Blog Post

Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud Gets Windows

All you Microsoft-lovin’ techies out there, rejoice! Amazon (s AMZN) said today it is now using Microsoft’s (s MSFT) Windows Server in its Elastic Compute Cloud. That broadens the number of applications that can run on the service and the potential customer base. It also means that when the service is out of beta some time later this year, GoGrid and FlexiScale, which also provide a Windows computing platform, will have lost a competitive edge against Amazon Web Services.

For those who want to know more, Werner Vogels, Amazon’s CTO, lays out why people wanted Windows, and what customers can do with Windows Server in his blog:

There are many different reasons why customers have requested Windows Server; for example many customers want to run ASP.NET websites using Internet Information Server and use Microsoft SQL Server as their database. Amazon EC2 running Windows Server enables this scenario for building scalable websites. In addition, several customers would like to maintain a global single Windows-based desktop environment using Microsoft Remote Desktop, and Amazon EC2 is a scalable and dependable platform on which to do so.

I wonder how the pricing model for using the Windows EC2 will look. Amazon has to license the software from Microsoft, so pricing may be higher. It’s also possible that Amazon could eat the cost, or that it worked out a favorable licensing deal. Since Amazon declined to talk about pricing yet, we’ll just have to wait and see.

18 Responses to “Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud Gets Windows”

  1. Stacey Higginbotham

    Damon, Vogels says in his blog that EC2 is running windows, but since it’s in beta, not everyone has access to it. So I suppose EC2 has Windows now, and customers WILL get it later :)

  2. Micheal,

    Thank you for your responses:
    a) We currently use a fully managed hosting provider (direct competitor to ServePath)
    b) We have a hardware based firewall (CISCO)
    c) This also serves as our VPN

    The native Windows firewall is a bit mickey-mouse as compared to Cisco. This also helps us with regards to keeping some of of larger customers happy. Simply knowing there is a hardware based FW in place is helpful.

    With regards to the DHCP IP issue. In the trial run, we added a few servers and they did not come online (we could not connect to them). The customer service dept could not figure out why the devices were not able to get an IP address.

    We are also not sure about how managed back-up works. Access to the back-up is another concern.
    In order for us to trust the cloud (not just gogrid) but all providers.

    1) real-time support (like a fully managed hosting provider) is needed
    2) The people on the phone talking to us must know how to deal with every item related to the server and infrastructure
    3) Hardware based FW must be in place
    4) Ability to have physical access to the servers/devices (not sure how this will work OR if it is even possible)

    Note: if we have a problem with our servers today, we simply call our provider and they can have someone physically looking at our machine within minutes.

    I understand these are items you may be working on BUT it would be helpful to us.

    Our hosting bill is $20k + per month. We would love to move to the cloud as our costs would go down and we can add servers within minutes. This is the future but is it ready? is it the real deal?

    With regards to RAM/processor: it would be great if we could get

    i) 8 GB RAM + Dual Core
    ii) 8 GB RAM + 2 Dual Core Processors
    iii) 16 GB RAM + 2 Dual Core Processors

    Sorry for the long post

  3. jonahstein

    @ Michael Sheehan

    You are correct in that AppLogic 2.45 is in beta. (my bad) What I was trying to say is that unlike EC2, which is in limited release until the end of the year, 3tera’s windows solution is available to everyone now.

  4. @Jonahstein,

    Just a quick FYI about the 3tera announcement, according to their press release, their offering is a beta as well (“announces beta availability of AppLogicâ„¢ 2.4”). Whether it’s a beta or not shouldn’t matter (Gmail is a beta as well, right?)


    To quickly address your points:
    1) Software firewalls (linux/windows) was what GoGrid launched with. Additional hardware components are in the works
    2) Not sure I understand this point
    3) Support is free to GoGrid users and with various tiers available depending on the issue. Depending on the nature of the issue, different support personnel have different layers of support access to GoGrid.

    What RAM sizes are you looking for?


  5. jonahstein

    It is amazing to watch not one but TWO companies beating Microsoft to the punch in the same day by delivery Cloud Computing for Windows Server. Amazon’s cloud announcement stole the thunder, but Information Week reported earlier today that a little know start up, 3tera,, is the first cloud solution vendor to offer a production version Windows Server as a cloud solution, while EC2 is still in beta.

    Microsoft certainly isn’t going to fold in this game, but I wonder if they are holding a winning hand or just bluffing the way they have been against Google.

  6. We are currently using GoGrid and there are still some problems that they need to work out:
    a) The firewall in place is the native firewall within Windows
    b) When provisioning a new server, the DHCP server sometimes does not release an IP to the device
    c) The customer support is done out of India (which is fine) but they do not have actual access to the hardware (in case it is needed)

    Understanding that the cloud works differently, this is not ready for primetime.

    Limitations to the amount of RAM installed on each device is something that is hindering us from moving all our devices to GoGrid

  7. The pricing of this offering will be very interesting indeed. One of Amazon’s key principles is “pay as you go” or usage based charges. We are now talking about the Windows OS as a service.

    Pure play hosting companies probably have had to deal with a similar problem while using Windows OS VMWare images.

    – Ranjit Nayak

  8. exciting news .

    Michale ,

    Its time to update that comparison chart on your website .

    I seriously hope that you & Flexiscale guys comeup with a good product and support to migrate data to and from EC2 so that i have comfort of option when i move my Business Process into the cloud . Lack of option is one major reason why a lot of people are restraining from moving to EC2 /S3 type of services .

    I see a BIG Ticket acquisition in this space in next two years . Most Probably by MSFT ,IBM or CISCO .
    Good Luck .

  9. I’m not sure that GoGrid nor Flexiscale will be losing any type of competitive edge with this announcement. Cloud Computing users will have a choice and will obviously choose the Cloud Infrastructure that they are most comfortable with. Most Windows users are GUI users, as compared to Linux users who are more comfortable with command-line interfaces.

    GoGrid launched with a public beta at the beginning of this year after 3 years of development. One of the most important features of GoGrid was to develop a GUI that was user-friendly, something that Window’s users can definitely appreciate and understand. It makes the usability of the product much higher. However, we also launched an API to provide the programmatic flexibility to control the GoGrid Cloud Infrastructure. Basically, the best of both worlds (GUI and Command-line through the API).

    While there are choices now, users will naturally gravitate towards an environment which they are the most comfortable.

    This sector will only become even more exciting in the future!

    Technology Evangelist for GoGrid