Which cloud computing provider would you recomend for a windows stack, in terms of cost and reliability?
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I've been using Amazon EC2 instances of Windows Server 2003 for the last few months and have been very impressed. In the beginning the tooling was limited to a Firefox plugin for managing your servers, but now they've released a full web based dashboard for controlling everything and I must say it is VERY slick!
The Windows instances themselves have been running flawlessly - I can't say I've noticed any difference between remoting into my servers there versus remoting into my physical server at Rackspace. They're running websites on IIS of course, and you cannot tell the difference. The massive benefit is that I have all the content stored on an Elastic Block storage that I attach as an extra drive on the server (via the console) and spinning up a new server literally takes minutes!
The EC2 instance doesn't store state, so I just have some scripts on the same Elastic Block storage that I can run to configure IIS and we're up with a load balanced server in no time!
I'm still running it through its paces, but if this solution keeps working the way it is now, I'll be getting rid of my physical hosted solution pretty soon!
I haven't tried any of the other cloud providers out there, but to be honest, I haven't needed to. My research looked into others, but on features alone I went with Amazon and haven't been disappointed.
Hope that helps!
We've been using EC2, but not Windows. I've started up a Windows instance to try it out and was suprised by how well it performed (Remote desktop). They take a bit longer to spin up but it looks like Amazon has implemented this nicely.
Everything outside the OS is identical as far as the service is concerned and I'm very happy with the API and level of control provided. Elastic Block Storage solved a major headache for running databases.
Another thing to note... when you run an EC2 Windows instance you're not only paying on-demand for the CPU time, but also for the windows license. That's a major cost savings there for light usage.