Overview - SQL Server with WSFC on AWS


SQL Server on AWS

This Quick Start implements a highly available environment that includes Windows Server and SQL Server running on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), using the Always On availability groups feature of SQL Server Enterprise edition. This infrastructure provides the underpinnings for many Microsoft technology-based solutions for the enterprise, including SharePoint and .NET Framework applications.

The automation in this deployment uses AWS Systems Manager Automation, AWS CloudFormation, and Windows PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) to deploy a multi-node SQL Always On availability group. A prerequisite for deploying a SQL Server Always On availability group is Windows Server Failover Clustering (WSFC). SQL Server Always On uses WSFC to increase application availability. WSFC provides infrastructure features that complement the high availability and disaster recovery scenarios supported in the AWS Cloud.

Implementing WSFC cluster in the AWS Cloud is very similar to deploying it in an on-premises setting as long as you meet two key recommendations:

  • You must deploy the cluster nodes inside a virtual private cloud (VPC).

  • We recommend that you deploy the cluster nodes in separate subnets to provide high availability across multiple Availability Zones.

This Quick Start provides an automated deployment of WSFC that meets these requirements and handles the configuration steps for you.

This guide provides step-by-step instructions for deploying a reference architecture for SQL Server on AWS. It doesn’t provide general configuration and usage information for WSFC and SQL Server. For general guidance and best practices, consult the Microsoft product documentation amd the Best Practices for Deploying Microsoft SQL Server on AWS whitepaper.

This Quick Start supports SQL Server 2016, SQL Server 2017, and SQL Server 2019 Enterprise Edition running on Windows Server 2019.

Costs and Licenses

You are responsible for the cost of the AWS services used while running this Quick Start reference deployment. There is no additional cost for using the Quick Start.

The AWS CloudFormation template for this Quick Start includes configuration parameters that you can customize. Some of the settings, such as instance type, volume size, or opting to use the Amazon-provided image for SQL Server, will affect the cost of deployment. See the pricing pages for each AWS service you will be using for cost estimates.


After you deploy the Quick Start, we recommend that you enable the AWS Cost and Usage Report to track costs associated with the Quick Start. This report delivers billing metrics to an Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) bucket in your account. It provides cost estimates based on usage throughout each month and finalizes the data at the end of the month. For more information about the report, see the AWS documentation.

The Quick Start provides three licensing options for SQL Server Enterprise edition. You can:

  • Install a trial version of SQL Server 2016, SQL Server 2017, or SQL Server 2019 Enterprise edition from the Microsoft Evaluation Center.

  • Use the Amazon Machine Image (AMI) for Windows Server with license costs and SQL Server Enterprise edition included.

  • Use your volume licensing software and mobilize the license. For development and test environments, you can leverage your existing MSDN licenses for SQL Server by using Amazon EC2 Dedicated Instances. For more information about these options, see the Microsoft Licensing on AWS webpage.

This Quick Start launches one of the Windows Server AMIs listed in the following table, depending on the parameters you set when you deploy the Quick Start.

Quick Start parameter settings Windows Server AMI used
SQL Server version (SQLServerVersion) Amazon-provided SQL Server license (SQLLicenseProvided)
2016 Yes Windows Server 2019 with SQL Server 2016 SP2
2017 Yes Windows Server 2019 with SQL Server 2017
2019 Yes Windows Server 2019 with SQL Server 2019
2016, 2017, or 2019 No Windows Server 2019

The AMI includes the license for Windows Server and is updated on a regular basis with the latest service pack for the operating system.