Amazon Now Offering Virtual Instances of Windows Server 2012 R2

Amazon is now offering access to Windows Server 2012 R2 virtual machines as part of its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings.

The new machine images are available today from Amazon EC2 services in 19 languages, according to Amazon's announcement. Previously, Amazon just offered access to virtual machines running Windows Server 2008 R2 and earlier Windows versions, along with Linux servers.

Amazon has included a "server core" version of its Windows Server 2012 R2 images among its offerings. The server core instance provides for a lower maintenance, reduced-footprint installation of Microsoft's server. In addition, Amazon Virtual Private Cloud service users can use EC2's "enhanced networking" capability with certain instances of the Windows Server 2012 R2 images, including the R3 (memory intensive), C3 (compute optimized) and I2 (high storage) EC2 instances. Amazon claims that its enhanced networking technology enables "higher I/O performance and lower CPU utilization" than traditional Windows Server instances.

Amazon provides a VM Import/Export tool that will let organizations import an existing Windows Server 2012 R2 instance into the Amazon EC2 service. However, that imported instance must use a license provided by Amazon. An organization importing into Amazon's cloud still retains the rights to use Windows Server 2012 R2 on its premises, but it just cannot transfer an existing premises-based Windows Server 2012 R2 license to Amazon's cloud.

On top of the new Windows Server 2012 R2 image, Amazon is offering access to SQL Server 2014 Standard, Web and Express edition images on its EC2 service. Those images are available today in English, Brazilian Portuguese and Japanese languages.

Amazon also offers its own brand of PowerShell tools for virtual machine management, which are called "AWS Tools for Windows PowerShell." The tools have been updated for the new Windows Server 2012 R2 instance.

Amazon EC2 pricing is listed at this page. Additional services include Microsoft Active Directory Domain Services for less than $3 per hour and Remote Desktop Gateway for less than $2 per hour.

While Amazon's pricing is fairly complex, a free tier is available for either a one-year period of time or until application use exceeds the free tier's monthly restrictions. Those organizations exceeding the monthly restrictions pay the standard "pay as you go" service rates.

Microsoft, of course, offers its own Windows Server 2012 R2 virtual machine access via the Microsoft Azure service. Amazon has long been the early leader in providing IaaS offerings to organizations. However, according to Gartner, Microsoft has now become a close IaaS competitor.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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