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Amazon EC2 vs Amazon WorkSpaces: What are the differences?

What is Amazon EC2? Scalable, pay-as-you-go compute capacity in the cloud. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.

What is Amazon WorkSpaces? Easily provision cloud-based desktops that allow end-users to access applications and resources. With a few clicks in the AWS Management Console, customers can provision a high-quality desktop experience for any number of users at a cost that is highly competitive with traditional desktops and half the cost of most virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions. End-users can access the documents, applications and resources they need with the device of their choice, including laptops, iPad, Kindle Fire, or Android tablets.

Amazon EC2 can be classified as a tool in the "Cloud Hosting" category, while Amazon WorkSpaces is grouped under "Virtual Desktop".

Some of the features offered by Amazon EC2 are:

  • Elastic – Amazon EC2 enables you to increase or decrease capacity within minutes, not hours or days. You can commission one, hundreds or even thousands of server instances simultaneously.
  • Completely Controlled – You have complete control of your instances. You have root access to each one, and you can interact with them as you would any machine.
  • Flexible – You have the choice of multiple instance types, operating systems, and software packages. Amazon EC2 allows you to select a configuration of memory, CPU, instance storage, and the boot partition size that is optimal for your choice of operating system and application.

On the other hand, Amazon WorkSpaces provides the following key features:

  • Support Multiple Devices- Users can access their Amazon WorkSpaces using their choice of device, such as a laptop computer (Mac OS or Windows), iPad, Kindle Fire, or Android tablet.
  • Keep Your Data Secure and Available- Amazon WorkSpaces provides each user with access to persistent storage in the AWS cloud. When users access their desktops using Amazon WorkSpaces, you control whether your corporate data is stored on multiple client devices, helping you keep your data secure.
  • Choose the Hardware and Software you need- Amazon WorkSpaces offers a choice of bundles providing different amounts of CPU, memory, and storage so you can match your Amazon WorkSpaces to your requirements. Amazon WorkSpaces offers preinstalled applications (including Microsoft Office) or you can bring your own licensed software.

Airbnb, Uber Technologies, and Netflix are some of the popular companies that use Amazon EC2, whereas Amazon WorkSpaces is used by HigherMe, Amazon, and Shelf. Amazon EC2 has a broader approval, being mentioned in 3607 company stacks & 1618 developers stacks; compared to Amazon WorkSpaces, which is listed in 5 company stacks and 6 developer stacks.

Decisions about Amazon EC2 and Amazon WorkSpaces
Jerome/Zen Quah
Shared insights
on
DigitalOcean
Amazon EC2

DigitalOcean was where I began; its USD5/month is extremely competitive and the overall experience as highly user-friendly.

However, their offerings were lacking and integrating with other resources I had on AWS was getting more costly (due to transfer costs on AWS). Eventually I moved the entire project off DO's Droplets and onto AWS's EC2.

One may initially find the cost (w/o free tier) and interface of AWS daunting however with good planning you can achieve highly cost-efficient systems with savings plans, spot instances, etcetera.

Do not dive into AWS head-first! Seriously, don't. Stand back and read pricing documentation thoroughly. You can, not to the fault of AWS, easily go way overbudget. Your first action upon getting your AWS account should be to set up billing alarms for estimated and current bill totals.

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Craig Finch
Principal Consultant at Rootwork InfoTech · | 6 upvotes · 89.7K views

We first selected Google Cloud Platform about five years ago, because HIPAA compliance was significantly cheaper and easier on Google compared to AWS. We have stayed with Google Cloud because it provides an excellent command line tool for managing resources, and every resource has a well-designed, well-documented API. SDKs for most of these APIs are available for many popular languages. I have never worked with a cloud platform that's so amenable to automation. Google is also ahead of its competitors in Kubernetes support.

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Stephen Fox
Artificial Intelligence Fellow · | 2 upvotes · 92.6K views

GCE is much more user friendly than EC2, though Amazon has come a very long way since the early days (pre-2010's). This can be seen in how easy it is to edit the storage attached to an instance in GCE: it's under the instance details and is edited inline. In AWS you have to click the instance > click the storage block device (new screen) > click the edit option (new modal) > resize the volume > confirm (new model) then wait a very long time. Google's is nearly instant.

  • In both cases, the instance much be shut down.

There also the preference between "user burden-of-security" and automatic security: AWS goes for the former, GCE the latter.

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Most bioinformatics shops nowadays are hosting on AWS or Azure, since they have HIPAA tiers and offer enterprise SLA contracts. Meanwhile Heroku hasn't historically supported HIPAA. Rackspace and Google Cloud would be other hosting providers we would consider, but we just don't get requests for them. So, we mostly focus on AWS and Azure support.

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Pros of Amazon EC2
Pros of Amazon WorkSpaces
  • 644
    Quick and reliable cloud servers
  • 515
    Scalability
  • 391
    Easy management
  • 276
    Low cost
  • 269
    Auto-scaling
  • 88
    Market leader
  • 80
    Backed by amazon
  • 78
    Reliable
  • 66
    Free tier
  • 57
    Easy management, scalability
  • 12
    Flexible
  • 10
    Easy to Start
  • 9
    Web-scale
  • 8
    Widely used
  • 8
    Elastic
  • 7
    Node.js API
  • 4
    Industry Standard
  • 3
    Lots of configuration options
  • 2
    GPU instances
  • 1
    Amazing for individuals
  • 1
    Extremely simple to use
  • 1
    All the Open Source CLI tools you could want.
  • 1
    Simpler to understand and learn
    Be the first to leave a pro

    Sign up to add or upvote prosMake informed product decisions

    Cons of Amazon EC2
    Cons of Amazon WorkSpaces
    • 13
      Ui could use a lot of work
    • 6
      High learning curve when compared to PaaS
    • 3
      Extremely poor CPU performance
      Be the first to leave a con

      Sign up to add or upvote consMake informed product decisions

      What is Amazon EC2?

      It is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.

      What is Amazon WorkSpaces?

      With a few clicks in the AWS Management Console, customers can provision a high-quality desktop experience for any number of users at a cost that is highly competitive with traditional desktops and half the cost of most virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions. End-users can access the documents, applications and resources they need with the device of their choice, including laptops, iPad, Kindle Fire, or Android tablets.

      Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

      What companies use Amazon EC2?
      What companies use Amazon WorkSpaces?
      See which teams inside your own company are using Amazon EC2 or Amazon WorkSpaces.
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      Sign up to get full access to all the companiesMake informed product decisions

      What tools integrate with Amazon EC2?
      What tools integrate with Amazon WorkSpaces?

      Sign up to get full access to all the tool integrationsMake informed product decisions

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      What are some alternatives to Amazon EC2 and Amazon WorkSpaces?
      Amazon LightSail
      Everything you need to jumpstart your project on AWS—compute, storage, and networking—for a low, predictable price. Launch a virtual private server with just a few clicks.
      Amazon S3
      Amazon Simple Storage Service provides a fully redundant data storage infrastructure for storing and retrieving any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web
      Amazon EC2 Container Service
      Amazon EC2 Container Service lets you launch and stop container-enabled applications with simple API calls, allows you to query the state of your cluster from a centralized service, and gives you access to many familiar Amazon EC2 features like security groups, EBS volumes and IAM roles.
      Beanstalk
      A single process to commit code, review with the team, and deploy the final result to your customers.
      Microsoft Azure
      Azure is an open and flexible cloud platform that enables you to quickly build, deploy and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters. You can build applications using any language, tool or framework. And you can integrate your public cloud applications with your existing IT environment.
      See all alternatives