Amazon recently announced Workspaces, their version of a desktop in the cloud. In corporate environments this concept is widely known as VDI, virtual desktop infrastructure. This takes the old approach, where every employee got its own desktop, pushes it into the cloud and virtualises the desktop within a container so that it can be accessed over the network.
This not only lowers IT costs, but also enables companies to provide a more secure desktop environment, allows employees to bring their own devices and special desktops could be easily provided to students, contractors or seasonal/temporary employees. Mobile workers can access their desktop no matter where they are and which device are they using . The desktop is persistent in the cloud, which means you can work on your notebook, then log into with your tablet and continue working were you stopped on your notebook.
As you can imagine this concept relies heavily on network bandwidth and even more the network latency. AWS did a lot to minimise this network latency, as this highly impact the responsiveness of the desktop. The foundation of the desktop is a Windows 2008 R2 server which delivers a Windows 7 desktop experience to the user, so it can basically run every application that runs on this platform. If you have an Active Directory you can even integrate this, which means the end users can sign in using their known credentials. The users persistent storage is automatically backed up to Amazon S3 with a 99.99999999% durability, which means you never have to worry about data loss or how to handle desktop backups.
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