For those businesses looking to move all or part of their workload to the cloud, trying to sort through the myriad of options can be an incredibly daunting task. While there are seemingly as many cloud providers as clouds dotting the sky, most enterprises will eventually find themselves staring down the dilemma of Microsoft versus Amazon. Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s Azure have a collective stranglehold on the market with a 49% share (32% for AWS and 17% for Azure). All other cloud providers can only hope to pickup a few slivers of the pie these behemoths haven’t already gorged on.
AWS enjoyed first mover status as they flat out dominated the cloud landscape from 2002 to 2009. Microsoft entered the fray in 2010 and is winning the growth battle (76% year-over-year versus 46% for AWS). With that said, it will take a feat of Herculean proportion to dethrone the current 800-lb gorilla in this space. As we all know, size doesn’t necessarily translate into the right solution for your business. Let’s take a look at 6 ways Azure is beating AWS at their own game.
1) Hybrid Cloud
Unless you are a new startup ready to set the world on fire, you have legacy applications to contend with. Throwing everything up into the cloud day one just isn’t a feasible option for most businesses. Due to configuration constraints, some applications may have a hard time leaving the cozy confines of the existing on prem data center. Those are just the realities many IT professionals are faced with, and for companies in this situation a hybrid cloud that balances Azure with on prem can make a lot of sense.
Microsoft has made the hybrid cloud their bread and butter. Azure Stack, Hybrid SQL Server and others hybrid services highlight their heavy commitment to this model which has made them the clear leader in hybrid cloud. Amazon certainly isn’t ignoring this space, but this is one of the few places they are lagging behind in the cloud wars.
2) Integration with Microsoft Products
If your enterprise is already running Windows Server, SQL Server, Exchange, Active Directory and other core Microsoft products to service critical aspects of your business, its only logical to plug Azure into that existing ecosystem. While most of these services will integrate just fine with AWS, Microsoft has built a seamless integration experience between its product line and Azure. When you consider all the headaches that come built-in with a server migration, wouldn’t it be nice knowing your core infrastructure will work right out of the gate?
3) Intuitive Use
Want to feel instantly overwhelmed? Log into the AWS portal and start clicking around. Within a few seconds you’ll be asking yourself, “What is an Elastic Beanstalk? Is Amazon going to put magic beans in my code?” Unfortunately, no magic is going to save your code, and there is no Jack or scary giant to be found up in this mythical cloud.
Amazon’s sprawling catalog of service offerings can quickly drown a new user in confusion. It can be difficult to determine what Amazon offers not to mention where to find it even if you did know. Amazon’s cheeky naming conventions make products like S3, Elasticache, Redshift, Kinesis and Glacier seem like completely foreign entities. By comparison, is there any confusion as to what an Azure Virtual Machine is? It takes time to learn the AWS nomenclature whereas Azure’s is more intuitive in nature, allowing you to ditch part of the learning curve and get to work.
Platform as a Service provides a framework for developers to code their applications on top of. PaaS factors in the development, testing and deployment of applications in a logical, cost-effective way. This can boost developer productivity and ultimately reduce the department’s time-to-market for its applications.
Microsoft particularly excels in PaaS. To name a few of Azure’s PaaS offerings, Azure Web Apps allow developers to launch a web environment instantly with high availability that supports a host of languages out of the box (ASP.NET, Node.js, PHP, Java, Ruby and Python). Azure Mobile Apps provide a backend for your iOS and Android mobile applications to plug into, adding features like offline sync, push notifications, auto scaling and high availability. Azure Functions are serverless background jobs or microservices that are triggered by an outside service like Azure Service Bus. Azure Functions amount to a small piece of code that requires no plumbing to get up and running.
5) Enterprise Agreement
The Enterprise Agreement may be Microsoft’s ace in the hole when it comes to pricing out its competitors. Just like your insurance agent roping you in to that home-auto policy combo, bundling Azure services with your existing agreement will get you discounted rates. For the budget conscious company, this can help sell the cloud move a bit easier to upper management.
6) Avoid Vendor Lock-in
Sometimes it is not even about Amazon versus Azure. Increasingly, more companies are opting for a multi-cloud approach. According to a recent survey by 451 research, 69% of organizations are planning to go multi-cloud in the coming year. While the idea may seem peculiar on the surface, it has a lot of benefits once you drill down to the details.
