1 November 2018

Azure vs AWS: The Ultimate Showdown

 

Cloud computing is at the core of digital transformation. As initial reluctance has subsided, many businesses have embraced change and adopted the cloud as their data centre. But, those who have taken the leap are faced with a new challenge – which cloud service should you go for?

Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are two of the biggest players in the cloud computing game, so it’s likely you may be considering one of them. To help you choose between the two, we pit them against each other in the ultimate Azure vs AWS showdown!

Bridging the gap

Before we get into the debate, let’s take a closer look at the market share of Azure and AWS to understand their popularity. The latest figures from industry analysts Gartner show AWS dominates the public cloud market with reported revenue of $6.1 billion. However, Microsoft reported that revenue generated from Azure grew by 89% in Q4 2018, emphasising that it’s not out of the race just yet.

The figures show that Azure is bridging the gap in terms of application workloads, particularly in regards to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). While AWS still holds the most at 41.5%, Azure are the only competitor even close to them at 29.4% – take a look at Google Cloud Platform at 3.0% and IBM SoftLayer at 2.6% and it’s easy to see why Azure is the one catching up.

Features

As cloud computing is constantly evolving, comparing AWS and Azure’s features often comes down to how quickly they respond to market demands. Both providers work tirelessly to offer as many features as possible and attempt to reach new markets, for instance by offering machine learning capabilities. Azure released their machine learning service in early 2015; a drag-and-drop tool used to build, test and deploy predictive analytics solutions. Not to be outdone, Amazon Machine Learning was also launched in 2015 and followed by three new services, AWS Rekognition, Polly and Lex, a year later.

Cloud computing network

While AWS has been around longer than Azure and arguably has more features as a result, Azure’s history with enterprise computing gives them an advantage over the competition. A key feature of Microsoft Azure is the ability for large companies to earn benefits from using their service through Enterprise Agreements. This is an alternative to pay-as-you-go, which can save organisations a considerable amount of money every year.

Hybrid clouds

Despite the many benefits of cloud computing, there are scenarios where on-site data centres may be the preferred option. However, many companies still want to utilise these benefits in other areas. This is where the concept of hybrid cloud computing comes in, where you can get the best of both worlds. Predicting this need early, Microsoft Azure undoubtedly outshines AWS.

Microsoft offer strong support for hybrid clouds with platforms like Azure Stack, which allow you to use your on-premises data centres to run applications and access nearly the full Azure suite for the same price as its public cloud model. It has taken AWS much longer to embrace hybrid cloud computing, having maintained a stance against private data solutions.

Development

In terms of development capabilities, Azure and AWS are pretty much neck and neck. Each can handle the pressure of architectural demands, but as with every service, there are pros and cons to each that you should assess in terms of what is important to you. While Azure can arguably handle creating, deploying and scaling applications with greater ease than AWS; AWS can migrate much larger quantities of data for businesses of all sizes.

cloud computing graphic

Microsoft host cross-platform solutions to augment their own offerings, such as the configuration management tool Chef. Despite not being owned by Microsoft, you can access this with just a click of a button from within the Azure portal. Naturally, Azure also integrates with other Microsoft products like Visual Studio and Office 365, which makes life easier for most organisations that already use them. In comparison, AWS offer a Partner Network to help businesses build effective solutions for their needs.

Compliance

Cloud computing security has been a hot topic of discussion since its inception, fuelled by numerous well-documented data breaches over the years. However, both Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services have the finances to invest in comprehensive data security. In fact, Azure boasts the most certifications than any other cloud provider, meeting a variety of international compliance standards, as well as industry and country-specific.

Of course, AWS has no shortage of certifications that meet several compliance standards in its infrastructure. They utilise network and web application firewalls to ensure privacy, as well as end-to-end encryption, amongst other measures. This is not unique, however, so if you’re looking for a cloud provider with exceptional focus on security, Azure takes the crown.

Pricing

The benefit of a competitive cloud market is service providers have to ensure they don’t price themselves out of it. What’s more, pricing models tend to be flexible for your needs, as no two organisations will need the same plan. AWS use a pay-as-you-go model that allows you to only pay for the services you need without a complex contract. They compare it to utilities – you only pay for what you use and don’t face a fee when you stop using them. They also offer discounted rates with Reserved Instances, available on varying contract lengths with upfront payment agreements.

computing graphic

Microsoft Azure also offer pay-as-you-go pricing, so you only pay for what you use again. However, you can also save money by opting for a Reserved VM Instance and committing to a year or three-year term upfront. Alternatively, you can go for an Enterprise Agreement, which we discussed earlier.

So, who is victorious?

In the Azure vs AWS battle, it’s hard to pick an undisputed champion. While AWS has longevity on its side, Microsoft has fought hard to bridge the gap the years have forged. With stronger hybrid cloud capabilities, competitive pricing for larger organisations, a strong focus on security, and seamless integration with existing Microsoft products, Azure reigns victorious here at Storm.

As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we specialise in cloud solutions for big businesses and start-ups alike. From migration to consultancy and management, get in touch with the team today to see how we can help you.

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