Microsoft Workloads on AWS

How to use the new AWS Modernization Calculator for Microsoft Workloads to estimate modernized architectures

On November 18, 2022, we announced the general availability of the AWS Modernization Calculator for Microsoft Workloads. Using this tool, you can estimate the cost of modernizing your Microsoft workloads to a new architecture that uses open-source software and cloud-based services in the AWS cloud. It enables you to assess the benefits of using technologies built for the cloud, which can lead to a reduction in the total cost of ownership (TCO), operational overhead, and elimination of software license management, and an increase in developer productivity.

Whether you are a new or existing AWS customer or a consulting partner, with this new tool, you can get a rough cost estimate for running your modern applications on AWS. There is no need to have foreknowledge of all the AWS services to be used or the exact end-state architecture. The AWS Modernization Calculator for Microsoft Workloads quickly provides you with the information you need to get started with your modernization journey. In this post, we will show you how you can use the tool to get an estimate with just a few clicks and get some high-level information about your workload.

“The new AWS Modernization Calculator is really useful in the early modernization assessment discussions with customers. It helps architects and developers to steer carefully when planning the modernization of workloads on AWS.” – SourceFuse (AWS Consulting Partner)

“Providing the TCO of new architecture using this Modernization Calculator is simple now. In the pre-assessment stages, our team can rely on the tool that recommends Well Architected cloud patterns and AWS Services selection.” – Axian (AWS Consulting Partner)

Modernizing Microsoft workloads

At AWS, we consider the modernization of Microsoft workloads to be the refactoring or re-architecting of applications to gain additional business value by taking advantage of purpose-built services in the cloud. Modernization enables you to capture the benefits of cloud-based architecture, while reducing TCO, operational overhead, and the challenges of supporting and purchasing operating systems and databases that require commercial licensing.

By moving away from products with restrictive and costly commercial licensing, you can invest in further innovation and delivering additional value to your customers. One way to reduce the dependence on Windows Server is to migrate .NET Framework applications to .NET 6.0 or later, which can run on Linux.

To reduce the need for SQL server licenses, you may migrate to cloud-based open source-compatible relational databases, such as Amazon Aurora, either PostgreSQL- or MySQL-compatible. You will benefit from commercial database performance, but at a lower price point. You can also choose to adopt purpose-built databases, such as Amazon DynamoDB, for high performance, NoSQL data access.

When planning the migration of your Microsoft workloads to AWS through rehosting, or “lift and shift”, understanding the costs involved is reasonably straightforward. You can use the Windows Server and SQL Server on Amazon EC2 calculator to estimate the cost of AWS resources, or you can take advantage of the AWS Optimization and Licensing Assessment program to understand how to migrate your workloads at the lowest price point, minimizing both cost and licenses required.

Because modernizing involves transformation of IT workloads to take advantage of cloud-based services, it may not be clear at the outset what the final architecture will be or what it will cost to operate. That is why we introduced the AWS Modernization Calculator for Microsoft Workloads. Rather than requiring you to estimate the cost of each application service-by-service, you can pick one of the predefined architectures and answer a few questions to arrive at a high-level cost estimate for your modernized application.

Estimating a workload

Let’s examine how this works in practice. Suppose you are planning to move to the cloud. You have a  medium-sized business with a web application used to sell products to your customers. Presently, the application runs on Windows Server with IIS and ASP.NET (Framework) and is supported by a SQL Server database on the back end. From a “lift and shift” standpoint, it is straightforward to estimate the cost of running this application in the cloud. The estimation process is more nuanced if your goal is to modernize by re-architecting your application to reduce the need for commercial licensing, benefit from cloud-based services, and reduce costs.

To get guidance and an estimation for running your workload, let’s work through an example using the AWS Modernization Calculator for Microsoft Workloads. You can access it directly or through the Get started link on the AWS Pricing Calculator Service page (Figure 1).

