By Jaime McMahon, VP Sales & Marketing, ProServeIT Corporation

It’s pretty clear that there is a major shift for many organizations to embrace a new way of working and move to more Cloud-based (or at least hybrid Cloud) environment. We’ve seen several organizations, especially the ones we work with, realize the many benefits of Cloud, and make that change. The question that seems to come up is whether they should go with Azure, or if Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the better choice.

When one of our customers asks us this question – Azure vs. AWS – our response is that this isn’t a technology decision. Both Microsoft and Amazon perform well, and for all intents and purposes, there’s parity in 99% of the use cases out there. So, when it comes to looking at which one to choose, this is more of a business decision based on what is necessary and specific to your organization.

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In this blog, we’ll give you a brief overview of Azure and AWS, including a side-by-side comparison of each of these platforms, but, more specifically, we’ll delve into five key points that you should consider before choosing Azure or AWS.

 

 

Azure vs. AWS – A Brief Overview

Before we get to the heart of the matter – what’s most important for your organization – let’s briefly discuss what each of these platforms are:

Microsoft Azure

Think of Microsoft Azure as your Swiss army knife of Cloud-based services. Azure helps your organization meet business challenges by quickly deploying infrastructure and services to meet your specific needs. With Azure, you have freedom to build, manage, and deploy applications using whatever tools you’re most comfortable with. Get up and running with a cost-effective, yet scalable solution that can work with your existing investments, and includes everything you need, from related products to services to third-party solutions. As for pricing, Azure has flexible purchase and pricing options, where you pay only for what you use, and don’t pay any upfront costs.

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Amazon Web Services (AWS)

A secure Cloud services platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers you the computing power, the content delivery, the database storage, and other functionality to help your business scale up (or down) as needed. With AWS, you can build flexible, reliable, and scalable applications to meet your unique business needs. Through AWS Cloud, you can get infrastructure services that are delivered to you on-demand, which makes them available for you in seconds. When it comes to pricing, AWS offers pay-as-you-go, so you only pay for what you use.

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5 Key Points To Consider When Choosing Azure vs. AWS

Here are the 5 key points that we think you should consider when choosing between Azure vs. AWS:

Azure vs. AWS #1: Efficiency and Effectiveness – Gains and Losses of Consolidating a Vendor

There are both pros and cons to consolidating your vendors. Just because you’re a predominantly Microsoft shop doesn’t necessarily mean that you should immediately gravitate towards Azure. It’s important to understand not just what your business is doing now, but what your vision for the near future is. Consider: How do your systems integrate with each other (or how will they integrate with each other)?

The bottom line is this: the further you get involved with a single vendor, the harder it can be to leave. You may have more buying power with the vendor, and it may lead to increased productivity. But there is a risk to this – the further you leverage one vendor, the harder it will be if you need to make a change should there be a desire to.  The flip side to this is that there is often inherent integration benefits and efficiencies gained from leveraging as many services as possible from a single vendor.

Azure vs. AWS #2: Taking Security into Consideration

There’s a line of thinking that, when you are designing an enterprise security plan, first and foremost your objective is to keep it simple. The simpler your enterprise security plan, the easier it is to adhere to it, which makes it easier to manage.

Introducing multiple Cloud vendors is almost an inevitability in today’s IT and business landscape. The fewer Cloud vendors you leverage will help to increase your security posture. This is because there aren’t as many systems or attack vectors that need to be managed. So, if you don’t have a firm security strategy in place, it’s probably better to focus on fewer cloud vendors, and keep your security strategy simple.  However, if your company already has a security strategy that you’ve built out to allow for multiple Cloud vendors, this may not be as big of a risk or consideration for your organization.

When considering Azure vs. AWS, therefore, you need to ask whether one of these systems increases the complexity of your security footprint. If so, you need to take into consideration if you’re prepared with a solid security strategy that will uphold your choice in Cloud providers.

Azure vs. AWS #3: The Element of Trust

Who do you trust to secure your data or infrastructure? This is one of the main questions you need to ask yourself when you’re going to embark on your Cloud journey. It’s all about trusting the organization you’re going to work with – either Microsoft or Amazon. When deciding Azure vs. AWS, make sure that the terms and conditions and the contracts you look at are on par with what you’re expecting. Also, do some research into the background of each company and see if there have been recent breaches, security issues, or anything else that might raise a red flag for you.

