All posts by Sandy Carter

Running the most reliable choice for Windows workloads: Windows on AWS

Post Syndicated from Sandy Carter original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/compute/running-the-most-reliable-choice-for-windows-workloads-windows-on-aws/

Some of you may not know, but AWS began supporting Microsoft Windows workloads on AWS in 2008—over 11 years ago. Year over year, we have released exciting new services and enhancements based on feedback from customers like you. AWS License Manager and Amazon CloudWatch Application Insights for .NET and SQL Server are just some of the recent examples. The rate and pace of innovation is eye-popping.

In addition to innovation, one of the key areas that companies value is the reliability of the cloud platform. I recently chatted with David Sheehan, DevOps engineer at eMarketer. He told me, “Our move from Azure to AWS improved the performance and reliability of our microservices in addition to significant cost savings.” If a healthcare clinic can’t connect to the internet, then it’s possible that they can’t deliver care to their patients. If a bank can’t process transactions because of an outage, they could lose business.

In 2018, the next-largest cloud provider had almost 7x more downtime hours than AWS per data pulled directly from the public service health dashboards of the major cloud providers. It is the reason companies like Edwards Lifesciences chose AWS. They are a global leader in patient-focused medical innovations for structural heart disease, as well as critical care and surgical monitoring. Rajeev Bhardwaj, the senior director for Enterprise Technology, recently told me, “We chose AWS for our data center workloads, including Windows, based on our assessment of the security, reliability, and performance of the platform.”

There are several reasons as to why AWS delivers a more reliable platform for Microsoft workloads but I would like to focus on two here: designing for reliability and scaling within a Region.

Reason #1—It’s designed for reliability

AWS has significantly better reliability than the next largest cloud provider, due to our fundamentally better global infrastructure design based on Regions and Availability Zones. The AWS Cloud spans 64 zones within 21 geographic Regions around the world. We’ve announced plans for 12 more zones and four more Regions in Bahrain, Cape Town, Jakarta, and Milan.

Look at networking capabilities across five key areas: security, global coverage, performance, manageability, and availability. AWS has made deep investments in each of these areas over the past 12 years. We want to ensure that AWS has the networking capabilities required to run the world’s most demanding workloads.

There is no compression algorithm for experience. From running the most extensive, reliable, and secure global cloud infrastructure technology platform, we’ve learned that you care about the availability and performance of your applications. You want to deploy applications across multiple zones in the same Region for fault tolerance and latency.

I want to take a moment to emphasize that our approach to building our network is fundamentally different from our competitors, and that difference matters. Each of our Regions is fully isolated from all other Regions. Unlike virtually every other cloud provider, each AWS Region has multiple zones and data centers. These zones are a fully isolated partition of our infrastructure that contains up to eight separate data centers.

The zones are connected to each other with fast, private fiber-optic networking, enabling you to easily architect applications that automatically fail over between zones without interruption. With their own power infrastructure, the zones are physically separated by a meaningful distance, many kilometers, from any other zone. You can partition applications across multiple zones in the same Region to better isolate any issues and achieve high availability.

The AWS control plane (including APIs) and AWS Management Console are distributed across AWS Regions. They use a Multi-AZ architecture within each Region to deliver resilience and ensure continuous availability. This ensures that you avoid having a critical service dependency on a single data center.

While other cloud vendors claim to have Availability Zones, they do not have the same stringent requirements for isolation between zones, leading to impact across multiple zones. Furthermore, AWS has more zones and more Regions with support for multiple zones than any other cloud provider. This design is why the next largest cloud provider had almost 7x more downtime hours in 2018 than AWS.

Reason #2—Scale within a Region

We also designed our services into smaller cells that scale out within a Region, as opposed to a single-Region instance that scales up. This approach reduces the blast radius when there is a cell-level failure. It is why AWS—unlike other providers—has never experienced a network event spanning multiple Regions.

AWS also provides the most detailed information on service availability via the Service Health Dashboard, including Regions affected, services impacted, and downtime duration. AWS keeps a running log of all service interruptions for the past year. Finally, you can subscribe to an RSS feed to be notified of interruptions to each individual service.

Reliability matters

Running Windows workloads on AWS means that you not only get the most innovative cloud, but you also have the most reliable cloud as well.

For example, Mary Kay is one of the world’s leading direct sellers of skin care products and cosmetics. They have tens of thousands of employees and beauty consultants working outside the office, so the IT system is fundamental for the success of their company.

Mary Kay used Availability Zones and Microsoft Active Directory to architect their applications on AWS. AWS Microsoft Managed AD provides Mary Kay the features that enabled them to deploy SQL Server Always On availability groups on Amazon EC2 Windows. This configuration gave Mary Kay the control to scale their deployment out to meet their performance requirements. They were able to deploy the service in multiple Regions to support users worldwide. Their on-premises users get the same experience when using Active Directory–aware services, either on-premises or in the AWS Cloud.

