• Simona

Remote Working with Amazon WorkSpaces

Updated: May 5

As the coronavirus pandemic brought more work to be performed remotely, research has shown an increase in the usage of virtual desktops [1]. Last year, Classmethod Canada compared a couple of virtual workspaces solutions for a social cause project. The goal was to improve the work efficiency by migrating files stored in existing on-prem servers to the cloud. We have compared a couple solutions and as a result, the ideal Remote Desktop migration solution was Amazon Workspaces (with FSx).


Amazon WorkSpaces is a managed, secure Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) solution. Amazon WorkSpaces allow companies to provision either Windows or Linux desktops in just a few minutes and quickly scale to provide thousands of desktops to workers across the globe. Fees can be paid either monthly or hourly, just for the WorkSpaces launched, which helps to save money when compared to traditional desktops and on-premises VDI solutions. Amazon WorkSpaces helps eliminate the complexity in managing hardware inventory, OS versions and patches, and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). This simplifies the desktop delivery strategy.


With Amazon WorkSpaces, users get a fast, responsive desktop of their choice that they can access anywhere, anytime, from any supported device.


Amazon WorkSpaces provides users with secure access to their desktop application environment. Workspaces key to use applications effectively is to save and access data – documents, spreadsheets, reports, pictures and etc. WorkSpaces users can make use of Amazon WorkDocs Drive to store their data.


The diagram below depicts the architecture design that allows users to store files by accessing the cloud storage from anywhere (in the office, at home, and on-the-go) using Amazon WorkSpaces VDI. The cost of operating this architecture is relatively higher than other options (e.g. AWS Storage gateway) as it required AWS Direct Connect to transfer files from an on-premise server to AWS cloud storage FSx.


Based on this architecture, the setup cost for a 3TB Storage with 16 Mbps throughput and 1.5TB of Backup storage is around $600 USD per month. FSx is used here to support Active Directory participation and SMB protocol. FSx is a service compatible with Microsoft Windows, and it is a fully managed service that does not require OS management.


Microsoft Office Professional Plus can be pre-installed when subscribing to the Bring Your Own License WorkSpaces. AWS announced this feature in September 2020.

https://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/whats-new/2020/09/amazon-workspaces-introduces-microsoft-office-professional-bundle-for-byol-workspaces/


Amazon WorkDocs is a fully managed, secure content creation, storage, and collaboration service. Amazon WorkDocs makes it easy to create, edit, and share content, and because it’s stored centrally on AWS, files can be accessed from anywhere on any device. Amazon WorkDocs is a tool to collaborate with others, and lets users share content, provide rich feedback, and edit documents together. It is an ideal solution to retire from legacy file share infrastructure by moving file shares to the cloud.


Amazon WorkDocs can also be integrated with existing systems and offers a rich API to develop in-house content-rich applications. Amazon WorkDocs is built on AWS, where the stored content is secured in the world's largest cloud infrastructure. With Amazon WorkDocs, there are no upfront fees or commitments. The fee is only payable for active user accounts, and the storage used.


Let’s take a look at how to use Amazon WorkSpaces as a remote-work desktop solution.


We can set up Amazon WorkSpaces using the setup option in the Amazon WorkSpaces console. A detailed setup procedure can be found here [3]. After Amazon WorkSpaces is set up, an email will be sent to the user containing the WorkSpaces client download link, a registration code, and login credentials.



It's easy to set up a WorkSpaces client on any local operating system including Mac OS, Windows, Android/ Chromebook, Fire Tablet, Web Access, and Linux.



Complete the Amazon WorkSpaces Setup Wizard to install Amazon WorkSpaces.


Open Amazon WorkSpaces from file explorer and enter the registration code from the email.


After registering with the registration code from the email, the user can log in using the Windows AD credential.


This screen will be displayed when WorkSpace on WIndows is ready.

In order to map a network drive, execute the connection command from the command prompt to execute the file gateway. Another option is to use [Map Network Drive] from Explorer.

When the network drive is successfully mapped, it can be accessed from File Explorer.

Files can be shared on Storage Gateway or Amazon WorkDocs. First, let’s cover how to share office files on Storage Gateway.

Simply create an Excel file on WorkSpaces and save it to file storage.



Users can also access shared documents from WorkDocs directly on WorkSpaces.





Lastly, we downloaded an Office 365 Excel document from the CRA and store the edited version in the WorkSpace file folder.

Amazon WorkSpaces is a seamless operating system for collaboration, secured corporate data management, and convenience access to data from anywhere. The setup is easy, scalable, and fees are charged monthly. This reduces the upfront cost of purchasing and maintaining physical hardware. This remote work solution gives users the flexibility to browse and edit documents on a virtual Windows / Linux machine that can be installed on your Mac, Windows or Linux computers and tablets [4]. For further inquiries, contact us for a free consultation.

References:

[1] https://awsinsider.net/articles/2020/04/08/remote-work-amazon-workspaces.aspx

[2] https://www.cloudsolution.tokai-com.co.jp/white-paper/2020/0427-108.html

[3] https://docs.aws.amazon.com/workspaces/latest/adminguide/getting-started.html

[4] https://docs.aws.amazon.com/workspaces/latest/userguide/amazon-workspaces-clients.html

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