Blog February 25, 2020

Amazon FSx: More Good News for Those Looking to Run Windows Workloads in an AWS Cloud

I often get asked some variation of the question, “Can I run Windows on AWS?” The answer is an emphatic “yes!” In fact, Connectria has been recognized by AWS for our delivery of Windows on EC2. You can learn more about this and the other AWS competencies we hold in our the AWS partner profile.

One of the AWS services that makes it easy to run Windows on AWS is Amazon FSx for Windows File Server. This AWS service is relatively new, but if you’re thinking of running a Windows workload in an AWS cloud, it’s a service you really should know about.

What is Amazon FSx for Windows File Server?

In a nutshell, Amazon FSx for Windows File Server is Windows-compatible shared file storage. According to the AWS website,

Built on Windows Server, Amazon FSx provides the compatibility and features that your Microsoft applications rely on, including full support for the SMB protocol, Windows NTFS, and Microsoft Active Directory (AD) integration. Amazon FSx uses SSD storage to provide fast performance with low latency. This compatibility, performance, and scalability enables business-critical workloads such as home directories, media workflows, and business applications.

Consider the Costs

In my last post, I talked about why you would use AWS Transfer for SFTP  instead of setting up and managing your own server in-house. I encouraged readers to consider the opportunity costs of the DIY approach vs. using an AWS service. The decision to use Amazon FSx for Windows File Server instead of managing your own file server has a similar cost component.

After publishing that post, I ran across a report from Forrester that illustrates how important it is to consider opportunity costs when evaluating your approach to IT services. In that study, only 36% of respondents said they had the right number of IT professionals to address their digital transformation efforts. Not surprisingly, given the on-going IT talent shortage, 60% already use or plan to use outside services to address the gap. Most notably, 80% said outside services helped them find more time for innovation.

So, yes, there is an opportunity cost when you choose to manage day-to-day tasks in house that could be outsourced to a vendor like AWS or Connectria. When you tie up your in-house resources and budget in these things, it leaves less room for those tasks and initiatives that give you an edge in the market.

Consider the Benefits

There are other benefits to deploying Amazon FSx for Windows File Server other than finding time to innovate. Security capabilities was one of the issues respondents to the Forrester study were most concerned about. Again, not surprising. These professionals are in high demand and are some of the most expensive IT talent on the market today.

Amazon FSx for Windows File Server helps you address any gaps in IT security coverage by automatically encrypting your data at-rest and in-transit. By integrating with another Amazon service, AWS CloudTrail, you can also monitor API calls on your Amazon FSx resources. This is very important when using Windows File Server in business that needs to maintain compliance with HIPAA, PCI-DSS, SOC, and other security and compliance regulations.

Remember, however, that security features can’t help you maintain security and compliance unless they are configured correctly. According to data collected by McAfee, 99% of public cloud misconfigurations go unnoticed. If you don’t have the in-house skills to manage your own Windows File Server, it’s probably a good idea to get help configuring Amazon FSx for Windows File Server. We can also help you create a comprehensive cloud security strategy across all your cloud-based resources.

More to Come

I have to commend Amazon for doing such a great job of providing solutions to help power users of Microsoft products deploy their workloads in AWS. That’s not to take away from Azure’s capabilities, but as noted above, AWS can be the right choice for any number of reasons. I’ll cover some of these additional services, as well as some of Azure’s most notable features, in future posts.

If you’d like to discuss migrating your workloads to AWS, Amazon FSx for Windows File Server, or any of the other topics I touched on in this post, you can reach out to me directly on LinkedIn. Or, if you’d like to talk with one of our Cloud Migration or Managed Cloud Services advisors, you can request a meeting here.

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