The announcement that Win2003 is now an an option on EC2, is very significant, that and EC2’s exit from beta status with an SLA in tow, means that AWS is now very much more appealing to the great unwashed, the SMEs. i.e. the businesses who form the backbone of most of our economies.
Large companies and start-ups are comfortable in the world of Linux servers but most small companies are Windows to the core. This may not be “right”, this may not be how it “should be”, but it is so. Even within large companies, departmental computing is largely a Windows only enclave, with MS Office (and Excel in particular) as the backbone and MS SQL Server as the database of choice (or is that, no choice).
The other interesting thing is that my fear that EC2 SQL Server Standard instances would be licensed as per Oracle has not come to pass (Oracle while making a “big thing” of their recent EC2 cloud conversion, still insist on traditional licensing for EC2 database instances). SQL Server Standard is available on a pay-as-you-go model, brilliant!.
Even if running Win2003 as a server doesn’t catch your fancy and in fact you would much rather get rid of your existing Window’s laptop to be replaced by a cool new Apple Mac. Unfortunately you still need the ability to run Windows-only software, why not use EC2 as your on-demand pay-as-you-go Window’s desktop replacement? Simply configure a Windows AMI with your required software (you may have to use something like this, if software is only available on CD); you could then use Jungle Disk to easily share data (via S3) between your new shiny Mac and the AMI. Power up and down as required, easier than using VMWare or Parallels and @ 12.5c per hour, probably cheaper too.