Microsoft Workloads on AWS

Why customers choose AWS for their SQL workloads: AWS Partners weigh in

Strong partnerships matter.

Ensono, an AWS Partner, migrated Guinness World Records’ Microsoft Windows Server and SQL Server workloads out of their data centers to all-in on AWS. Customer feedback? Rob Howe, Director of IT for Guinness World Records, says in this video,

“It’s such a key move for us. It’s gonna set the business up for many years to come.”

We asked Gordon McKenna, CTO of Public Cloud at Ensono, why customers like Guinness World Records choose AWS for their SQL workloads. Gordon says,

“One of the main motivating factors that we see is the ability to adopt different deployment options. This sits alongside other core benefits like performance tunability and the ability to leverage existing Microsoft license arrangements to achieve attractive run costs.”

Similar feedback is echoed by many of our partners and customers.

In this article, I’m going to highlight some of the key industry observations made by our partners, specifically around why customers continue to choose AWS to migrate and modernize their SQL Server workloads.

Flexibility and cost savings

Licensing agreements from Microsoft – and especially SQL Server licenses – are often rigid, lengthy, and expensive. AWS offers a range of flexible licensing options for SQL Server workloads without the need to sign a contract or agreement, allowing you to pay-as-you-use and terminate at any time.

Tom Kerswill, CTO of AWS business at Bytes, an AWS Partner, says,

“Often customers have a deadline beyond which their on-premises SQL workloads won’t be fully supported. There is either hardware end-of-life or the need to move to a newer SQL version. Either of these challenges often involves a large CAPEX cost on premises, while migrating to AWS gives a more flexible way to run SQL, without locking in for another three or five years.”

Matt Doherty, principal cloud solutions architect for Zen, another AWS Partner, agrees:

“There is plenty of flexibility to provide choice of hosting and licensing models to suit all use cases. In the short term, our customers are using their migration to AWS as a catalyst for making SQL Server more cost efficient, and in the longer term, they’re creating a platform for modernization.”

Zen, while migrating SQL Servers workloads for one of their ISV customers to AWS, reduced their licensing costs by 75 percent.

Similar feedback is shared by Jyoti Mann, data governance and analytics manager for Data Reply, an AWS Partner:

“With AWS, our customers benefit from easy migration tools for rapid migration and flexible license optimization choices to best fit their needs.”

If you are paying more for Microsoft SQL Server licensing than you think you should be, AWS Partners can help by assessing your environments and right-sizing your deployment on AWS. The AWS Optimization and Licensing Assessment can help you efficiently manage your resources and avoid unnecessary costs.

Ease of modernization

Customers like Dow Jones and Samsung, among thousands of others, have modernized their legacy database workloads with Amazon Aurora, a cloud-based, fully-managed relational database designed for unparalleled high performance and availability at global scale. Dow Jones was able to modernize their Market Data platform to Amazon Aurora nearly two weeks ahead of schedule, while cutting costs by over 50 percent. Samsung migrated 1.1 billion users across three continents to Amazon Aurora and reduced monthly database costs by 44 percent.

In fact, in this recent blog post, we shared why AWS is the cloud that modernizes SQL Server workloads the best. Let us look further at the feedback our partners are receiving from their customers.

Cloudsoft, an AWS Partner, helped ASP, an industry-leading event website business, to modernize their SQL Server workloads to Amazon Aurora in less than 6 months. Dan Pacitti, the CTO at ASP, commented:

“The 65% cost savings on SQL Server licensing is obviously very welcome, as is the simplified configuration of using a single [Amazon] Aurora cluster. Its high availability and high performance helps us to deliver the excellent quality of service our customers expect from ASP.”

Aled Sage, VP of engineering at Cloudsoft, talks about the long-term view customers are focused on:

“Customers are taking the broader long-term view: they like clear paths to modernize these workloads to reduce license costs, and the huge range of additional AWS services available.”

Tom Kerswill of Bytes agrees:

“Customers are looking further ahead at the opportunities for modernization. AWS gives an easy pathway to migrate existing SQL workloads onto the cloud. They see this as a stepping stone for modernizing their workloads to technologies such as PostgreSQL running on Amazon Aurora.”

