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AWS Workspaces is a DaaS (Desktop as a Service) product from Amazon Web Services. You pay for a dedicated virtual window or Linux desktop delivered as a managed service. It is ideal for remote work or if you need to provide staff access to a cloud desktop environment within the office. It is similar to software such as remote desktop services, only in this case hosted by AWS.
The benefit of using this type of architecture is that you are provided with a consistent desktop that you can access from anywhere. You might start off by using it in the office, log off, and then log back on from home, and your applications and are maintained – ensuring a consistent workflow. It therefore allows you to disconnect from the virtual desktop and then log back in from a different location and experience the exact same settings, programs, and files.
Using AWS Workspaces, you can provision virtual, cloud-based Amazon Linux, Microsoft Windows, Mac, or Ubuntu Linux desktops for your users. You can access your WorkSpaces from anywhere with an internet connection, from different supported devices, including Windows, Mac, Chromebooks, iPads, Kindle Fire, and Android tablets.
AWS Workspaces benefits
AWS Workspaces provide powerful benefits, including:
- Reduction of Technology Costs
- Access your computer from anywhere
- Bring your own device (BYOD)
- Endpoint security
- Easy deployment and management of applications
- Strong integration with active directory
- It bundles the hardware and software you need
AWS Workspaces Pricing Structure
Let’s discuss the pricing options and different pricing models for AWS Workspaces.
The pricing for Amazon Workspaces is based on the Pay-as-you-Go model, where you pay according to your infrastructure requirements. On a high level, the following factors decide how much you will pay:
- Billing type (hourly or monthly): Whether you want to be charged on hourly basis or a fixed amount per month regardless of your use.
- Platform type (Windows, Linux, etc.): Windows-based workspaces are generally more expensive because the license of the windows OS needs to be factored in.
- Geographical region where infrastructure is being provisioned: Prices vary from one AWS region to another. One workspace might be more expensive than the same workspace in another region.
- Size of the storage volume: The storage volume that is allocated to root user and non-root users.
WorkSpaces Free Tier
If you are new to virtual desktops and want to try the VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) experience or evaluate if certain applications can run well through desktop virtualization, AWS offers a free tier. In the Free Tier, Amazon WorkSpaces allows two Standard bundle virtual desktops having 80 GB Root volume and 100 GB User volume, running in hourly billing mode, up to a maximum of 40 hours of combined use per month. You can use the free tier for up to three billing cycles.
An AWS WorkSpace bundle is a combination of storage, compute, and the operating system. When launching a WorkSpace, choose the bundle that meets your requirements. The default bundles available for WorkSpaces are known as public bundles.
Currently, AWS Workspaces offers the following bundles:
Hourly vs. Monthly Billing Options
When you start configuring your Workspace, you need to select one of the two options as billing method:
- Always On: Your workspace will always remain on whether you use it or not. You can explicitly turn it off, though. You will pay a fixed monthly fee regardless of your usage.
- Autostop: Payment is based on the hours you use the workspace plus a fixed monthly fee for using the cloud infrastructure.
Hourly billing structure
The hourly billing model was introduced later by AWS, and initially, only a monthly billing option was available. In hourly billing, you are charged an hourly rate while your workspaces are running and a monthly fixed fee for cloud infrastructure costs. In hourly billing, any WorkSpaces that remain idle for a specified period of time automatically stop, saving you the cost and making it purely a pay-as-you-go model.
Note that the hourly billing option will be economical only if you are sure that your usage will not be extensive. If you plan to use your workspace for more than 4 hours a day daily, then the monthly option would be a better fit.
Hourly billing option is ideal if:
- You only need part-time access to your WorkSpaces
- You are a part-time employee or share your job with another part-timer
- You work on multiple short-term projects
- You are involved in corporate training, education, and remote work management
- AutoStop: This is a new feature introduced by AWS. It works similarly to autoshutdown feature in your devices to save power. As soon as you log in to your workspace, Amazon starts charging you. However, the workspace stops automatically when you remain disconnected for a specified period of time (1 to 48 hours). Your workspace administrator can also force-stop a workspace. When you connect to your workspace for the next time, it will resume from the same position with all the open documents and running programs intact. It is similar to the “hibernate” feature in Windows OS. Resuming a stopped workspace usually does not take more than 90 seconds.
- This option is very economical because it incurs fewer charges when you use it off and on.
- It suits part-timers and R&D engineers who use it only on a need basis
- The responsibility is on the customer’s shoulders to utilize the workspace wisely. If you use it more than 4 hours daily, it will be costlier compared to the monthly option.
- Resuming a disconnected session will take between 1-2 minutes to resume.
Monthly Billing Structure
In monthly billing, you pay a fixed monthly fee per virtual desktop for unlimited usage during the month. Unlimited usage pricing is ideal if you are using the workspace for a significant amount of time. If you are not sure about the actual usage, you should try the hourly billing first and then compare it with the monthly billing. Note that in the case of monthly billing, you will still be charged the full monthly fee even if you do not use the workspace at all or use it sparingly. Workspaces on monthly billing never sleep unless you have explicitly configured a policy to do that.
- It is an economical option if you intend to use the workspace as your primary desktop or if the workspace will be used extensively during the month
- It is always on, which means you will not need to wait for it to resume and reload the suspended programs.
- If you do not use the workspace to its full capacity and use it less than 5 hours a day, then it will not be the best value for your money.
What option to choose
You should go for hourly billing if:
- You want to use a virtual cloud desktop for part-time use
- You are certain that your daily use of the workspace will be less than 5 hours a day
- If your internet connection is not good, and you suspect you will be disconnected from your workspace for longer periods of time, the autostop feature of hourly billing will save costs
You should go for monthly billing if:
- You want to use the workspace as your primary desktop
- You want a virtual desktop that is always on
- You want to share your desktop with other workers to constitute a full-time use of a virtual desktop
AWS Workspaces is a powerful VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) that offloads your efforts of implementing VDI’s into your organization. It eliminates the need to provision and deploy infrastructure and install complex software. It allows you to quickly add or remove users based on your needs. Users can access their virtual cloud desktops from a variety of devices or web browsers. However, if you are in a location with low internet bandwidth, you might see latency when using Workspaces. The modern culture of remote work has promoted the use of virtual desktops, and AWS Workspaces is one of the best options for VDI.
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