Azure vs. AWS 2017: what’s the deal? There’s been a lot of speculation lately that Microsoft Azure may be outpacing Amazon Web Services (AWS). But before jumping to conclusions, it’s worth taking a look at these claims. After all, AWS has been dominating the public cloud market for so long, maybe the media is just bored of that story, and ready for the underdog to jump ahead. So let’s take a look.

Is Azure catching up to AWS?

You may have seen some of the recent reports on both Microsoft and Amazon’s recent quarterly earnings. There have certainly been some provocative headlines:

Here’s what the quarterly earnings reports actually showed:

  • AWS revenue grew 43% in the quarter, with quarterly earnings of $3.66 billion, annualized to $14.6 billion.
  • Microsoft reported that its Intelligent Cloud division grew 11% to $6.8 billion, and the Commercial Cloud division has an annualized run rate of $15.2 billion.
  • But, the Commercial Cloud includes Office 365, not just Azure.
  • Microsoft stated that Azure’s growth rate was 93%, without providing an actual revenue number.

So is Azure bigger than AWS?

Well, no. There’s no evidence of that.

But is it growing quickly?

Yes – that it is.

Where is Azure actually gaining ground?

Now let’s take a look at what is driving Azure’s 93% growth, and where Azure is actually gaining ground.

First of all, as companies grow beyond dipping their toes in the water of public cloud, they become more interested in secondary options for diversity and different business cases. Just from our own conversations, we’re finding that more and more AWS users are using Azure as a secondary option.

Second, enterprises have been enmeshed in a variety of Microsoft products for years — Windows and beyond. Microsoft already has the foothold, relationships, and enterprise agreements with these organizations, so they’re pushing Azure as a cross-sell – which is something Azure is counting on as it targets the cloud migration market. AWS, on the other hand, lacks these pathways.

Azure is also doing well in Europe, where more users report using Azure rather than AWS as their primary provider.

How does the Azure vs. AWS 2017 debate matter to the customer?

How does the Azure vs. AWS 2017 debate matter to the customer, when choosing a new or secondary cloud provider? Well… in terms of market performance, it probably doesn’t. As always, the specific needs of your business are going to be what’s important.

Let’s not forget that both Google and IBM both have growing public cloud offerings too (and Google is looking to take on the enterprise market this year.) All of this competition drives innovation, and therefore IaaS and PaaS offerings – and perhaps, better pricing.

For the customer, the basic questions remain the same when evaluating public cloud providers:

  • How understandable are the public cloud offerings to new customers?
  • How much do the products cost?
  • Are there adequate customer support and growth options?
  • Are there useful surrounding management tools?
  • Will our DevOps processes translate to these offerings?
  • Can the PaaS offerings speed time-to-value and simplify things sufficiently, to drive stickiness?

We’ll continue to track the AWS vs. Azure comparison as the companies’ offerings and pricing options grow and change – we’ll be interested to see how this evaluation changes in 2018.