Now, with our cross-account and cross-VPC support, Mary Kay is looking at reducing their managed Active Directory infrastructure footprint, saving money and reducing complexity. But this identity management system must be reliable and scalable as well as innovative.

Fugro is a Dutch multinational public company headquartered in the Netherlands. They provide geotechnical, survey, subsea, and geoscience services for clients, typically oil and gas, telecommunications cable, and infrastructure companies. Fugro leverages the cloud to support the delivery of geo-intelligence and asset management services for clients globally in industries including onshore and offshore energy, renewables, power, and construction.

As I was chatting with Scott Carpenter, the global cloud architect for Fugro, he said, “Fugro is also now in the process of migrating a complex ESRI ArcGIS environment from an existing cloud provider to AWS. It is going to centralize and accelerate access from existing AWS hosted datasets, while still providing flexibility and interoperability to external and third-party data sources. The ArcGIS migration is driven by a focus on providing the highest level of operational excellence.”

With AWS, you don’t have to be concerned about reliability. AWS has the reliability and scale that drives innovation for Windows applications running in the cloud. And the same reliability that makes it best for your Windows applications is the same reliability that makes AWS the best cloud for all your applications.

Let AWS help you assess how your company can get the most out of cloud. Join all the AWS customers that trust us to run their most important applications in the best cloud. To have us create an assessment for your Windows applications or all your applications, email us at [email protected].

Fact-checking the truth on TCO for running Windows workloads in the cloud

Post Syndicated from Sandy Carter original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/compute/fact-checking-the-truth-on-tco-for-running-windows-workloads-in-the-cloud/

We’ve been talking to many customers over the last 3–4 months who are concerned about the total cost of ownership (TCO) for running Microsoft Windows workloads in the cloud.

For example, Infor is a global leader in enterprise resource planning (ERP) for manufacturing, healthcare, and retail. They’ve moved thousands of their existing Microsoft SQL Server workloads to Amazon EC2 instances. As a result, they are saving 75% on monthly backup costs. With these tremendous cost savings, Infor can now focus their resources on exponential business growth, with initiatives around AI and optimization.

We also love the story of Just Eat, a UK-based company that has migrated their SQL Server workloads to AWS. They’re now focused on using that data to train Alexa skills for ordering take out!

Here are three fact checks that you should review to ensure that you are getting the best TCO!

Fact check #1: Microsoft’s cost comparisons are misleading for running Windows workloads in the cloud

Customers have shared with us over and over why they continue to trust AWS to run their most important Windows workloads. Still, some of those customers tell us that Microsoft claims Azure is cheaper for running Windows workloads. But can this really be true?

When looking at Microsoft’s cost comparisons, we can see that their analysis is misleading because of some false assumptions. For example, Microsoft only compares the costs of the compute service and licenses. But every workload needs storage and networking! By leaving out these necessary services, Microsoft is not comparing real-world workloads.

The comparison also assumes that the AWS and Azure offerings are at a performance parity, which isn’t true. While the comparison uses equivalent virtual instance configuration, Microsoft ignores the significantly higher performance of AWS compute. We hear that customers must run between two to three times as many Azure instances to get the same performance as they do on AWS (see Fact check #2).

And the list goes on. Microsoft’s analysis only looks at 2008 versions of Windows Server or SQL Server. Then, it adds in the cost for expensive Extended Support to the AWS calculation (extended support costs 75% of the current license cost per year). This addition makes up more than half of the claimed cost difference.

Microsoft assumes that in the next three years, customers won’t move off software that’s more than 10 years old. What we hear from customers is that they plan to use their upgrade rights from Software Assurance (SA) to move to newer versions, such as SQL Server 2016. They’ll use our new automated upgrade tool to eliminate the need for these expensive fees.

Finally, the comparison assumes the use of Azure Hybrid Benefit to reduce the cost of the Azure virtual instance. It does not factor in the cost of the required Microsoft SA on each license. The required SA adds significant cost to the Microsoft side of the example and further demonstrates that their example was misleading.

These assumptions result in a comparison that does not factor in all the costs needed to run SQL Server in Azure. Nor does it account for the performance gains that you get from running on AWS.

At AWS, we are committed to helping you make the most efficient use of cloud resources and lower your Microsoft bill. It appears that Microsoft is focused on keeping those line items flat or growing them over time by adding more and more licensing complexity.

Fact check #2: Price-performance matters to your business for running SQL Server in the cloud

When deciding what cloud is best for your Windows workloads, you should consider both price and performance to find the right operational combination to maximize value for your business. It is also important to think about the future and not make important platform decisions based on technology that was designed before the rise of the cloud.