Indication of the location of the link for the AWS Modernization Calculator for Microsoft Workloads

Figure 1: Link to AWS Modernization Calculator for Microsoft Workloads

On the first page of the Modernization Calculator (Figure 2), there are options for entering the name of the estimate and the Current application/workload location. To modernize an existing on-premises workload, select On-premises, and then select Modernize. There are also options to use AWS or another cloud provider as the source. You can estimate the cost of your modernized workload regardless of its current location.

Description and current location of the workload fields.

Figure 2: Settings for modernizing an on-premises workload

Select the Architecture category (Figure 3) that matches your end state. If you know the overall structure of your application (such as a web application or batch processing), select Architecture pattern. If you are not sure of the pattern, but understand the use case, such as a CI/CD pipeline or containerized application, then select the Use case.

You will find several options, each with a diagram and a brief description. You can choose the one that most resembles your current workload. If you want a less-guided experience, you can select Custom, and then pick the region and services that you want to include in your estimate.

The application architectures that are represented in the tool—such as a multi-tier web application, batch processing, or CI/CD pipeline—are commonly used and well understood patterns among AWS customers. If you are new to AWS, or want further information, the tool provides a detailed description of each scenario. If there are other workloads or architectural patterns you would like to include, you can choose the Feedback link in the application to let us know. For this example, you are considering modernizing a multi-tier web application. Select Multi-Tier and then choose Next.

Options for selecting an architecture pattern

Figure 3: Select architecture pattern

The Select architecture size step allows you the selection of the approximate size of the environment (Figure 4). It allows you to provide the following information about the workload size:

  1. Expected usage patterns, such as periodic spikes in traffic or uniform usage over time.
  2. Approximate current size and expected growth of the application. This includes the approximate number of monthly users, data storage requirements for the application, and the expected growth of the application over the upcoming year.
  3. A recommended workload sizing option, which is automatically selected based on the Architecture characteristics AWS tries to make a suitable recommendation based on the overall size and usage patterns of your workload. You can keep the recommended size or override the selection by choosing Small, Medium, Large, or Extra Large.

Choose Next.

Architecture size selection options

Figure 4: Architecture size selection

Once you have chosen an architecture pattern, then the tool provides the option to select the final application form that you want to achieve (Figure 5). Each form comes with a helpful diagram.

For instance, the default recommendation is to consider the Serverless using AWS Lambda architecture option. You can find out details by clicking the Learn more link. This includes an overview of the services used, options that you can select for each, and considerations for implementing this architecture. It also provides resources and next steps, allowing you to get a head start with the selected architectural pattern.

Similarly, based on your expertise and preferences, there are options proposed for container-based architecture such as Serverless using Elastics Kubernetes Service architecture and Serverless using Elastic Container Service architecture.

Multi-Tier architecture selection options

Figure 5: Architecture selection options

For this example, select Serverless using AWS Lambda and choose Next.

The then displays the Edit service configuration step (Figure 6) listing the services included, along with the pricing that reflects the configured size of the workload. You can then customize included services, if desired, by choosing +Add service or Delete service. The Modernization Calculator for Microsoft Workloads supports many core AWS services.

Edit service configuration options

Figure 6. Service configuration

You can:

  1. Choose predefined small, medium, large, or extra-large sizing for the service.
  2. Enter specific parameters for the AWS service, if you know them. Although not every option for each service is included, you can change those that will have the greatest impact on the estimate.
Options for configuring an individual service

Figure 7: Configure an individual service

The estimated cost of the individual service and the overall estimate will update immediately.

After reviewing the data and making any necessary changes, you can choose Save to display the estimate for the workload (Figure 7).

Screen showing information and options for the current estimate

Figure 8: My Estimate

The My Estimate page displays a donut-style chart, showing the components of the workload cost by service. You can get an estimate of how much each service will cost when running the application in AWS.

This estimate includes the run rate for the AWS services used by your modernized application, including support (if added). The efforts required to modernize your application and some additional costs, such as data transfer, are outside the scope of the Modernization Calculator for Microsoft Workloads.

