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AWS – Hosting desktops in the cloud and allowing users to connect remotely using WorkSpaces

You might find yourself in a situation where you need to equip a large group of new employees with specialized software, and the costs of installing and maintaining the software on local workstations are too high. This is a perfect use case for Amazon WorkSpaces. Instead of acquiring expensive hardware with high-end CPUs and lots of RAM, all you need is a basic desktop with an internet connection. WorkSpaces allows you to host desktops, with all of the necessary software, in the cloud. Users connect to a remote desktop that is managed for you by AWS and runs at a lower cost than on-premises.

How to do it…

  1. Log in to your AWS account and go to the WorkSpaces dashboard.
  2. Click  Get Started Now :

Amazon WorkSpaces
  1. Click on the  Launch button to launch  Quick Setup, as shown in the following screenshot:

WorkSpaces Quick Setup
  1. Select a Bundle that is in the free tier, such as Standard with Amazon Linux 2:

WorkSpaces Bundles
  1. Enter the user details and then click Launch WorkSpaces:

Launch WorkSpaces
  1. The WorkSpace will take a few minutes to initialize:

WorkSpaces being launched
  1. Click  View the WorkSpaces conso le:

WorkSpaces Console
  1. Under Application Manager, click Applications. You will be redirected to the Amazon WorkSpaces Application Manager (WAM) console.
  2. Click Get started building your catalog.
  3. Select the WAM Lite subscription plan:

Select subscription plan
  1. You will be redirected to the Marketplace, where you can select applications to be installed on your hosted desktops.
  2. Check your email for the WorkSpaces welcome email. Once you have received it, follow the instructions to set a password and download the client.
  1. Log in to the WorkSpaces client to launch your cloud desktop.

Amazon WorkSpaces desktop

At this point, you should be comfortable with the basics of Amazon WorkSpaces. Don’t forget to delete the WorkSpace and any related resources, such as the user directory, in order to avoid future charges.

How it works…

WorkSpaces allows you to provision either Windows or Linux instances with a variety of software bundles available from the Marketplace. These desktops run on a cloud virtual machine so that users can disconnect and reconnect to the desktop without losing any data. Users are managed with a directory service, such as Simple AD or AWS managed Microsoft AD. 

There’s more…

There are a few more features that you should keep in mind:

  • User logins can be secured with MFA.
  • User data can be encrypted at rest with AWS Key Management Service (KMS) keys.
  • User logins can be restricted to a specific IP range.
  • Each WorkSpace has two Elastic Network Interfaces (ENIs), one of which is in your VPC to allow easy access to resources in that VPC.

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