Microsoft SQL Server on AWS

The most popular, secure, and reliable cloud for SQL Server

Customers have been running Windows workloads on AWS for over a decade. Amazon Web Services offers you the flexibility to run Microsoft SQL Server for as much or as little time as you need and select from a number of versions and editions. SQL Server on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) gives you complete control over every setting, just like when it’s installed on-premises. Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) is a fully managed service that takes care of all the maintenance, backups, and patching for you.

To see what versions and editions are available, read below for EC2 and go here for RDS. You can choose AWS license-included options on Amazon EC2 instances and Amazon RDS or choose to bring your own license on Amazon EC2.

SQL Server 2008/2008 R2 End of Support

Support ends for Windows Server 2008/2008 R2 on January 14, 2020. Upgrade your legacy Windows Server applications to latest supported versions of Windows Server without any code changes.

The AWS Advantage for SQL Server over the next largest cloud provider


More Windows Server instances


More regions with multiple availability zones


Fewer downtime hours in 2018*


Higher SQL Server on Windows Server performance


More services offering encryption
*Based on downtime hours from 1/1/18 to 12/31/18 pulled directly from the public service health dashboards of the major cloud providers.

Why SQL Server on AWS

AWS offers the best cloud for SQL Server, and it is the right cloud platform for running Windows-based applications today and in the future. SQL Server on Windows or Linux on Amazon EC2 enables you to increase or decrease capacity within minutes, not hours or days. You can commission one, hundreds, or even thousands of server instances simultaneously.

Greater Reliability

We have the best global infrastructure for running workloads that require high availability with 76 Availability Zones (AZ) across 24 Regions. The AWS Region/AZ model has been recognized by industry analysts as the recommended approach for running enterprise applications that require high availability and AWS provides 2x more regions with multiple availability zones than the next largest cloud provider. This is one of the reasons why the next largest cloud provider had 7x more downtime hours than AWS in 2018*.

Faster Performance

Recent benchmarks show more than 2x price-performance for SQL Server running on Windows Server on AWS over the next largest cloud provider. We offer fast and high throughput storage options with Amazon Elastic Block Store and local NVMe instance storage as well as high network bandwidth to accelerate performance. 

More Security Capabilities

AWS offers 210 security, compliance, and governance services and key features which is about 40 more than the next largest cloud provider. We also support 89 security standards and compliance certifications including PCI-DSS, HIPAA/HITECH, FedRAMP, GDPR, FIPS 140-2, and NIST 800-171, which is meaningfully more than any other cloud provider. For encryption, all AWS services that store customer data offer the ability to encrypt that data and we offer encryption across 116 different AWS services which is 5X more than the next largest cloud provider.

More Migration Experience

No one has migrated more customers to the cloud than AWS, and customers can use a free well architected tool to help assess their workloads, right size their compute and storage and look at multiple pricing options. You can migrate your SQL Server databases quickly and securely with the AWS Database Migration Service. For SQL Server 2008, you can bring your databases to the cloud and easily upgrade them with AWS Systems Manager.

Lower Costs

AWS helps customers lower their overall costs of running Windows in the cloud with the most comprehensive family of EC2 instances and unique pricing models like Spot which can help customers save up to 90% on their Windows compute costs. Customer can also save money by moving their Microsoft Licenses to dedicated hosts on AWS like Xero did with their SQL Server migration. Dedicated hosts are also a great option for Windows or SQL Server instances that don’t have software assurance. You can’t bring those licenses to the next largest provider.

*Based on downtime hours from 1/1/18 to 12/31/18 pulled directly from the public service health dashboards of the major cloud providers.

When customers move their SQL Server databases to AWS, here are just some of the popular services that they can use as part of their deployments.

SQL Server on Amazon EC2

Choice of several versions of Microsoft SQL Server offers you the flexibility to run a database server for as much or as little time as you need, with complete control over the Windows Server settings.

Learn more »

Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS)

Easy to use, high performance, and cost-effective block storage at any scale with the flexibility to choose from four different volume types for various capacity, price, and performance options. Change volume types, tune performance, or increase volume size without disruption to your SQL Server database.

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Amazon Relational Database Service

Fully managed relational database service that offers SQL Server 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017 while offloading database administration tasks like managing backups, detecting failures and recovering and much more, data transfer, DNS management, and a static IP – for a low, predictable price.

Learn more »

AWS Directory Service

Managed Microsoft Active Directory in the AWS Cloud for organizations that rely on Active Directory for identity and access management and want close integration with your existing infrastructure.

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AWS License Manager

AWS License Manager makes it easier to manage licenses in AWS and on-premises servers from software vendors such as Microsoft. Administrators create customized licensing rules to manage, discover, and report software license usage.

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Customer Case Studies

Xero Saves 30% on their SQL Server Licensing Costs with AWS (1:42)
Guinness World Records Moves All In on AWS (2:28)
NextGen Healthcare Increases Performance and Reduces Costs with Windows on AWS (1:47)

Infor keeps pace with global business growth while saving time and money by going all in on AWS. It runs more than 30 customer-facing applications on the AWS Cloud, to provide enterprise resource planning and other software solutions to a range of enterprises worldwide. Infor uses Microsoft SQL Server on Amazon EC2 I2 instances, and has about two petabytes of application data to back up every day. By using Amazon Elastic Block Store volume types optimized for throughput, Infor can now complete these backups 30 percent more quickly, at a 75 percent cost savings.

Read the story »


Hess Corporation is a leading global independent energy company engaged in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas. In order to divest some of its business, the company used SQL on AWS to separate the business systems and data for potential buyers. Hess worked with Nimbo, one of our APN  partners (Advanced Consulting Partner) to help migrate their infrastructure to AWS.

