Hosting Windows workloads on Amazon Web Services

Windows workloads lie at the core of business IT

Any Enterprise is likely to deploy a sprawl of applications, databases, and services that can be difficult to manage and even track. Controlling the sprawl is one of the main reasons businesses look to embrace cloud computing. Shifting existing Windows workloads to the cloud can make a huge difference. Migration can save costs by moving away from the traditional application-hosting model, and achieve greater agility through instantly spinning up new servers or services on demand without outsourcing or complex IT processes.
Since the vast majority of enterprises run their key business-critical workloads on the Microsoft platform, these are ideal candidates for moving to a cloud platform such as Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS fully supports hosting Microsoft Windows applications such as custom web applications hosted on Internet Information Services (IIS), or SQL Server database systems, for example.
Given the cost effective strategies available for deploying those Windows workloads to AWS, businesses can realize all the efficiencies that a relatively easy transition to a cloud hosting model can provide, while eliminating the need to unnecessarily spend valuable time and resources. Now companies are free to focus more closely on their core business activities.

Microsoft on AWS

AWS is one of the biggest users and licensees of Microsoft software. SQL server and Windows server, in particular, are fully supported on the AWS platform. With support for Cloud Formation, Elastic Beanstalk, and AWS Directory via domain-joined EC2 instances, running Microsoft applications is very much front and centre on the AWS deployment roadmap, and not just Linux based applications.
By using tools like CloudFormation, PowerShell, and Elastic Beanstalk, Microsoft-based applications can be deployed with relative ease. You can leverage the skill sets that your IT personnel already have, alongside a few specific AWS skills that can be learned pretty quickly. (In fact, Cloud Academy has just created a new hands-on lab guiding users through setting up and launching their first Windows Instance on EC2.)
In many cases, the ideal model for hosting Windows workloads is hybrid. By providing a secure connection between your on-premises Microsoft environment and the AWS cloud via a site-to-site VPN, the AWS cloud can be made to look just like any other part of your local data center. The fact that Active Directory connections are supported allows a seamless, single-sign-on experience for your users as well as transparent connectivity to any line of business applications that might need to remain on premises.
In future articles we will discuss how to get started with Microsoft Windows on AWS in greater detail.

Written by

Aaron is a Cloud Solution Architect Lead - Applications and Infrastructure at Microsoft who enjoys writing on cloud best practices.

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