash those comments.

So I guess that's it. Without any more fanfare . . .

My review of Amazon WorkSpaces

Tried AWS WorkSpaces. Works as expected.

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I transfer my questions concerning Amazon Workspaces and relation with PCoIP to here. It seems although using another protocol a RDP session is used . And can't figure out why Amazon has stacked so many different products onto eachother. Using Citrix, Xen as core hypervisor solution, RDP as communication protocol and PCoIP to speeds things up over the internet. You now still have to deal with some of the limitations of RDP and not profit from all advantages of PCoIP.


Looking at the Appstreaming solution, it seems they have a much more fundamental offering for doing realtime streaming.


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@Dock2Office, I think you might be confusing "protocol" and "session." AWS WorkSpaces uses PCoIP, not RDP. They have the "RDS" role enabled on each VM, but that's needed to enable remote access to it. (i.e. It's just the RDS role, *not* RDSH. These are not Terminal Servers.) Also, WorkSpaces is not using Xen and not using Citrix, so I think you have some bad information. It uses the full capabilities of PCoIP.


AWS AppStream is a product which targets a different customer. It's for Windows app developers who want to move their Windows apps to the cloud, where their UIs are streamed down to the users via H.264. The target market for them is games and other graphical applications which require GPUs, with the thinking that AppStream can make it easier for users to access those kinds of applications from any device. AppStream requires app developers to write for it, and it's not designed for business apps.


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@Brian, thanks again for your response. What kind of hypervisor does Amazon uses for Workspaces ? When I look into device information of Workspaces VM I see the Cittrix PV bus driver and 2 Citrix PV Ethernet adpaters. In my opinion these are only used on top of Xen hypervisor. Or am I wrong ? Also normally there is a PCoIP agent running within a VM when PCoIP is used, this is not the case in Amazon workspaces.  Or are they using another solution to get framebuffer info into PCoIP protocol.?


Maybe Randy Groves  can explain a little bit more.


Beside all this technical mumbo jumbo, I am impressed by the performance of the solution.


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After toying around with the WorkSpace preview I'm finding it totally limited. My biggest pet peeve is lack of management for administrator. Ideally, I'd like to be able to control each session remotely from a single pane of glass. Preferably, the AWS console itself.


Also, another pet peeve of mine is how I can't Linux to access the desktop. Only an a mobile app or install a Mac/Windows client.


Brian, you said that SCCM integrates with this. It'd be nice to see a demo of how that works in practice.


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@Dock2Office,


Who cares what hypervisor Amazon uses or how they get the framebuffer into the PCoIP driver. That's the beauty of DaaS—it doesn't matter! That said, I have read that the AWS hypervisor is a heavily modified version of the open source Xen (not XenServer). I haven't looked but I assume those Citrix drivers might be Xen drivers that are in all EC2 VMs?


@Frank, remember you can also use PCoIP zero clients (though that doesn't address your Linux request).


When I say that SCCM integrates, I mean because WorkSpaces is nothing more than a stack of persistent Windows machines that you can join to your domain. So whatever you use to manage your existing desktops—SCCM, InTune, Altiris, whatever..—you can continue to use that to manage your WorkSpaces desktops. Figuring out where to put your management servers is no different than any remote office environment. (Maybe if you have a lot you run an SCCM VM in AWS, otherwise maybe you manage them from your location.)


Agreed too it would be nice to have a "shadow" feature for admins to connect to users' desktops instead of needed to use SCCM or GoToMyPC or something like that.


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@brian You are completely right, who cares :) But just as you mentioned in your blog about Vmware and Nvidia, it is not completely clear how all the pieces around virtualisation of GPU which are getting a lot of attention, are implemented and are really helping Daas market.


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@Dock2Office There is a PCoIP agent but it is a System process in WorkSpaces not a user process. The agent is the code that interfaces with the broker. The PCoIP Server is the code that accesses the frame buffer and does all the encoding. We access the frame buffer differently whether we are in a desktop VM, an RDS session host, or a VM with a GPU mapped to it, but, as Brian says, this is transparent to everyone.


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@Randy, thanks for sharing this detailed info. And although my detailed technical questions on how your company fits in the total Worspace solution, I really am impressed by speed and responsiveness ! And at the end that's what counts on making Daas and VDI work for everybody.


And what Brian already said, everybody just got to try it out themselves.


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Hey Brian said we could try it for ourselves... but I guess that means... subscribe for $35 a month or more... and then you can try it.  See... a review is helpful for those who don't want to do that quite yet.  Some of us live in a van down by the river.  Ok, not literally... but hey, that's almost a tank of gas.


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