AWS Introduces New Cloud Security, Mobile, VDI Services

NEWS ANALYSIS: Amazon Web Service introduced a number of new cloud services that the company hopes will convince more enterprises to move more of their IT systems to the cloud.

LAS VEGAS—Amazon Web Services introduced a series of important—but not supremely significant—new services Nov. 13 during the day's main re:Invent keynote presented by Andrew Jassy, senior vice president of Web Services at

The service introductions continue a trend in which Amazon has introduced 235 new services and updates as the company continues to chip away at enterprise objections to moving enterprise IT to cloud operations, resets traditional vendor pricing and makes the entire cloud-based technology infrastructure argument more compelling.

Here are the introductions:

AWS CloudTrail security service is a companion to the company’s CloudWatch security service. CloudTrail is designed to provide a resource tracking API. The service gives digital security executives additional insight into system state changes, calls made to applications and third-party software along with an overall view of API-related activity in a company’s AWS services.

The service would have particular appeal in compliance-intensive environments in which enterprises need to monitor and log data trails. The logs can be recorded and archived on AWS storage services such as Glacier.

Amazon WorkSpaces is squarely aimed at desktop virtualization. Jassy claimed the service will be available at less than half the cost of traditional VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) solutions. The desktop virtualization offering marks a departure for AWS in that the company’s traditional offerings focused on replacing traditional data center operations, but WorkSpaces moves into customer-device management.

AWS claims the service, still in preview, will work on a range of devices and will allow users to seamlessly move their sessions between desktops, tablets and smartphones. Amazon provided a pricing guide showing a range of $35 to $75 per workspace used per month. There is no upfront fee and Workspaces can be added or deleted on a monthly basis.

Amazon AppStream is aimed at mobile developers, who are confronted with building services for higher-end, more powerful mobile devices or limiting capabilities to lower-end devices. AppStream uses the Amazon cloud to render the graphical application and push the results to the entire range of user devices.

The service required the creation of the AppStream STX Protocol to manage the streaming process. AppStream delivers a video stream up to 720p and 30 frames per second and requires connections of at least 3Mbps.

Those three new services provided an example of the expanding range of AWS offerings. As Jassy said in his keynote, “a vibrant ecosystem was very strategic” to AWS’s growth. Adding security services addresses the primary concern of CIOs as they consider taking initial steps or moving wholesale to cloud environments.

Recent customer wins by AWS, including a large CIA contract, have reduced those concerns, but it will require continual security offerings to promote the shift to the point where cloud environments are actually more secure, private and compliant than on-premise systems. As Jassy noted, security issues solved for one customer can quickly be turned into a service for all AWS clients.

The introduction of the WorkSpaces virtual desktop services should send a chill through the competitive vendor ranks. WorkSpaces still has to be proven outside of its limited beta program, but AWS in its growth strategy is starting to look beyond the traditional data center confines.

Managing mobile user devices is a primary concern for many enterprise CIOs. The need to allow users to initiate and control sessions on whatever device they are using and also assure security as those devices are shut down is a major need and the object of a wide variety of vendor applications. The ability to quickly provision mobile services and pay for only what users are using is a step forward in mobile device management.

The appeal to the mobile developer doesn’t mark a departure as much as an extension of the AWS capabilities. Again, it represents a mix of using AWS compute on the backend to provide the user with a pleasing graphical (often game) experience on users' device of choice. AWS was early in appealing to the developer community, and removing the hassle of trying to build mobile apps for a wide range of devices is a constant topic in the mobile developer community.

Jassy’s keynote didn’t provide any earth-shattering announcements, but the constant added service features was a more powerful announcement than big claims that often never materialize.

Eric Lundquist is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Lundquist, who was editor-in-chief at eWEEK (previously PC WEEK) from 1996-2008 authored this article for eWEEK to share his thoughts on technology, products and services. No investment advice is offered in this article. All duties are disclaimed. Lundquist works separately for a private investment firm which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this article and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.