A week living on the new AWS WorkSpaces: Day 3 - TriNimbus

A week living on the new AWS WorkSpaces: Day 3

Day 3 – Wednesday
So I’m now halfway through my journey and finding myself becoming emerged in my AWS WorkSpace desktop.
Now that I have my core programs installed and setup I’m using it exactly as I would my local desktop for my day to day work.
I read a very negative article online today which was written last year about WS after it had just been announced.
Basically they were saying that a Virtual Desktop was a mindset from the 80s and that you should fire anyone who suggests it.
Now besides being very closed minded and basing their opinion on what sounded like a limited knowledge of how far VDI technology has progressed in the last 30 years, I did agree with them that VDI is not for everyone (although they were trying to put forward the case that it was for no one).

One mis-conception I feel they had was that they assumed WS would be restrictive and painful for end users because the IT admin would reapply the image every few weeks which would delete any programs or customization the end user had made. From my testing this is not true and my understanding/hope is that in the future AWS will allow you to create a golden image which will actually allow the IT admin to update everyones programs by reapplying the image every few weeks, but it won’t delete any programs or customization the end users have made. Instead if it works like Citrix then the VDI has many layers which are all built upon the golden image. One of those layers is the users customization which remains untouched usually when the golden image is changed.

I think like most solutions in the world, there is not a one size fits all and that this would not be a good fit for developers for example. There are security restrictions which AWS has applied which prevent some programs from running such as Microsoft’s download manager which tried to install when I tried to download the MS Visio trial, and you can’t go messing with the network level. But as a developer/sys admin I do see still for myself a usefulness for WS in my work life. Now this might not sound true if you use AWS EC2 instances and do all your testing and playing on them, but I find I destroy my local OS over time, testing many programs and configs on it, and so every year on average I feel the need to reinstall windows. But all my business programs such as my CRM, project management, MS Office, accounting and other software would take so long to install and setup again. It would be so nice to have them all sandboxed in a clean and controlled WS environment while I create chaos on my local PC with the freedom to blow away my local PC when needed.

Anyway enough philosophy, what did I get up to today on WS?
Well besides getting ingrained in WS, I tried out the Windows Sync app.
Now although I’ve read that it only at the moment supports Window 7 and Mac, I have been able to install it on my laptop without any problems which is running Window 8.1
The install process is very simple. Run the installer, enter you unique key which is provided to you in your welcome email, enter your username and password, choose the folder on your local hard drive where you want files to sync to, and that’s it. The sync app runs in the background.
Options for the app are simple, just run on startup and de-register your computer from that WS connection.

One thing that was not so simple was realizing how it works. I assumed that all I needed to do was install the sync app on my laptop and then a folder such as the my documents folder in my WS would start syncing to my local PC.
What I actually still required to do is also install the sync app on my WS
My 2 cents for AWS regarding this which hopefully they will implement something similar to before public release is to make the workspace sync app more obvious.
1. Put the link to download the WS sync app on the WS remote connection app login screen. At the moment the only way I was able to find it was to find the original invite email I got notifying me that I could try out WS. I was unable to locate a link to it anywhere else, even in the WS admin console.
2. Have WS sync app already installed and setup on WS desktop by default. I’m sure it’s not just me who will assume this.

Once I had the WS sync app installed on WS it worked great with 2 way sync between the folder I set on my local PC and the folder I set on my WS.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to see if I can hunt down someone with an iPad or Android tablet as WS also has a mobile app in the Apple and Google stores but I tried today to install it on my Samsung S4 and I couldn’t, so I can only assume either it’s only for tablet devices or it is not available yet.

Stay tuned tomorrow.

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