Amazon Hosted Desktops Chatter Invades IT Nation 2013

Amazon WorkSpaces, a hosted desktop service for Microsoft Office and more, is real. Is VDI and desktop as a service finally ready for business and the IT channel? Reactions from IT Nation 2013 and more.

Joe Panettieri, Former Editorial Director

November 14, 2013

3 Min Read
Amazon WorkSpaces is a hosted desktop service capable of running Microsoft Office and more in the Amazon Web Services AWS cloud
Amazon WorkSpaces is a hosted desktop service, capable of running Microsoft Office and more in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud.

The hosted desktop war is on. Amazon (AMZN) unveiled Amazon WorkSpaces (a cloud-based desktop as a service) today. MSPs attending IT Nation 2013 in Orlando, Fla., reacted strongly. Channel-friendly hosted desktop companies like independenceIT are digging in for the battle. Here’s the analysis.

Yes, Amazon WorkSpaces runs Microsoft Office and other productivity applications on Amazon Web Services (AWS), the online retail giant’s cloud. Yes, users can access the apps from iPads, Android tablets and more. Yes, the news — announced at Amazon AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas — echoed all the way to the IT Nation conference, hosted by ConnectWise in Orlando, Fla.

Slow Start

Admittedly, hosted desktops — also called virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and desktop as a service (DaaS) — had several false starts in recent years. Running desktop images on servers often introduces latency issues, boot storms and other performance problems on corporate networks. Also, Microsoft’s software licensing model sometimes hindered early hosted desktop deployments.

But as broadband and cloud technologies improved, many MSPs and customers are giving hosted desktops a second look. Instead of running the hosted desktops in MSP data centers, the MSPs are turning to third-party hosted desktop service providers. Key names to know include independenceIT, dinCloud, OS33 and Toshiba. The business driver: MSPs and customers gain easier management of applications as users hop from PCs to notebooks, tablets and smartphones.

Microsoft, Amazon and More

Microsoft has been preparing a hosted desktop service to run on Windows Azure. And now Amazon is getting into the game with Amazon Workspaces. According to a prepared statement from the cloud and online retail giant:

“Amazon WorkSpaces allows customers to easily provision cloud-based desktops that allow end-users to access the documents, applications and resources they need with the device of their choice, including laptops, iPad, Kindle Fire,and Android tablets. With a few clicks in the AWS Management Console, customers can provision a high-quality desktop experience for their users at less than half the cost of most traditional virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions.”

MSPs React at IT Nation

Once Amazon made the announcement, MSPmentor began receiving email from IT Nation attendees. The key questions we’ve received:

1. Does MSPmentor think Amazon is serious? Answer: Absolutely.

2. Will Amazon launch a formalized partner program for WorkSpaces? Answer: Definite maybe. AWS re:Invent is emerging as a next-generation conference for ISVs and born-in-the-cloud channel partners. Amazon knows it. Stay tuned.

3. What other hoste desktop options do MSPs have right now? Answers:

  • independenceIT is a pure channel play — which should be reassuring to MSPs. CEO Jim Lippie is a former MSP himself. I don’t know how well the platform works nor do I know how well independenceIT is funded.

  • Toshiba recently launched a hosted desktop service for channel partners. It supports VMware Horizon today and Citrix soon (or maybe it’s the inverse; either way both approaches will be supported in 2013). Also, there’s a single management dashboard for both approaches.

  • dinCloud also offers a hosted desktop solution, and I believe it’s available from the Ingram Micro Cloud aggregation service.

  • OS33 also plays in this space. The company promotes a  virtual desktop solution that integrates apps and data in the cloud -– including SaaS apps and Window-based applications.

I’m not suggesting hosted desktops are ready to go mainstream. But Amazon Workspaces is a major inflection point for the MSP industry. It’s a wake-up call from Las Vegas heard all the way in Orlando. Lead, follow or get out of the way…

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About the Author(s)

Joe Panettieri

Former Editorial Director, Nine Lives Media, a division of Penton Media

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