To simplify our environment, at it's most atomic level, we have a .NET website running on IIS 6 on one server and the website depends on data from a MS SQL 2005 database on another server.

We have duplicated this infrastructure at a geographically distant site for DR purposes. We rsync .NET code files to the remote IIS server. We log ship our SQL data to a remote SQL server.

It seems that we could do something similar in Amazon's cloud. Use EC2 machines backed by EBS volumes. The advantage being that we could use smaller machines at a lower-cost until we actually had a need to fail over, in which case we could spin up much larger machines to handle the load and attach the pre-existing EBS volumes.

This project is only in the discovery/exploration phase and we could benefit from some veteran experience in the community using Amazon AWS. Things that come to mind as being immediately helpful:

  1. Does anyone have any experience running MS SQL Server 2005 in AWS? Performance is bound to suffer for OLTP loads like that generated by database-driven websites, but where did your virtual SQL server work and fail (i.e. disk i/o was crap...we could handle ~5k transactions/sec on our physical server and with a similarly spec'ed virtual machine our capacity was halved).

  2. In the long-run, after working in all unanticipated costs of operating a DR solution in the cloud, did you actually save any money? Where were the hidden costs?

  3. If you were moving data up to Amazon in an automated fashion, how were you handling that? Flat files are easy, but if you are running SQL or Exchange, I'm particularly interested in which tools you used.

  4. Is there a way to write directly to an EBS volume, or are you forced to attach EBS volumes to EC2 instances and work with the OS?

  5. If you had the misfortune of having to fail over to AWS to handle a production load, how did it perform as a DR solution? Obviously everyone's recovery objectives are different, so I guess I'm really just wondering where AWS was rather elegant/advantageous and where it just fell flat on it's face for you

Other insights and reality checks are all appreciated. TIA for taking the time to share what you know with the community and me.

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