AWS Public Sector Blog

The scoop on moving your Microsoft SQL Server to AWS

Microsoft SQL Server® is a relational database management system developed by Microsoft. AWS offers you the flexibility to run Microsoft SQL Server on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) or an Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS).

Using SQL Server on Amazon EC2 gives you complete control over every setting, just like when it’s installed on premises. And Amazon RDS is a fully managed service that takes care of all the maintenance, backups, and patching for you. You can also move existing applications that use SQL Server to Amazon RDS without having to rewrite the application completely.

With Amazon RDS for SQL Server, you can meet a number of requirements and improve security, database performance, scalability, and ease of management:

Improve Manageability for SQL Server with Pre-configured Parameters: Amazon RDS for SQL Server deployments are pre-configured with a set of parameters and settings appropriate for the SQL Server edition and DB Instance class you have selected. You can simply launch a SQL Server DB Instance and connect it to your application within minutes without additional configuration.

Upgrade Monitoring and Metrics: Amazon RDS provides Amazon CloudWatch metrics for your DB Instance deployments at no additional charge. You can use the AWS Management Console to view key operational metrics for your DB Instance deployments, including compute/memory/storage capacity utilization, I/O activity, and DB Instance connections.

Receive DB Event Notifications: Amazon RDS provides Amazon SNS notifications via email or SMS for your DB Instance deployments. And you can use the AWS Management Console or the Amazon RDS APIs to subscribe to over 40 different DB events associated with your Amazon RDS deployments.

Enable Automatic Software Patching: Amazon RDS helps you keep the SQL Server software powering your deployment up-to-date with the latest patches. You can exert optional control over when and if your DB Instance is patched via DB Engine Version Management.

Scale in a Few Clicks: Using a few clicks of the AWS Management Console, you can scale the compute and memory resources powering your deployment up or down. Scaling operations typically complete within a few minutes.

Ensure Fast, Predictable Storage Performance: Amazon offers General Purpose and Provisioned IOPS storage for SQL Server. General Purpose (SSD) – Amazon RDS General Purpose (SSD) storage delivers a consistent baseline of 3 IOPS per provisioned GB and provides the ability to burst up to 3,000 IOPS. Using Amazon RDS APIs or the AWS Management Console, you can provision the IOPS for your SQL Server DB Instance. When you create new DB Instances using the AWS Management Console or the Amazon RDS APIs, you can provision from 1,000 IOPS to 32,000 IOPS with corresponding storage from 100GB to 16TB for new SQL Server DB Instances.

Improve Backup and Disaster Recovery: Amazon RDS will back up your database instance daily and back up your transaction logs at five-minute intervals, and storing both for a user-specified retention period. This allows you to restore your DB Instance to any point during your retention period, up to the last five minutes. Your automatic backup retention period can be configured to up to 35 days.

Improve Availability and Reliability: Amazon RDS will automatically replace the compute instance powering your deployment in the event of a hardware failure. And the AWS Cloud supports multiple availability zone (Multi-AZ) deployments; Amazon RDS will automatically provision a primary database in one Availability Zone and maintain a synchronous “standby” replica in a different Availability Zone, so database operations can resume quickly without any manual intervention.

Bolster Isolation and Security: Using Amazon Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs), you can isolate your database Instances in your own virtual network, and connect to your existing IT infrastructure using industry-standard encrypted IPSec VPN. In addition, using Amazon RDS, you can configure firewall settings and control network access to your DB Instances.

Case Study: International Air Transport Association

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing 250 companies, which account for 84% of global air traffic. When the organization needed to boost the performance of its BI platform, it looked to AWS to sun Microsoft SQL Server and SharePoint in a hybrid solution integrated with its on premises Active Directory. Before moving to AWS, IATA used an on-premises datacenter for its BI platform, which processes data from various sources and feeds that into its database.

IATA migrated its BI platform to AWS, and runs web, application, and database tiers of the solution, with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and 2012 as its database engine, on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances. The IATA BI platform on AWS integrates with and other third-party applications. The organization uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store historical data.

Using AWS has enabled IATA to provide its customers with more business value by leveraging capabilities, which were not possible with traditional solutions. For example, the organization can ingest terabytes of data into storage without prior capacity planning, and then process the data in a limited period of time. By migrating from an on-premises datacenter to AWS, IATA was able to achieve greater flexibility and speed of implementation. Now, it only takes minutes to set up a working environment, whereas with its previous solution, it took the organization days.

“We need AWS so that we can turn around the data quickly for our customers,” Buchner says. “Our response times have definitely improved, thanks to Amazon EC2.” The performance of front-end processes increased by approximately 100 percent, resulting in a better experience for IATA users and customers. At the same time, the performance of back-end processes increased by approximately 40 percent, enabling IATA to process more data more quickly. The organization also did not have to purchase additional hardware or software licenses to process the data.

Check out some additional resources on SQL Server migrations.

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AWS Public Sector Blog Team

AWS Public Sector Blog Team

The Amazon Web Services (AWS) Public Sector Blog team writes for the government, education, and nonprofit sector around the globe. Learn more about AWS for the public sector by visiting our website (, or following us on Twitter (@AWS_gov, @AWS_edu, and @AWS_Nonprofits).