Amazon Web Services (AWS) made (by some estimates) almost 200 announcements at its annual re:Invent conference this week. Many focused on new compute and database services to support AI efforts. But two of the announcements stand out (at least to me) from an enterprise IT perspective. One, the Amazon Workspaces Thin Client, offers a simple way to support remote users via virtual desktops. The other, enhancements to the company’s Fault Injection Service, lets users simulate a power failure at an Amazon availability zone to see how it would impact the user’s applications and services.
Thin client simplifies remote user support
Providing users with secure access to modern applications and cloud services is a constant challenge for enterprise IT managers. Any device installed in a remote office or worker’s home must also be managed, making matters even more complicated.
The new Amazon Workspaces Thin Client aims to address these issues. The device is a small cube that connects directly to a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other USB peripherals such as headsets, microphones, and cameras. Several publications have reported that the physical unit is an adapted Amazon Fire TV Cube.
The unit is priced at $195, which Amazon notes is significantly less expensive than a laptop. It can be shipped to a user, who then only needs to unpack it, connect it, enter an activation code, and then log it to that person’s IT-defined virtual desktop.
The units are centrally managed via the AWS Management Console. Through the console, an administrator can create different environments for different classes of users using Amazon WorkSpaces. Depending on a user’s needs, the virtual desktop could include Amazon WorkSpaces Web, which offers secure browser access to SaaS apps and internal websites. Using Amazon AppStream 2.0, IT managers can provide access via the thin client to additional applications and services.
Expanded cloud resiliency testing
Cloud outages continue to be a sore spot for the industry. As we've reported, there are numerous things, including human error, configuration mistakes, natural disasters, and more, that routinely cause cloud outages.
For years, Amazon has offered resiliency testing capabilities in its AWS Fault Injection Service (FIS). Specifically, FIS lets enterprise IT managers run controlled fault injection experiments on AWS services to test how those faults affect an application’s behavior. For example, companies can test for different network actions like connectivity disruption, route table disruption across a region, and more. They can also test how problems or outages with different instances impact an application.
One factor that has played a major role in several recent major cloud outages is power failures impacting cloud centers. This week, Amazon enhanced FIS, adding the ability to simulate a power failure at an Amazonian availability zone (AZ).