I'm working on my skills in the Microsoft BI Stack, and I'm looking for an inexpensive SQL database hosting solution that I can "play" in. Services need to include SSAS, SSIS, and SSRS. My hopes are that this environment would eventually morph into something that I could use for proof-of-concept presentations, and made available to remote users. Any suggestions?
Nothing is an inexpensive as your local workstation. Pick up a copy of SQL 2008R2 Developer or SQL 2012 Developer. I believe both can be obtained for under $50 at any online retailer such as
cdw.com, etc. Then you have it local and do what you wish with it. I would highly recommend then downloading the adventureworks databases to play with.
As the other Tim says, the Developer eddition is well worth the money if you're goal is to learn SQL or to make a demonstration that will eventually move onto Enterprise Edition. If you are planning to eventually move the project onto Standard Edition you should note that there are some features that are enabled in the Developer Eddition that are disabled in the Standard Edition. If you are really trying to focus on "Inexpensive", look at the Express Edition. It is free and even has components that can be redistributed so you can build software packages on top of it and include the database with the package you distribute. And if you really want it hosted, look at [Windows Azure SQL database]. It has some differences from traditional SQL Server, but it is designed to be hosted remotely. :
In addition to the other suggestions, all great, you might want to look at simply using virtual machines. Microsoft has some available through Azure. Amazon has them through AWS. Neither is exactly free, but you only pay for what you use which means with some pretty disciplined access on your end you can keep the costs down.