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AWS Announces Hourly Billing for Amazon WorkSpaces

Amazon WorkSpaces is a managed desktop service built directly on the AWS cloud. It allows businesses to provision and manage cloud-based desktops for its end users without the complicated nature of traditional EUC offerings and the hardware to back it. Amazon WorkSpaces also allows organizations to easily manage the applications and data on these cloud-based desktops in a pay-as-you-go model, foregoing the upfront hardware and software costs with traditional on-premises solutions.

Amazon’s Announcement 

Late last week, Amazon Web Services announced the addition of hourly billing to Amazon WorkSpaces, a much anticipated change to the way users pay for its DaaS offering. Rather than pay a single, flat fee per month, per desktop, users now have the ability to shut down individual desktops to save on unneeded costs, much like AWS’s EC2 service.

Evaluating if Hourly Billing is Right for You

While hourly billing for services is a welcomed change, organizations must now compare the costs of running a WorkSpace with hourly billing versus a monthly fee. These comparisons need to be made based on their user requirements and, as in any major infrastructure project or decisions, organizations must have data to make relative decisions on which route to take. Do the users require fast, 24/7 access to the desktop environment? Are you utilizing BYOL for Microsoft or are you paying by the drip? And most importantly, how many hours per month, on average, do the users utilize the desktop environment? All these factors are critical in making a decision on whether you pay by the hour or by a monthly fee.

Gathering information to make an accurate decision requires considerable time and effort within the traditional organization. Part-time or hourly users should be relatively simple to compute and likely will utilize hourly billing. However, full-time or remote employees could prove difficult to calculate and assumptions may need to be made up-front to decide if monthly billing is the cheaper route.

For example, the graph below provides a visual presentation of the cross point between hourly and monthly billing. If users only make use of the desktop for less than 85 hours, hourly billing can save significant costs. However, if users are logged in more than 85 hours during the month, monthly billing is the more cost efficient option here, otherwise your costs will exceed the lower monthly billing option. Multiply this by hundreds or thousands of users and it’s easy to see why selecting the correct option matters.


Another related benefit of the recent update is the ability to shut down individual (or a group of) WorkSpaces to save on costs, assuming hourly billing. Administrators can select an inactivity timer to shut down a WorkSpace or even use a Lambda function to programmatically shut down WorkSpaces based upon an event or time interval. Upon reconnection, the Amazon WorkSpaces client recognizes that the desktop is stopped and it automatically resumes within 30 seconds or so. It should also be noted that the shutdown functionality is actually putting a desktop into hibernation mode and the desktop retains its current state upon resuming.

As you can see, the recent update provides quite a bit of flexibility to save costs using Amazon WorkSpaces. It is yet another example of a tool or feature released by AWS to help customers save costs on their cloud-computing environments. To learn more about AHEAD’s offering for Amazon WorkSpaces, read about it on our website or watch the video below from Nick Frank, AHEAD’s Practice Lead of Mobility and EUC.

Or, if you’re interested in understanding your organization’s consumption pattern of AWS or AWS-related services (including Amazon WorkSpaces), check out our Consolidated Billing for Amazon Web Services offering. AHEAD is here to help you determine which of your users may fit which cost model based on our expertise working with existing customers.


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