AWS Smart Business Blog

How Small and Medium Businesses Can Enable Their Teams to Work Remotely from Virtually Anywhere

The flexibility of remote work has drastically changed workplace dynamics. A survey conducted by Upwork of 1,500 hiring managers found that due to COVID-19, 61.9% of companies planned more remote work. The report also predicts 36.2 million workers (about 22% of Americans) will be working remotely by the year 2025, an 87% increase from before the pandemic. With this significant paradigm change, business owners need to rethink how they recruit, retain, manage, and engage their talent. Key in all of that is remote productivity.

Ask any employee who needs a computer to do their job what a major concern is, and they’ll mention diagnosing, troubleshooting, or fixing a problem during work hours. Depending on its complexity, it can take anywhere from minutes to hours—which significantly impacts productivity and engagement. Many small and medium business (SMB) executives don’t realize how much time, energy, and money is being spent everyday whether it’s by employees or their IT department. Unfortunately, hard-working IT leaders need to constantly deal with the undifferentiated heavy lifting of managing hundreds, even thousands of desktop or laptop computers. If your SMB doesn’t even have in-house IT, spending time on forums, message boards, or roping other colleagues into the issue can be tedious. But there’s an easier way.

What is Desktop As A Service and how can an SMB use it?

First, you may have already heard of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) at your own business. With this technology, instead of managing the operating system and software on individual desktops or laptops, the IT department does so on a central server. However, with VDI it still takes an average of 4.8 days—nearly one business week—to deploy a virtual desktop to a user. Why? Because your IT department (or tech partner) is still responsible for the infrastructure and software of those servers, including procuring and maintaining the hardware. These types of delays can impact workplace productivity.

Desktop As A Service (DaaS) takes this concept a huge step forward. DaaS solutions are essentially stored and shared from AWS Cloud, including the desktop operating system and any installed applications or documents. Your IT department or tech partner can quickly spin up one or hundreds of desktops securely and with little effort. If your company needs to scale up for remote seasonal hires or longterm growth, this can help you make the process more efficient. Ultimately, you can think of it as VDI in the cloud. For example, with Amazon WorkSpaces and Amazon AppStream 2.0, you leverage the power of AWS to make it easier and less expensive to deploy or manage desktops to your remote workforce. It can even help you improve your ability to meet security needs.

One of our SMB customers found success in transitioning to DaaS to scale their operations during COVID-19. MRS BPO is a financial services company based in the US. In just five days, MRS connected Amazon WorkSpaces to nine clients’ systems. One of their large, complex clients onboarded in a day and a half, compared to the two months it would have taken on premises. Over 13 days, MRS migrated 650 employees across its call center and first-party business. It only took another seven to eight days to get 90 percent of staff working from home (including physical call center employees).

Man in home office

New to digitization or looking to add more cloud capabilities to your SMB? Explore solutions by industry, benefit, use case, and more on AWS Smart Business

Benefits of moving desktops to the cloud for remote workers

Security

Security is extremely important for SMBs and in fact, AWS considers it our top priority. Customers should understand our Shared Responsibility Model, where AWS protects the infrastructure that runs all of the services offered in the cloud and customers are responsible for the actual data stored in the cloud. In practice, DaaS can help you address your security needs. Because DaaS data does not reside on physical devices, a lost or stolen laptop will not contain this data, which will benefit your security posture. Additionally, this centralized design strategy makes it easier for your business to handle security patches and updates as needed.

Agility

As discussed above, Amazon WorkSpaces or Amazon AppStream 2.0 can reduce individual desktop deployments to mere minutes. Furthermore, you will get a managed experience and tight integration with a large number of AWS Partner Solutions. You also get to leverage AWS Cloud’s huge global footprint which allows you to deploy desktops anywhere in the world in an instant. All of these combined benefits will allow your business to move quickly and decisively when it counts most to stay ahead of the competition.

Cost

With traditional networks and VDI, businesses have had to procure, purchase, and then manage their physical servers. That is no longer the case when you use AWS Cloud’s pay-as-you-go model for DaaS. You only pay for what you actually use with the added benefit that you don’t need to overprovision resources to meet peak demand. With Amazon WorkSpaces you can choose to either pay hourly or a fixed monthly price. Below are pricing examples that show how some of our DaaS solutions can help you make smart investments. Please note, the chart uses the US East (Virginia) region and other regions may have different prices. Follow the links for additional pricing information for Amazon WorkSpaces and Amazon AppStream 2.0. Be sure to share this with your IT department or tech partner for context.

Amazon WorkSpaces pricing examples

  • Fixed:
    • 100 Linux Amazon WorkSpaces (Standard 2 vCPU, 4GB), 80 GB Root, 10 GB User Volume) with fixed monthly pricing would cost USD $29 per WorkSpace or USD $2,900 total for the month. Users would have unlimited usage of the WorkSpace.
    • 100 Windows Amazon WorkSpaces (Value 1 vCPU, 2GB), 80 GB Root, 10 GB User Volume) with fixed monthly pricing would cost USD $25 per WorkSpace or USD $2,500 total for the month. Users would have unlimited usage of the WorkSpace.
  • Hourly:
    • 100 Linux Amazon WorkSpaces (Standard 2 vCPU, 4GB), 80 GB Root, 10 GB User Volume) with an average usage of 10 hours per week would cost a total of USD $1,765 per month.
    • Amazon AppStream 2.0 (3 users, Windows stream.standard.small instance) with an average of 32.5 hours per month would cost USD $16.47 per month.

Next steps

These large, well-known companies already trust and use Amazon’s DaaS solutions to enable their businesses to be more agile, save money, and secure. Businesses of any size—especially SMBs—can realize numerous benefits to their daily business operations. If you already have an account team at AWS, please reach out to your Account Manager or Solutions Architect to discuss the best DaaS options for your business and your specific use case. If you don’t have an AWS account yet, you can reach us here. We look forward to helping you create a smart business.