SQL Server in Amazon Web Services

Running a Free SQL Server Database in the Cloud

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SQL Server Configuration Manager.

Looking for a free or very low-cost way to host your SQL Server databases in the cloud? If Microsoft's SQL Azure service is too expensive for your needs, you may wish to consider hosting your database in Amazon Web Services. This platform leverages the massive technology infrastructure of Amazon.com to provide you with an extremely low-cost, resilient and scalable way to host your databases in the cloud.

 

Getting Started with Amazon Web Services

You can be up and running with AWS in a matter of minutes. Simply log on to Amazon Web Services using your Amazon.com account and choose the services you would like to use. Amazon provides new users with one year of limited free service under the AWS Free Tier. You'll need to provide a credit card number to cover any services you use that fall outside the free tier limits.

What's Free?

The Free Tier of Amazon Web Services provides you with two ways to run a SQL Server database within AWS for one year at no cost. The first option, Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), allows you to provision your own server that you manage and maintain. Here's what you get for free in EC2:

  • 750 hours of running an Amazon EC2 Windows micro instance with SQL Server Express and IIS
  • 30GB of Amazon Elastic Block Storage
  • 15GB of data transfer

Alternatively, you may also choose to run your database in Amazon's Relational Database Service (RDS).

Under this model, you only manage the database and Amazon takes care of server management tasks. Here's what the free tier of RDS provides:

  • 750 hours of an Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) Single-AZ Micro DB instance running SQL Server
  • 20GB of database storage
  • 10 million database I/O operations
  • 20 GB of backup storage
  • 15 GB of data transfer

This is just a summary of the full Amazon Free Tier details. Be sure to read the Free Tier description for more details before creating an account.

Creating a SQL Server EC2 Instance in AWS

Once you've created your AWS account, it's very simple to get a SQL Server instance up and running in EC2. Here's how you can get started quickly:

  1. Log on to the AWS Management Console.
  2. Select the EC2 option
  3. Click the Launch Instance button
  4. Choose the Quick Launch wizard and provide an instance name and keypair
  5. Select the launch configuration Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 with SQL Server Express and IIS
  6. Verify that the option you selected has a star icon marked "Free Tier Eligible" and press the Continue button
  7. Click Launch to launch the instance

You will then be able to see the instance and initiate a Remote Desktop connection to it using the AWS Management Console. Simply return to the console's Instances view and locate the name of your SQL Server AWS instance. Assuming the instance is already started, right click on the instance and choose Connect from the pop-up menu. AWS will then provide instructions on directly connecting to your server instance. The system also provides an RDS shortcut file that you can use to easily connect to your server.



If you want your server up and running 24x7, simply leave it running. If you don't need your server on a continuous basis, you may also use the AWS console to start and stop the instance on an as-needed basis.

If you're looking for an even less expensive option, try running MySQL on AWS. Using this less resource-intensive database platform often allows you to run larger databases on the free platform.