Amazon offers hosted Windows and SQL Server instances

Amazon.com's cloud-computing service now is offering hosted instances of Microsoft Windows Server and SQL Server, and a service-level agreement guaranteeing 99.95% uptime.

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Amazon.com's cloud-computing service now is offering hosted instances of Microsoft Windows Server and SQL Server, and a service-level agreement guaranteeing 99.95% uptime.

The upgrades to Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) were announced on Thursday as the online service exited beta mode, two years after the service was launched.

EC2 offers access to virtual-server capacity on a pay-as-you-go basis, letting customers scale capacity up or down at any time. Now EC2 is letting customers use Windows Server and SQL Server on EC2 at prices beginning at 12.5 cents per compute hour. Operating systems already available on EC2 include various Linux distributions and OpenSolaris, while databases include Oracle 11g and MySQL.

"Windows with Amazon EC2 has been a common request of customers since the service launched," Amazon said. "Amazon EC2 now provides an ideal environment for deploying ASP.NET Web sites, high-performance computing clusters, media-transcoding solutions and many other Windows-based applications."

Amazon also announced a service-level agreement that gives service credits back to customers if availability falls below 99.95% over a 365-day period. By comparison, Nirvanix's cloud storage service gives credits if availability falls below 99.9%, but Nirvanix calculates availability on a monthly, not yearly, basis.
Customers of Amazon's S3 (Simple Storage Service) offering, another piece of Amazon Web Services, have suffered through outages at least twice this year.

Amazon said it will bolster EC2 with several new features in 2009. These features are load balancing, letting customers distribute traffic across multiple virtual servers; automated adjustments of compute capacity based on application requirements; better monitoring; and a point-and-click Web interface that will make it easier to manage and access Internet-based computing resources.

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