AWS Vs. Azure – Which is the best Cloud Services Provider?

17 May 2019

We’ve been using Azure for many years at LiveRoute now; also, we built a number of Azure services keeping business in mind. But is Azure the right cloud for you? The battle between Azure and AWS is intense, so we decided to see how they make the grade in this head-to-head comparison.

There is no doubt that customers love Amazon Web Services (AWS). The segment gained a profit of more than $3 billion on revenues of more than $12 billion in the year of 2016. Which is greater than the revenue in 2015 which was around $8 billion.

That gives AWS a run rate of $14 billion, which is similar to the run rate posted by Microsoft for its commercial cloud services. While we can not assure that Microsoft’s Azure services is on equal footing as AWS as far as customers go, it does show us that Azure is a worthy contender for the cloud service provider of choice. This perception is raised by Azure’s offerings, which can easily match those of AWS.

Amazon has been in this cloud computing services for more than ten years and this is the reason it has the starting lead amongst all. Azure has only been in market starting from 2010. Not to say that AWS is better by default because Microsoft is a known powerhouse and it has the resources to create an outstanding product or service if it decides to. And by all indications, Azure is like one of those products that the software giant is relying on for its revenues. So how does Azure compare with AWS?

The Essentials

Amazon’s AWS has a range of offerings that fall under IaaS, and each of these is categorized into four classes:

  • content delivery and storage,
  • compute,
  • networking, and
  • database.

No matter which IaaS offering you get, you will be using Amazon’s identity and security services such as AWS CloudHSM’s key storage service and Amazon’s own Azure Active Directory with Azure Information Protection. Not only that, but in AWS offerings users can also enjoy a wide range of management tools that includes AWS Config, AWS Cloudtrail, and Cloudwatch.

Whereas Azure also has its offerings divided into sections as:

  • Data management and databases,
  • compute,
  • networking, and
  • database.

Security features are given as Active Directory Federation Services, Azure Active Directory, Multi-Factor Auth, among others, as well as a range of integrations for Azure monitoring and performance tweaks.

Developer Love: Deploying Apps & PaaS

One of the biggest advantages of cloud computing is with how much simplicity you can deploy an application. As a developer, you want to deploy your app to multiple servers without dealing with the actual servers. Being able to take advantage of PaaS features like SQL databases, caching, queuing, NoSQL and other technologies are also a great deal. Developers can use services like Redis & Elasticsearch without the need of knowledge to install and manage them.

AWS offers similar solutions with Container Service, Elastic Beanstalk, Lambda, and Batch, but it does lack of different options or features on the app hosting side. Microsoft has flexed their knowledge of developer tools to have a little bit of an edge over the other hosting cloud apps.

The preferred mechanism to deploy apps in future will be Containers, especially for open source applications. Look for more and more advancements in hosting containerized apps in the cloud.

Hybrid Cloud & Legacy Apps

One of the hindrances for the companies that are planning to migrate to cloud computing is their use of legacy apps. Not all companies are geared to adjust to new applications for the cloud environment or restructure themselves for the purpose. For those that need to rely on legacy apps, a hybrid cloud that would combine the cloud environment with their data centers would be a lot of help.

Hybrid clouds are also one of the most popular choices for some companies that do not want to make a full conversion to the cloud and would want to keep some of their data and systems in-house.

Azure provides greater ease for hybrid clouds, partly because Microsoft has foreseen the need for hybrid clouds early on. Substantial support for hybrid clouds, where you can use your onsite servers to run your applications on the Azure Stack. You can even set your computer resources to tap cloud-based resources whenever required. This makes moving to the cloud effortless. Several Azure offerings also help you maintain and manage hybrid clouds such as Azure Stack, Hybrid SQL Server, and Azure StorSimple. Microsoft’s long history of working on enterprise IT gives them an upper hand surely when it comes to the hybrid cloud. According to Brian Olsavsky, the chief financial officer of Amazon, the company needs to strengthen offerings to support hybrid clouds, it is still catching up, with more investments earmarked for hybrid clouds.

