Amazon WorkSpaces adds simpler app delivery, management

Amazon has made the app purchase, delivery and management process easier for DaaS customers but is still catching up in the market.

Amazon WorkSpaces users got a feature boost for desktop app delivery, but industry watchers believe more work is in store for the cloud giant.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) introduced two related features aimed at easing desktop application management and access for Amazon WorkSpaces, Amazon's desktop as a service (DaaS) offering.

The AWS Marketplace for Desktop Apps has been added to the AWS Marketplace as a new location for WorkSpaces customers to find and purchase more than 100 different enterprise desktop applications.

To help manage those apps, the company  also unveiled the Amazon WorkSpaces Application Manager (WAM), which delivers the apps to WorkSpaces and is managed centrally by IT. IT managers can build catalogues and give users instant access to those apps on their desktops. IT can also determine which users have access to certain apps.

WAM secures those apps in dedicated containers provided by resources from WorkSpaces. IT can track application usage, and organizations only pay for what they actually launch and use.

Amazon competes with VMware and Citrix (and its service providers) for supremacy in the DaaS market, so adding central management and deployment for WorkSpaces desktop apps is a step in the right direction, said Robert Young, research director with IDC in Framingham, Mass.

"Getting these apps virtualized and enabling a more mobile workforce is something IT has struggled with," Young said.

Amazon also changed the subscription model of the desktop apps from annual or perpetual licensing to monthly licensing. Categories for available apps include security, productivity and collaboration, illustration and design, utilities, and others.

Amazon plans to add more applications and categories to the AWS Marketplace for Desktop Apps in the coming weeks and months, according to the AWS blog.

The Marketplace simplifies and removes steps involved in the procurement process for getting applications onto user desktops, said Simon Bramfitt, virtualization analyst with Entelechy Associates in Concord, Calif.

WorkSpaces still needs work

Despite these positive steps, Amazon can still add features to WorkSpaces to make it a more complete offering. The need for user environment management capabilities, which VMware acquired through Immidio earlier this year, could be something Amazon either acquires or develops itself, Young said.

"It's one thing to get apps out to users, but IT will be interested in how much control they can put around those apps," Young said.

In addition, Amazon WorkSpaces still lags behind DaaS competitors in areas such as client drive access, HTML5 client availability and Chromebook support, Bramfitt said. (Amazon WorkSpaces clients are available for Windows and Mac computers, Apple iPad, Kindle Fire, Android tablets and zero clients.)

"These small imperfections mean the service is far less attractive than anything else out there today," he said.

Amazon WAM is available now and comes in two versions, Basic and Standard. Basic provides access to the AWS Marketplace for Desktop Apps and limited admin controls at no extra cost to Amazon WorkSpaces users. Standard adds provisioning and policy controls for users and groups, app usage auditing, app access controls and version management. This will also be no cost for users until July 1; after that it costs $5 per user, per month.

No additional invoices or contracts are involved in the purchase of apps from the AWS Marketplace for Desktop Apps and software charges are included on a customer's monthly AWS bill.

Amazon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jake O'Donnell is the news writer for and Search He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @JakeODonnell_TT.

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