MSP Today Expert Feature
November 15, 2013

Amazon re:Invents Itself with Desktop, Streaming Services


This week Amazon invited thousands of its closest partners and customers to Las Vegas for its annual re:Invent event. Third parties made lots of news (and hopefully lots of contacts), while Amazon itself had plenty to say.

Besides making its opinions known through keynotes (such as the fact that Amazon as a public cloud provider has little respect for private clouds), Amazon unveiled new desktop as a service (DaaS) and streaming offerings.

The DaaS market is particularly hot. The 451 Research (News - Alert) Group says DaaS interest is “at a fever pitch.” And Gartner sees a nearly $3 billion market emerging as the chart below indicates. The VDI portion of this DaaS market, where Amazon is participating, is clearly on the move. TechNavio believes the worldwide market for cloud-based VDI will grow at a 30.6 percent CAGR over the next three years, in large part because IT wants to lower the costs of desktop infrastructure, as well as the growth of handheld devices.

The new Amazon service is called WorkSpaces, not to be confused with Cloud Workspace from IndepedenceIT (iIT). In fact, this reporter is checking to see if Amazon white labeled the tool from iIT, that is how similar they seem in name and function.

Like Cloud Workspace, the Amazon offering is a managed desktop service.

“Over the past couple years, the new service customers have requested most frequently is a virtual cloud desktop service,” said Gene Farrell, general manager of Amazon WorkSpaces. “They’ve been frustrated by the available options – traditional desktops that are hard to manage and keep secure, or virtual desktops that are expensive and deliver inconsistent performance. Amazon WorkSpaces aims to address these issues by offering secure, easy-to-manage, high-performance desktops in the cloud at a fraction of the price of traditional VDI.”

One partner is looking forward to offering the Amazon service:

“Our enterprise customers have been asking for us to deliver a virtual desktop solution that is simple to manage, scales up and down as needed and doesn’t require large capital investment or heavy operational support. Until now that solution has not existed,” said Robert Groat, chief technology officer, Smartronix. “We're very excited to see a solution for virtual desktops done the ‘Amazon Web Services (News - Alert) way.’ Beyond the productivity benefits, we believe enterprises will save over 40 percent of the life cycle cost for desktop services while also gaining additional benefits such as built-in security, telecommuting flexibility, high availability and simplified operations management.”

AppStream Flows In

Also this week Amazon announced AppStream, a streaming service for resource hogging apps such as 3D games and other interactive content.

“With Amazon AppStream, content is rendered in the cloud, yet the end-user is still able to enjoy a responsive, fluid and high-definition experience on their device,” Amazon said. “Developers struggle with the hardware constraints of client devices when building end user applications. Mass-market devices, such as tablets, phones and lightweight laptops, are limited in the amount of power, CPU, and memory available for developers to create their apps and games. As a result, resource-intensive apps and games can only be accessed from expensive and high-powered PCs or game consoles. This means developers must restrain the types of experiences they create (3D or HD graphics, for example) if they are prioritizing mass-market devices. With Amazon AppStream, developers can create content that takes advantage of the vast compute and storage resources available in AWS, and then make their applications and games available on a full range of devices.”

AppStream is not exactly an original name, however, as a company with that same exact moniker was bought by Symantec (News - Alert) five years ago.

Private Clouds Stink

Those successfully using private clouds, gaining the benefit of elasticity without the loss of control, may be chagrined to learn that Amazon seriously dissed the private approach. In a keynote, Amazon AWS Senior VP Andy Jassy said private clouds simply don’t have the same benefits as their public counterparts: “If you're not planning on using the public cloud in some significant fashion, you will be at a significant competitive disadvantage,” Jassy claimed.

On this point, Amazon should know that AWS is, in fact, a private cloud, at least to Amazon itself, and only becomes a public cloud by offering public access.




Edited by Blaise McNamee