ESG has been tracking cloud-delivered desktop and applications closely and while we don’t see businesses making massive shifts to this delivery model, it certainly has its benefits, which include:
Simplified access to desktops and applications that can be delivered to a variety of devices.
Elimination of the need for procurement and management of infrastructure to support centrally managed desktop and applications
Global proximity of applications and desktops based on user location to reduce network bandwidth and latency concerns
Amazon announced this delivery model at re:Invent 2013 as Amazon WorkSpaces, a fully managed desktop computing service in the cloud that enables end-users to access the documents, applications, and resources they need with the devices of their choice. ESG provided additional detail in an ESG brief: Amazon WorkSpaces delivers Desktops from the Cloud.
Amazon has since advanced its capabilities with an AWS Marketplace for desktop applications and WorkSpaces Application Manager.
AWS Marketplace for Desktop Applications: Currently launched with 100 applications across 11 different categories. The service is designed to arm IT administrators with the ability to search for and identify applications that they can package into containers and deliver via a workspace. The billing structure falls in line with pay by the month pricing and includes the supporting infrastructure required to assemble and deliver these applications
Amazon WAM - WorkSpace Application Manager: IT administrators use Amazon WAM to control and manage the workspace environment which includes deployments, upgrades, patching, and retirement. The workspace is built, assembled, and projected to the end-user. IT controls access through integration with a corporate directory and access is available from a variety of device types. IT professionals can also package their own applications within this service and make them available inside the Amazon workspace.
The concern for IT vendors should be that this is yet another significant workload that has the potential to leave the data center. VMware has already hedged the market with the acquisition of Desktone and Citrix is active with its service provider community and other well seated data center vendors such as Cisco are creating choices for their customers. Microsoft is on the case as well with RemoteApp to project applications out to Microsoft and non-Microsoft devices. Winning the workspace has the potential to create significant waves in the market and the winning combination will have to include business productivity applications and a solid identity and access management strategy.
Based on conversations that I have had with some IT decision makers, I suspect that many of them will trial run Amazon WAM and explore the new applications included in the AWS Marketplace for Desktop Applications. My observation is that they view consumption from Amazon as simple and convenient. Initial experience, economics, and the alignment with the company’s overall mobility will likely determine the trigger points for potential acceleration.
NOTE: This market has historically been referred to as DaaS (desktop-as-a-service) and while this is accurate, it only represents a component of what businesses require for a successful mobility strategy. A more accurate term would be WaaS (workspace-as-a-service) that includes desktops, applications, data, collaboration, and identity.