Microsoft snags AWS with a $10 billion defense JEDI contract over a decade, beating Amazon’s Cloud Platform.
Azure cloud services defeat AWS and mark the latest victory in the cloud space. Microsoft has further also won significant cloud-infrastructure deals from giant corporations like Walmart, while Amazon’s AWS has kept growing at a constant pace. It is no doubt that public cloud services are cost-competitive alternatives for on-premise traditional hosting environments.
Both AWS and Azure are rooted performers in the industry, with almost 99% of the similar use cases. In this article, we will have a spectrum of comparison between these two best cloud computing services to understand who really wins the cloud war and which provider is the best for you. Before we begin, let us get a brief introduction to both cloud computing services.
Introduction to Azure
Microsoft’s Azure is a flexible and open-source cloud platform that helps in cloud development, data storage, service hosting, and service management. It provides cloud computing services through its data centers that host web applications over the internet. So far, it has emerged as one of the best cloud service providers that offer a range of integrated cloud services such as computing, database, networking, storage, analytics, mobile, and web applications. All of these functionalities seamlessly integrate with your environment to achieve scalability and efficiency.
Azure has been in the industry for several years now and it has been gradually catching up on the market against its competitor AWS which in the past has covered over 70% of the cloud business domain. With a wide range of services and established Microsoft Windows customer base, Azure has been able to help organisations transition to cloud faster than any other cloud provider. It provides almost every on-premise Windows feature over the cloud today.
Introduction to Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been in the market longer than any other cloud service provider. It has been able to capture the market quite rapidly due to its sophisticated suite of services that are easy to get on-boarded to. AWS offers a solution to almost every IT need with a well laid out architecture for flexible and scalable compute, storage as well as network. The complete AWS hardware infrastructure is secured with several layers of hardware and software security that is quite easy to configure and utilise.
As per the recent survey, at present AWS still leads the race for market share in the Cloud services domain. Below are the statistics of the survey stating where each cloud service provider stands.
Now that we have understood briefly about each of the cloud service provider, let us compare these leaders on variety of factors.
Azure Cloud vs. AWS Cloud – Use & Ease of Understanding
AWS proposes more configurations and features if you are willing to learn the system. There exists a steep learning curve with AWS. If you are a Windows person, Azure will be easier to use because it is a Microsoft platform and doesn’t require learning something completely new. The terminologies in AWS is quite new to get acquainted with while for Azure, any Windows system administrator would be easily able to get along.
Additionally, IT professionals also agree to the fact that AWS offers a lot of flexibility, power, and customisation room with support for many third-party integrations. However, with Azure, it’s simple to integrate on-premises Windows servers with cloud instances to form a hybrid environment. Certain services like Microsoft Active directory and MSSQL database as a service work better on Microsoft Azure while the speed of resource allocation is comparatively faster on Azure.
AWS console is one of the simplest among all the cloud service providers. It categorises and distributes services based on the functional aspect of each. The menu is easy to understand and navigate through. Additionally, from a performance perspective, AWS console performs way faster than Azure console that often lags back and renders an old screen if you skip the data rendering process. This said, over the few years, both the companies are putting in great efforts to revamp UI for every service out there.
Azure vs. AWS – Pricing
Pricing is a prime factor when we talk about transitioning from one cloud service provider to the other or from an on-premise setup to cloud. Both AWS and Azure have a competitive pricing with the flexibility to save costs by committing longer engagement. With increasing competition among cloud service providers, there has been a continued downfall on costs for quite some time. Azure and AWS offer free introductory tiers with restricted usage limits to allow you to try and experience their services before buying them.
Azure’s pricing model is pay-as-you-go; they charge per minute, whereas AWS provides a pay-as-you-go model and charges per hour. Recently though, AWS has started offering per minute pricing on several services. AWS can help you save more with high usage- the more you use, the less you pay. You can purchase AWS Instances based on the following models –
- Instances- Bid for an extra capacity based on the availability.
- On-demand Instances -Pay for what you use without paying any upfront cost.
- Reserved Instances – Pay an upfront price based on the use; one can reserve an instance for 1 to 3 years.a
Azure, on the other hand, offers short term plans to its users and allows them to choose between pre-paid or monthly charges. AWS is a cost-effective and flexible than Azure when it comes to the pricing model.
Azure vs. AWS – Database
Today, all of the applications require a database to save information. AWS and Azure both provide database services, regardless of whether you need a NoSQL or a relational database. However, there are differences in the way they provide the services. With AWS, they provide managed databases that automatically takes care of updating and managing your database scaling too.
Microsoft Azure, on the other hand, provides different database services individually spread out for Microsoft SQL, PostgreSQL and NoSQL databases. Azure as well as AWS support Big Data capabilities as well. Amazon’s RDS supports six popular database engines, which are MariaDB, MySQL, Microsoft SQL, Amazon Aurora, and Oracle, and PostgreSQL, while Azure’s SQL database service is based primarily on MS SQL Server. Azure comes with interface and tools to perform various DB operations smoothly while AWS has other instance types that you can provision and get control over DB instances.
