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The Technical Promise and Practice of Amazon WorkSpaces & Nasuni

Amazon WorkSpaces is widely known as the simplest, easiest, and fastest way to spin up desktops in the cloud. The one-to-one user-to-desktop ratio makes the solution somewhat less flexible than other Cloud VDI technologies, but the ease of deployment and seamless technical integration with Nasuni has made it a favorite among several of our existing and prospective customers.  

At a high level, it starts with your Amazon virtual private cloud (VPC). A VPC is a virtual network in which you deploy your Amazon resources. Amazon WorkSpaces is one such resource, and each virtual workstation within that VPC can talk to every other workstation. If you want your WorkSpaces to be able to see a shared drive, you simply put that drive in the virtual private cloud, and as long as you have network connectivity between the resources, all of the WorkSpaces can see and work off that shared drive.  

Nasuni is that shared file storage.  

Yet it’s not quite that simple. One of the major benefits of WorkSpaces, as I mentioned above, is that it’s simple to deploy. The potential challenge for large enterprises is that it is also centered in a particular region. The cloud is not really everywhere – yet. Instead, the major clouds are a collection of powerful regional data centers – and your WorkSpaces deployments reside within one of those AWS regions. So if you have a bunch of WorkSpaces in Southeast Asia, you will think about that deployment as a separate entity than your WorkSpaces in the U.S. or Europe.  

What Nasuni does is unify all these regions and make it much easier for workflows to extend around the globe. As long as you have a shared Nasuni volume, users anywhere can still work off the same shared data set. The same Nasuni technology that synchronizes files between cloud object storage and on-premises office locations in our hybrid cloud deployments works in the same way to synchronize data across all of your AWS regions in our cloud-only deployments. 

Your regionally bound WorkSpaces environment becomes a global one because your files are no longer bound to a specific region. They are globally synchronized through Nasuni. As an example, and as I write this in the summer of 2020, I realize it’s hard to imagine, if one of your users in Southeast Asia needs to work out of your London office for a period, you could easily spin up a WorkSpaces desktop for her in each region. One based in Japan, the other in Ireland. Yet this user would see her familiar My Documents folder, and work off the same files, and the same familiar virtual desktop.   

Implementing the Nasuni end of this solution is just as simple as deploying WorkSpaces itself. One of our longstanding customers, the global professional services firm SDL, recently shifted to WorkSpaces and Nasuni to enable 1,500 employees to work from home. SDL informed us that the easiest part of moving their workforce online was Nasuni, and John Flynn, Head of Technical Architecture at SDL, had this to say about the joint solution: “Nasuni was essential in our transition to an all-remote workforce as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. Thanks to Nasuni and Amazon WorkSpaces, we were able to set up virtual desktops for 1,500 essential employees over a weekend.”  

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