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SaaSifying made easy with Amazon AppStream 2.0 and Cambrian Technologies

Amazon AppStream 2.0 is an AWS service that enables streaming Windows and Linux applications to a web browser on any computer, anywhere. This allows companies to get end-users up and running faster and manage remote work more easily. In addition, this secure and reliable service reduces the total-cost-of-ownership when compared to the on-premises hardware deployment model.

This blog post focuses on (independent) software vendors (ISVs). It describes how they can use 7 valuable solutions and services to deliver their non cloud-native applications as SaaS successfully.

How to use Amazon AppStream 2.0 and Cambrian Technologies solutions to deliver non cloud-native applications as SaaS successfully
Streaming non cloud-native applications offers valuable benefits

To ISVs, using Amazon Appstream 2.0 to stream their non cloud-native applications offers important benefits:

  • The application is available as SaaS immediately. There is no need for rewriting any code, or buying infrastructure licenses such as Citrix or VMWare Horizon, or for rewiring infrastructure.
  • The ISV can offer trials and demos to potential customers directly and deploy these globally without delays or a complicated process.
  • Streaming eliminates the complexities of heavier end-user hardware or other non-standard requirements that can dissuade potential customers.

With software buyers across the board moving to SaaS solutions, many ISVs also broaden their target market successfully by streaming their application. In general, these ISVs can now compete with alternative SaaS vendors, whilst they buy time to adapt their software ‘behind the scenes’ to cloud-native services.

A unique combination of focus, experience and expertise

Cambrian Technologies focuses on supporting ISVs in this transition and cloud-adoption. The company was set up by former ISV founders and software development leads who migrated to cloud services themselves. Furthermore, we are one of the relatively few AWS consulting partners with an AWS Digital Workplace Competency; which is the service category Amazon AppStream 2.0 belongs to.

AWS vets and validates its advanced partners against a high bar before they earn a Competency in a specialized area. As a result, and combined with our AWS Migration and our AWS Data & Analytics Competencies, these qualifications demonstrate our deep expertise — and proven customer success — in areas which are required to support an ISV’s cloud-transition.

This combination of focus, experience and expertise makes us unique.

7 solutions and services to deploy Amazon AppStream 2.0 successfully

We offer our customer several valuable (managed) services and solutions in order to deploy Amazon AppStream 2.0 and deliver their software as a service successfully:

  • Right sizing — Amazon AppStream 2.0 offers a large range of machines (instances) to choose from. This allows you to optimize the application performance and the user experience. However, selecting the appropriate instance (CPU, memory, GPU) is not trivial. Moveover, if you choose a too-large instance then you throw money away. However, if you choose a too-small instance then you end up with unhappy customers.
    This is why we use a solution based on Prometheus and Grafana to help right-size your instances. This provides an out-of-the-box and easy-to-view experience. The solution details the key metrics you need to optimize cost and user experience. Furthermore, it includes ITSM integrations to monitor and report performance, and to help troubleshoot issues effectively.
  • Fleet management — The number of instances deployed can be scaled up and down, and you pay for instances that are used and are available for use. But if there are non available, then new users must wait when they log in to use the application. To avoid this from happening, you create a safety buffer. This means that you spin up more instances than you expect will be required. Because application usage varies, buffers are often large (and expensive) to minimize unavailability errors and user frustrations.
    To prevent this, we use a machine learning tool that optimizes your buffer capacity. It manages the fleet size dynamically and autonomously. Our solution reduces your AWS bill, often significantly, while keeping your application available to new users logging in. Moreover, it frees up your valuable engineering resources. They no longer have to tinker with the fleet size settings and troubleshoot unavailability errors.
  • DevOps — Serving your application to end-users from your AWS infrastructure allows you to apply Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) principles. These help you automate your infrastructure management and also the deployment of new versions of your software. This is probably a critical capability from the moment you start delivering SaaS.
    To capture this opportunity quickly, we help you deploy your Amazon AppStream 2.0 infrastructure automatically, by using our devops and managed services capabilities. Our IaC solutions translate directly into repeatable, high efficiency deployments, with consistent reliability and performance.
  • Image management — Each Amazon AppStream 2.0 fleet is based on a ‘golden image’. Keeping this image up-to-date with application updates is an important operations process. But it also becomes your new responsibility in a SaaS delivery model.
    To facilitate this, we help you take advantage of the most appropriate third-party solution for the management of application updates. Typically one can choose between software packaging and application virtualisation solutions. Selecting and implementing the right solution for you is key to ensuring a streamlined and smooth update process.
  • End-user authentication — Using your application via Amazon AppStream 2.0 requires the end-users to authenticate via SAML2. However, if your application must be AD-joint, the AD imposes an annoying, second authentication step. For those who enjoyed a seamless ‘tap-and-go’ user experience previously, your new SaaS delivery model probably causes even more disappointment.
    To prevent this, we smoothen the end-user experience by eliminating the second step. We configure certificate based authentication for AD-joint fleets so that end-users only need to authenticate once. In addition, we help you use Windows 10 and Windows 11 functionalities to allow end-users to log in directly without extra authentication when they require a ‘tap-and-go’ experience.
  • Best practices and compliant managed services — For ISVs, it is key to move swiftly in order to capture the market opportunity. But the richness of the AWS offering and their pace of innovation can be overwhelming. Of course, the last thing you want is to expose your customers to a security breach, or to extended downtime caused by a configuration error.
    To control these risks, we review your infrastructure, processes and governance regularly and check that they are configured and managed correctly. As an accredited AWS Well-Architected Program partner, we recommend and implement best practices. These cover a broad range in security, reliability, performance efficiency, operational excellence, cost optimization and sustainability. In addition, ISVs use our managed services, that are ISO 27001 certified and include controls to ensure and demonstrate compliance.
  • Cloud-adoption guidance — ISVs face many questions when they transition to deliver their software as a service. These are not limited to using Amazon AppStream 2.0 successfully. Besides, many questions may surface later and may even concern the profitability of the new business model.
    To support our customers, we provide direct access to various AWS programs and resources. For example, with our AWS Optimization and Licensing Assessment accreditation we can dive deeper into optimizing your application stack. Combined with our AWS Competencies and our experience in working with ISVs, this enables us to facilitate your cloud adoption at any stage. From pre-migration assessments and business case building, through implementation support, as well as optimization and innovation assistance when you already operate your workloads on AWS.

One of our team members, Ben Morse, was interviewed by Erika Lopez-Finn at AWS. During this interview, they dived deeper into some exciting case studies and explored our unique strengths in leveraging AWS in general and Amazon AppStream 2.0 in particular.

You can play and listen to the recording below:

If you would like to learn more how we can help you, you can reach out to us and we will happily set up an introduction call.

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