Let’s explore two of the leading cloud service providers: Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services or AWS.
Global enterprise spending on cloud services is seeing steady growth with more companies relying on the cloud for their business operations and building products. In 2021, the global spending on cloud infrastructure was around $178b, a 37% increase from the previous year.
While this certainly points to the benefits of cloud over on-premise solutions, businesses have to carefully choose their cloud vendors to get the maximum performance at a minimal cost. The good thing is there is no shortage of cloud vendors each with its pros and cons.
Azure or Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform from Microsoft offering more than 200 services. It was officially launched in 2010 and offers cloud computing services in the form of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.
Azure made a late entry into the cloud computing race compared to Google Cloud Platform or AWS and struggled a bit in the early years. But now it is one of the top three cloud service providers holding close to 22% of the market share beating GCP which has a market share of just 8%.
AWS or Amazon Web Services refers to the cloud platform from Amazon. It is the largest vendor of cloud services with a market share of 33% and is trusted by the likes of Netflix, Twitch, GoPro, and other top tech companies.
The foundations for AWS came from the robust infrastructure that Amazon’s e-commerce business demanded. While the initial idea to become a cloud service provider started taking root around 2003, it was in 2006 that Amazon launched Amazon Elastic Compute service, quite possibly the first ever Infrastructure As A Service offering.
Besides Elastic Compute 2, Amazon Web Services currently offers AWS Simple Storage Services, Lambda Functions, Amazon Connect, and around 200 other products and services.
Both Azure and AWS offer state-of-the-art cloud services and invest significant resources to offer the best experiences to their customers. At a glance, neither is better than the other. But there are considerable differences in how these Azure and AWS offer their services. Let’s explore what they are:
Both Azure and AWS offer virtual Linux and Windows machines. Azure refers to them as Virtual Machines while AWS refers to them as EC2 Instances. Both Azure and AWS have virtual machines categorized for general purpose, computing, memory, storage, and high-performance computing.
Besides compute, both Azure and AWS offer a wide range of cloud storage services as well. For Block storage, Amazon offers EBS or Elastic Block Storage while in Azure, you can use Azure Virtual Disks.
For databases, AWS offers Amazon RDS or Remote Desktop Services while Azure cloud offers Azure SQL. For networking, AWS offers Amazon VPC and Azure gets you Azure VNet.
Besides these, Azure and AWS also offer services for AI and ML, IoT, Containers, Migration, Developer tools, and many others.
For Amazon Web Services, the infrastructure supporting the platform is housed in separate geographic locations referred to as Availability Regions. Availability Regions are designed to be completely isolated and separate from each other.
Individual Availability Regions are divided into Availability Zones. They are designed to be isolated from failures in other availability zones in the same region, but AWS offers inexpensive low latency connectivity between them. As of now, there are 99 availability zones within 23 Availability Regions for AWS.
In Azure, there are Geographies, Regions, and Availability Zones. A single geography may have multiple Availability Regions, which are collections of data centers with low latency connectivity. Regions in geographies are paired with each other to provide better failover capabilities.
Availability Zones within a region are connected by networks with a round-trip latency of less than 2ms. As of now, Azure has more than 60 availability regions each with at least three availability zones.
Both AWS and Azure offer multiple pricing models. The most common model lets you pay-as-you-go without no upfront costs, long-term commitments, or cancellation fees.
Amazon offers a per-second billing with a minimum of 60 seconds while Azure charges you per minute.
Amazon also has a savings plan where you pay a smaller fee by committing to a price for one to three years. Both Azure and Amazon also offer reserved instances at a lower cost; with Amazon, you can save up to 75% while with Azure the savings are only 72%.
If you have tasks without specific start or end times and can survive interruptions, you can opt for spot VMs from Azure or AWS and get up to 90% off on the cost. With AWS, you get a two-minute notice when the service needs the spot instance back while with Azure you get only a 30-second notice.
Both Azure and AWS offer backup and recovery services. But it’s safe to say that AWS is a clear winner here, at least in terms of the range of services it offers.
AWS Backup offers a completely managed backup service for EBS Volumes, RDS Databases, and other AWS resources. AWS also offers a very unique service for data transfer called AWS Snowmobile which is literally a 45-foot container truck that can transfer up to 100 petabytes of data with dedicated security personnel, encryption, tamper-proof devices, and even an optional escort vehicle.
AWS offers AWS Identify and Access Management for free for every customer. It offers groups, roles, multifactor authentication, and monitoring services for every AWS resource.
On the other hand, Azure offers Active Directory with its services. With the free plan, users get SSO, multifactor authentication, and role-based access control. You can access higher security features by paying $6 or $9 every month for the premium tiers.
The answer depends on your specific needs. Of course, there are certain services unique to both of them in which case you may have not much of a choice.
If you’re looking for flexible pricing, AWS may be the better option, since it has a slight edge with pricing per second. AWS also promises higher savings when you go for reserved instances, but the actual savings may depend on how much you use and the services your business needs. With Azure, you can save on licensing costs by bringing your server licenses to your virtual machines.
Azure is a better option if you want a platform to build and launch websites and services. But if you want more granular control over your architecture with IaaS, AWS may be a better option for your business.
MA Technologies is one of the leading cloud solution providers serving clients worldwide with tailor-made solutions. Our experts have been leveraging both Azure and AWS to create cloud-based business solutions and generate value for customers in a variety of industries. Get in touch today for a free technical consultation!