- Employees utilize virtual desktops like a typical personal computer, with the distinction that they access the machines remotely through the network.
- As per AWS, the device comes pre-loaded with an operating system, firmware, and programs meticulously designed for virtual desktop use cases.
Amazon Web Services Inc. recently introduced the Amazon WorkSpaces Thin Client—an efficient device enabling employees to connect with cloud-based virtual desktops.
A virtual desktop refers to a workstation in a data center instead of the user’s physical office space. Employees utilize these machines like a typical personal computer, with the distinction that they access the machines remotely through the network. In numerous enterprises, employees connect to virtual desktops using a thin client—a cost-effective computer explicitly designed for optimal access to cloud-based services.
In an interview, AWS Chief Executive Adam Selipsky said, “Today it’s complex to deploy the clients that folks like customer service agents or other people using our workspaces service use, it’s not as secure as our customers want it to be … and a lot of times they find those device walk out the door when the employees walk out the door.”
AWS has entered the thin client market by introducing the WorkSpaces Thin Client. This compact, rectangular device enables workers to log into virtual desktops hosted on the cloud through Amazon WorkSpaces service. Support extends to Amazon WorkSpaces Web, a browser-accessible version of the service facilitating users to access virtual desktops seamlessly.
The integration of AWS’s new thin client extends to a third cloud service, Amazon AppStream. While targeting similar use cases as WorkSpaces, it diverges in terms of features. AppStream allows companies to host virtual desktops containing multiple applications and make individual business applications accessible to employees from the cloud.
The foundation of the WorkSpaces Thin Client lies in Amazon.com Inc.’s Fire TV Cube, which was initially crafted as a consumer-oriented streaming device. When connected to a TV, the device lets users stream content from services like Prime Video and Netflix. Additionally, it can serve as an optional smart home management system.
Internally, the Fire TV Cube has an eight-core processor boasting a peak speed of 2.2 gigahertz. Backing the chip, there are 2 gigabytes of memory and a 16-gigabyte storage drive. The USB and HDMI ports facilitate seamless connections to home entertainment equipment.
While the WorkSpaces Thin Client shares identical hardware specifications with the Fire TV Cube, it operates on a completely different software stack. As per AWS, the device comes pre-loaded with an operating system, firmware, and programs meticulously designed for virtual desktop use cases. The onboard software is configured to prevent the local storage of files from a worker’s virtual desktop, minimizing the risk of data theft in case of a misplaced WorkSpaces Thin Client.
Melissa Stein, the Director of Product for End User Computing at AWS, said, “We built an entirely new software stack for that device, and since we didn’t have to design and build new hardware, we’re passing those savings along to customers. It’s the first time AWS has taken one of Amazon’s consumer devices and made an external hardware product for AWS customers.”
The cloud giant has also repurposed the onboard USB and HDMI ports of the Fire TV Cube. Instead of linking the device to a TV, WorkSpaces Thin Client users can utilize those ports to connect a mouse and keyboard. This functionality allows workers to use the device like a conventional desktop.
Organizations can oversee and manage their employees’ WorkSpaces Thin Clients through the AWS Management Console. According to the cloud giant, the console controls user access to specific applications and defines access permissions. A complementary monitoring tool empowers administrators to monitor actively used devices, checking for the latest software updates or identifying the need for patching.
Stein said, “IT leaders can easily manage their entire organization’s device fleet centrally and typically have an employee up and running in a few minutes, compared to hours or days with traditional laptops and desktops.”
The WorkSpaces Thin Client will be accessible at a starting price of USD 195. AWS intends to distribute the WorkSpaces Thin Client through Amazon Business, a business-centric version of Amazon’s e-commerce marketplace. Procurement teams use it to buy office supplies, electronics, and more specialized products like auto parts.
Procurement teams utilize it to acquire various items, including office supplies, electronics, and more specialized products like auto parts. Selipsky said, “We think it’s going to be really exciting and attractive for customers who are using our Amazon WorkSpaces virtual desktop offering. And this will be a great new choice for them.”