With multi-cloud, you can improve reliability by providing fail over in the rare event of a vendor outage or DDoS attack. It gives the IT department leverage and options to run processes where they are most cost effective as well as taking advantage of critical features that may be spread across separate cloud vendors. You also aren’t dependent on your cloud provider if they jack up prices or suffer performance issues after you’ve finished migrating over to them.
On the whole, you can’t really go wrong with AWS or Azure as your cloud provider. Both are best in class and will continue to innovative and lead the cloud space for years to come. For Microsoft shops or those organizations needing a hybrid cloud option, Azure offers some clear benefits over AWS that need to be strongly considered.
Still not convinced that Azure is the right decision for your business? Come back next week to see the other side of the coin in my companion piece on 10 reasons AWS should be your cloud solution of choice. Also feel free to take Azure for a spin on the cheap. For a year, you can test out their most popular services for free as well as get a $200 credit for Azure services.
This article statements lack of supportive data. Please be serious
I deal with all these vendors and these are ridiculous statements. The only person who gets fool by this is the author. I can’t take this article seriously. This is a Microsoft funded article and all fraud as always. You mean there’s no vendor lock-in with Microsoft?Enterprise Agreement of Microsoft is the worst contract anyone can ever consider. Azure stack for hybrid? Please share the technical info on how Microaoft does this and how the pricing work. Give everyone a break, please! Microsoft and Oracle have other interests and that’s selling licenses! At least GCP and AWS don’t sell you software based on number of CPU cores.
Most of this information is incorrect, AWS does provide support for hybrid cloud. AWS does provide support for active directory, SQL server and more. AWS does provide platform as a service in the form of Elastic Container Service. Please get your facts straight A’s your article seems to anyone with any concrete knowledge of aws, just an ad for Microsoft azure.
This looks more like Azure PR stunts to me.
Yeah sure “block blobs” is so much more intuitive to understand than “simple storage service” (s3). Just reading about block blobs makes me think it was a creation of Lewis Carroll.
Nice paid-for sales article for azure. Almost every comparison that you made was exaggerated or blatantly false v
There is no PR stunt here. This is an article highlighting where Azure excels in the cloud space. I have a follow up article highlighting features from AWS posting next week. I never stated that AWS didn’t support hybrid cloud. The article clearly states that Microsoft currently does it better. AWS does have good solutions in this space. You are correct that AWS does support Windows features like AD & SQL Server and the article denotes this. Again, Microsoft supports these more seamlessly. There was no suggestion that anyone needs to enter into an Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft. What was stated was those companies who already have one would see pricing benefits.
Microsoft is not the enemy here. Both Microsoft and Amazon have made great cloud platforms. Based on business need, companies will naturally gravitate to one solution or the other. My hope with this article and its AWS follow up is to highlight these distinctions.
This author must not have experience in both of these clouds. I work extensively in both and the facts are Azure is awful unless you are someone who only points and clicks. AWS is much easier to use, the services are much more reliable and automation is a million times easier. What ever money you save in Azure will be spent in development hours and down time.
Honestly, a lot of this is opinion and not fact, I find Azure a lot lot less Intuitive than AWS (Azure feels like jumping through hoops, AWS is straightforward), and integrating with MS products only matters if your company heavily uses MS products (and a lot of companies are moving away from MS products aside from office)… multi-cloud is definitely the future, but from a developer’s point of view, AWS is still much, much easier to use…
That is kind of the point of the article that if you are a Microsoft shop, Azure is usually going to be the better fit for you — better integration with Microsoft products and better pricing. That is a fact. I’ve seen no data to support your claim that “a lot of companies are moving away from MS products.” I haven’t worked with a single client where this is the case, but I’m open to looking at hard numbers if you have them. Developers do prefer AWS more, and that is a point I made in my recent article on why you’d want to go with AWS.
LOL, no vendor lockin. At least be honest and provide references and technical details when you write an article.
I’m not sure what you are confused about Dev. In the multi-cloud model, you avoid vendor lock-in by splitting your cloud across two different vendors — Azure and AWS let’s say. You aren’t reliant on either one. Its pretty basic.