Even then, the AWS currently has a number of software services ready for companies who want a hybrid cloud deployment such as Storage Gateway, DynamoDB Local and Direct Connect.

Azure vs AWS for Microsoft Shops

Microsoft has long been synonymous with larger enterprise customers. Azure makes it easy for those currently using Windows Server, SQL Server, Exchange, and other Microsoft technologies to move to the cloud.

For .NET developers, publishing your application to Azure is seamless and also publishing an app to Azure App Services or Cloud Services takes away all of the worries of deploying apps and managing servers.

Azure is more favorable for Microsoft Shops even when AWS supports Windows, SQL Server and the like.

Azure vs AWS for Open Source Developers

Amazon might have started off as merely an online seller, but Microsoft has consistently had its eye on business customers focusing on Windows and similar platforms. Azure has a marvellous Single Sign On Feature for enterprise users that makes sure that integration with Visual Studio is smooth, as well as the integration with Azure Active Directory. Users can even use the Active Directory account to sign on the Azure Portal or for their Office 365 plan.

However, Amazon shines bright when it comes to open source developers. On the other hand Microsoft has historically been very un-welcoming to open source applications, and it turned a lot of companies off. Whereas AWS welcomed Linux users and offered several integrations for open source apps.

Microsoft has recently openly embraced open source technologies. Microsoft recently opens sourced the .NET Framework and the new .NET Core runs on Windows, MacOS, and Linux. SQL Server now runs on Linux. Microsoft also claims that about 1/3 of Azure Virtual Machines are running Linux and some of the infrastructures that drives Azure even uses Linux.

Government Cloud

When you think of the cloud, the very first consumers those who pop up in the mind are startups and big tech companies. IT leaders who have been working in the government are also working on moving their apps to the cloud. Government websites and other cloud deployments need to adhere to certain regulations, which is why putting government assets on public clouds raises warning flags as far as compliance is concerned.

Both Azure and AWS have a dedicated service for users involving government concern as pricing varies. These government clients can use this isolated, secure area for their workloads so that no sharing of computing, networking and other resources with ordinary business users will happen. Rest asured, platforms like AWS and Azure and even Google Cloud Platform promise a great Infrastructure that is in-line with various regulations, such as the HIPAA, DISA, FIPS, among many others.

License, Fees and License Mobility

AWS has always made it a point to give customers hassle-free licensing. It is all a matter of paying for the licenses that you use no matter what AWS offering you are availing. But Microsoft goes a step further and offers Azure mobility for the licenses that you’ve already paid for. This means that you can use the same license for similar products and import accounts that you’ve initially paid from, helping you save licensing costs.

Azure follows suit for the offered mobility and licensing norms.

Being a great feature in itself, you must not mistake it for being universally applicable. That all your Microsoft licenses are eligible. For instance, Windows Server is not offered with a mobile license, but Exchange Server, SQL Server, Skype, System Center Server and Project Server are.

Estimated costs for the use of either AWS or Azure might be a little difficult to come up with, but both services currently offer cost calculators that users can use to get an idea of how much they can expect to spend on each platform.

Features

As per features go, you will find that most of all features offered on Azure have a corresponding or similar feature available on AWS. While it is quite difficult to come up with a totally distinct list, it’s pretty evident that some Azure products have no alter ego in AWS. This includes the Azure Visual Studio Online, Azure Site Recovery in Dubai, Azure Event Hubs, and Azure Scheduler. They’re separate services given by Azure but noting monstrously different. However, it seems that AWS is trying to close the gap. For instance, AWS now offers AWS Lambda to counter Azure’s Logic Apps.

This leaves us with a fair idea of where both the platforms stand. At the end, you have to know your requirements very well and to the core in order to choose the better platform from Azure and AWS. Both have a similar suite of services and features, with more or less, the same pricing. While AWS tries to support young businesses, Azure is the favorite for enterprise clients. Azure has been working hard to gather all kinds of users. The good thing about Azure and Microsoft is that they have more than 65,000 partners worldwide that help you get started with Azure and provide full guidance on how to set up and scale your Azure IT infrastructure.