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

A week living on the new AWS WorkSpaces: Final Day

Day 5 – Final Day
So I’m sitting in LAX airport on the airport wifi writing this from my local desktop, not my workspaces… Yes I was unable to connect to workspaces on the airport wifi. Everything else I use via the internet is working fine such as ftp, email, websites, file sync apps… A quick port scan of the wifi network didn’t tell me anything as they have correctly setup the network so open ports are in stealth, but my guess is that they don’t have port 4172 open on tcp and udp which (and/or ssh port 22 is blocked) is what workspaces connection uses.

So unfortunately I’m unable to play with workspaces for my last day but I can talk about the toys/features that I can already see listed in the advanced area of the preview which isn’t available yet but they look like they’ll have ready for the final public release.
So one of those is the Active Directory integration. One of the features under advanced which is listed but not active to use at the moment, allows you to have an Active Directory server at your office which you can tie into workspaces to control the user accounts. This is great and a very important feature, as without it workspaces for a large organisation would add yet another separate layer of user security to manage. It will be interesting though how deep this integration goes. Will it just be username and password control or will it be more, even to the extent of managing user setup via group policies?
This is what AWS give away at the moment
“When you extend your on premise directory to Amazon WorkSpaces your users can log in with their company credentials and will have access to their existing company network resources.”

Another interesting feature is one that I touched on the other day and that is with the “bundles” and using them as golden images. The feature is “custom bundles” and is not yet available but listed. It sounds like you will be able to create your own image but the last sentence I find the most interesting because to me it sounds like you can change a bundle for a user and they won’t loose their files.
“Select from a menu of pre-configured bundles or create custom WorkSpace bundles with combinations of the most popular desktop applications and your current line of business apps. You can purchase software licenses as part of your bundle or bring the licenses that you already own. User information and documents are persisted so you don’t have to worry about losing data.”

The last feature they have listed but is not yet available is “On-Premise Administration Tools” which will allow you to monitor the health of your workspaces, approve patches, schedule updates and apply policies. This sounds like it will put to rest my concerns I raised earlier in the week about the management of workspaces being a bit bare at the moment.

Overall I think WorkSpaces is a winner. Granted it’s not for everyone and that’s just the way cloud solutions are, but I think there is a large market this will work very well for. If AWS releases the 3 features I’ve just listed, AD integration, custom bundles, and admin tools, when they go live with their general release of it, I will definitely be recommending it to my clients who I feel would suite. My only concern or unknown is how company file storage/management will work. But there are so many options for this it might actually be good if AWS let 3rd parties handle this side of things.

I hope you’ve found my week living on WorkSpaces interesting, and please feel free to contact me about any questions or even just for an opinionated chat. And no unfortunately we don’t know when AWS WorkSpaces will be released yet… hopefully very soon.

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