Last November, the big news at Amazon’s AWS Re:Invent conference was Amazon’s new desktop virtualization, WorkSpaces, which would be run from its public cloud. It was expected that the service would be available in its full version by now, but it’s not. WorkSpaces still remains as a limited preview, but VMware Horizon Desktop as a Service (Horizon DaaS) has launched and is ready for use. On top of beating Amazon to the market, VMware is offering Horizon DaaS for exactly the same price that Amazon planned to ask for WorkSpaces: $35 per desktop per month.
Why the rush for desktop virtualization?
Desktop as a Service (DaaS)
DaaS is one of the various technologies that falls under the umbrella of desktop virtualization, which also includes virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). All of these technologies allege to contribute to simpler IT management of client computers by automatically releasing updates and patches to devices. In addition, DaaS and other desktop virtualization technologies enable lower-end machines to run to higher capacities and capabilities.
As one of the newest desktop virtualization technologies, DaaS allows companies to utilize and manage different desktops through the public or private cloud. It is comparable to past technologies that saw pared-down end-point devices run the basic application functions while major computing took place on a separate computer.
The announcement by Amazon to release WorkSpaces was an obvious attack not just on VMware but also on Citrix—both of whom were considered leaders in the desktop virtualization space.
Based on Amazon’s past performance, experts predicted that WorkSpaces would be publicly available much sooner than any competing products. However, months later, potential clients are still awaiting the full version. It still is unknown whether the final software will be much different from the preview software.
VMware’s Competing DaaS
Not only is VMware’s Horizon DaaS already on the market—and for the same price—but it also has several advantages over WorkSpaces. For instance, Horizon is supposedly more versatile than WorkSpaces would be. Horison runs on any desktop using a partner-hosted cloud that’s running vCloud Hybrid Services (VCHS); or it runs on a public, off-premises cloud when the cloud is VCHS; or it runs on an in-house private cloud, running VMware vSphere. In addition, users can access Horizon on a combination of desktops—even when some are running public cloud and some private cloud.
WorkSpaces, in contrast, only runs through Amazon Web Services (AWS). In this way, clients are trapped in a vendor lock-in, a trend that cloud supposedly combats. This might be bad news for WorkSpaces, although more will be known when the final version is released.