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AWS adds on-premises Radius MFA to Workspaces DaaS

This might need new jargon - 'hybrid cloud authentication' anyone?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has added multi-factor authentication to its Workspaces desktop-as-a-service service, but has done so using on-premises RADIUS servers.

Workspaces offer the chance to run a desktop – actually re-skinned Windows Server – in a player app. As we've previously noted, AWS has never been afraid to launch a work in progress and in this case shoved Workspaces out the door without authentication that integrated cloudy and conventional desktops. That lack, and some latency issues, led us to consider Workspaces as promising but immature at launch.

The product is clearly maturing now with the addition of integrated authentication, albeit in a somewhat unusual mode for AWS because, as it explains “your WorkSpaces users will now be able to authenticate themselves using the same mechanism that they already use for other forms of remote access to your organization's resources [and] … will log in by entering their Active Directory user name and password followed by an OTP (One-Time Passcode) supplied by a hardware or a software token.”

In other words, the desktop runs in the cloud but the authentication will take place in your very own bit barn. That's assuming your RADIUS servers live there. For what it is worth, authentication servers are just the kind of thing cloud pundits suggest to The Reg are so important that there's upside in keeping them close to home.

So even though AWS' new offering means it could be time to invent some doggrel jargon - “hybrid cloud authentication” anyone? - it's understandable that the cloudy colossus has gone down this road.

AWS says this ain't all folks, and that “we expect to add support for additional authentication options such as smart cards and certificates.”

One last nugget: a market-watcher of your correspondent's acquaintance familiar with goings-on inside AWS suggests Workspaces is not that interesting to customers and has become a curiosity rather than something AWS or its resellers are being asked about in meetings. Perhaps RADIUS-powered hybrid cloud authentication will change that. ®

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