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An American Tourist in London: AHEAD’s Newest Amazon WorkSpaces Client Story

This past Labor Day, I had just finished up a day of yard work and was preparing some burgers while hanging out with my family. I checked my phone between flipping patties on the grill and that’s when I saw a new email message from Eric Kaplan, AHEAD’s CTO, that read, “Customer engagement closed in London. Start date: September 20.” I thought to myself, “Welp! Here goes nothing!” I knew exactly what this meant; two weeks from today I’d need to be in London with my team, ready to design a new Amazon WorkSpaces environment.

The Client

This particular client is a leading business intelligence, academic publishing, knowledge and events organization. This company has approximately 6,000 employees worldwide, requiring a Desktop as a Service (DaaS) solution based in the cloud leveraging Amazon WorkSpaces. The use case is sound: offer virtual desktops across several global regions providing a performant user experience.

The Project

The AHEAD team was to be facilitating a design workshop for an Amazon WorkSpaces deployment. From our previous discussions with the client, we have several end-user computing decisions requiring consensus in a short time period. AHEAD’s mobility team thinks about these scenarios daily and works with dozens of clients on similar requirements, so we welcomed the challenge! The only difference is that this one was 4,000 miles away.

Getting Started

When I got back to the office after the long holiday weekend, I assembled our team, arranged travel logistics, and made arrangements to allow for the six-hour time difference. Before we knew it, we were London bound!

As I flew over the Atlantic during a red-eye flight, I got a very sound 16 minutes of sleep. That sounds good enough, right? The team met at London Heathrow Airport and took the express train into Paddington station. For this project I was joined by my colleagues, Nick Frank and Sean Massey. Here’s where the real adventure begins!

We arrived at our hotel, ready to talk WorkSpaces for the week. We were barely settled into our rooms before quickly heading out to explore our surroundings. There’s only one word I can use to describe this experience: spectacular. Our hotel was located near Westminster Bridge overlooking the River Thames, London Eye, Parliament, and Big Ben.


Workshop Day One

On the first day of our workshop, we commuted to the office by walking past Big Ben, Palace of Westminster, and Westminster Abbey before settling into the office space nestled nearby Westminster Cathedral. The sights were absolutely breathtaking. There were people everywhere, but every one of them was terrific. We started to blend in nicely with the locals (or so we thought), except we kept looking the wrong way when crossing the street.

Our Amazon WorkSpaces design workshop started with a deep dive discussion into WorkSpaces VPCs, transit VPCs, and the required security controls to effectively deliver the global service. AHEAD’s design workshops provide tremendous value to our customers by understanding business and technical challenges and translating them into a thoughtful, holistic architectural design. Our approach accomplished the same expectations, even across the Atlantic; it’s a globally accepted methodology!

Workshop Day Two

During day two of our workshop, we conducted extensive discussions around all of the required components of an Amazon WorkSpaces environment. The operating system is only the start of the conversation. We must consider application delivery, user profiles, monitoring, automation, user experience, and file services… just to scratch the surface. In addition, these services must leverage native cloud services offered by AWS with the appropriate architecture applied. AHEAD’s mobility team excels at these discussions, alternatives, and architectures, and this engagement was no exception.

During the evening, we continued to explore the beautiful, historic city. The diversity and energy can be felt from every person we met, location we visited, and observations we made. When does the AHEAD London office open? I volunteer as tribute!


Workshop Day Three

On day three, the focus was on automation. Amazon WorkSpaces offers a rich set of APIs so the services can be deployed using automation techniques. Automation will be critical for our client as they expect every new employee to receive a WorkSpace during onboarding. The same holds true for their off-boarding process; all WorkSpaces and supplementary services must be archived appropriately. Our client is a ServiceNow customer, allowing our team to leverage its rich API platform for all automation and integration. The workshop walked the client through several automation workflows, required variables and outputs in order for a full lifecycle to be developed. Once implemented, the client will offer the automated provisioning of WorkSpaces, as well as eventual self-healing capabilities through its ServiceNow user portal.

At the conclusion of our WorkSpaces design workshop, we accomplished all of our design objectives detailing each service across the required regions, supporting end-user computing services and the automation involved to seamlessly deliver the service.


The AHEAD team decided to stay an extra couple of days in London, because well, it’s London. We continued to explore the beautiful city and trekked almost 20 miles over the course of two days. Sites included, but were not limited to, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Harrod’s, Buckingham Palace, Picadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, the British Museum, and a tour of Parliament. Below are a few pictures from our journey.


Here is Sean Massey and me overlooking River Thames and Westminster Palace.


Here is Nick Frank and me on Tower Bridge with the Tower of London in the background.

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I won $100 bet for getting Sean to wear a Beefeater hat at the gift shop!

All in all, I’d say our time in London, both with the client and in our own adventures, was victorious. Not only did we successfully launch a WorkSpaces engagement for a new client, but we explored a new culture and way of life different from what we’re used to.

If you want to learn more about what AHEAD can do for your business utilizing Amazon WorkSpaces or are interested in a client engagement of your own, sign up to meet with our experts in the AHEAD Lab and Briefing Center today. Or, if you’re going to be at AWS re:Invent 2016 in Las Vegas, you can arrange a time to meet with us one-on-one to discuss Amazon WorkSpaces. Stay tuned for more posts from our experts about WorkSpaces leading up to the big event!

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