Amazon adds Windows, SQL Server to cloud computing service

Amazon's EC2 cloud-computing service has emerged from beta and is now generally available with two additions: beta-level support for Windows and SQL Server

Amazon Thursday announced that after two years in beta mode, its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) cloud computing service is now generally available. At the same time, the company said the hosted service is adding beta-level support for Microsoft Windows and SQL Server.

The beta-level support for Microsoft Windows on EC2 is in the form of 32 and 64-bit AMI (Amazon Machine Images) starting at $0.125 per hour. Microsoft SQL Server is also available in 64-bit form.

[ Find out how Amazon's EC2 cloud computing service played a critical role for one startup, and learn more about cloud computing in InfoWorld's special report. ]

"We are looking forward to seeing how our customers will put Windows to work," Amazon said in a blog post. "We expect to see ASP.Net sites, media transcoding, high performance computing and more. A number of developers who will deploy hybrid web sites using a mix of Linux and Windows servers. This really underscores the open and flexible nature of EC2."

The company Thursday also added a new EC2 Service Level Agreement that guarantees that each region of the service will be available at least 99.95 percent of the time, The SLA notes that a region is considered unavailable if more than one of its availability zones does not have external connectivity.

In addition, Amazon updated the ElasticFox Firefox extension for EC2, adding direct access to Elastic Block Storage and

Elastic IP addresses from the main tab, one-click AMI bundling on Windows, better key and security group management, and the ability to directly launch remote desktop sessions.

The online retailer also disclosed plans to add a Web services management console, load balancing, automatic scaling and cloud monitoring services to the EC2 service over the next year.

The management console will let users simplify the process of configuring and operating applications in the Amazon cloud, Amazon said. Users can get a global picture of their cloud computing environment by using a point-and-click Web interface.

The automatic scaling will allow users to grow and shrink their usage of EC2 capacity on demand based on application requirements, Amazon said.

The cloud monitoring feature will provide users with real-time, multidimensional monitoring of host resources across multiple EC2 instances, allowing them to aggregate operational metrics across instances and availability zones

"It is important to note that load balancing, automatic scaling, and cloud monitoring will each be true web services, with complete APIs for provisioning, control, and status checking," Amazon noted. "We'll be working with a number of management tool vendors and developers to make sure that their products will support these new services on a timely basis."

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This story, "Amazon adds Windows, SQL Server to cloud computing service" was originally published by Computerworld.