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November 27, 2023
The device marks the first of its kind from the company — and brings with it a twofold impact on channel partners.
But before we dive into that, let's explore some background on the WorkSpaces Thin Client.
To create the WorkSpaces Thin Client, AWS chose not to “reinvent” (see what we did there?) the wheel. Instead, the company took its consumer Fire TV Cube and adapted its functionality for the business world.
AWS' Melissa Stein
"Customers told us they needed a lower-cost device, especially in high-turnover environments, like call centers or payment processing," said Melissa Stein, director of product for End User Computing at AWS. "We looked for options and found that the hardware we used for the Amazon Fire TV Cube provided all the resources customers needed to access their cloud-based virtual desktops. So, 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.”
The AWS WorkSpaces thin client supports remote and hybrid work. As such, it comes with the requisite ports for peripherals (dual monitors, keyboard, mouse, camera and so on). AWS says setup takes 5 minutes. Furthermore, because the WorkSpaces thin client connects to the AWS cloud, rather than storing data on the device, it contains the security protections enterprises require. And the software lets IT perform remote management.
Pricing starts at $195. Compared to the expense of laptops, that could be a big deal, especially for budget-conscious users.
“[C]ustomers are saying, ‘We really, really need to look at our overall cost equation,’” she said.
AWS is selling the WorkSpaces Thin Client through its B2B marketplace, Amazon Business.
That’s potentially significant for the indirect channel.
The direct-to-enterprise availability of the WorkSpaces Thin Client “cuts into the partner’s revenue since this makes the rollout of applications in the enterprise much faster, quicker and automated,” Sid Nag, vice president of cloud services and technologies at Gartner Research, told Channel Futures.
Gartner's Sid Nag
On the flip side, the WorkSpaces Thin Client “actually makes life of the IT administrator much simpler,” Nag added.
Still, for partners overseeing client device rollouts, consider the benefits.
Managed service providers and other channel partners, for example, “will be able to shorten cycle time and focus on higher-value services such as application development and modernization,” Nag said.
The notion that more partners want and need to concentrate on up-market offerings isn’t new. So, rather than viewing the WorkSpaces Thin Client direct-to-buyer distribution as a negative, perhaps it makes sense to see the development as an opportunity to free partners’ internal experts to innovate. Indeed, it’s the same refrain the channel has heard for years — that it’s time to grow more sophisticated and do more than resell products.
With the WorkSpaces Thin Client, AWS is targeting enterprises in any industry with high end-user computing costs and distributed workforces. Therefore, channel partners could pursue prospects and clients in any sector, using the thin client as an in to gain services-led business.
Channel Futures is attending AWS re:Invent 2023, taking place this week in Las Vegas. We’ll cover keynotes from executives including CEO Adam Selipsky and partner program head Ruba Borno; we expect generative AI to dominate as the topic du jour. Finally, we’ll also cruise around the giant expo hall and update you on announcements from a number of AWS vendor and channel partners.
Contributing Editor, Channel Futures
Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.
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