Before jumping into the AWS vs Azure battle for supremacy, it’s important to understand their features as they support business needs. Internet-based services have been the fastest growing industry, by far and away, for two decades. First with the meteoric rise and fall in the dot com era, and then with more stable and reliable, but equally as formidable, growth from the mid-2000s to now. To put numbers on it, the number of people using the internet has increased by 1000% since 2001, for an average growth rate of around 55% per year.
By contrast, even in the current era of unprecedented economic strength, the average growth rate across all industries in 2019 was only 6.8% per year.
The world is just as hungry as ever for computing power. This has manifested in the last decade in the introduction of cloud computing platforms. The two most-popular cloud infrastructures are Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.
Both of these services can give your business the efficiency and scalability it needs to rise to new heights. With the tech leviathans behind them putting more and more resources each year into research and development for cloud-based tech, both AWS and Azure are extremely reliable and constantly improving to suit modern needs.
However, there are some key differences in the ways these two services work. Depending on your specific needs as a business, one may be a better option over the other. Let’s walk through the AWS vs Azure dilemma, examine the pros and cons of each software, and the side-by-side comparison to determine which one might be best for your enterprise.
Amazon Web Services: A Good Choice for Cloud Computing
Amazon Web Services, or AWS, was launched in 2006 and has since become by far the most popular cloud infrastructure service on the planet. As of 2018, their market share in infrastructure-as-a-service was 44.2%, with their revenue surging more and more each year.
Due to their size and long-standing status in cloud services, AWS offers an extensive range of services at a lot of different pricing options to ensure good value-for-money for many businesses. They offer services in data analytics, computing, Internet of Things integration, virtual reality development, robotics, and machine learning, just to name a few.
In terms of pricing, they offer a couple more payment options compared to Microsoft Azure. Microsoft Azure will offer a discount if you pay in advance for either one year or three years. AWS has discounts for those paying in advance for one and three years as well, but with partial upfront payments and continuing monthly payments available to choose from at the same time.
It’s important to note here that the exact prices for these services is constantly changing, as the prices of components such as electricity, real estate, and cooling mechanics for servers fluctuate frequently.
Amazon Web Services is rooted in Linux’s RedHat OS, which means it’s quite flexible when dealing with differing types of machines and operating systems. This can be either a strength or, as we are about to see, a weakness. Although it’s a powerhouse, AWS simply cannot compete with Azure in many aspects.
Microsoft Azure: Often the Better Choice
While Azure’s market share is, compared to AWS, quite small (15.5%), it’s still formidable in terms of functionality. Interestingly, despite that small share, 90% of Fortune 500 businesses use Azure. It seems to be a top choice for the most effective firms in the world. While that may appear intimidating, there are many instances when Microsoft Azure is the no-brainer choice for your small- to medium-sized business as well.
First, let’s talk about hybrid cloud systems. A hybrid cloud system is a computing infrastructure that uses some sort of interfacing between a public cloud service, such as AWS or Azure, a private cloud architecture (i.e. one that’s hosted internally), and physical, on-premises computational hardware.
Hybrid clouds are very common and for good reason. While public cloud services such as AWS and Azure are great for outsourcing computing and data analytics, as well as a plethora of other benefits, they can be a bit restrictive when it comes to having the exact infrastructure you want for your proprietary data.
This is where private clouds and data centers come in. With a private cloud, or if you have your own servers, your developer can hardwire the infrastructure any way they want to achieve any organizational data goal.
Here is where we start to see just how advantageous Microsoft Azure can be. Azure is known for being far superior to AWS when it comes to interfacing with a private cloud or a datacenter. Developers can create hybrid apps, which use resources from both a data center or private cloud and Microsoft Azure and then host those apps with ease. This ability to interface easily is severely restricted with AWS.
Another huge benefit for Microsoft Azure is its dominance, both price- and functionality-wise when being used in firms that use mostly Microsoft products. In fact, if your office is full of PCs with Windows operating systems and Microsoft database configurations, Microsoft Azure will be about 80% less expensive to use than AWS. This is because Azure does not require the renewal of Windows licenses year-to-year like AWS does. Additionally, Microsoft offers free security updates for Windows-oriented software, whereas you must pay for them if you use AWS.
