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After careful thinking and asking on meta.stackoverflow, I'm posting this question on the DBA site. If anyone thinks this question should be on serverfault or any other site, feel free to close and migrate it.

We have a couple of self managed servers, production and development, with some not too big databases on a MS SQL Server 2008R2 express instance. Also we have some other databases hosted on the Amazon RDS service and a couple of web sites too. I've been asked to investigate the option of migrating all the production & development databases to Amazon AWS. Also check the viability of using EC2. Sorry if I'm miss using some terms, I'm just learning about all these services.

Where should I start doing some tests, maybe creating a dummy database to test the different configurations, compatibility issues, latencies, etc? Can I have some recommendation on tutorial/blog/faq's where to find some usefull information? I already opened an account on the "free tier" that Amazon offers for testing purposes and I'm reading everything I can find on the subject, other than the AWS Documentation site.

Any recommendation will be welcomed as well as any previous experience doing this kind of migration to the AWS. I'm willing to add to my question any information that could help to clarify it.

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One of my customers is running their entire production site up on EC2. They've had pretty good luck with it, except for when there is some sort of Amazon caused outage (which there have been a couple of over the last couple of years).

The biggest thing that you need to worry about is planning for an EC2 site failure with your application. If EC2 has a major failure are you ok with the database being offline for a couple of days, or possibly loosing all the data in the database? If not then you'll need to handle that via traditional SQL Server DR planning by having another server running as a hot standby server in another Amazon data center. The same goes for the web servers and anything else that hits the database.

The slowest part of using EC2 is the storage. There are ways around this by getting lots of volumes from Amazon and striping across them within the VM.

As for the dev machine, that's pretty easy. Just toss it up there and it should be fine as long as you've got backups going somewhere.

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I read about the outages they have had, one of it a couple of years ago made a known news aggregator Meneame.net to be offline for about a day and the owner/dba/developer carefully explained all the situation, it is really interesting to read about it. We can not afford to be offline so long, that is why we have backups both local and somewhere else (still discovering new things about our own architecture). Will keep looking for more information about the subject and start testing with the free tier, is a start –  Yaroslav Jan 4 '13 at 10:27
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Backups shouldn't be your plan to get around a site failure in the cloud. I highly recommend to my clients that they have a second database server running in another site that has copied of the database available to fail over to at a moments notice. Having backups is good, but new servers can take hours to configure then it'll take more hours to restore the databases. –  mrdenny Jan 5 '13 at 2:05
    
Replication maybe? –  Yaroslav Jan 5 '13 at 12:29

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