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Kaplan is a global provider of educational services for individuals, schools, and businesses. After Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the company migrated its Kaplan Test Prep division to the AWS cloud, including datacenter hosting applications and databases, which were moved to Amazon RDS for SQL. As a result, Kaplan has reduced its datacenter footprint and improved user experience by leveraging multiple AWS regions to deliver content faster to its customers around the world.

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Delaware North manages and provides food and beverage concessions, premium dining, entertainment, lodging, and retail at many large venues around the world, such as sports stadiums, entertainment complexes, national and state parks, airports, and casinos, serving more than 500 million customers at 200 venues each year. By moving most of its corporate datacenter operations to AWS, the company was able to reduce its server footprint by 91 percent and save at least $3.5 million over five years, while improving security compliance and disaster recovery. In addition to SQL, Delaware North runs Microsoft Windows Server and System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) on AWS, among many other services.

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Jobvite provides recruiting solutions to more than 1,600 customers, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Etsy, SpaceX, and Farmers Insurance. The company's customers depend on it to be fast and reliable, which became challenging with their prior solution. After moving to AWS for dev/test, staging, and production, server provisioning time went from weeks to minutes and uptime is now above 99.98 percent, while cutting costs by 35 percent. Jobvite is using dozens of AWS services, such as EC2, S3, ELB, WorkSpaces, and multiple versions of RDS, including SQL. By leveraging AWS, the company is able to achieve the scalability to expand to new markets and business segments.

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing 250 companies, which account for 84 percent of global air traffic. When the organization needed to boost the performance of its BI platform, it looked to AWS because of its pace of innovation, big data services portfolio, and security features – especially the ISO 27001 certification which IATA required for its highly confidential information. IATA is running SQL and SharePoint on AWS, in a hybrid solution integrated with its on premises Active Directory.

Read the story »

SQL Server Editions Available

Express Edition 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2019: An entry-level database product that enables small database applications. The maximum size of a database supported is 10 GB. SQL Server Express is offered at no additional cost over the base Microsoft Windows Server instance price on EC2.

Web Edition 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2019: A mid-level database product that is restricted to Web facing applications, and available at a low cost over the base Windows Server instance price on EC2. This product offers 524 PB database size, easy manageability, and is suitable for small- to large-scale Web applications.

Standard Edition 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2019: A higher end database product that allows unrestricted use for building enterprise-scale applications with Windows and .NET, and massively scalable websites. Standard includes support for Mirroring, and is suitable for applications with High Availability needs.

Enterprise Edition 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2019: A high end, datacenter database product offers “AlwaysOn” high availability, in-memory performance, enterprise scalability, self-service business intelligence and robust data quality. Enterprise is suitable for demanding database and business intelligence requirements.

All versions integrate with Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS), enabling you to take advantage of the persistence, performance, and reliability of Amazon EBS for all your databases. Click here to learn more about other database options with AWS. To find details on available AMIs please visit the Windows AMI page.

Blog posts & articles

Running the most reliable choice for Windows workloads: Windows on AWS

May 8th 2019

Fact-checking the truth on TCO for running Windows workloads in the cloud

April 15th 2019

Upgrade Your End of Support Microsoft 2008 R2 Workloads in AWS with Ease

February 18th 2019

New AWS License Manager – Manage Software Licenses and Enforce Licensing Rules

November 28th 2018

Celebrating 10 years of Microsoft Windows Server and SQL Server on AWS! Happy Birthday!

October 15th 2018

Best practices for upgrading SQL Server 2008 R2 to SQL Server 2016 on Amazon RDS for SQL Server

October 5th 2018

Developer Resources

AWS offers a number of resources to get developers up and running quickly with Windows on AWS. These written guides include reference architectures and sample code which you can use to learn how to deploy SQL Server databases reliably.  For example, our SDK for .NET utilizes APIs to help you quickly get started with .NET and AWS services.

In addition to these guides, we provide many other resources such as a documentation, training, videos, PowerShell tools, and more.

Documentation and Resources

AWS for Microsoft Workloads Self-Study Guide
Check out these self-study guide resources for IT professionals, architects, and software developers who are interested in learning how to design, build, and deploy Microsoft workloads on AWS. The topic areas addressed include: AWS core service prerequisites for running Microsoft workloads, DevOps and System Administration. Additional topics in Security, Active Directory, Directory Services, and SQL Server.
Best Practices for Deploying Microsoft SQL Server on AWS
March 2019 

This whitepaper focuses on best practices to attain the most value for the least cost when running Microsoft SQL Server on the AWS platform. Although for many generalpurpose use cases, Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for Microsoft SQL Server provides an easy and quick solution, in this paper we focus on scenarios where you need to push the limits to satisfy your special requirements.

Quick Start for SQL Server and AlwaysOn Availability Groups

This Quick Start implements a high availability solution built with Microsoft Windows Server and SQL Server running on Amazon EC2, using the Always On Availability Groups feature of SQL Server Enterprise edition. Explore a rich set of configuration options for SQL Server, Active Directory, and the WSFC cluster, including SQL Server version and licensing, tenancy options, and a choice of two Active Directory implementations: You can use AWS Directory Service for Active Directory, or manage the EC2 instances for Active Directory yourself.

Quick Start for Active Directory Domain Services

This Quick Start deploys Microsoft Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud. AD DS and Domain Name System (DNS) are core Windows services that provide the foundation for many Microsoft-based solutions for the enterprise, including Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Exchange, and .NET Framework applications.

Learn more about Windows on AWS

Host Microsoft Windows Server, SQL Server, SharePoint on the AWS Cloud


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