Desktop and Application Streaming

Why Customers Are Moving Their Windows Desktops to the Cloud with Amazon WorkSpaces

With an estimated 50% of businesses still running Windows 7, migrating those millions of desktops and laptops to Windows 10 remains a top priority for businesses globally. The impetus, of course, is the end of mainstream support for Windows 7 coming up in January 2020, which may make Windows 7 PCs more vulnerable to malware, ransomware, and other types of security issues unless specific action is taken. As we talk to customers about their Windows 10 migration journey, we consistently hear about a few challenges. First, customers tell us that like previous Windows upgrades, Windows 10 is more resource intensive and requires more powerful hardware to deliver a comparable user experience. As a result, the customers we’ve spoken to are also planning a hardware refresh, which is costly, operationally challenging, and may require significant capital expenditure. Second, Windows 10 comes with a more frequent feature update and patch delivery schedule, which makes desktop management challenging as customers must now spend even more time testing and deploying patches. More frequent updates also may require customers to implement robust rollback plans in case these Windows updates cause compatibility problems. Such plans are operationally tedious to execute, considering the hundreds to thousands of desktops in a typical enterprise.

Given these challenges, customers have asked us: “Is there a way to migrate to Windows 10 that does not involve costly upfront capital expenditure and leverages the existing IT investments that we have already made? And is there a way to reduce the chronic pain of managing Windows desktops once we have actually completed our migration?”

We believe the answer to these questions is “Yes”. And in fact, a Windows 10 upgrade is a great time to modernize your desktop operations by moving your desktops and applications to AWS. Here’s why: Amazon WorkSpaces is a turnkey, fully-managed desktop as a service (DaaS) solution that makes it easy for customers to run and manage their desktop fleets on AWS. By moving their desktops to the cloud with WorkSpaces, customers can upgrade to Windows 10 and get off the PC-upgrade treadmill without breaking the bank. They can do so by retaining their investments in existing hardware while taking advantage of the flexible, high-performance computing infrastructure that WorkSpaces offers to deliver a productive Windows 10 desktop experience to end users. And, at the next natural hardware-refresh cycle, WorkSpaces customers can further reduce their overall cost of desktop delivery by switching to low-cost devices, such as thin clients, Chromebooks, or even iPads, instead of buying expensive PCs. For example, when Endemol Shine, a media and entertainment customer based out of the Netherlands switched to WorkSpaces, they reduced their capital expenditure by 70% and saved 30% on desktop operations costs. While there are several WorkSpaces bundle options to choose, we have seen the Performance bundle (with two virtual cores and 8 GB of memory) emerge as the preferred option for customers moving to Windows 10. Based on this key insight, we recently reduced the global price of our monthly and hourly Performance bundle-based WorkSpaces, saving customers up to 20% on the Performance bundle of their choice.

As a fully-managed service, Amazon WorkSpaces deals with the hassle of frequent Windows updates so that our customers don’t have to. Updates are automatically delivered to Windows and Linux based WorkSpaces during preset maintenance windows that customers can adjust as needed. Alternatively, for customers who want additional control over patch management, we provide a number of user data management and image management features that make it easier to manage Windows 10 updates. For example, we recently introduced the WorkSpaces Restore feature, which lets customers easily roll back their WorkSpaces to the last known healthy state. Available at no additional charge to customers, this feature serves as an easy recovery option to help customers mitigate the impact of incompatible third-party updates, and the process can be automated using the WorkSpaces API or the AWS Command Line Interface. Ease of management and scalability are key reasons why customers such as Origlio Beverages have been able to migrate their entire fleet of aging Windows 7 laptops and desktops to WorkSpaces in a matter of weeks and why customers such as Yamaha Motor Company are working to retire their on-premises VDI solution entirely.

In addition to addressing the key pain points that customers regularly cite as part of their move to Windows 10, WorkSpaces also offer a number of additional benefits. WorkSpaces are inherently secure, as there is no data that physically resides on the end user’s device, and customer data is securely delivered as an encrypted pixel stream to end users, irrespective of what device or browser end users are using to access their WorkSpaces. WorkSpaces also comes with a number of built-in security features, such as the ability to encrypt storage volumes, enable multi-factor authentication, or restrict access to trusted devices or from a specific range of IP addresses, in order to cater to the needs of our most security-conscious customers. WorkSpaces integrates well with your existing Active Directory (AD) and Group Policy Object (GPO) based desktop management environment, while featuring a resilient, high-availability architecture that provides a 99.9% monthly uptime SLA for end users, thereby resulting in lower ticket volumes and IT support costs.

As pioneers of fully-managed, cloud-based DaaS when we launched WorkSpaces over five years ago, we have been humbled to see this category evolve from one that was at often times misunderstood to one where we see significant customer momentum, with tens of thousands of customers running hundreds of thousands of fully-managed desktops on AWS. Many customers are already familiar with the advantage of running their Windows workloads on AWS, with 2x more Windows Server instances, 5x more services offering encryption, and 7x less downtime in 2018 compared to the next largest cloud provider. With Amazon Workspaces, we remain committed to making DaaS on AWS the best place to run Windows desktop workloads, and we continue to innovate on behalf of our customers to make the transition to Windows 10 as easy and cost effective as possible.

I invite you to give Amazon WorkSpaces a try for free using the AWS Free Tier. You can learn more about DaaS on AWS on our website, or watch a recent discussion Jeff Barr and I had about Amazon WorkSpaces.