How To Save Money on Amazon Workspace GPUs and Solve the 2 Biggest Challenges of Amazon WorkDocs

For many companies, Amazon WorkDocs and WorkSpaces are two of AWS’s most interesting options for cloud collaboration and computing. Amazon’s Desktop-As-A-Service (DaaS) solution, Amazon WorkSpaces, enables engineering teams to work without workstations. It provides a cloud-based virtual desktop and has WorkSpaces bundles that meet the requirements for running design and engineering applications such as AutoCAD. 

Unfortunately, there are some painful limitations that accompany file server migrations to these services. For instance, Amazon WorkDocs aims to address network file share migration but fails to preserve file ownership and permissions. Workspaces, on the other hand, can become very expensive for graphically intensive workloads 

This article explains how to navigate these migration problems using architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) firms as a reference example. 

File Server Migration to Amazon WorkDocs 

Amazon WorkDocs offers a default W drive that allows users to sync their desktop to the WorkDocs site. The drive lets users work with Amazon WorkDocs files right from their desktop. For migration, AWS Data sync can be used to transfer files from an on-premise file server to an Amazon S3 storage bucket. And after that, the data can be transferred to a WorkDocs site using the WorkDocs migration tool.

All files in the site can then be synced into the WorkDocs drive as needed, making it possible for users to run CAD applications from their local workstations. However, two key features are lost using this solution:

  1. File locking
  2. NTFS Permissions 

File Locking 

AutoCAD File locking is both crucial and difficult because of the nature of its linked files (Xref – external reference drawing), and the fact that dwl files aren't synced when drawings are open. Hence, when one file is open, many supporting files may be open as well.

Since no notification is sent out either, it could be disastrous for design teams accessing and editing the same AutoCAD files from multiple locations as efforts could be nullified when changes are overwritten.

The file locking feature is necessary for maintaining data integrity and consistency.

NTFS Permissions 

During file migration, the permission structure of the files are lost. The immediate solution is to re-create permissions for all files/ individual folders. A hectic process that wastes a lot of time and reduces productivity.

Here's a summarized list of the advantages and disadvantages of migrating to WorkDocs

Advantages of Migrating to Amazon WorkDocs

       File sharing and collaboration can be done from a single site, and its synchronization feature makes files accessible across multiple devices.

       Easily share files with team members and allows for cross-organizational collaboration

       Eliminates the problems of deploying third-party services to connect to the server

       Enhances productivity through data centralization

       Provides data monitoring tools to track site-wide collaboration


Disadvantages of Migrating to Amazon WorkDocs

       Need to reorganize permission structure of all files/ folders.

       File locking has to be done manually for individual files.


CentreStack’s remote drive mapping feature is a hybrid solution for file server sharing and accessing cloud storage services. It ensures Active Directory and NTFS permissions are sustained.  Users can access AutoCAD files through CentreStack mapped drives to use its file locking features on the cloud.

Other available features include on-demand sync, endpoint protection, and version control. 

File Server Migration to Amazon WorkSpaces 

At first glance, Amazon WorkSpace promises to be a great Daas solution for the AEC industry as it has various Workspace bundles tailored to meet the specification requirement for running complex graphics applications on the cloud. Graphics and Graphics pro bundles do provide the GPU-enabled Workspaces required to run AutoCAD applications but they cost $755 - $1000 per month!

Here's a summarized list of the advantages and disadvantages of migrating to WorkSpaces

Advantages of Migrating to Amazon WorkSpaces

       Fast GPU rendering speed.

       Companies can save on hardware and its burdens (On-Premise server management costs)

       Facilitates productivity as users can run CAD applications remotely from any device (given it meets the system requirement).

Disadvantage of Migrating to Amazon WorkSpaces

       It is expensive; the Graphics instance costs $735/month and the GraphicsPro costs $999/month

Benefits of the CentreStack Solution

CentreStack’s remote drive capabilities offer an integrated solution to the limitations of WorkDocs and WorkSpace, complementing the data centralized nature of AWS.

Also, CentreStack makes data management easy as the admin can centrally manage user access controls and storage. It totally erases the need for on-premise servers. In addition, no extra training is required because it provides a familiar mapped drive experience/ interface for the users.


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