On the estimate page, you can:

  1. Get a link to your estimate that you can bookmark or share with someone else by choosing
  2. Choose Export to download the estimate in Excel format.
  3. Choose Add workload to add another workload to this estimate.
  4. Add the cost of an AWS Support plan to the estimate by choosing Add support. You can add an estimate for Developer, Premium, or Enterprise support.
  5. Have someone from AWS sales contact you by choosing Contact Sales. You can review this estimate with someone from AWS to determine what additional optimizations and architectural changes would best meet your needs.
  6. Remove all workloads from the estimate by choosing Delete all.

If you decide to add another workload to the estimate, you can select the Cost by workload tab (Figure 9) to better understand how each contributes to the overall estimate.

Multiple workloads in a single estimate

Figure 9: Estimate containing multiple workloads

Implementation considerations

The AWS Modernization Calculator for Microsoft Workloads captures the experience that AWS has gained from years of helping customers modernize Microsoft workloads.

The tool offers estimates for serverless services, such as AWS Fargate and AWS Lambda for compute. Modernizing away from .NET Framework to the latest version of .NET (.NET 6.0 as the current long-term support version) allows you to use Linux-based compute services. One advantage of using the latest version of .NET is the ability to adopt the AWS Graviton processors, which are built using the ARM architecture. AWS Graviton gives up to 40% better price performance – and .NET is specifically optimized for better performance on ARM.

By modernizing workloads, you can also take advantage of cloud-based databases, such as Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon ElastiCache for Redis, and Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL. Selecting services such as these enables you to reduce, and eventually eliminate, operational overhead and licensing costs of commercial databases, while maintaining the performance required for even the most high-performance workloads.

Adopting architectures suggested by the AWS Modernization Calculator for Microsoft Workloads may require a significant undertaking to fully accomplish modernization. The good news is that you have support along the way on this journey. AWS has programs to fund and offset some of the cost of modernization. There are also many AWS Partners that specialize in modernization who can help you meet even the most rigorous requirements.

Next steps

If you are ready to consider modernizing your Microsoft workloads to gain the benefits of the cloud and to free your business from restrictive commercial licensing, then the first step is to visit the newly released  AWS Modernization Calculator for Microsoft Workloads. Then, you can work with AWS or a consulting partner to help you find the best path forward to achieve your business goals by modernizing.

We also recommend using AWS Migration Hub Strategy Recommendations. It is the ideal starting point to begin your transformation journey, because it delivers prescriptive guidance on the optimal strategy and tools to help you migrate and modernize at scale. Strategy Recommendations automates the manual process of analyzing each running application, its process dependencies, and technical complexity to reduce the time and effort spent on planning application migration and modernization, accelerating your business transformation on AWS.

AWS offers many tools to help you migrate to each aspect of your applications. Porting Assistant for .NET and AWS Microservice Extractor for .NET can help you transform your .NET Framework monolithic applications to the latest version of .NET, and this technical guide will help you with many considerations along the way.

You can start using the AWS Modernization Calculator for Microsoft Workloads today. It will help you understand the cost of operating your modernized workloads. You do not need to have AWS account to use it, and it is available at no cost to you. To learn more, visit the Generating Microsoft workload estimates with AWS Modernization Calculator topic in the AWS Pricing Calculator User Guide.

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.

Craig Bossie

Craig Bossie

Craig Bossie is a Solutions Architect that has been with AWS for three years and works with global customers, helping them migrate, modernize, and optimize their Microsoft Workloads for the AWS cloud. He’s been doing .NET development and consulting for over 18 years and is very excited to help customers better run their modern applications on AWS.

Jignesh Suthar

Jignesh Suthar

Jignesh Suthar is a Solutions Architect at AWS with over 20 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies & Startups helping them migrate & modernize their technology platform using the cutting edge cloud technologies and host them on public clouds following best practices.