DCV in 2022: a year in review

DCV Pixel StreamingWe’re planning to make 2023 an exciting year for DCV and our customers, and my teams are working hard on several new features and user experience improvements that we hope you’ll love. But while we’re focused on coding the next set of features, we also want to take a moment to reflect on what happened for DCV in 2022.

A versatile display protocol

Over the years, our customers have told us that DCV is not only a highly performant and reliable display protocol, but it’s also a flexible building block.

The protocol’s versatility is what allows it to be used across different workloads and in a range of environments – making it useful to different industries. We’ve leveraged this flexibility for providing remote desktop and application streaming capabilities in quite a few AWS services – Amazon WorkSpacesAmazon AppStream 2.0, Amazon Nimble StudioAmazon WorkSpaces Web, AWS Robomaker, and the GUI connect feature in AWS Systems Manager.

But we’ve also seen customers harness the power of DCV for offering secure remote access to graphics workstations across both cloud and on-premises environments. Some of these customers, including Volkswagen, LG Electronics, Netflix, and Project Kuiper, shared their DCV success stories with the AWS community. Service providers and independent software vendors (ISVs), like Flaneer and SixNines with their Studio in the Cloud with Unreal Engine 5, also lead the way by integrating DCV into their own online offerings.

Among the projects we’ve been involved in during 2022, there are two in particular which showed once again the flexibility of DCV.

TallyPrime on AWS: providing virtual office to end users using DCV – Tally Solutions launched TallyPrime on AWS. This is a solution that Tally built with AWS to offer their customers with the possibility to remotely access their TallyPrime application from anywhere, at any time. In less than one year from the launch, this solution, powered by DCV, already provides virtual office capabilities to more than 10,000 users. This is a great example of how ISVs can leverage the DCV technology to offer their traditional desktop applications as a service on AWS. DCV enables ISVs to provide high-performance at a low cost, in addition to all the inherited benefits of running on the AWS cloud.

Unifying End-User Computing Services: Amazon WorkSpaces Streaming Protocol is now powered by DCV – AWS End User Computing (EUC) is comprised of three fully-managed services: Amazon WorkSpaces for persistent desktop streaming, Amazon AppStream 2.0 for desktop and application streaming with selective persistence, and Amazon WorkSpaces Web for secure isolated browser sessions.

While the latter two services used DCV since launch, Amazon WorkSpaces has been historically offered with the choice between two different streaming protocols. These protocols included a third-party display protocol and the WorkSpaces Streaming Protocol (WSP), a service-owned custom protocol launched at the end of 2020.

In 2022, we completely overhauled WSP and adopted DCV as its underlying streaming technology. This let us enhance WSP to maximize audio/video performance and deliver a consistent and responsive desktop experience regardless of network conditions. It also meant a greatly improved web access client for WorkSpaces, providing a great desktop experience without needing client software to be installed on users’ devices.

All fully-managed AWS EUC services are now powered by the same display protocol technology. Going forward, all EUC customers will benefit from the performance and feature enhancements we will develop for DCV.

A busy year of DCV innovations

2022 was undoubtedly a busy year for my teams, but integrating DCV with Amazon WorkSpaces wasn’t the end of the list. We launched several new features and performance improvements, too.

We launched support for redirection of Xbox and DualShock game controllers in February with DCV 2022.0.

We added the option to stream sessions with higher color accuracy (YUV 4:4:4). Color accuracy is useful for workloads where the users require a perceptually lossless experience when interacting with dynamic content, like in video production, visual effects, and computer aided design. And macOS clients can now take advantage of their high pixel-density Retina displays, too.

We improved streaming performance across many different workloads and kept working relentlessly to reduce resource consumption for non-GPU server sessions.

By June (in DCV 2022.1), we’d introduced a number of user interface improvements to offer a better collaboration experience. Users can now receive notifications when another user joins the same session, and can see which other users are connected. In addition, session owners can disconnect users from their sessions.

In November, with version 2022.2, we launched some of our most frequently customer-requested features:

Under the hood improvements

We added support for popular Linux distributions, like CentOS Stream 8, Ubuntu 22.04, and Rocky Linux 8.5. We enabled AWS Graviton processors for the DCV Session Manager broker, which means customers can take advantage of the best price-performance offering in Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2).

Customers can now hot update their TLS certificates, an important feature release in 2022 to improve their operational excellence, and tighten the security net, too.

We added support for IPv6, and the possibility to specify the listening network interface for the DCV server and DCV Connection Gateway.

DCV Web Client and the Web Client SDK now use the new open-source Cloudscape design system. This brings experience parity between browser-based DCV sessions and the standard AWS UI.

Finally, we added several new metrics to the DCV Gateway to enable administrators to more effectively monitor their gateway instances.

Amazon WorkSpaces and Amazon AppStream 2.0 kept us busy, too

As enabling technology for both Amazon WorkSpaces and AppStream 2.0, DCV provided significant support for some of their launches. I want to highlight just a few:

UDP streaming for Windows native client in Amazon AppStream 2.0 – leveraging the UDP support provided by DCV and the DCV Connection Gateway, AppStream now offers customers a more responsive streaming quality in sub-optimal network conditions. This is especially beneficial to users with higher round trip latency.

Webcam redirection for Linux applications and desktops in Amazon AppStream 2.0 – Previously only available when you were streaming Windows server applications.

Certificate-based authentication for Amazon AppStream 2.0 and Amazon WorkSpaces – Allowing a single sign-on (SSO) experience to access domain-joined desktops and application streaming sessions without separate password prompts for Active Directory.

The year of the Linux desktop … finally?

For a couple of decades, the Linux community has often joked that each year will be the Year of the Linux Desktop.

In some sense, 2022 has become the Year of the Linux Desktop in the Cloud. We saw two key vendors – Canonical and Red Hat – launch a Linux desktop offering on AWS, and in both cases DCV played a pivotal role. Our roots in the HPC community means we’re committed to offering the best possible remote desktop and application streaming experience to our Linux users, so this was particularly pleasing.

Ubuntu Desktop for Amazon WorkSpaces – In September, Canonical announced the availability of Ubuntu WorkSpaces on AWSthe first fully-managed Ubuntu VDI on a public cloud. With this launch, customers can easily provision and scale Ubuntu WorkSpaces which provide fully-managed desktops for developers, data scientists, and engineers who need high-performance cloud-based development and engineering desktops. It’s also used for other less-technical users for general-purpose desktops.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux for Workstations on AWS – In October, Red Hat launched Red Hat Enterprise Linux for Workstations on AWS. This provides a workstation-as-a-service solution designed to address the needs of customers who run graphics-intensive workloads like animation rendering, or data visualization, on AWS. It supports several GPU-accelerated hardware instances, while still delivering a fully-featured Red Hat Enterprise Linux for Workstations environments.

Ready for a great 2023? So are we!

2022 was a busy and exciting year for DCV, and we believe it brought great benefits to our customers and partners. 2023 is here and we’re certainly not done innovating on behalf of our customers. Stay tuned for a lot of updates from us, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you want to give us feedback to help us make DCV even better.

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Paolo Maggi

Paolo Maggi

Paolo Maggi is the General Manager of Display Protocols team at Amazon Web Services. He has 20 years of experience building remote display protocol products such as NICE DCV and leading engineering teams.