Daniel Butler, founder and technical director for Rebura, an AWS Partner, echoes the same sentiment:

“AWS serves as great platform for our customers to modernize their SQL workloads to cloud native purpose-built databases. Innovative services like Babelfish for Aurora PostgreSQL remove a lot of barriers to modernization, which along with the unrivalled support from AWS, really helps drive customers to achieve their business goals.”

If your legacy SQL Server workloads are holding you back from becoming more agile and innovative, or they’re not allowing your business to scale at the pace you would like, AWS Partners can quickly assess and define a modernization roadmap for your SQL Server workloads. AWS Partners have access to funding that can significantly offset the assessment and implementation cost.

AWS, a platform for innovation

With over 200 comprehensive services and solutions – more than any other cloud provider – it’s easier than ever for customers to innovate with AWS. AWS has the broadest and deepest built-for-the-cloud technologies that drive organizational, operational, and technical capabilities, such as containers, serverless, artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML).

Jyoti Mann of Data Reply sees a common trend among her customers. After moving their data to AWS, they start building data lakes on AWS and use advanced analytics services to gain deeper insights into their business. She says,

“AWS Cloud most definitely has the broadest and deepest data and analytics capabilities and helps our customers innovate at a rapid pace. I see customers modernizing their traditional SQL Server data warehouse to Amazon Redshift and using Amazon Redshift Spectrum and AWS Glue for advanced data analytics.”

Kloia, an AWS Partner, used an AWS Serverless approach to rearchitect GoDataFeed’s legacy extract, transform, load (ETL) platform. In doing so, GoDatafeed moved away from SQL Server to use Amazon Aurora Serverless and Amazon DocumentDB, and as a result, completely eliminated their SQL Server licensing costs. Sheldon Cohen, CTO at GoDataFeed, acknowledges the value of the partnership:

“We have worked with Kloia to help build out the next generation of our software.”

Tom Kerswill of Bytes talks about customers choosing AWS because of the strength of its platform. He says,

“The decision is often part of a wider cloud strategy. The organization will be moving other workloads, and AWS is the most innovative and forward-looking cloud provider; so, AWS is chosen not just for SQL capability, but for the strength of the wider platform.”

Aled Sage of Cloudsoft agrees:

“It’s not just about what the products currently look like, but what they could become through the use of AWS.”


Derya Sezen, founder and CEO of Kloia, summarizes the feedback he hears from his customers as follows:

“Our customers choose AWS because it’s in AWS’ DNA to work relentlessly to save them costs and innovate on their behalf. It’s no different for SQL Server workloads. AWS continues to innovate with services like Babelfish for Aurora PostgreSQL and Amazon Aurora Serverless, making it easy and really compelling for customers to modernize their SQL Server workloads on AWS.”

The industry observations highlighted by our partners show that there are a wide range of factors driving customers to migrate their SQL Server workloads to the AWS Cloud. While flexibility, cost savings and performance improvements are key benefits, it’s clear that the ease of modernization and innovative ecosystem of the wider AWS platform are differentiators for customers with a longer-term view.

We, along with our partners, are here to help. No matter what your business requirements are or what stage of cloud migration you’re at, AWS Partners can help you navigate through different migration and modernization strategies for your legacy SQL Server workloads on AWS.

Feel free to contact us to discuss your SQL Server migration and modernization initiatives.

AWS can help you assess how your company can get the most out of cloud. Join the millions of AWS customers that trust us to migrate and modernize their most important applications in the cloud. To learn more on modernizing Windows Server or SQL Server, visit Windows on AWSContact us to start your modernization journey today.

Prasad Rao

Prasad Rao

Prasad Rao is a Principal Partner Solutions Architect at AWS based out of UK. His focus areas are .NET Application Modernization and Windows Workloads on AWS. He leverages his experience to help AWS Partners across EMEA for their long term technical enablement to build scalable architecture on AWS. He also mentors diverse people who are new to cloud and would like to get started on AWS.