I just got off a vendor briefing with Amazon Web Services on their Workspaces product and I compiled a list of frequently asked questions that I thought I’d post in my blog. I hope it helps those of you that are looking for answers. If there are any I didn’t ask please let me know in the comments or on twitter.
Q: Other than your name, what are you offering that makes you stand out from the pack of other DaaS providers?
A: Device flexibility, no upfront investment, low cost, continuous service updates, no staff requirements and global reach. Very few DaaS providers have the history, scale, security experience and operational capabilities than we have in AWS.
Q: Who is your target market?
A: Mobile workers, Secure workspaces, Remote employees, Seasonal workers, Students, Developers. Our target market is the enterprise user who needs access to their data and apps from any device or location. The service will allow an enterprise to extend their on-premises desktop environment into AWS. Users will login to their WorkSpaces using existing AD credentials and once on their WorkSpace will have access to all their on-premises resources. Also, there is potential for the DaaS service to be used for DR or bursting ability.
Q: What does fully managed mean?
A: We will provision the infrastructure and OS for you. This means setting up and managing the underlying network, VMs, storage, AD integration and user authentication. The service provisions these resources across AWS Availability Zones per customer and can address any degradation in hardware/storage automatically without customer intervention.
Q: Can enterprises opt out of AWS managing the OS?
A: Yes. Customer can use images we provide or images they provide.
Q: Can admins upload their own (Windows Server OS) images?
A: Yes. So long as it compatible with Windows OS Server.
Q: How frequent do you backup the desktop?
A: “Multiple times per day”. End User Documents (sync) is backed up as they are saved.
Q: Can Admin do point in time file level restores? Can Users?
A: No. The backup is for durability not necessarily for the restore feature.
Q: Can admins disable My Documents backup?
A: Admins can enable or disable this feature but block level backup will continue thus admins should put in policies to have users not save to the OS if they don’t want data residing on AWS.
Q: Are folders other than My Documents backed up?
A: The entire desktop is backed up (see above answers). The “sync client” only backs up My Documents.
Q: Does AWS have the desktop follow the user geographically or is it provisioned in one location?
A: Not available today but stay tuned
Q: Is this product SBC based?
A: No, however it leverages the RDS SAL available to solution providers. The technology uses the PCoIP protocol but we built our own broker and management layers.
Q: Does the 50/100GB of storage space include the OS?
A: No users have a full 50/100GB outside of the base OS AWS provisions.
Q: What kind of storage does AWS use?
Q: How many IOPS does AWS provide?
A: On average we see 10-15 IOPS however our storage solution provides burst capabilities of 100 IOPS. While this will meet the needs of most customers, we will consider adding even higher IOPs capability for WorkSpaces based on customer feedback.
Q: Why did AWS use Server OS instead of VDI
A: Customers wanted an alternative to a virtual desktop to allow them to access to their apps.
Q: Are you using any acceleration technology?
A: The base streaming protocol (PCoIP) is already optimized for the WAN given that it uses UDP. However more optimizations are possible, as noted in http://goo.gl/xu57Ie. Over time we will consider adding more of these features into the service based on customer feedback.
Q: Will you offer per hour pricing for this solution?
A: We can but application vendors typically license their apps on a monthly basis, so it would be difficult with any additional applications, however there is a possibility we could do this with the base OS.
Q: Can you support a non-persistent desktop on your platform?
A: We will evaluate this over time, technically it’s easier. However, we wanted to come out of the gate with a product that can handle persistent desktops. We believe to be a serious player in this space that’s what you need to do.
Q: Do you support seamless application delivery?
A: We will be exploring this area more as we grow and as we see demand. We think there is a market for creating an ecosystem of application that would enable third party ISVs to deliver their apps on a consumption basis.