I’m often asked why I opt to use Microsoft Azure rather than Amazon Web Services (AWS). According to the available data, Amazon is outperforming Microsoft in terms of market share, and the assumption is that this means AWS must be better. This sort of favoritism is pretty common in IT circles, but the fact is that market share fails to tell the whole story. Don’t get swept up in the hype: make your own decisions based on the facts.
This is Part 1 of a blog series focusing on a fact-based comparison of Azure and AWS. My focus will be on the actual capabilities that the platforms offer, rather than on how much revenue they’re earning.
If you’re a CTO (or an aspiring one), this blog is for you.
In Part 1, we’ll look at the top 3 things you should know when it comes to comparing AWS and Azure.
On the Amazon side of things, AWS was arguably the very first public provider of Cloud services. When Amazon jumped into eCommerce, they had to figure out a way to deal with traffic volatility and the servers required to run their site. Once they had this infrastructure in place for their own use, they realized they could offer it to others via the Public Cloud. Now, Amazon offers a variety of IaaS services to customers around the globe.
While all of this was going on with Amazon, Microsoft was leading the way when it comes to servers, tools, and enterprise services. As Microsoft became increasingly aware of the importance of the Cloud, they began to divert resources to the development of virtualization technology. Over time, Azure was developed. At the same time, Microsoft’s Internet and Search teams were devoting time and money to developing Bing and other Internet solutions -- and this has set Microsoft up to combine everything it’s developed into Azure as a Cloud computing platform with an existing enterprise-level customer base.
So, while AWS was certainly ahead of its time, Microsoft has arguably caught up. Plus, Azure has branched out and currently runs on Linux almost as much as it does Windows.
When it comes to the best IaaS provider, Microsoft and AWS are on even footing.
These days, most companies are focused on Hybrid Cloud. This involves having both on-site and Cloud-based infrastructure in place. Given its connection with various enterprise clients from the beginning, Microsoft saw this coming and has put a large amount of energy into developing Hybrid Cloud solutions. Over time, Microsoft has added Hybrid Cloud integration to the majority of its products, all of which are now developed with the Cloud in mind and then back-ported onto physical servers. Plus, the Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server allows users to run their Windows Server workloads in the Cloud with their on-premise licenses.
Meanwhile, AWS has taken a different approach. Given their origins as a Cloud computing provider, their goal has been to encourage clients to fully make the switch to Cloud. You can back up your existing Windows server to the AWS Cloud, but that’s the extent of their “Hybrid” offerings.
The clear winner when it comes to the Hybrid Cloud? Azure.
In terms of pure infrastructure, it would appear that AWS is more “complete” from a Cloud perspective. But when you think about item #1 above, you’ll realize that this detail alone isn’t enough to call Amazon the more complete Cloud provider.
Let’s consider Software as a Service (SaaS). Microsoft Office is now running as SaaS, making it easy for employees at organizations of all sizes to access email, collaborate on documents, store information, and more.
But that’s not all. Consider the various business applications that are essential to many enterprises, such as Dynamics 365 for Sales/Service (aka Dynamics CRM). If you combine Office 365, Dynamics CRM, and other Microsoft Azure features such as Power BI, you have a full suite of Cloud capabilities.
With AWS, you can always “lift and shift” your systems to the AWS Cloud -- but then your IT department is left managing that infrastructure. With Microsoft, this is taken care of for you, freeing up your IT department to pursue other tasks.
Which platform offers the most complete capabilities? Azure.
Given the facts above, Azure is the superior choice when it comes to Cloud services. Watch for Part 2 of this blog series to learn more about the “Azure vs. AWS” debate.
Want to learn more about what Azure can do for your business? Check out AKA’s Cloud Services offerings and watch this short video.
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