Azure vs. AWS #4: The Ability to Gain Adoption & Traction

There is something to be said about what your organization’s skillsets are. When deciding between Azure vs. AWS, you need to consider which vendor will make the most sense for adoption and traction with the team supporting your organization. Are you a predominantly Microsoft shop, for example?  If you’re using Office 365, have Surface laptops for many of your employees, or are otherwise heavily Microsoft-focused, it could make better business sense to go with Microsoft.

In order to determine how easy it’ll be to adopt a new Cloud system, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Which vendor is going to give you more support?
  • Are there training resources available?
  • Do you have partners that support you? If so, what are they using?
  • Are the account teams aligned in providing resources to your team to get you going?
  • Are you (or will you be) tapped into any programs to jumpstart your journey?

Azure vs. AWS #5: In-Market Solutions Tied to Your Specific Industry Vertical or Business Model

Sometimes, choosing between Azure vs. AWS comes down to whether or not your specific industry vertical has a niche solution in market deployed on one platform or the other. There are a number of organizations that build very specific solutions that tightly integrate with, or are packaged to be deployed on, one cloud vendor or the other.

Let’s say, for example, you’re a manufacturing company, and you need software that can manage an assembly line of robots. It may be that there is a vendor with an in-market solution for which Azure is the only Cloud system that supports that specific software that fills that specific need you have. If so, it’s pretty clear that you’re going to choose Azure over AWS.

 

A More Detailed Comparison of Azure vs. AWS

Below, we’ve outlined some of the key features and components of Azure and AWS.

Launch Date: AWS began offering Cloud services in 2006. Azure was released (initially as Windows Azure) in 2010.

Main Offerings:

Both Azure and AWS offer the following public Cloud core components:

  • Security
  • Identity Management
  • Self-service and Instant Provisioning
  • Compliance
  • Auto-Scaling

Both Azure and AWS also provide main offerings in the areas of Compute, Storage, Databases, and Networking.

Azure AWS
Compute Main offering is Virtual Machines (VMs), with tools like Cloud Services and Resource Manager, Autoscaling service, etc.Autoscaling service, etc. Main offering is EC2 instances, with related services like Elastic Beanstalk, EC2 Container service, AWS Lambda, and Autoscaling. Autoscaling.
Storage Azure Storage, Azure Blob block storage, Table, Queue, and File Storage. Also offers Site Recovery, Import Export, and Azure Backup. Simple Storage (S3), Elastic Block Storage (EBS), Elastic File System (EFS), Import/Export, Glacier archive backup, and Storage Gateway.
Databases SQL – Azure SQL Database
NoSQL – Azure
DocumentDBDocumentDB
SQL – Amazon Relational
Database Service
NoSQL – Amazon DynamoDB
Networking Automated server load balancing.
Connectivity to your on-premise systems.
Automated server load balancing.
Connectivity to your on-premise systems.

Machine Learning Capabilities: Both Azure and AWS launched Machine Learning services in 2015. Azure’s Machine Learning Studio launched in February, with Amazon’s Machine Learning service following closely behind in April.

Pros and Cons of AWS and Azure:

Azure AWS
Pros
  • AWS has numerous offerings – lots to choose from, and lots of options available.
  • AWS Cloud is both open and flexible.
  • High security ranking.
  • AWS Marketplace has a lot of third-party software services, so good variety.
  • AWS is willing to work with partners, which will help reduce barriers for potential customers.
  • AWS is always modifying existing products, through either acquisitions or streamlining what they already have.
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is a particular strength for Azure.
  • Links to key Microsoft on-premises systems, like Windows Server, Active Directory, and System Center.
  • Enterprise Agreements allow larger organizations more flexible billing and competitive pricing.
  • Emphasis on Hybrid Cloud, with tools like Hybrid SQL Server, and Azure StorSimple.StorSimple.
  • Azure is willing to work with partners, which will help reduce barriers for potential customers.
  • Continually modifying their existing products, through either acquisitions or streamlining what they already have.
Cons
  • AWS has numerous offerings – navigation can be difficult at times.
  • AWS’s hybrid Cloud strategy is lacking – Amazon doesn’t put much emphasis on the benefits of on-premise private Clouds.
  • Some issues with outages reported.
  • Only recently has Microsoft been willing to supporting other platforms. Not as much flexibility.
  • Some issues with outages reported.

Still Not Sure What to Choose? Let Us Help You

We’ve mentioned how the decision between Azure vs. AWS is more of a business decision based on what is necessary and specific to your organization, rather than a technology decision based on what specifications each of these services have. But if you’re still unsure which one’s the right choice for you, contact us today and let us help you. We can help you assess your current needs, understand your current corporate structure, and determine what’s the best option for your business.