Amazon made the fleets available for AppStream desktop apps this week, as the prospect of tighter lockdowns and more remote work looms.
Fleets has been around for years on its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service on Amazon Web Services. It allows you to start a group of instances in a single operation, but more importantly, to set limits on them – for example, limit the number of starts or choose place Where Reserve cases, which are cheaper than usual on demand instances.
AWS is a big business for Amazon now, and continues to grow rapidly. Originally, in 2006, AWS offered three services: Simple Storage Service (S3) – a database of objects in the cloud; Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) – the ability to rent virtual machines and entire clusters online; and Simple Queue Service (SQS) – which is basically how your cloud instances communicate with each other to share work. The cloud server industry has performed so well that Amazon has also branched out into cloud offices.
The original AppStream service appeared in 2013, but was relaunched in 2016 and has just come with support for streaming Linux apps and desktops. AppStream was previously Windows only.
Unlike a virtual server instance, AppStream provides one desktop-like interactive graphical application at a time, accessible through a web browser rather than through VNC or RDS as you would if you are running your own application server. This contrasts with the company’s Workspaces virtual desktop PC service, which Microsoft only caught up with in 2019, after nearly five years.
With AppStream fleets, AWS now provides the ability to define the number and type of server instances that will be needed to deliver these applications, while eliminating the need for customers to manually manage virtual servers. Amazon calls it “serverless” which, as usual, just means “we’ll worry about the servers for you.” Which isn’t such a bad thing, really. ®