How I made the switch to Amazon WorkSpaces

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Author:  Nick Underwood – Partner

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I’ve been in the managed IT service space for over 15 years now, and every year I hear “Now is the time for Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS)” There have been a lot of decent DaaS products released over the years; however, they were all complicated to manage and required a team of IT people to support the infrastructure. My opinion might be a little biased here because we are an AWS Consulting partner, but Amazon finally got it right with WorkSpaces and I’m all-in!  To put my money where my mouth is, I’ve completely moved from a 15” MacBook Pro to an Amazon WorkSpace using a Zero Client connected to two 27” monitors in the office, and an iPad while traveling. Let me tell you my story of how I made the switch and some of the benefits of using WorkSpaces that I have discovered.

 

What are my computing requirements?

 

I live the life of today’s modern worker who goes to an office, works from home a few days a week, travels often, and needs to be connected from every device with minimal downtime. Being a SOC 2 Type II compliant organization, I also need to make sure that the security of my workstation is a top priority.  I use a lot of SaaS products including G-Suite for email, Copper for CRM, and HelloSign for contract management, as well as some traditional desktop applications to conduct day-to-day business including Slack, Amazon Chime, and good old terminal sessions.

 

How did moving to Amazon WorkSpace improve my security?  

 

We leverage Microsoft Active Directory for user authentication and Duo Security for multi-factor authentication.  All of our Amazon WorkSpaces are joined to our Active Directory domain using Amazon Directory Services AD Connector, and require multi-factor authentication before I can even log in to my desktop. I also have the option of restricting access to my WorkSpace using specific IP addresses. For example, I could limit access to include only our corporate VPN and the corporate office.

 

By moving to a WorkSpace as my primary workstation, I also removed the risk of storing sensitive data on my laptop.  Being a person who travels often, it’s very easy to forget a laptop behind as you’re rushing to get to your next destination. Now, even if that were to happen, my data would be safe in in the AWS cloud.

 

How do I work while traveling without a laptop?

As an Apple fanboy, my mobile device of choice is an iPad with a bluetooth keyboard and mouse that are certified to work with Amazon WorkSpaces.  

To connect to my workspace, I just need a WiFi connection or I enable a personal LTE hotspot from my iPhone and launch the Amazon WorkSpaces app. I enter my Active Directory username and password, and opt for a push notification for multi-factor authentication.

 

I approve the login to my Amazon WorkSpace from my Apple Watch and then I am logged in!

 

 

What about streaming music!

 

I love my music so it’s important that I be able to stream music from Spotify in my office.  To do this, I have the Spotify application installed on my Amazon WorkSpace and have it connect to my Alexa device located in my office which is then connected to a Bose Bluetooth speaker!

How do I print from my WorkSpace?

 

When I do need to print, the process is exactly the same if I were printing from a traditional desktop or a laptop. We have a site-to-site VPN tunnel established between our offices and our Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) in AWS. All of our network printers are connected to our servers in AWS via direct IP printing, and are made available to our WorkSpaces via group policy.  

 

Is Amazon WorkSpaces the right choice for your business?

 

If you’re looking for a way to increase security, streamline the on/off-boarding of employees and deployment of new computers while also reducing the overhead of managing these laptops and desktops, then I recommend you reach out to us and get a demo of Amazon WorkSpaces. If you would like to hear more about how I made the move the WorkSpaces and help you do the same, feel free to connect with me!

 

 

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