AWS Desktop and Application Virtualization in the Cloud -AppStream 2.0 & WorkSpaces

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AWS Desktop and Application Virtualization in the Cloud -AppStream 2.0 & WorkSpaces Post Cover

Learn the difference between AppStream 2.0 and WorkSpaces to find out which is best for your business.

With AWS constantly adding new services to its cloud computing ecosystem, it can be difficult to quickly understand how some of these tools might fit into your current infrastructure. Two relatively new services from Amazon - AppStream 2.0 & WorkSpaces - offer a number of benefits for different organizations and their needs.

In this blog, we'll introduce you to these two tools so you can find out if your organization could benefit from either of them.

What is Amazon AppStream 2.0?

Amazon AppStream 2.0 is a fully managed, secure application streaming service. It allows a desktop application to be streamed and used within a web browser from any device. Many organizations continue to use legacy applications that cannot be easily moved to the cloud. This leads to scenarios where these applications must run on outdated devices, and often prevents the company's employees from accessing them online or via mobile devices.

This is where Amazon AppStream 2.0 offers enterprises a smart solution. With AppStream, desktop applications are streamable on any device with a web browser, without the need to rewrite them. So Have instant access to the app of your choice, all with a responsive user experience that works with multiple devices.

Amazon AppStream 2.0 gives you the ability to import your existing desktop applications into AWS, so you can continue to maintain a single version of each of your applications, but make them accessible across computers, tablets, and other mobile devices.

What is Amazon WorkSpaces?

An Amazon WorkSpace is basically an easy-to-set-up virtual machine running in the AWS cloud. It is a full-fledged virtual desktop. There are two ways to access an AWS WorkSpaces instance: through the WorkSpaces application or through a web browser. The AWS application can be downloaded and run from any major desktop and mobile platform. The application is very convenient and easy to use.

Instead of hosting legacy applications in the cloud, Amazon WorkSpaces is a fully managed, secure desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) solution running on AWS. With WorkSpaces, you can easily deploy cloud-based virtual desktops on Windows. These virtual desktops enable access to documents, applications, and required resources from any location and any device. You can easily deploy Amazon WorkSpaces through the AWS Management Console.

The way you use an AWS WorkSpaces instance is identical to the way you would use a desktop computer. You provision the instance to users, and then you can log in to the machine via the app and start using your software immediately.

Benefits of AppStream 2.0 and WorkSpaces.

As with most AWS services, both AppStream 2.0 and Amazon WorkSpaces offer a pay-as-you-go pricing model that is far superior to traditional on-premise solutions that require significant upfront costs.

Amazon WorkSpaces is a fully managed desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) solution that provides a secure, simple and flexible way to manage all necessary enterprise applications and resources. From a single management console, you can quickly provision virtual desktop environments, leverage existing corporate credentials, and seamlessly manage your workload access across a variety of target devices.

To support your users with streaming desktop applications, Amazon AppStream 2.0 provides a fully managed, global deployment service with no code changes required and regardless of the devices your team uses.

AppStream & WorkSpace Use Cases in Practice

AppStream 2.0

3D Design and Construction

With AppStream, your users can access CAD, CAM, and CAE applications like SOLID¬WORKS, Siemens NX, MathWorks MATLAB, or AVEVA Everything 3D on any computer. Every user experience is smooth and responsive because your applications run on virtual machines (VMs) optimized for their use cases, and that NICE DCV program automatically adjusts each streaming presentation to network conditions.

Trials, demos and training for employees

Software vendors can use AppStream to provide trial versions, demos and training for their applications without downloads or installations. They can also develop a full software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution without having to rewrite their application. Likewise, you can enable your sales team to deliver sales demos for your software across any device. Similarly, you can provide training and certification workshops for your software without a physical lab and without training time.

Educational Institutions

Educational institutions use AppStream to provide each student/scholar with access to the wide variety of applications they need for instruction on any computer. This makes it easy to manage applications for each class. The installation and configuration are easily done with a few clicks.


Temporary staff

Many organizations are switching to temporary workers to increase flexibility, save money, and focus more on growth opportunities. With Amazon WorkSpaces, you can quickly provision Windows and Linux desktops so you can onboard and support new contractors without having to buy and ship additional equipment. And when contracts expire, you simply scale back. With Amazon WorkSpaces, you can increase security by ensuring that confidential company data is never on temporary workers' devices.

Remote working

Many companies are permanently transitioning to a more flexible and distributed workforce, including more "home-based" work. With Amazon WorkSpaces, you can provide these contractors with fully functional Windows and Linux desktops in minutes. At the same time, you increase security by keeping data off the end user's device and increase reliability with the power of the AWS Cloud.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Organizations performing mergers and acquisitions need to quickly engage large numbers of employees with fast, easy, and secure access to enterprise applications and data. This must be possible across multiple devices without incurring excessive costs or requiring lengthy and complex integrations. With Amazon WorkSpaces, IT teams can quickly deploy and retire secure WorkSpaces to keep pace with changing operational structures.

Differences between Amazon AppStream 2.0 and Amazon WorkSpaces.

While the two AWS services are similar in some ways, it's important to remember that Amazon AppStream 2.0 focuses on hosting individual applications on AWS, while Amazon WorkSpaces creates virtual desktops that can be used to create entire work environments for you and your team.

AppStream 2.0 is much more flexible in terms of configuration compared to Workspaces. The biggest differences are the ability to choose the type of instance (CPU, memory or GPU optimized to reduce costs) and the option to launch the instance inside an Amazon VPC. The latter has the advantage of increasing security and control over the resources used. AppStream has the same problem as Workspaces, namely that an instance can only be assigned to one user at a time.

Configuration is a bit more complicated in AppStream 2.0 ImageBuilder than in Workspaces. However, this gives greater control over exactly what you want. The general process is that we use ImageBuilder to install our application on the computer. Then the application is added as an available option for the user when they connect to the AppStream 2.0 instance in the browser. Once this image is created, it can be used to quickly deploy new instances (~10 minutes).

The user experience in AppStream 2.0 is more streamlined than in Workspaces. In Workspaces, you have an RDP connection to the virtual machine, so you get access to Windows functionality. In AppStream 2.0, the user sees only the available applications for use. No additional Windows controls are available. The look and feel of the user interface is more like an app launcher than a Windows desktop.

The pricing for AppStream 2.0 is also much more flexible than Workspaces. This, combined with the previously described points, makes AppStream 2.0 the better choice in our case.

The bottom line is that if you are looking to move your existing legacy applications to AWS, you should take a closer look at Amazon AppStream 2.0. If you are just looking for a quick and easy way to provision Windows virtual desktops for your users, Amazon WorkSpaces is most likely the ideal solution.

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