Although Amazon's virtual desktop kit, WorkSpaces, is still in limited preview, it's released an app for the iPad that extends its subscription-based Windows 7 virtual desktop to Apple's tablets.
For now, the iPad app is only useful to those that have access to the Limited Preview of Amazon WorkSpaces. Announced in November, WorkSpaces marked Amazon's arrival on the virtual desktop scene, a market usually associated with VMWare, Citrix and hardware vendors like Toshiba and Dell.
Similar to other hosted virtual desktop offerings, WorkSpaces offers desktop-as-a-service, only served up from Amazon's data centres. The main pitch from Amazon is that customers don't need their own servers and virtualisation software to virtualise and centrally manage their desktops. To run the service, the customer needs an end device installed with the WorkSpaces client program.
Amazon has released clients for Windows and Mac, and has promised clients for Kindle Fire and Android devices, however for now, the iPad is the only tablet to get support. That the iPad is first served isn't surprising, given its so-far unshakeable spot as the BYOD tool of choice in the enterprise.
Amazon's per-user pricing and packages ranging from $35 a month to $75 a month, depending on hardware and applications included in each bundle. All of them include Adobe Reader, Internet Explorer 9, Firefox, 8-Zip, Adobe Flash and JRE, while the addition of Office Professional 2010 and Trend Micro antivirus costs an extra $15 a month.
WorkSpaces can be integrated with on-premise Active Directory to manage access to corporate resources once a VPN between the customer network and an Amazon virtual private cloud has been established.
Despite the potential for desktop-as-a-service to support multiple BYOD devices and sweat legacy hardware, there's still some resistence to the practice in the enterprise. Amazon's networks and data centres might be equipped to serve virtual desktops to thousands of users, but, as respondents to a recent ZDNet's survey highlight, customer networks, particularly at bandwidth-constrained remote offices, might not be.
On the other hand, companies that don't have the in-house skills to virtualise their own desktops might find Amazon's pre-configured virtual desktops easier to deploy.