Desktop and Application Streaming

New Amazon WorkSpaces features drive customer choice and flexibility

No two customers are alike. This reality is built into how we think about the AWS End User Computing (EUC) category. AWS EUC offers a set of services that help organizations securely deliver desktops and applications to employees in any supported AWS Region. In practice, this has meant that each organization employs their own unique strategy for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)–ranging from streaming a conventional desktop for remote and contingent employees, to more specialized deployments such as high end GPU-accelerated configurations for data scientists and developers.

The cost and resources associated with managing on-premises VDI infrastructure prevents many organizations from truly realizing IT agility. First, the sunk costs in existing on-premises VDI deployments perpetuate on-premises hardware investments that ultimately prevent IT teams from migrating to the cloud. Second, the ongoing IT talent shortage makes it even more difficult to self-manage VDI infrastructure across both on-premises and cloud-based deployments.

Shannon Kalvar, Research Manager for IDC’s IT Service Management and Client Virtualization Program, notes that “the most significant market development in 2021 was the collapse of the IT operations population supporting end user computing.”

Adding to the challenge, continuous capacity management for on-premises VDI deployments creates unnecessary spending due to the over provisioning of infrastructure required to support peak periods of operation.

Introducing Amazon WorkSpaces Core

We’re excited to introduce a new member of the Amazon WorkSpaces family, Amazon WorkSpaces Core. Amazon WorkSpaces Core is a fully managed, infrastructure only, VDI offering that includes a set of APIs for customers and third-party VDI software providers wanting to integrate with Amazon WorkSpaces purpose built VDI infrastructure. WorkSpaces Core allows IT administrators to continue using their familiar VDI software solution and end users can continue using their existing VDI client software. This results in a consistent end-user experience.

When VDI software providers integrate their solution with WorkSpaces Core, they enable their customers to use a set of curated WorkSpaces Core instances that are optimized for virtual desktop use cases. By using Amazon WorkSpaces Core, customers get all the benefits of AWS’s reliability and security, global availability, and cost efficiency of the AWS Cloud, with the familiarity of their existing VDI software solutions. Enterprises now have an easier way to reduce the IT resource requirements needed to manage on-premises VDI infrastructure, or they can expand VDI infrastructure to support a growing number of remote employees. With WorkSpaces Core you can expand your ability to run the software you choose on our services, with a whole range of hardware options–from simple, low-cost configurations to the latest GPU-based workstation and memory-dense configurations. With Amazon WorkSpaces Core, customers can deploy virtual desktops in supported AWS Regions. This reduces latency and improves performance, helping their end users be more productive. A recent Hackett Group study estimated that migrating on-premises infrastructure to AWS can result in 20% infrastructure cost savings[1], decreasing capacity planning and hardware refreshes while accelerating and simplifying cloud migration.

Ubuntu Desktop for Amazon WorkSpaces

I’m additionally proud to announce the general availability of Ubuntu Desktop for our all-inclusive Amazon WorkSpaces offering. We consistently heard from customers that they wanted to use Amazon WorkSpaces to provide developers the latest and greatest hardware, and to secure their data, but they needed support for other operating systems. Ubuntu gives customers the flexibility to run Ubuntu Desktop—the most popular open-source Linux distribution among professional developers[2]—on WorkSpaces. Ubuntu desktops on WorkSpaces delivers the infrastructure benefits of AWS Cloud. This allows customers to rapidly and securely provision virtual desktop instances accessible from supported AWS Regions, while only paying for resources you use. Ubuntu Desktop for WorkSpaces gives IT the flexibility to support a broad range of workloads and types of end users requiring a familiar Ubuntu desktop experience – with the operational agility, cost-effectiveness, and security of a fully managed AWS solution.

“We’ve brought Ubuntu Desktop to Amazon WorkSpaces so developers can streamline the design, coding, pipelines, and deployment of Ubuntu-based workloads, whether instances or containers, all within the AWS environment,” said Alex Gallagher, VP Cloud for Canonical. “Also, Ubuntu virtual desktops on WorkSpaces enable IT organizations to quickly and easily provision high-performance Ubuntu Desktop instances delivered as a fully managed AWS service. In the face of constant and increasing pressure to support the security and productivity needs of hybrid employees, that’s a win for IT organizations and their end users.”

IT Administrators can provision and manage Ubuntu desktops from the familiar Amazon WorkSpaces console, AWS Application Programming Interface (API), or AWS Command Line Interface (CLI) in the same way they would a Microsoft Windows or Amazon Linux desktop. End users access their Ubuntu desktops using the Amazon WorkSpaces client available for popular device platforms such as Windows, Linux, and MacOS, or simply via a web browser.

VMware with Amazon WorkSpaces infrastructure

Earlier this month, at VMware Explore, our partner VMware showcased the power of VMware Horizon and Amazon WorkSpaces VDI infrastructure. Leveraging Amazon WorkSpaces APIs, VMware demonstrated the ability for customers to deploy desktop workloads, with Amazon WorkSpaces infrastructure. Looking forward, VMware plans to expand this proof of concept, working with WorkSpaces Core APIs to provide a deeper level of integration between VMware Horizon and Amazon WorkSpaces VDI infrastructure.

“Customers today are looking for more choice, flexibility, and reliability to deliver secure workspaces for end users,” said Shawn Bass,VP and CTO, End User Computing, VMware, Inc. “For customers who want to leverage VMware Horizon on Amazon WorkSpaces, our expanded collaboration with AWS will help bring Horizon and Amazon WorkSpaces Core together for an optimized user experience in hybrid VDI or desktop-as-a-service environments.”

Zoom Media Plugin beta for smooth video conferencing

And as virtually every company around the world is moving toward remote work environments, one of the hardest things to deliver via a virtual desktop is a smooth video conferencing experience. Zoom Video Communications, Inc. is at the forefront of videoconferencing technology, and the AWS End User Computing team has collaborated with Zoom to help solve that problem by rerouting videoconferencing traffic to take a more direct route to the endpoint device, bypassing the virtual desktop for improved quality, and lower latency.

Using our WorkSpaces Extension SDK, Zoom has developed a package, currently in beta testing, that includes the VDI client, a host-side installer, the Zoom Media Plugin, a client-side installer. This media plugin securely offloads video encoding and decoding and communicates over the network directly to the Zoom cloud, bypassing the VDI infrastructure. Control information such as authentication and window location is sent over the VDI channel. This first-of-its-kind solution provides end users with an improved video conferencing experience. The Zoom window appears exactly where it normally would inside a WorkSpaces desktop, with all the same functionality, reducing latency to make the videoconference experience seamless. To learn more, reach out to your AWS and/or Zoom account teams to participate in the Zoom Media Plugin beta program.

Flexibility and Choice

Our ethos on the AWS End User Computing team is to provide flexibility and choice to choose the right software and infrastructure to meet your needs. Amazon WorkSpaces Core provides the security of the AWS Cloud, the reliability and cost-effectiveness of our WorkSpaces infrastructure, and the ability to use AWS Regions around the world to deploy virtual desktops closer to your employees to optimize performance and end-user experience – all on your existing VDI software solutions for a consistent administrator and end-user experience. If you have an existing VDI software solution you’d like to run on WorkSpaces Core infrastructure, please reach out to us at

[1] These are 3rd party estimates that Amazon has not verified.
[2] According to the HackerEarth 2020 Developer Survey – Which Amazon has not verified.