Channel technologies, CSPs, Virtualization

Desktop as a Service Pricing Models: Amazon’s New AWS Offer


Whether you call it hosted desktops, workspace as a service (WaaS) or desktop as a service (DaaS)... Amazon has a new pricing model for you to consider. It's called Amazon Hourly WorkSpaces.

The new pricing model allows customers to pay by the hour for the hosted desktop service. At first glance that sounds a bit confusing: Why the heck would a customer abandon per-user monthly pricing (which is still available) in favor of this? But take a closer look and perhaps there are some clear use cases -- including part-time employees, road warriors, job shares, or corporate training, education and remote administration, Amazon points out.

With the introduction of Amazon Hourly WorkSpaces, there are now two "running modes" for the on-demand desktop service, the company says. They are:

  • AlwaysOn – This is the existing mode. Users have instant access to a WorkSpace that is always running, billed by the month.
  • AutoStop – This is new. The user's WorkSpace starts running and billing when he or she logs in, and stops automatically when you remain disconnected for a specified period of time.

Amazon WorkSpaces Pricing: MSP Models?

Amazon explains the WorkSpaces pricing model here (both monthly and hourly). But I haven't had time to crunch the numbers and determine how many hours of consumption makes it ideal to jump from the hourly rate to the monthly rate.

We've also reached out to Amazon with the following questions. Can an MSP:

  • Build a multi-tenant hosted desktop system using WorkSpaces?
  • Manage multiple customers from a single dashboard in the system?
  • Set their own billing and pricing for the end-customers — essentially marking up the service over and above Amazon pricing?

If/when we hear back from Amazon we'll update this article accordingly.

Desktop as a Service (DaaS) for MSPs

DaaS, as we've previously pointed out, has evolved into a richer Workspace as a Service (WaaS) model in recent years. And multiple companies are now pursuing WaaS strategies in the IT channel.

Among the channel-friendly names to know:

Jonathan Lieberman
Jonathan Lieberman
Seth Bostock

WaaS providers are well aware of Amazon's moves. "Amazon's price and storage change further validates the flexibility needed by workspace users," says Seth Bostock, CEO of IndependenceIT. "The market has seen a shift to user centric IT which requires highly adaptable solutions. Here at IndependenceIT, we have always developed tools that empower the Service Provider to deliver flexible solutions and have freedom of platform choice when looking to deliver workspace or App Services and eliminate vendor lock-in."

Jon Senger, chief architect for Neverfail, had this to say: “Amazon just announced that they’re adding pay by the hour? Don’t they already do that? All they did was change the model from monthly to hourly billing. It’s hardly revolutionary; this the same way they handle every workload on their cloud. And the Expanded Root Volume is something you should expect from any vendor these days.”

Adds Jonathan Lieberman, CEO and co-founder of Itopia: "It’s important to understand that the AWS workspace product itself hasn’t changed. It just has a new pricing feature — Auto-Stop that changes the billing from per month to per hour. However, the caveat is that as soon as you turn on Auto-Stop, the client is charged $7.25, which accounts for 25% of the monthly charge for the workspace + .22/hour."

Without getting too technical, unless you’re going to use the workspace on a very part-time basis, the price change is not going to have any impact on most users and businesses, Lieberman says. "The only use case we see for this is for temp or part-time employees, which is not really our target market."

Lieberman also raised several key considerations that MSPs should keep in mind -- and we'll share them in a future article.

Constant Evolution

No doubt, pricing, features and functions can vary dramatically from solution to solution. Multiple research reports suggest WaaS is a fast-growing market. And there are certainly some signs of success. But we haven't seen any one company emerge as a dominant force in this sector.

Even Microsoft has struggled to get it right, winding down its own Azure Remote App platform to embrace a Citrix alternative instead.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.