Cloud giant’s new managed service gives mobile workers and contractors secure, one-click access to corporate sites, data, and apps
If you thought providing remote access to sensitive assets inside the corporate perimeter meant dealing with the dual headaches of VPNs and Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools, Amazon Web Services has some good news. The cloud hosting giant this week launched WorkLink, a new managed service that takes a novel approach to the task of connecting users and company systems.
The Lowdown: While most schemas for connecting remote workers with internal sites and Web apps involve proprietary browsers, VPNs for connectivity, and MDM for device configuration and access controls, WorkLink comes at the challenge a bit differently. According to the company, users simply download an app on their mobile device, surf with a standard browser to internal sites pre-approved by admins, and receive a non-cached, fully functional, graphical representation of the content.
The Details: The vector-graphic pseudo-site retains all of the functionality of the real site, but, unlike traditional VPN-based approaches, no data is stored or cached on the device. When the session ends, the ephemeral cloud-based browser wipes the slate clean, obviating the need for remote wiping in the event a device is lost or stolen.
Priced at $5 per user per month, Amazon WorkLink works with all SAML 2.0-compliant identity providers such as Okta and Ping. Available now in North America and Europe, the service is currently compatible only with Apple IOS 12+ and Safari, with Android 6+ and Chrome compatibility due soon, officials said.
The Impact: An additional upside with WorkLink: Since the user devices never actually touch the corporate network, a significant vector for malware is practically eliminated.
The Buzz: “When talking with customers, all of them expressed frustration that their workers don’t have an easy and secure way to access internal content, which means that their employees either waste time or don’t bother trying to access content that would make them more productive,” said Peter Hill, vice president of productivity applications at AWS. “With Amazon WorkLink, we’re enabling greater workplace productivity for those outside the corporate firewall in a way that IT administrators and security teams are happy with and employees are willing to use.”
“Our clients frequently say they struggle with securing mobile access to internal Web resources without restricting employee productivity,” said Mickey Davis, global vice president of managed workplace services at global IT services and systems integration firm Unisys. “With Amazon WorkLink, end users can securely perform important tasks, such as resolving customer support requests, reviewing important business reports, and approving budget requests or expense reports, in seconds using just their phones.
“We are testing Amazon WorkLink at Unisys to access our training wiki and trouble ticketing system, and we’re excited at the prospect of using it to empower our clients and their workers as well,” said Davis.
“Our customers consistently tell us one of their biggest challenges is enabling secure mobile access as they move their legacy content to a mobile-first world. Amazon WorkLink will allow us to help our customers keep pace with the speed of markets by delivering both productivity and security on the go,” said Siva Perubotla, associate vice president and head of digital infrastructure at technology consulting and business solutions company Brillio. “We have leveraged Amazon WorkLink for our own internal use cases, which involved productivity enablement for our global workforce by building capabilities through secure, cross-platform, on-demand, and seamless access of internal knowledge base, learning modules, and intranet resources. We are excited with the results and convinced that we will be able to replicate the benefits for our customers at scale.”
Channelnomics Point of View: VPNs and MDM platforms are a significant pain point — and a non-trivial financial burden — for IT and security teams, not to mention a common source of frustration for users. An innovative alternative like WorkLink that eliminates the need for both should be attractive to, and potentially lucrative for, solution and service providers whose clientele increasingly need to let remote workers access company assets without a lot of fumbling with fobs, tokens, one-time passwords, and kludgy, bespoke browsers.