We know that getting better application performance for your apps is critical to your customers’ satisfaction. In fact, excellent application performance leads to 39% higher customer satisfaction. For more information, see the Netmagic Solutions whitepaper, Application Performance Management: How End-User Experience Affects Your Bottom Line. Poor performance may lead to damaged reputations or even worse, customer attrition.

To make sure that you have the best possible experience for your customers, we focused on pushing the boundaries around performance.

With that in mind, here are some comparisons done between Azure and AWS:

  • DB Best, an enterprise database consulting company, wrote two blog posts—one each for Azure and AWS. They showed how to get the best price-performance ratio for running current versions of SQL Server in the cloud.
  • ZK Research took these posts and compared the results from DB Best to show an apples-to-apples comparison. The testing from DB Best found that SQL Server on AWS consistently shows a 2–3x better performance compared to Azure, using a TPC-C-like benchmark tool called HammerDB.
  • ZK Research then used the DB Best data to calculate the comparison cost for running 1 billion transactions per month. ZK Research found that SQL Server running on Azure would have twice the cost than when running on AWS, when comparing price-performance, including storage, compute, and networking.

As you can see from this data, running on AWS gives you the best price-performance ratio for Windows workloads.

Fact check #3: What does an optimized TCO for Windows workloads in the cloud look like?

When assessing which cloud to run your Windows workloads, your comparison must go well beyond just the compute and support costs. Look at the TCO of your workloads and include everything necessary to run and support these workloads, like storage, networking, and the cost benefits of better reliability. Then, see how you can use the cloud to lower your overall TCO.

So how do you lower your costs to run Windows workloads like Windows Server and SQL Server in the cloud? Optimize those workloads for the scalability and flexibility of cloud. When companies plan cloud migrations on their own, they often use a spreadsheet inventory of their on-premises servers and try to map them, one-to-one, to new cloud-based servers. But these inventories don’t account for the capabilities of cloud-based systems.

On-premises servers are not optimized, with 84% of workloads currently over-provisioned. Many Windows and SQL Server 2008 workloads are running on older, slower server hardware. By sizing your workloads for performance and capability, not by physical servers, you can optimize your cloud migration.

Reducing the number of licenses that you use, both by server and core counts, can also drive significant cost savings. See which on-premises workloads are fault-tolerant, and then use Amazon EC2 Spot Instances to save up to 90% on your compute costs vs. On-Demand pricing.

To get the most out of moving your Windows workloads into the cloud, review and optimize each workload to take best advantage of cloud scalability and flexibility. Our customers have made the most efficient use of cloud resources by working with assessment partners like Movere or TSO Logic, which is now part of AWS.

By running detailed assessments of their environments before migration, customers can yield up to 36% savings using AWS over three years. Customer with optimized environments often find that their AWS solutions are price-competitive with Microsoft even before taking in account the AWS price-performance advantage.

In addition, you can optimize utilization with AWS Trusted Advisor. In fact, over the last couple years, we’ve used AWS Trusted Advisor to tell customers how to spend less money with us, leading to hundreds of millions of dollars in savings for our customers every year.

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

For the past 10 years, many companies, such as Adobe and Salesforce, have trusted AWS to run Windows-based workloads such as Windows Server and SQL Server. Many customers tell us the reasons they choose AWS is due to TCO and reliability. Customers have been able to run their Windows workloads with lower costs and higher performance than on any other cloud. To learn more about our story and why customers trust AWS for their Windows workloads, check out Windows on AWS.

After the workloads are optimized for cloud, you can save even more money by efficiently managing your Window Server and SQL Server licenses with AWS License Manager. By the way, License Manager lets you manage on-premises and in the cloud, as well as other software like SAP, Oracle, and IBM.

Dedicated hosts allow customers to bring Windows Server and SQL Server licenses with or without Software Assurance. Licenses without Software Assurance cannot be taken to Azure. Furthermore, Dedicated Hosts allow customers to license Windows Server at the physical level and achieve a greater number of instances at a lower price than they would get through Azure Hybrid Use Benefits.

Summary

The answer is clear: AWS is the best cloud to run your Windows workloads. AWS offers the best experience for Windows workloads in the cloud, which is why we run almost 2x the number of Windows workloads compared to the next largest cloud.

Our customers have found that migrating their Windows workloads to AWS can yield significant savings and better performance. Customers like Sysco, Hess, Sony DADC New Media Solutions, Ancestry, and Expedia have chosen AWS to upgrade, migrate, and modernize their Windows workloads in the cloud.

Don’t let misleading cost comparisons prevent you from getting the most out of cloud. Let AWS help you assess how you can get the most out of cloud. Join all the AWS customers that trust us to run their most important applications in the best cloud for Windows workloads. If you want us to do an assessment for you, email us at [email protected].