Microsoft Azure & Amazon AWS – these are two giants in the cloud computing space that offer enterprise-grade IaaS and PaaS offerings, compatible with several programming languages, coding frameworks, platforms, and third-party programs.
Microsoft Azure was announced in 2008; but the official launch came as late as 2010. The announcement saw Azure being titled as ‘Windows Azure’. In 2014 it was rechristened as Microsoft Azure.
Its arch rival, Amazon AWS, literally created the market from scratch by launching the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud in August 2006. Even today it is regarded as the dominant player with a meaty 35% market share.
In the recent years, Microsoft Azure has risen from the ranks and emerged as a strong contender for the pole position of AWS. It is winning market share faster than any of its competitors like Google, IBM Cloud, Rackspace, Salesforce, and the likes.
The market share and growth rate between both the players are narrowing. It is only a matter of time before Microsoft Azure will close the gap and fight tooth and nail for the top market share.
In this blog, we are going to see how the Microsoft Azure is standing up to the competition that Amazon AWS is giving it.
Comparison of IaaS Offerings
A comparative analysis of what each platform offers in terms of IaaS offering:
Azure has a growing list of 600+ services including,
- Computational Services to launch Windows or Linux based general purpose virtual machines
- Cloud-based storage services using REST APIs and SMB protocols
- Mobile services for developing, distributing or beta-testing mobile apps
- Data management using SQL Data Warehouse
- Microsoft Machine Learning that forms part of the Cortana Intelligence Suite
AWS offerings can be broadly classified into compute, database management, content delivery and storage, networking, deployment, analytics and so on.
From the above comparison, you will notice that AWS and Azure have more or less similar features. But, there are few features that really set aside Azure and AWS apart from each other.
A Hybrid Approach To Cloud Scalability
Microsoft Azure is built to enable enterprises to make the best of both on-premise servers as well as the cloud. Enterprises can rely on on-premise servers for specific functions and extend them to the cloud as and when needed.
This hybrid approach to cloud scalability multiples the productivity of developers since their applications can be hosted on both mediums. Azure also offers the benefit of choosing which parts of the application must remain on premises and which one should be moved to the cloud.
Amazon AWS is yet to establish itself as a strong hybrid cloud player. At present, AWS extends several hybrid cloud deployments such as Direct Connect, Storage Gateway, Virtual Private Cloud, VMware cloud and so on.
Cloud-readiness For Government Agencies
Cloud computing is not just for tech startups and B2C enterprises. Even government agencies are increasingly migrating to the cloud to automate several citizen-centric services and processes.
Both Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS provide a special cloud edition for government agencies.
- AWS GovCloud – An isolated AWS region dedicated to US government agencies that do not share workloads with other business users
- Azure Government – An IaaS, PaaS and SaaS based cloud platform built on the ‘foundational principles of security, privacy & control, compliance, and transparency.’
These cloud services are compliant with more security protocols like DISA, HIPAA,
FIPS, and so on.
Amazon with its first-mover advantage in the industry has been servicing government agencies with protocol compliant cloud services. Microsoft Azure has also cordoned off an entire section for government cloud services. However, it is yet to reach a level of maturity as compared to Amazon.
Mode of Licensing
The economy of cloud scalability gets better with the right pricing. Both Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure have resorted to a licensure model. Microsoft Azure gives corporate customers who rely on Microsoft products like SQL Server, Exchange Server, System Center Server, Skype, etc. a competitive advantage as they integrate with Azure easily.
The only down point for Azure is that it does not support RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), whereas AWS does extend support for RHEL. So if your business is heavily reliant on MS products, then Azure is a good fit. If RHEL is your choice of platform, then AWS is the only option.
A line-by-line cost comparison of both the cloud services is not fairly possible, simply because of the dynamic factors involved. However, both the licenses do provide their own respective cost calculators – Azure Pricing Calculator and AWS Simple Monthly Calculator that help you arrive at the cost depending on your platform requirements.
AWS has an upper hand in the industry due to its first-mover advantage. Their features are top-notch and have been refined over time according to customer requirements. However, Microsoft Azure does give a fitting reply to each of AWS features with its own offerings. Azure is also seen steadily increasing its feature list to close the gap on AWS.
Right now, they are the two dominant players in the cloud space. In the years to come, Google, Verizon, Rackspace and the likes can also be expected to join the top league.
We cannot say for sure which one is the best fit for all circumstances. It will vary from company to company and the platform they are already using for other IT services within the company. As for pricing, both AWS and Azure offer competitive pricing through their licenses.
For Microsoft customers, Azure will be a wiser choice due to its seamless integration. Microsoft is also seen to have a steady commitment towards making cloud it’s epicenter of business. Microsoft is slowly receding its customer-centric offerings and pouring in more investment into cloud-centric businesses. It is only a matter of time before Microsoft Azure will start eating into the market pie of AWS.
With these two giants gearing up and new entrants getting stronger, this battle is one that is going to last for long.
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