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Amazon Adds Windows To Its Cloud Computing

The Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, or EC2, is now ready to run Windows and the Microsoft SQL Server database. Both Windows and SQL Server operation will be in beta mode, according to Jeff Barr, senior Web services evangelist.
The Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, or EC2, is now ready to run Windows and the Microsoft SQL Server database. Both Windows and SQL Server operation will be in beta mode, according to Jeff Barr, senior Web services evangelist.Barr described the Windows upgrade today while participating in a Web broadcast on "A Five Step Framework For Achieving The Strategic Value Of Cloud Computing." Frank Gillett of Forrester Research and Billy Marshall, CEO of rPath, also talked about initiating cloud computing during the broadcast.

Up until now, computing in the Amazon cloud had been focused on Linux servers and applications running under Linux, OpenSolaris, or other versions of Unix. The Oracle database and open source MySQL have been the databases previously supported in EC2.

The addition of Windows means that Amazon cloud services can be tapped from Windows servers as readily as Linux, OpenSolaris, or the other Unix servers. Amazon has established a C# library that wraps the APIs for EC2 services. Windows virtual servers can be linked to other cloud resources, such as the Elastic Blocks Store for storage, or Elastic IPs, Internet addresses that can be mapped to any instance of an Elastic Cloud account. Users may also adopt a Firefox browser plug-in, Elasticfox Firefox, and manage their Windows virtual servers from the browser window.

More than 400,000 developers have registered to use Amazon's Web Services, and Barr said many of them would look forward to working on Windows servers in EC2. The version of Windows supported is Windows Server 2003, not 2008 at this point.

"Many people have been thinking of the cloud as something that still over the next hill, it's not here yet. It is here. It's very real and people are solving real business problems with it," he said during the Web broadcast.

Applications are loaded into the EC2 in Amazon Machine Images, or as virtual files formatted to Amazon's specifications. They run in the cloud under Amazon's version of the open source Xen hypervisor.

Both Amazon and its partner rPath provide tools for converting an existing application into an Amazon Machine Image. During the Web broadcast, rPath CEO Marshall said 40% of the applications sent to run in Amazon's cloud are being packaged by rPath in AMI format.