Technically, Azure manage your server as a separate entity and the database installation as a separate entity. It allows you to run multiple databases on the same server with the SQL service. This not only saves costs but also make it easier. However, this can also lead to exposure of vulnerabilities of one database towards the other. On the other hand, AWS RDS is a service that uses the desires compute power to process your data and you are charged only for what you use. This allows you to save costs when your usage is optimum.
Azure vs. AWS – Security
An aspect that is the most important when it comes to Cloud infrastructure deployment. The primary reason for organisation opting for on-premise deployment was the need for sophisticated security infrastructure. However, with the limitations of scaling up and the cost of maintenance piling up, they are forced to transition over the cloud. With providers like AWS and Azure, they could be hardly worried of their security as long as they manage it well on their front.
AWS has been advocating its shared responsibility model to the organisation since quite a long time now. This lays down the grounds for the organisation IT team to understand what is in their scope for meeting the required standards. In order to make the transition simple, AWS has its hardware built from ground up by its internal team and has got all the necessary certifications around the hardware and software layer supporting the Cloud operations. Moreover, it has also ensured to capture the minimum requirements of storage encryption and network encryption. With sophisticated tools like AWS Security hub and AWS Guard duty, they ensure that the organisation admins are able to keep track of all their resources under a single console interface.
Azure too isn’t lagging in the space. Azure’s infrastructure is complaint to endless list of certifications and standards for security. Azure utilises third party hardware infrastructure that is best-in-class to ensure that there is no glitch when it comes to their hardware firewall. These third party hardware infrastructure ensures that they use the best they get rather than re-inventing the wheel. Additionally, Azure has a layered architecture that isolates the resources from any interactions from outside world. This means the access to the resources via console,SDK and APIs are all controlled separately. This allows you to control precisely who can have access to the resources.
Azure vs. AWS – Software and Performance
The right cloud service provider can scale to 1000’s of processing nodes in a couple of minutes. For organizations that need faster graphics rendering or data analysis, there are two choices available– purchase additional hardware or jump to the Cloud. This is what the vision of public cloud services is.
For Software, AWS’s primary solution is its EC2 instances, which offer scalable computing on-demand. There are also different services like the AWS Lambda, EC2 container service, Elastic Beanstalk and Autoscaling for app deployment and on-demand computing. AWS serves as the most extensive range of services, which is close to 100 across compute, database, analytics, storage networking, mobile, management tools, developer tools, enterprise applications, and IoT security. When it comes to performance, AWS surely leads the race. AWS functions quite transparently in how it handles its softwares. The EC2 instance on-demand gets created in hardly couple of minutes which on Azure takes as long as ten minutes to get going.
Microsoft Azure has its own points to lead on. Despite larger instantiation times, the software is laid out well with the required set of features. It is additionally backed by best-in-class hardware switches that provides excellent network switching speeds. This makes Azure a better alternative when a better network performance is the end goal rather than repeated instantiations.
Cloud Storage – Azure vs. AWS
On the storage front, AWS and Azure go almost neck-to-neck. Azure has a match for almost every service provided by Azure. AWS storage services are longest-running. However, Azure’s storage capability is extremely reliable. Both AWS and Azure are strong in this category and include all the necessary features such as server-side data encryption and REST API access. Azure’s storage mechanism is known as Blob storage, and AWS storage service is referred to as the Simple Storage Service (S3).
AWS’s cloud object storage solution contributes to high availability and automatic replication across areas. Azure’s Block Storage is similar to S3 in AWS. Temporary storage in AWS functions when an instance starts and stops. Azure applies temporary storage and page blob for VM based volumes. They are two classes of storage offered by Azure – Hot and Cool. Hot storage is comparatively more pricey than Cool, but one has to incur additional read and write charges. Similarly, AWS provides standard S3 and S3 glacier storage for higher speeds.
AWS offers variety of persistence storage disks under its Elastic block storage service. You have the option to choose from SSD, Magnetic disks and others. Azure on the other end prefer to use SSD to keep its operations fast enough. Both the providers also have a highly scalable network storage on offer. AWS EFS and Azure File System provides transfer speeds upto 10Gbps over the network for these storage.
Conclusion- Final Score
Both Cloud platforms show potent capabilities, and it is undoubtedly challenging to pick a clear victor. Azure is excellent when it comes to integrating with Microsoft stack of products and Hybrid Cloud, whereas AWS has extra features and more flexibility & speed. It boils down to the requirements of you or your organisation eventually. While both of them have a free startup package, Azure is more inclined towards supporting startups while AWS supports large scale organisation in all they need. In case if you have a different opinion, then do let us know which one you prefer more in the comments section.