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Amazon Aims To Disrupt VDI Market with Cloud-Based Offering

More than seven years after upending how IT consumes compute, storage and application services, Amazon is going up the infrastructure stack  to the desktop. Amazon Web Services today said it's gunning to shake up the struggling VDI market with a cloud-based alternative that requires no hardware, software or datacenter infrastructure.

The company announced its plans to offer Amazon WorkSpaces, which it claims it can offer services at half the cost with better performance than traditional virtual desktop infrastructure platforms today. Amazon Web Services senior VP Andy Jassy revealed the new cloud-based VDI offering in his opening keynote address at the company's second annual re:Invent customer and partner conference taking place in Las Vegas.

Saying VDI hasn't taken off because it's complex to setup and manage, Jassy told the thousands of attendees and online viewers in his keynote that Amazon WorkSpaces promises to reduce those barriers. It will allow organizations to move their desktop licenses to Amazon and provides integration with Active Directory.

"You can access your Amazon WorkSpace from any of your devices whether it's a desktop, laptop or an iOS device," Jassy said.  "And you get persistent sessions, so if you're using a WorkSpace on your laptop, and you switch to your Android [or any other] device, the session picks up just where you left off. What's also nice, because it's a cloud service, all of the data lives in the cloud -- it doesn't live local to those devices, which of course is a concern for an IT administrator."

The company described in a blog post a use case with 1,000 employees that would cost just $43,333 using Amazon WorkSpaces. This would be 59 percent less expensive than an on-premise VDI deployment that would cost $106,356 (which includes datacenter investments).

Amazon will initially offer a Standard service that costs $35 per month for one virtual CPU, 3.75 GB of memory and 50 GBytes of capacity; and a Performance plan that costs $60 for two virtual CPUs, 3.75 GB of memory and 100 GB storage per user. A Performance Plus package will come with 7.5 GB of memory. Customers that don't have licenses to move over can purchase licenses for Microsoft Office and antivirus software firm Trend Micro for $15 per month per user.

Jassy said the company intends to first offer invitation-only trials. He did not disclose general availability. Customers can register for the preview now.

Do you think Amazon can change the economics of VDI and make it more appealing? Given Amazon's track record, I wouldn't bet against the company becoming a player in the VDI market.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 11/13/2013 at 12:49 PM


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