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Amazon Launches Virtual Desktop Service, Slashes Prices Again

Amazon Web Services (AWS) this week made its new cloud-based Desktop as a Service (DaaS) offering generally available.

The release of Amazon WorkSpaces, announced in November at its re:Invent customer and partner conference in Las Vegas, will provide a key measure for whether there's a broad market for DaaS.

But VMware and Google also have ambitious plans with their DaaS services, which they launched last month. VMware Horizon, a DaaS offering priced similarly to Amazon WorkSpaces, is the result of VMware's Desktone acquisition last year. Giving VMware more muscle in the game, the company teamed up with Google to enable the latter to offer its Chromebooks with the VMware Horizon View service.

When announcing Amazon WorkSpaces, Amazon only offered a "limited preview" of the service, which provides a virtual Windows 7 experience. A wide variety of use cases were tested, from corporate desktops to engineering workstations, said AWS evangelist Jeff Barr in a blog post this week announcing the general availability of the service. Barr identified two early testers, Peet's Coffee & Tea and ERP supplier WorkWise.

The company also added a new feature called Amazon WorkSpaces Sync. "The Sync client continuously, automatically, and securely backs up the documents that you create or edit in a WorkSpace to Amazon S3," Barr said. "You can also install the Sync client on existing client computers (PC or Mac) in order to have access to your data regardless of the environment that you are using."

While Amazon is by far the dominant Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provider, it's too early to say whether it -- or anyone-- will upend the traditional desktop market. But as Microsoft gets ready to pull the plug on Windows XP in less than two weeks, DaaS providers are anticipating an upsurge.

Meanwhile, Amazon once again yesterday slashed the price of its core cloud computing and storage services. That is price cut No. 42 since 2008, Barr noted in a separate blog post, and it includes EC2, S3, RDS, ElastiCache and Elastic MapReduce. The price cuts come just two days after Google cut the price of its cloud services.

Amazon's price cuts take effect April 1.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 03/27/2014 at 4:43 PM


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