Get Your Employees Working on Remote VDI Today
With many shelter-in-place orders, a growing number of companies have been forced to quickly adapt. We recently posted some of Foghorn’s advice for working remotely from an organizational perspective. From a technical perspective, we’ve found that many organizations are having challenges creating a secure BYOD environment, especially with many employees working on untrusted hardware. In some cases, the workstation requirements simply cannot be met with employee’s home computers. In this case, a VDI solution makes a ton of sense.
AWS offers Amazon Workspaces, allowing companies to quickly implement VDI solutions. AWS has stepped up in this crisis. They are offering free Workspaces for up to 50 remote workstations until June 30th. As well AWS has other generous offers for first time users of Chime, Connect and Workdocs.
There are a few prerequisites for using Workspaces; a VPC to spin up our resources, a directory service to manage users and authentication, and users themselves. In addition, Workspaces customers have a myriad of options to customize their VDI environment, like hardware sizing, operating systems, and storage.
In order to help accelerate a remote Virtual Desktop Infrastructure setup, our DevOps team at Foghorn has designed, built and are now releasing a quickstart cloudformation template. In this template, we’ve distilled VDI decisions down to one page of pull down options. After picking your preferences, the template will spin up and configure all of the resources needed in a single run.
If you’ve tried to automate AWS Workspaces before, you might know that there are two potential hiccups..
- Cloudformation cannot register a new directory, this needs to happen manually.
- Cloudformation can look up available AZ names, but not AZ IDs, and Workspaces is only available in specific AZ IDs.
Andrew Morgan, Foghorn Engineer and author of the Cloud Formation Template, also wrote a couple of lambdas that solve these two problems, allowing for a fully automated solution. Kudos Andrew!
This template works out of the box as a starter template for a single workspace, and can easily be modified to extend to as many employees as needed. Please forward it to any organizations in your ecosystem that need a quick solution for VDI. As per best practices we definitely recommend doing lots of testing. We hope this solution proves helpful for any organization needing to get up and running with a VDI solution quickly!
*Quick Note: To expedite the release, this template works in us-east-1 region only. We’ll be releasing an update at some point to abstract that out, but please use us-east-1 for now. Also, AWS doesn’t support the automatic deletion of some resources via Cloudformation, so we’ve included details of how to delete resources created in the README.md. If, after you follow the directions, the “delete stack” fails, just wait 30 minutes and try again.
AWS Workspaces Cloudformation Template and Documentation
Here is a link to our Github repository with our complimentary AWS Workspaces cloudformation template and documentation. Stay safe and stay well.