A week living on the new AWS WorkSpaces: Day 1 - TriNimbus

A week living on the new AWS WorkSpaces: Day 1

So the day has finally come! Ever since I heard that AWS was releasing a cloud virtual desktop solution at Re:Invent 2013 I have been on the edge of my seat to learn everything I can about it.
For those who are unfamiliar with virtual desktops, instead of storing your files and running programs on your PC, laptop or mobile device, your programs and files are all stored in the cloud which you connect to over the internet. There are many advantages to this especially for businesses such as; you no longer need to re-install and setup programs when you get a new device, if you or your staff loose or have their device stolen there is no risk of files falling into the wrong hands as nothing is stored on the device, and staff can use their own devices without you needing to worry about them easily taking your intellectual property and files with them.

In early 2013 I was heavily involved in designing a Citrix solution for virtual apps and desktop to run on AWS.
Strangely though help on how best to set it up was hard to find even after talking to AWS and Citrix staff… WorkSpaces being on the horizon might be why.

So I fell off my chair the other day when I found out our early invite request had been accepted and we had been emailed the keys to AWS “WorkSpaces”.
So for the next week join me on my journey to live a week on AWS WorkSpace.
To know more about workspaces follow the link below
About AWS WorkSpaces

Day1 – Monday
So I’m ready to enter the brave new world where everything including my desktop is now in the AWS cloud!
I opened the email invite, clicked on the link in the email to take me to my new workspaces console and I get a 404 website error page…
After 30 minutes of trying various things, and then discovering many posts on the forums from people with the same issue, I contacted AWS support.
Although there isn’t a support option for workspaces yet, I chose ec2 support and over chat was able to get help very quickly on the issue. AnotherĀ 10mins later and my workspace console was now working.
Small issues happen especially before general release for products, so it’s great to see I can get it sorted by AWS support so quickly even though I’m sure the support tech was working outside his scope of support.

So the new user signup was very easy and straight forward.
I signed up for a standard WS bundle which includes Trend Micro antivirus and Microsoft Office for only $50/mth
There are 4 “bundle types” you can sign up for when creating a users desktop. The first is just the Windows 7 desktop, the 2nd is the Windows 7 desktop with TM antivirus and MS Office. The 3rd and 4th are the 1st and 2nd bundles but more powerful performance wise.
It took less than 20mins for AWS to automatically create the new account and once created I received an email with a straight forward link and instructions.
I downloaded the WS app for connection, entered my registration key which was in the email (you only need this the first time you open the app on that machine/device), and then entered my username and password which I set when I was admin creating the new WS account.

As for the admin management side of WS, at the moment it looks pretty bare, but covers all the basics that you want. I can add new users, resend theĀ invite email to the user, reboot WS if the WS session freezes or has a glitch, rebuild the WS which is for when/if the WS users account dies and rebooting doesn’t fix it (this will cause the user to loose the last 12hrs of saved work and most customization such as installed programs), and remove
I can also see an overview of all WS accounts created, listing the WS IP, username, WS bundle type, email address and status.
One major issue I had was that I can’t see how I can change the bundle type once created. You might want to do this if you build a WS for all staff and then some staff complain after a few weeks that for them WS is too slow. So you want to upgrade them to the faster WS.
So I’ve logged a ticket with AWS support about this. Warren is looking into it, so I’ll let you all know.

Time to start playing with WorkSpace now, setup my enviroment the way I like and update you all again tomorrow.

Forward to Day 2