Friday, August 20, 2010

Microsoft Business Intelligence ( SSIS / SSAS / SSRS ) on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud ( EC2 )

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One of the reasons, SSIS is making it's entry into most of the data warehousing eco-systems, is due to it's competitive pricing and the immense support that it has inherently got from SQL Server as a database engine. But when you are in a competitive world, you need to hit the best possible estimates that wins over others. Pricing is a very big factor, especially when your organization is acting as a service provider as well as solution provider. Difference is that as a solution provider, you develop a solution for your client, deliver it and you are done. As a service provider you are expected to host the solution and provide it as a service for the agreed duration of time within the agreed Service Level Agreements (SLA).

Windows Azure and SQL Azure are growing consistently in the cloud computing environment, but still they are not mature enough to provide an integrated environment for SaaS flavor of BI solution on Azure platform. One such cloud computing environment is provided by Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute known as Amazon EC2. IT cannot work in isolation and neither can MS BI, so it's immature to consider just Azure for cloud requirements related to MS BI.

EC2 is a huge platform and has got a lot of services and products. Below is my flavor of understanding and explanation of same, considering the services of interest in alignment to MS BI.

1) Amazon Web Service (AWS) is the medium by which Amazon provides IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) to it's clientele. Technically speaking, these services are made available in the form of a web service. All the services listed below fall under the classification of AWS. You should read this page to check out for the relational databases supported by Amazon.

2) Amazon EC2 : A web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. This can be considered a super version of Windows Azure. Consider Amazon EC2 as your processor and Amazon Elastic Block Storage as your hard drive on the cloud. Other services of interest available with EC2 are Amazon CloudWatch, Elastic-Load Balancing, and Elastic IPs.

3) Amazon SimpleDB : A web service for running queries on structured data in real time. It provides the core functionality of a database, real-time lookup and simple querying of structured data without the operational complexity. SQL Azure can be considered similar to this.

4) Amazon Simple Notification Services (SNS) : By using Amazon SNS, developers and businesses can send notifications or messages to applications or people using a “push” mechanism and have these messages delivered over protocol of choice. Probably there is no equivalent of this in Azure services stack.

5) Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) : A simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve large amounts of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. This is similar to Windows Azure Storage.

6) Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) : A secure and seamless bridge between a company’s existing IT infrastructure and the AWS cloud. Amazon VPC enables enterprises to connect their existing infrastructure to a set of isolated AWS compute resources via a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection, and to extend their existing management capabilities such as security services, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems to include their AWS resources. This is an advanced / flexible version of what Windows Azure Appliance Solution is trying to provide.

The main service of our interest, if we intend to start our development or production using MS BI stack on Amazon cloud, is Amazon EC2 running Microsoft Windows Server and SQL Server. Express edition and Standard edition of SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008 are available. This would mean that enterprise level applications can't be executed on this environment.

If I consider a scenario where I need MS BI capabilities for a few months with a handful of developers, instead of buying servers, hardware and software licenses, it would be a cost effective way to start piloting your solution with the kind of platform and services provided by Amazon EC2. If you are thinking about the cost differences, a Standard Edition SQL Server for a Workgroup license of 5 developers would cost at least a couple thousand dollars (at least in 5 digits), and with EC2 it would not cost you even in 4 digits for a couple of months. You don't believe this ? Well, check it out using AWS Simple Monthly Calculator. As I keep telling, cloud is all over the place and if you don't find cloud, cloud would find you !!!

1 comment:

amitrdhagat said...

Hi Siddharth, so where are you from and architectural standpoint on this situation. Can MSBI 2012 connect to AWS instance? Or can it be hosted on AWS to consume and report on data stored on a S3 bucket?


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