From this, we can see two instances in which Microsoft Azure is by far the better option over AWS for your business. If your business uses hybrid cloud infrastructures in order to distribute and host its apps, web services, or data analytics, use Microsoft Azure. If your office uses Windows or any other Microsoft-created software, also use Microsoft Azure.
While both Azure and AWS are extremely powerful tools for bringing your business to the next level, it’s important to understand that each software has its own perks and use cases that make them the superior choice for a specific enterprise.
Switching to cloud computing can seem insurmountably complex. Luckily, we at ZAACT are always here to help.
ZAACT offers top-of-the-line consulting and support for Microsoft Azure and its integrations, as well as services for many other Microsoft products. Please feel free to contact us for a free initial consultation or check out our Azure page for more information on cloud computing.
Pros and Cons of AWS
AWS offers the following advantages to organizations/users:
- “Fast-movers advantage”: AWS has achieved the status of the market leader in the cloud services landscape more than a decade back. The company has consolidated this leading position, which gives it the “fast-movers advantage”.
- The depth of the cloud infrastructure: AWS has built on a very robust cloud infrastructure with considerable breadth and depth.
- The breadth of cloud offerings: AWS covers the entire gamut of cloud offerings. It offers Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
- Capabilities: AWS offers all the common capabilities like self-service, security, instant provisioning, auto-scaling, etc. that you expect from a Managed Cloud Services Provider (MCSP).
- Maturity: AWS offers the whole range of services that you can ask for in its cloud offerings. For example, it offers computing, content delivery & storage, databases, and networking as parts of its IaaS. That’s comprehensive.
- Databases: AWS offers a wide range of SQL databases, which includes Amazon Aurora, MariaDB, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL. Similarly, AWS offers enough NoSQL databases too, e.g., Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon DocumentDB, Amazon Keyspaces, and Amazon ElastiCache.
- The breadth of services: AWS offers a considerable number of services across categories like computing, database, analytics, storage, mobile, developer tools, etc.
- Scalable computing power: AWS utilizes EC2 (Elastic Cloud Computing). This helps organizations to scale their computing power usage on-demand.
- Storage: AWS provides matured storage capabilities, e.g., machine instances, and S3.
- Network and content delivery: AWS uses a “Virtual Private Cloud” (VPC) that allows organizations to create isolated private networks. Such networks can have subnets, private IP ranges, network gateways, etc.
The key disadvantage of AWS is its pricing plans. AWS is expensive, furthermore, clients might find its pricing plans hard to understand. This makes it hard to estimate and manage costs.
Pros and Cons of Azure
Azure offers the following advantages:
- Robust cloud infrastructure: The infrastructure support capabilities of Microsoft are impressive.
- The breadth of cloud offerings: Azure offers IaaS, PaaS, and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), which covers the entire breadth of cloud offerings.
- Capabilities: Azure has the key capabilities like self-service, security, instant provisioning, auto-scaling, etc. that an MCSP needs.
- Maturity: Azure offers mature cloud offerings. For example, it offers computing, performance, data management & databases, and networking as parts of its IaaS. That’s comprehensive.
- Databases: The SQL database services from Azure consists of Microsoft SQL Server. Azure Cosmos DB is the fully-managed NoSQL database offering from Azure.
- The breadth of services: Backed by Microsoft, Azure provides a comprehensive set of features and services.
- Scalable computing power: Azure uses a virtual hard disk (VHD) to create a virtual machine (VM). Azure offers tools to use with this VM to provide scalable computing power, and this solution helps to deploy applications.
- Storage: Azure offers temporary storage through the D drive. It offers block storage through Page Blobs for VMs, and it offers Block Blobs for object storage.
- Network and content delivery: Azure provides a virtual network that enables the clients to create isolated networks with subnets, private IP ranges, network gateways, etc.
- Hybrid cloud capabilities: Azure provides excellent hybrid cloud capabilities. Organizations might need to run their workloads with high-security requirements on a private cloud, while they can run the other workloads on a public cloud. Robust hybrid cloud capabilities are important for seamless integration.
