AppStream can provide our customers with easier access to the tools they need on a wider range of devices than in the past.
VP of Enterprise Solutions at ANSYS
wrote about Amazon AppStream last year, I described the AppStream APIs and showed you
how to use them to modify an existing application to give it the ability to stream
output to a wide variety of output devices. The
can be used to build customized streaming experiences
that integrate local and remote applications in a unified fashion. As an example of what can
be done when AppStream is used in this manner, see my blog post,
AppStream Can Improve the New-User Experience for Eve Online.
Today I would like to tell you about an important new feature for
AppStream. You can now stream just about any existing Microsoft
Windows application without having to make any code changes. You
simply step through a simple installation and configuration process
using the AWS Management Console. Once you’ve completed the process, your users
can begin to use the application.
This is a new way to deliver software that obviates the need for
shipping CDs (you do remember those, right?) or waiting for massive
downloads to complete. Your users can access the applications from
devices that run FireOS, Android, Chrome, iOS, Mac OS X, or Microsoft
On the development side, running the remote side of the
application in a single, well-understood, cloud-based environment
can dramatically shrink the size of the test matrix. The client
application is relatively simple, with responsibility limited to
authenticating users, decoding video streams, and relaying local
events to AppStream. Because the run-time environment is well-understood
and under your control, issues related to libraries, DLLs, and
video drivers are no longer an issue.
Finally, streaming applications from the cloud can protect your
proprietary data and code from undesired exposure. Put it all
together and you have a new and very powerful way to deliver
applications to your users!
Let’s take an existing Windows application and make it available via
streaming! Since AppStream runs the application on EC2’s GPU-equipped
I went to the NVIDIA Demos page and
Then I opened up the Console and selected AppStream:
I clicked on Deploy an Application and filled in the details:
Then I installed the application using the streamed copy of Windows running within the
The download of the installation package takes place over the AWS backbone, generally at
very high speed. This is yet another cool benefit of the cloud-based AppStream model.
To finalize the installation I clicked on the Set launch path button to
tell AppStream where to find the application. Setting the path initiates the deployment
The deployment process can take 30 minutes or more (up to several hours) depending on the
size of the application. As part of the process, AppStream creates an Amazon Machine Image
(AMI) containing the application.
Once the deployment process is complete, AppStream will automatically launch a server and
have it standing by to accept connections (
AppStream pricing is based on the total
number of “streamed hours” per month, so you don’t start to accrue any charges until
the application is actually put to use).
The console includes instructions and quick links so that I can easily test my
application using a sample client:
I downloaded the sample client and pasted in the quick link. Then I clicked on the
Connect button and I was up and running without the need to
install the application locally. Here’s what I saw on my screen:
The presentation was very responsive and free of lag (I deployed the app in US East (Northern Virginia) and
accessed it from my desktop in Seattle). I was able to rotate and zoom the
image quickly and efficiently. Although I used the Windows client for this demo,
I could have also used the Chrome client. This would allow me to run the
Design Garage on any platform that can run the Chrome browser — Chromebooks,
Macs, Linux desktops, and more.
In the example above I used the sample AppStream client. For production use you will
need to customize the sample client or use it as the basis for your own, custom
client. Your client will need to include a mechanism to authenticate users. For
more information, read about
Building a Client Application.
Try it Now
You should be able to think of all sorts of ways to put this new AppStream feature
to use. You can deliver many types of applications (medical imaging,
data visualization, and CAD all come to mind) to a very wide variety of mass-market devices
without the need for lengthy downloads.
AppStream is currently available in the US East (Northern Virginia) and Asia Pacific (Tokyo) Regions.
I’ve saved the best part for last! You can try out this new feature at no cost
as part of the AppStream Free Tier.
The first 20 hour of streaming each month are free for one year. I’d like to invite
you to go ahead, deploy an application, and take this new feature for a spin!