Amazon EC2 will offer Windows hosting

A lot of cool things are happening at PDC this year, and Amazon’s already showing their cards: Amazon EC2 will offer Windows hosting.

That means you can turn on a brand new Windows machine – or ten – and pay by the hour according to the capacity you’re using.  Less than a dollar an hour in most cases.

What’s that mean for DBAs?

Let’s say you want to have a disaster recovery option for your SQL Server, but you can’t afford a full-time datacenter.  You can turn on a very low-power server in Amazon EC2, just fast enough to handle your incoming logged work, and keep it ready at all times.  When your primary server dies, you could shut down that Amazon instance, turn on a much higher-powered server, and be able to keep up with your load no matter how bulky it is – but without having to pay for that high-powered server all the time.

Or how about another scenario – log shipping.  Copy your transaction logs to Amazon S3 storage – cloud-based, by-the-gb storage – and whenever your main datacenter craters, you can turn on a new Windows box at Amazon and be running your databases from there.  Is it the best solution?  Of course not – but in a disaster, sometimes any solution is better than being completely down.

But wait, there’s more.  Say you want to do proof-of-concept development & testing, like you want to test what happens if you make a major schema change, or you want to test using SQL Server Analysis Services against your data, but your management won’t give you the money to go buy a new testbed server.  Start up a Windows machine at Amazon EC2, pay $1/hour, and do all the development you want.

That’s it – between this and Microsoft’s stuff, I’m adding a cloud category to the blog.

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