- Integration with Microsoft products: As you would expect, Azure integrates very well with Microsoft products.
The key disadvantage of Azure is that it entered the cloud computing market later than AWS. It still needs to catch up with AWS, e.g., it’s less enterprise-ready than AWS.
AWS vs Azure: A Comparison
The AWS vs Azure comparison plays out as follows:
Feature/Area: Market Share
Market share: AWS is the market leader in the cloud computing landscape.
Cloud infrastructure: AWS has a robust cloud infrastructure.
Cloud offering: AWS offers IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.
Capabilities: AWS offers all the common capabilities like self-service, security, instant provisioning, auto-scaling, etc.
Hybrid cloud capabilities: AWS supports the hybrid cloud.
Maturity: Mature cloud services.
Databases: AWS offers a range of popular open-source SQL databases as well as licensed ones. It offers Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon DocumentDB, Amazon Keyspaces, etc. among NoSQL databases.
Services: AWS offers the largest range of services among cloud providers.
Scalable computing power: AWS offers scalable computing power using EC2.
Storage: AWS provides matures storage capabilities using S3.
Network and content delivery: AWS provides robust means to create a private, isolated network.
Price: AWS can be expensive. It has complex pricing plans, which makes it hard to estimate and manage costs. AWS offers a “pay-as-you-go” pricing model with hourly charges.
Enterprise-readiness: AWS has excellent cloud capabilities for enterprise use.
Market share: Azure has a smaller share of the cloud market than AWS.
Cloud infrastructure: Azure offers a robust cloud infrastructure.
Cloud offering: Azure has IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS offerings.
Capabilities: Azure offers all the key capabilities including self-service, security, instant provisioning, auto-scaling, etc.
Hybrid cloud capabilities: Azure has excellent hybrid cloud capabilities.
Maturity: Mature cloud services.
Databases: Azure offers Microsoft SQL Server only, however, it’s a robust choice. Azure Cosmos DB is its NoSQL database offering.
Services: Although fewer than AWS, Azure offers a wide range of services.
Scalable computing power: Azure offers VMs using VHDs to provide scalable computing power.
Storage: Azure offers temporary storage through the D drive, block storage through Page Blobs for VMs, and Block Blobs for object storage.
Network and content delivery: Azure offers the necessary capabilities to create an isolated network with sufficient privacy and security.
Price: Azure offers short-term commitments to customers. Organizations can avail of prepaid or monthly pricing. Azure offers a “pay-as-you-go” model with charges by the minute.
Enterprise-readiness: Azure needs time to catch up with AWS as far as enterprise-readiness is concerned.
Which one to choose?
Market share: AWS wins if organizations want the topmost cloud provider.
Cloud infrastructure: Both AWS and Azure have strengths.
Cloud offering: Both AWS and Azure have comprehensive cloud offerings.
Capabilities: AWS and Azure offer all key capabilities.
Hybrid cloud capabilities: Azure is the clear winner vis-à-vis hybrid cloud capabilities.
Maturity: There’s no clear winner between AWS and Azure.
Databases: AWS wins if organizations want flexibility concerning databases.
Services: AWS wins if a client wants a wider choice of services.
Scalable computing power: There’s no clear winner between AWS and Azure.
Storage: Both AWS and Azure have high capabilities.
Network and content delivery: There’s no clear winner between AWS and Azure.
Price: Azure offers pricing plans that are easier to understand. Organizations will find it easier to manage costs with Azure.
Enterprise-readiness: SMBs might want to choose Azure, whereas, Enterprises will find AWS more suitable.
Both AWS and Azure are mature and robust cloud providers. They both offer broad ranges of capabilities, services, and tools. Azure clearly leads when it comes to hybrid cloud capabilities. Many SMBs operate in highly-regulated industries with a high focus on data security, and they need robust hybrid cloud capabilities. On the other hand, AWS is more enterprise-ready than Azure. Azure offers a pricing structure that’s easier to understand than AWS. This makes it easier to estimate and manage costs.
Bottom line: Analyze your business requirements carefully before choosing a cloud provider.