Amazon Web Services (AWS) is introducing a fully managed desktop, pay-as-you-go, computing service in the cloud, called WorkSpaces. The company claims, based on its Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) estimates, that it would cost less than 50% of what it would cost to provision a complete less than on-premises Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).
It's a pretty well-known theory that you can reduce business costs if you maintain consistency and control in certain areas of the business. Change isn't always good and change that's not managed can be expensive without gaining anything back. For example, if you make cookies, and you only make one type of cookie, you can keep your costs down because you know exactly what the ingredients are, what type of cookie cutter is needed, how long it will take to bake them, etc. Things would be consistent and known and the cost to make each cookie wouldn't change much.
So, unless there's an unavoidable reason, individual custom requests would be avoided because it would introduce more cost to make the cookie. If the request was to do something significantly different, for example to add crème filling to the cookie, that would be a major and possibly disruptive change. The business would have to buy new ingredients and possibly new equipment; it would have to increase the amount of storage space in order to store the new type of cookie; it would have to hire people with expertise in making the filling; as well as deal with a whole slew of other issues related to that one change.
When you look at IT, and especially large enterprise IT, they've had to adapt to hundreds of custom, and disruptive, changes because business and customers needed them to be flexible but still needed costs kept down.
About the Author
Bill Oliver has been working in Healthcare for the past 30+ years in a variety of management roles including Material Management, Purchasing, Nurse Registry, and IT. In the past 12 years his focus has been on the business end of IT Contracts, Software Licensing and Purchasing.
One way IT has managed to control cost has been to adopt virtualization in order to squeeze the most benefit and value out of underutilized and costly hardware infrastructure as well as having a way to centrally manage desktops and other devices. However, for many small to medium size businesses, the financial benefits and efficiency of virtualization has bypassed them because, basically, it cost too much to get into the game.
AWS is, potentially, changing that. AWS WorkSpaces provides a pay-as-you go service that allows a company to setup its virtual desktops within AWS and avoid having to purchase the hardware, software licenses, and expertise to provision it onsite. With the AWS model, you provision the number of desktops you need, and if you have a short term need to increase the number of individuals (i.e. during a project) you add them and once the project is done, you remove them.
Users could install their own applications or use ones available through Amazon WorkSpaces (Microsoft Office, Firefox, Adobe) and users can access WorkSpaces from laptops, iPads, Android and Kindle Fire tablets. AWS uses some technology components to provide compression and encryption using PCoIP (PC over IP) to transmit 'pixels only' across standard IP networks.
For additional information and to sign up for a limited preview of Amazon WorkSpaces visit aws.amazon.com/workspaces. There is also a video that provides an overview of this new offering that you can see here.