Amazon EC2 Now Offers Windows Server 2008 – Finally!

I opened my email this morning and much to my pleasure I found this announcement from Amazon:

Amazon EC2 Now Offers Windows Server 2008
Starting today, Amazon EC2 now offers Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and Microsoft SQL Server® Standard 2008 instances in all Amazon EC2 Regions. This new announcement extends Amazon EC2’s existing Microsoft-based offerings that include Windows Server 2003 and SQL Server 2005 instances. Like all services offered by AWS, Amazon EC2 running Windows Server or SQL Server offers a low-cost, pay-as-you-go model with no long-term commitments and no minimum fees. Please visit the Amazon EC2 service page for more information on using Amazon EC2 running Windows

It’s about time!

Of course, I had to give it a try.  I accessed my account with Elasticfox and browsed through the images, but didn’t immediately find a Windows 2008 image, so I headed over to RightScale, found what I was looking for and immediately launched an instance.  I launched it through RightScale (which I do sometimes anyway) because I was in a hurry to get to a meeting and didn’t see the AMI ID.  So I started it and headed to my meeting while it spun up.

Now that I know the AMI (ami-5a07e533) I can launch instances in the future from the command line using Amazon’s command line tools:

ec2-run-instances ami-5a07e533 -n 1 -g <group1> -g <group2> -g <group3> -k <My AWS Key> -t m1.small -z us-east-1a

Once it was up and running I got the administrator password in ElasticFox, launched RD & went to work checking it out and setting it up to suit my needs.

Here are some of the things I noticed:

  • I knew the 10GB “C” drive partition Windows 2003 instances have wouldn’t be big enough for Windows 2008 so I started there.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a 30GB partition, however that’s it.  No “D” drive like with other instances (both Linux and Windows 2003 have a 340GB partition, at least on m1.small instances, larger instances have larger data drives.)  Needless to say I was a little disappointed the 2008 instance didn’t have an additional drive for data.  Guess I’ll just have to use EBS (Elastic Block Storage).
  • Looks like the Windows 2008 instances are priced the same as the Windows 2003 instances, albeit a with a little disk space – probably have to squeeze a little more $$$ out of us to pay the mighty Microsoft.  When you break it down it could cost you quite a bit more for Windows 2008 than 2003.
    • Windows 2003 small instance: 720 hour/mo. * $.12 = $86.40 per month.
    • Windows 2008 small instance: 720 hour/mo. * $.12 = $86.40 per month + $36 (to make up for the lost disk space) = $122.40 per month, or 30% more.

Of course I had to check the Windows Update status & found it needed 14 “recommended” or critical updates, which I promptly installed.  Probably 1/2 of these were release two days ago by Microsoft on Patch Tuesday.  But even still I hoped the image would have been a little more up-to-date.

While the updates were downloading and installing I tweaked my desktop a little so it would be setup the way I like.

Next I bundled the instance and shut it down.  I used RightScale for the bundling because their interface is easy to use and does it all in one step.  Now I have my own “customized” image to start from when I’m ready to work with Windows 2008 on Amazon EC2 in the future.

All in all I’m glad Amazon finally supports Windows 2008 & it seems to function just fine.  My existing tools, from ElasticFox, to RightScale, to Amazon Command Line Tools, all work with Windows 2008 without any upgrade or modification, which is a definite plus.  I was a little disappointed my small instance has 320GB less storage than a small Linux or Windows 2003 instance, which means I’ll have to pay $32/mo. more to get that back – the more I think about it I’m a lot disappointed about the hidden price increase.

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