I came across an interesting scenario not long ago.
With SQL 2012 came a whole host of new features that I wanted to play around with; at the top of the list was ‘AlwaysOn’. If you’re not familiar with it then it’s best to describe it as a mix of clustering and mirroring , that’s a very high level description for what is a cool piece of technology but that’s a topic for another day.
Anyway ‘AlwaysOn’ as with clustering and mirroring requires a number of machines to run on, four in this case (1 Domain Controller and 3 SQL Server machines), this left me with a bit of an issue, how to get 4 new machines running. My first thought was to fire up 4 VM’s on my laptop, problem is that my laptop only has 4GB of RAM, that would mean I could run 3 VM’s on top of the host, but that means each could only have 1GB, so that idea wasn’t really going to work.
Then my thoughts turned to building myself an ESXi machine, if you’ve not worked with VM’s before, this is basically a host for VM’s. You boot up the ESXi software onto some bare metal machine and away you go, factoring in drives, RAM and a quad core processor (or two) this was looking like costing me in excess of £500 plus the time of building it. Now this could be seen as an investment, but I live in the real world, in fact I’m getting married in a couple of months and right now shelling out £500 to have a play around with something isn’t a great idea (any of you who know how much a wedding costs will know what I mean).
Now I would like to say I thought of this myself, but I didn’t, anyway, speaking to a friend of mine who specialises in VM’s etc, he mentioned cloud computing and hosting, Amazon Web Services (AWS) to be precise, so off I set to have a look and what I discovered impressed me (a lot).
Within minutes I had linked my normal Amazon account to AWS and got myself setup, now I’m going to be careful here, this post isn’t meant to be about how I set up my AWS or the little tips and tricks, or the pitfalls (and there are some of them – believe me). This post in fact is about how easy and cheap it was for me to create a number of development instances of SQL Server that I only paid for what I used so when I was done, I just shut them down and stopped paying, over the course of a month, using each machine for about 5 hours a week I ended up paying about £20 or so, but don’t listen to me, go and have a look for yourself using the AWS calculator (http://calculator.s3.amazonaws.com/calc5.html/), you never know it may be cheaper than that new laptop or server you were thinking about………..but like most things, we all want different things, so it may not be for you, if you do have a look at it let me know what you think, or if you do things differently then feel free to share.
As I said, I’ll try and follow this up with some more details on AWS, as well as some postings on SQL 2012, SQL Azure, Postgres and even a spot of MongoDB (noSQL).
Until then, take care.