Fred Wurden, General Manager, AWS Enterprise Engineering (Windows, VMware, RedHat, SAP, Benchmarking)

For companies that rely on Windows Server but find it daunting to move those workloads to the cloud, there is no easier way to run Windows in the cloud than AWS. Customers as diverse as Expedia, Pearson, Seven West Media, and RepricerExpress have chosen AWS over other cloud providers to unlock the Microsoft products they currently rely on, including Windows Server and SQL Server. The reasons are several: by embracing AWS, they’ve achieved cost savings through forthright pricing options and expanded breadth and depth of capabilities. In this blog, we break down these advantages to understand why AWS is the simplest, most popular and secure cloud to run your business-critical Windows Server and SQL Server workloads.

AWS lowers costs and increases choice with flexible pricing options

Customers expect accurate and transparent pricing so you can make the best decisions for your business. When assessing which cloud to run your Windows workloads, customers look at the total cost of ownership (TCO) of workloads.

Not only does AWS provide cost-effective ways to run Windows and SQL Server workloads, we also regularly lower prices to make it even more affordable. Since launching in 2006, AWS has reduced prices 85 times. In fact, we recently dropped pricing by an average of 25% for Amazon RDS for SQL Server Enterprise Edition database instances in the Multi-AZ configuration, for both On-Demand Instance and Reserved Instance types on the latest generation hardware.

The AWS pricing approach makes it simple to understand your costs, even as we actively help you pay AWS less now and in the future. For example, AWS Trusted Advisor provides real-time guidance to provision your resources more efficiently. This means that you spend less money with us. We do this because we know that if we aren’t creating more and more value for you each year, you’ll go elsewhere.

In addition, we have several other industry-leading initiatives to help lower customer costs, including AWS Compute Optimizer, Amazon CodeGuru, and AWS Windows Optimization and Licensing Assessments (AWS OLA). AWS Compute Optimizer recommends optimal AWS Compute resources for your workloads by using machine learning (ML) to analyze historical utilization metrics. Customers who use Compute Optimizer can save up to 25% on applications running on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). Machine learning also plays a key role in Amazon CodeGuru, which provides intelligent recommendations for improving code quality and identifying an application’s most expensive lines of code. Finally, AWS OLA helps customers to optimize licensing and infrastructure provisioning based on actual resource consumption (ARC) to offer cost-effective Windows deployment options.

Cloud pricing shouldn’t be complicated

Other cloud providers bury key pricing information when making comparisons to other vendors, thereby incorrectly touting pricing advantages. Often those online “pricing calculators” that purport to clarify pricing neglect to include hidden fees, complicating costs through licensing rules (e.g., you can run this workload “for free” if you pay us elsewhere for “Software Assurance”). At AWS, we believe such pricing and licensing tricks are contrary to the fundamental promise of transparent pricing for cloud computing.

By contrast, AWS makes it straightforward for you to run Windows Server applications where you want. With our End-of-Support Migration Program (EMP) for Windows Server, you can easily move your legacy Windows Server applications—without needing any code changes. The EMP technology decouples the applications from the underlying OS. This enables AWS Partners or AWS Professional Services to migrate critical applications from legacy Windows Server 2003, 2008, and 2008 R2 to newer, supported versions of Windows Server on AWS. This allows you to avoid extra charges for extended support that other cloud providers charge.

Other cloud providers also may limit your ability to Bring-Your-Own-License (BYOL) for SQL Server to your preferred cloud provider. Meanwhile, AWS improves the BYOL experience using EC2 Dedicated Hosts and AWS License Manager. With EC2 Dedicated Hosts, you can save costs by moving existing Windows Server and SQL Server licenses that do not have Software Assurance to AWS. AWS License Manager simplifies how you manage your software licenses from software vendors such as Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, and IBM across AWS and on-premises environments. We also work hard to help our customers spend less.

How AWS helps customers save money on Windows Server and SQL Server workloads

The first way AWS helps customers save money is by delivering the most reliable global cloud infrastructure for your Windows workloads. Any downtime costs customers in terms of lost revenue, diminished customer goodwill, and reduced employee productivity.

With respect to pricing, AWS offers multiple pricing options to help our customers save. First, we offer AWS Savings Plans that provide you with a flexible pricing model to save up to 72 percent on your AWS compute usage. You can sign up for Savings Plans for a 1- or 3-year term. Our Savings Plans help you easily manage your plans by taking advantage of recommendations, performance reporting and budget alerts in AWS Cost Explorer, which is a unique benefit only AWS provides. Not only that, but we also offer Amazon EC2 Spot Instances that help you save up to 90 percent on your compute costs vs. On-Demand Instance pricing.

Customers don’t need to walk this migration path alone. In fact, AWS customers often make the most efficient use of cloud resources by working with assessment partners like Cloudamize, CloudChomp, or Migration Evaluator (formerly TSO Logic), which is now part of AWS. By running detailed assessments of their environments with Migration Evaluator before migration, customers can achieve an average of 36 percent savings using AWS over three years. So how do you get from an on-premises Windows deployment to the cloud? AWS makes it simple.

AWS has support programs and tools to help you migrate to the cloud

Though AWS Migration Acceleration Program (MAP) for Windows is a great way to reduce the cost of migrating Windows Server and SQL Server workloads, MAP is more than a cost savings tool. As part of MAP, AWS offers a number of resources to support and sustain your migration efforts. This includes an experienced APN Partner ecosystem to execute migrations, our AWS Professional Services team to provide best practices and prescriptive advice, and a training program to help IT professionals understand and carry out migrations successfully. We help you figure out which workloads to move first, then leverage the combined experience of our Professional Services and partner teams to guide you through the process. For customers who want to save even more (up to 72% in some cases) we are the leaders in helping customers transform legacy systems to modernized managed services.

Again, we are always available to help guide you in your Windows journey to the cloud. We guide you through our technologies like AWS Launch Wizard, which provides a guided way of sizing, configuring, and deploying AWS resources for Microsoft applications like Microsoft SQL Server Always On, or through our comprehensive ecosystem of tens of thousands of partners and third-party solutions, including many with deep expertise with Windows technologies.

Why run Windows Server and SQL Server anywhere else but AWS?

Not only does AWS offer significantly more services than any other cloud, with over 48 services without comparable equivalents on other clouds, but AWS also provides better ways to use Microsoft products than any other cloud. This includes Active Directory as a managed service and FSx for Windows File Server, the only fully managed file storage service for Windows. If you’re interested in learning more about how AWS improves the Windows experience, please visit this article on our Modernizing with AWS blog.

Bring your Windows Server and SQL Server workloads to AWS for the most secure, reliable, and performant cloud, providing you with the depth and breadth of capabilities at the lowest cost. To learn more, visit Windows on AWS. Contact us today to learn more on how we can help you move your Windows to AWS or innovate on open source solutions.

About the Author
Fred Wurden is the GM of Enterprise Engineering (Windows, VMware, Red Hat, SAP, benchmarking) working to make AWS the most customer-centric cloud platform on Earth. Prior to AWS, Fred worked at Microsoft for 17 years and held positions, including: EU/DOJ engineering compliance for Windows and Azure, interoperability principles and partner engagements, and open source engineering. He lives with his wife and a few four-legged friends since his kids are all in college now.