Amazon Web Services announced on 10/1/2008 that Amazon EC2 “will offer you the ability to run Microsoft Windows Server or Microsoft SQL Server … later this Fall.” This capability adds to last week’s announced availability of Oracle 11g and MySQL 5.1 running under *nix operating systems. (See SSDS’s Competitors : Oracle 11g and Sun MySQL on Amazon EC2 of 9/23/2008).
The Amazon EC2 running Microsoft Windows Server sign-up page to be notified of the public beta says:
Starting later this Fall, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) will offer you the ability to run Microsoft Windows Server or Microsoft SQL Server. Today, you can choose from a variety of Unix-based operating systems, and soon you will be able to configure your instances to run the Windows Server operating system. In addition, you will be able to use SQL Server as another option within Amazon EC2 for running relational databases.
Amazon EC2 running Windows Server or SQL Server provides an ideal environment for deploying ASP.NET web sites, high performance computing clusters, media transcoding solutions, and many other Windows-based applications. By choosing Amazon EC2 as the deployment environment for your Windows-based applications, you will be able to take advantage of Amazon’s proven scalability and reliability, as well as the cost-effective, pay-as-you-go pricing model offered by Amazon Web Services.
Our goal is to support any and all of the programming models, operating systems and database servers that you need for building applications on our cloud computing platform. The ability to run a Windows environment within Amazon EC2 has been one of our most requested features, and we are excited to be able to provide this capability. We are currently operating a private beta of Amazon EC2 running Windows Server and SQL Server.
Jeff Barr’s Coming Soon: Amazon EC2 With Windows Amazon Web Services blog post of 10/1/2008 adds:
You will be able to use Amazon EC2 to host highly scalable ASP.NET sites, high performance computing (HPC) clusters, media transcoders, SQL Server, and more. You can run Visual Studio (or another development environment) on your desktop and run the finished code in the Amazon cloud.
The 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows Server will be available and will be able to use all existing EC2 features such as Elastic IP Addresses, Availability Zones, and the Elastic Block Store. You'll be able to call any of the other Amazon Web Services from your application. You will, for example, be able to use the Amazon Simple Queue Service to glue cross-platform applications together.
Existing EC2 tools will be able to launch Windows-powered EC2 instances. Once launched, you can use the Windows Remote Desktop or the rdesktop tool to access your instances. …
We'll be at the PDC (Professional Developers Conference) in Los Angeles at the end of October.
Update: Windows instance pricing will be strictly pay-as-you-go, like our other services. Customers will only pay for as much or little as they actually use; of course the actual price will be higher than Linux-based instances, due to the cost of Windows licenses. We'll announce specific pricing when we make the service broadly available later this Fall.
Werner Vogels, Amazon’s chief technology officer, discusses interest in Windows Server’s capability for transcoding and streaming Windows Media in his Expanding the Cloud: Microsoft Windows Server on Amazon EC2 post of 9/30/2008 (at 11:30 PM).
Dare Obasanjo is starting a month-long vacation in advance of his paternity leave and says in his Windows Server on Amazon EC2? post of 10/1/2008 that he’s “looking to do some long overdue hacking in-between burping the baby and changing diapers” and is looking for someone to get him in the Windows Server on EC2 beta.
Handwriting on the Wall
The announcement should come as no surprise. Anand Iyer, a Microsoft Northern California developer evangelist, reported in his Windows Server support for Amazon EC2 - coming soon post of 9/3/2008:
At Amazon Web Services’s Startup-Tour here in San Francisco, Jeff Barr just announced the AWS roadmap and it included “support for Windows Server.” Jeff says that Amazon has received “several requests” for Windows Server support for EC2 and while he couldn’t commit to a date, he said it’s definitely on the roadmap.
Windows Server and SQL Server License Issues
There’s no official word from Amazon about Windows Server and SQL Server versions or licensing fees for either product, other than that in Jeff Barr’s update added above:
[O]f course the actual price will be higher than Linux-based instances, due to the cost of Windows licenses.
Oracle allows licensees of Oracle Database 11g to run it on EC2 but also provides a free Amazon Machine Image (AMI) for Oracle 10g XE.
