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AWS, AWS RDS, Azure, SQL Server
We are evaluating pros and cons of different hosting solutions for SQL Server which best suits our business needs.  
Our business needs
Our demand is very predictable seasonal demand. We are very small and can’t afford dedicated team for managing database infrastructure.( No DBA Team) Sky high expectation from Customers on availability and reliability for about 2 months in a year. Few minutes of downtown during peak period can cause havoc to our business . Fixed budget with very little wiggle room.   Our plan is to evaluate AWS SQL Server RDS, Azure RDS , Managed solutions from hosting provider. Evaluate each option in these categories.
  1. Performance and Reliability
  2. Ability to scale up during peak loads
  3. Cost ( Based on Network , Storage, Memory and CPU )
  4. Operations Efficiency
  5. Compliance
Infrastructure Requirements :

SQL Server Enterprise Edition since we use enterprise features AlwaysOn Availability group for High Availability Geo Replication or Multi Availability zone implementation for Cloud based databases Ability to route Read/Write workloads 128 Gig RAM – Minimum 1 – 2 TB Storage with 500 Gigs of SSD for TempDB Database and High Volume Tables Memory Optimized OLTP Support which needs SQL Server 2016 Edition Ability to handle ~ 30 K IOPS during peak load.

Amazon AWS SQL Server RDS
RDS Pricing Link :    AWS SQL Server RDS Pricing http://www.ec2instances.info/rds/?selected=db.r3.8xlarge
Enterprise Edition  Single-AZ Deployment
  Price Per Hour
Memory Optimized Instances – Current Generation
db.r3.2xlarge $5.810
db.r3.4xlarge $11.404
db.r3.8xlarge $19.271
 
Multi-AZ Deployment
  Price Per Hour
Memory Optimized Instances – Current Generation
db.r3.2xlarge $11.620
db.r3.4xlarge $22.808
db.r3.8xlarge $38.542

AWS SQL Server RDS Configurations On-Demand for SQL Server (License Included) Multi-AZ Deployment Region:  US East (N. Virginia) Memory Optimized Instances – Current Generation Price Per Hour RAM : 244 GB 10 Gigabit 32 vCPU 20,000 Provisioned IOPS  
db.r3.8xlarge 244 GB 2 x 320 SSD Intel Xeon E5-2670 v2 (Ivy Bridge) 32 vCPUs 10 Gigabit

https://aws.amazon.com/rds/sqlserver/pricing/
Azure Pricing Calculator

Azure performance is measured in DTU. We have been collecting our performance metrics during load test. The following link provides lightweight utility to convert perfmon counters to Azure DTU’s.


Perfmon Counters to Azure DTU Conversion Utility Link:
Perfmon to Azure DTU calculator

Understanding DTUs Based on Microsoft definition :https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/sql-database-service-tiers/  

The Database Transaction Unit (DTU) is the unit of measure in SQL Database that represents the relative power of databases based on a real-world measure: the database transaction. We took a set of operations that are typical for an online transaction processing (OLTP) request, and then measured how many transactions could be completed per second under fully loaded.


Azure RDS Pricing Calculator Link
 : Azure RDS Pricing Calculator

Azure SQL Server Pricing Calculator
Azure Options for SQL Server

  https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/details/sql-database/

Basic
eDTUs PER POOL MAX STORAGE PER POOL 1 MAX DBs PER POOL MAX eDTUs PER DATABASE PRICE 2
100 10 GB 200 5 ~$149/mo
200 20 GB 400 5 ~$298/mo
400 39 GB 400 5 ~$595/mo
800 78 GB 400 5 ~$1,198/mo
1200 117 GB 400 5 ~$1,800/mo
Standard
eDTUs PER POOL MAX STORAGE PER POOL 1 MAX DBs PER POOL MAX eDTUs PER DATABASE PRICE 2
100 100 GB 200 100 ~$223/mo
200 200 GB 400 100 ~$446/mo
400 400 GB 400 100 ~$900/mo
800 800 GB 400 100 ~$1,800/mo
1200 1.2 TB 400 100 ~$2,701/mo
Premium
eDTUs PER POOL MAX STORAGE PER POOL 1 MAX DBs PER POOL MAX eDTUs PER DATABASE PRICE 2
125 250 GB 50 125 ~$697/mo
250 500 GB 50 250 ~$1,399/mo
500 750 GB 50 500 ~$2,790/mo
1000 750 GB 50 1000 ~$5,580/mo
1500 750 GB 50 1000 ~$8,370/mo
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Business Needs:

Our goal is to identify whether Amazon SQL Server RDS Service provides elastic , highly available , Scalable and operationally efficient solution for our use case. We are evaluating options to migrate our read/write heavy production SQL Server database to amazon SQL Server RDS. We have pretty high throughput needs for few hours a day for few months in a year ,which is mission critical for our business success. Any downtown during peak usuage would be catastrophic for our business. We are evaluating pros and cons of moving to amazon RDS with provisioned IOPS.

 

Caveats of AWS RDS SQL Server:

These information we gathered while working with SQL Server RDS.

Feature Name Yes/No Description
SQL Server 2016 Support No Microsoft says SQL Server 2016 comes with very rich feature set and ton on OLTP Enhancements
Native Backup Restore Yes AWS RDS Released this feature a week ago , which makes moving databases across environments lot more easier.
Elastic IOPS No Storage and IOPS needs to be incremented linearly for higher performance. You can’t get higher IOPS without increasing storage.
Elastic Storage No Scaling Storage is not an option after launching an instance
RAID Support No We usually have RAID 10 for production workload and RDS doesn’t have options to configure RAID
Point in Time Restore on Same Instance No You can’t do Point in Time Restore on the existing database. You have to spin up new Instance
AlwaysOn Availability Groups No This provides ability to failover group of databases to your secondary instance
Mirroring Yes Mirroring is Deprecated feature and its replaced with AlwaysOn Availability Groups
Linked Servers from RDS No But Linked Servers to RDS is Allowed.
Service Broker No Comes handy for services

  No Admin privileges. You can’t execute normal sql server system stored procedures and you need to work with options groupand parameters group to modify configuration. You can’t execute sp_configure to change configurations.

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