The remote work adventure on AWS: Amazon WorkSpaces Thin Client

AWS has released the Amazon Workspaces Thin Client, a lightweight and affordable desktop for remote workers.

It combines a couple of vintage ideas: virtual desktop infrastructure, which revolves around mainframes and the Fire TV Cube, which was first released by Amazon in 2018. But its purpose – rewiring the future of work from home – futuristic.

Hardware manufacturers like Dell and HP also offer thin client hardware, but they cost more than the $195 price tag of the Amazon Workspaces Thin Client. They also don’t have the advantage of having AWS – the cloud infrastructure to back up their thin client devices.

“The new trend is hybrid remote work,” said Marissa Schmidt, an analyst at Gartner, adding that Gartner projects that a third of remote work by 2020 will be done in offices. continues. “So the ability to have the best user experience and from home with a thin client, as well as manage it through the cloud makes a lot of sense.”

Lightweight computing is back

The device is called a thin client because of its limited processing capabilities, compared to a full laptop or desktop PC.

“We’re playing with a term that’s common in our industry, where customers don’t expect anything on the end-user device — everything happens in the cloud,” said Muneer Mirza, AWS general manager of end users. experiences.

AWS released Amazon WorkSpaces Thin Client for virtual desktops on the eve of AWS re:Invent 2023, the vendor’s cloud-focused conference, held this year almost and in Las Vegas from Nov. 27 to December 1.

AWS’ goal with the WorkSpaces Thin Client is to provide cloud-based businesses with end-user devices that are more affordable than laptop and desktop PCs that give IT teams more control over data and tighter security. .

AWS expects early adopters to include high-turnover sectors such as customer service contact centers and healthcare.

Schmidt added that retailers may also find it attractive — roll it out across stores to maintain a consistent look and feel for software systems from location to location, as well as the ability to continue to report home data. Small and medium-sized businesses, too, are likely to be suitable, he said, “because many of them were born in the cloud.”

It is also not customizable. What makes it attractive is that it is not a data storage system, but a simple channel for the company’s applications to reach the intended users, according to Mirza.

There is also no data storage in the cube; instead it is a simple channel for the company’s applications to reach the intended users, he added.

“There is absolutely no software that an end user can install on this thing,” Mirza said. “No data is stored locally. Even if the thing gets hacked, no problem, just disable it.”.

This gives end users less incentive to keep the device after leaving their employer compared to laptops, which can be difficult to return.

Cheaper than a laptop

By repurposing the Fire TV Cube instead of creating a new product, AWS saved on manufacturing costs, and gave customers a cheaper option.

“By avoiding all those costs, we said, ‘that’s how we’re going to make it a cost savings and pass it on to the end user, or the buyer in this case,'” Mirza said.

The costs that come with the Amazon WorkSpaces Thin Client Cube are insignificant; Workers still need a keyboard, a monitor and — for contact center agents and many other jobs — a headset. Also, the various flavors of WorkSpaces subscriptions are not free, starting at $7 per employee, per month, as is AppStream, which uses a consumption based pricing model for streaming apps. But AWS is trying to replace laptops with what it thinks is a cheaper, more secure option.

That said, laptop makers shouldn’t be too worried — at least not yet. But as Microsoft releases new Surface devices that run as thin clients, and Google similarly brings Chromebook thin clients to market, the genre could gain momentum, says Sid Nag, a Gartner analyst. Cost reductions will be attractive to technology buyers, he added.

“A thin client can replace the work laptop where you don’t need the applications or the data resident on the device,” said Nag. “Everything runs in the cloud, thereby reducing the (total cost of ownership) of the client device functionality of the end user.”

Mary Reines is a news writer covering customer experience and integrated communications for TechTarget Editorial. Prior to TechTarget, Reines was the arts editor at Marblehead Reporter. Don Fluckinger covers digital experience management, end-user computing, CPUs and a variety of other topics for TechTarget Editorial. Got a tip? Email him.

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