Sun requires an Enterprise Gold, Platinum or Unlimited license to run MySQL on EC2. However, there doesn’t appear to be any restriction to running “open-source” MySQL on EC2. The Running MySQL on Amazon EC2 with Elastic Block Store tutorial is just on of several articles and posts on the topic.
Competition with SQL Server Data Services and Microsoft’s Cloud Computing Platform
It’ll be interesting to hear from Microsoft’s licensing police, Data Programmability group, and SQL Server Data Services (SSDS) team about this “pre-emptive strike” against its purported “cloud computing platform,” which expected to be revealed at the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) 2008, and SSDS itself.
It will be particularly interesting to learn if SSDS developers prefer the entity-attribute-value (EAV) or conventional relational data model for cloud persistence. If SSDS adopts ADO.NET Data Services (Astoria) as its RESTful interface, there’s no reason not to simply substitute SQL Server with an Astoria front end for SSDS and abandon the unconventional authority, container, entity (ACE).
Ultimately, the winner probably will be decided on a new metric: TCNO™ (Total Cost of Non-Ownership™) for a specific levels of storage space, computing power, and bandwidth. The current credit crunch and economic uncertainty are likely to increase the attractiveness of “non-ownership” of IT facilities and pay-as-you-go “cloud licenses.”
Tom Sullivan’s Will the downturn accelerate cloud computing? InfoWorld article of 10/1/2008 says:
Analysts at Gartner and TABB Group, a research and advisory firm that focuses on financial markets, agree that the current economic downturn is already sparking interest in cloud computing both on Wall Street and elsewhere. "We expect examinations of various cloud services to accelerate," says Gartner fellow and vice president Ken McGee. "There will be a flight toward looking for lower-cost options."
Update 10/3/2008: Charles Arthur’s What effect will the financial crisis have on the tech sector? article of 10/3/2008 for the UK’s Guardian, says:
Expect to see a slowdown in smartphone sales and a concomitant growth in the use of open source, cloud computing and virtualisation technology as consumers cut back on their "discretionary" purchases while businesses, strapped for credit (because banks won't have it to lend), decide to make the best of what they've got and squeeze the last possible drops of life from the hardware they have, while reducing costs on software as far as possible. …
Tim Bray, director of web technologies at Sun Microsystems, put it simply on his Twitter feed (twitter.com/timbray): "Prediction: some pretty severe breakage in the technology industry," he suggested, adding: "Suppose nobody wants to do capital investment but you still gotta get work done. I'm thinking cloud cloud cloud cloud cloud." The advantage of cloud computing such as Amazon's S3 being that it is pay-by-use, rather than capital-intensive. [Emphasis added]
This is the first time I’ve encountered a newspaper journalist quoting a Twitter feed.
Other Voices, Other Rooms
Allen Williamson, blog: Amazon's EC2 now with Windows questions licensing issues.
Bob Warfield, SmoothSpan blog: Another Big Step for Amazon: Windows
Jeremy Kirk, InfoWorld: Ballmer: Microsoft will soon release ‘Windows Cloud’ OS
Stacy Higgenbotham, GigaOm: Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud Gets Windows
Nicholas Carr, RoughType: Here comes the “Windows Cloud”
OakLeaf Systems hits Techmeme 10/1/2008 2:55 PM EDT:
but Google’s new blog memetracker, which allegedly competes with Techmeme, found only 16 posts as of 10/2/2008 about the topic and this wasn’t one of them. (The number of posts varied from 14 to 17.) What’s really strange is no entry for Werner Vogels’ Expanding the Cloud: Microsoft Windows Server on Amazon EC2 post of 9/30/2008 or Jeff Barr’s Coming Soon: Amazon EC2 With Windows Amazon Web Services blog post of 10/1/2008. Looks like a fail to me.
Thanks to Mary Jo Foley for the heads-up in her Amazon launches pre-emptive strike against Microsoft’s planned cloud platform post of 10/1/2008. (Google’s blogtracker missed this post, too.)
Note: This post has been updated several times since its origination at 8:30 AM PDT on 10/1/2008.