The Battle of the Public Clouds: Azure vs. AWS

The Battle of the Public Clouds: Azure vs. AWS

It may not deliver quite the excitement of two titanic heavyweights in a no-holds-barred cage match to the death, but a competition between two of the world’s most profitable corporations can get pretty fierce -- especially when they’re fighting over technology as lucrative as The Cloud.

Tonight’s main event pits Microsoft Azure against Amazon AWS in The Battle of the Public Clouds. They’re both big bruising brawlers with plenty of reach, the former out of Redmond, WA, the latter from right across the lake in Emerald City proper.

And speaking of right crosses, Microsoft has landed the first blow by pointing out their product’s much cooler moniker than the competition’s lazy acronym for Amazon Web Services. But that’s certainly not the only difference between these powerful products, so let’s get ready to rumble.

The Basics of the Public Cloud

Everything you’ve heard about the simplicity and savings businesses enjoy by migrating their data and systems to The Cloud is true. Moving your applications, databases, and other digital content off-site to shared servers hosted in the cloud will make managing your entire office IT infrastructure easier and less expensive.

The “shared” aspect of cloud-hosted servers is what makes Azure and AWS “public” clouds, and as leaders in the field, each delivers all of the public cloud’s key benefits quite admirably. Both platforms ensure business owners will enjoy enhanced compute power, streamlined data management, stronger network security, and easier employee mobility, and each provides an easy avenue to getting there.

Migration

Starting up on either Azure or AWS involves a slight transformation of your IT. You’ll go from storing your data and software tools on your own local servers to storing them on Microsoft or Amazon’s cloud-hosted servers to which you’ll connect over the Internet.

Microsoft’s Azure Migration Center promises migration that’s “smarter and faster, while ensuring minimal business impact.” Amazon’s site reminds us that “The path to cloud adoption is unique for every enterprise” before outlining in great detail the four phases of cloud migration and six possible strategies for completing it.

Head-to-head, it seems Amazon must be doing something slightly better to please business owners. AWS is the market-share leader by a roughly 4-to-1 ratio, which we suspect has something to do with how easy it makes transferring extremely large quantities of data to its servers.

Features

Once again, you can’t really go wrong with either contestant. As we mentioned, both Azure and AWS provide all the basic features that average SMBs would need from a public cloud platform, plus an array of productivity-enhancing integrations with one’s existing IT systems.

For Windows users, Azure’s learning curve will be a shallow one so it will seem less like you’re installing a whole new system and more like you’re running some new plug-and-play software. And the functionality it offers alongside the customary SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) -- such as PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) which is great for businesses developing their own applications -- allows for deep dives into all the the available features.

On the other hand, AWS offers a wider range of functionality with more features and configurations, but generally requires more hands-on management -- at least at the outset, where the learning curve can be steeper.

Pricing

As we alluded to, AWS has a larger portion of the public cloud market at the moment, but that’s probably because Amazon got into “the cloud business” a bit earlier than Microsoft, not because it makes it easier to migrate huge databases, or because it has more features, or because it’s cheaper, which it isn’t.

But it’s not more expensive either, and both Azure and AWS offer convenient, fairly priced, pay-as-you-go billing so businesses pay for only what they use. Each has per-hour, per-minute, or even per-second billing -- depending on the functionality and features being used -- each offers a free tier, and each helps its customers calculate Total Cost of Ownership so they have a clear picture of ROI over the short-, medium-, and long-term.

The Decision

We’d be splitting hairs trying to reach a decisive conclusion about which of the two cloud kingpins is more user-friendly, more rich in features, and more economical. Azure and AWS are so similar in so many ways that trying to declare an outright winner really depends on one’s needs.

But, just for the fun of it, let’s go to the judges anyway! They’re the technicians, engineers, and consultants from one of Connecticut’s top cloud computing providers: Charles IT. And the result is… a draw. {cue chorus of boos from the crowd}

But don’t worry, you can read for yourself how we’ll help with your cloud migration, or give us a call for more in-depth analysis of the judges’ ruling. {cue thunderous applause for Charles IT}