Microsoft Azure vs. Amazon Web Services (Comparisons/Ratings)

Many companies – from enterprises to SMBs – are considering a move to Cloud-based infrastructure – if they haven’t made the move already. In terms of Cloud deployment for business, Microsoft and Amazon lead the charge. However, these two competitors often leave professionals wondering – is Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services the better choice for my company?

Why Microsoft Azure Is Your Company’s Best Bet for Cloud Deployment

Understanding the benefits of Microsoft Azure for business Cloud management

There’s no denying that Amazon Web Services holds the title of Cloud pioneer. AWS was on the scene over ten years ago, so they definitely have market experience in their corner of the Cloud battle. However, since the beginning, Microsoft Azure has been hot on the AWS trail.

First introduced in 2010, Microsoft created a dynamic Cloud deployment platform for business that has their signature touch. Designed with flexibility, familiarity and user experience in mind, Microsoft has lived up to their reputation by making significant improvements to Azure over time and optimizing its features for businesses.

There’s no denying that AWS offers a well-tenured, stable, and reliable choice with customizable options. However, the competition gets fierce considering Azure is designed by the same people who design the applications and operating systems you’re likely already using. In the Cloud services battle, will market-time and industry customization or familiarity & integration take the crown?

Let’s explore some key areas for comparison below:

  1. Basic Platform Layout & Service Delivery

First things first, let’s explore how each platform is designed and laid out. Amazon’s Cloud services are divided into four categories: Compute, Storage & Content Delivery, Database, and Networking. All of these resources are secured with layered Amazon security services and the platform offers dynamic user controls for the monitoring, management, and maintenance of your company’s infrastructure.

Azure takes a similar approach in dividing its platform’s service offerings, which are divided into the Compute, Data Management & Performance, and Networking categories. These services are secured using a layered approach and a combination of Azure Active Directory, Active Directory Federation Services, and Multi-Factor Authentication. Azure also deploys a dynamic and sophisticated Role-Based access control model, which allows for users to experience modern and strategic security architecture in the Cloud. Azure is also equipped with a number of easy to access and use services for comprehensive monitoring, logs and system performance metrics.

  1. The Hybrid Cloud

There’s no denying that for most business entities – aside from startups – the transition to the Cloud is a serious investment of time and resources. In fact, for well-tenured businesses who have long relied on physical servers and legacy software, the decision to only run some aspects of business in the Cloud is common. So, for many professionals, the potential for Hybrid Cloud capabilities is a huge asset.

Microsoft has been quick to notice this trend and in turn, has created strong and layered supports for Hybrid Cloud configuration. This allows Azure users to run cloud applications and take advantage of infrastructure resources and applications using a Cloud model. However, users are able to choose their access point, meaning they can compute using their on-premise server when appropriate and deploy the Cloud when it’s more suitable. Essentially, Microsoft allows for a seamless transition between on-premise and Cloud resources.

Azure offers services like Azure Stack and Hybrid SQL Server, however, Microsoft really does lead the charge in the Hybrid Cloud category. Amazon is working to make advancements and has introduced some new Hybrid options to market, however, it still has a long way to go and Microsoft maintains the upper hand.

  1. Integration

Since Microsoft has extensive experience writing software and creating optimized IT solutions for enterprises, it makes sense that Azure offers optimal integration with all the Microsoft & Windows apps and software you already use. Active Directory integrates seamlessly and you and your team get streamlined access to Office 365, Azure SQL server instances, Visual Studio, Team Foundation Server or any other application or service you rely on. Simply put, for integration with Microsoft platforms, Azure is the common-sense choice.

AWS also offers some integrative capabilities for Microsoft as well. However, the area where they really shine is for open source applications. AWS has always offered full Linux integration and offers dynamic tools for open source deployment. However, while Amazon may have the experience, Azure is on its trail once again. Microsoft struggled with open source hosting at the offset, but have been working to shift their strategy, and has made consistent improvements in this area over time.

  1. Costs & Licensing

The fact of the matter is, all Cloud providers are going to tell you that a transition to the Cloud will have positive effects on your bottom line. It’s true, Cloud migration is very cost-effective in the long-term. However, trying to determine someone size fits all cost prediction would be futile.

The needs of every company will vary and the Cloud services you deploy will be different than those deployed by the next business. The true benefit of Cloud technology is the ability to customize and optimize your company’s entire approach to technology management and deployment. In terms of cost and licensing options, go with the provider who can offer the most customization and flexibility. The right Cloud provider will ensure you have all the things you need, without expensive add-ons that you don’t need and won’t use.

Pricing out Cloud services really is personal to every different business. A pricing calculator for Azure can be found here and a pricing plan for AWS can be found here. Further, to compare licensing options, check out the AWS and Azure licensing packages.  

Finally, check this out for a feature-by-feature comparison.

How to Call a Winner: Take Them for A Test Drive

When it comes down to it, only you can select a Cloud infrastructure vendor that will be right for your company. Use this comparison as an initial guide, but do your research and dig deeper to determine which platform can be customized to best suit your needs. Both Amazon and Azure have a ‘free’ service tier that allows you to take the solution for a test drive, so take advantage! Above all, be sure to consider productivity, user experience, and security as you make your decision.

In our opinion, Microsoft Azure is the superior option that we recommend to clients. There’s no denying it’s a close race – Amazon offers a long-tenured, sophisticated and reliable platform. However, Microsoft’s tenure in the software space has made it possible for them to create and consistently optimize a superior platform. Defined by ease-of-use, integration, security, and familiarity, Azure helps take the fear out of Cloud migration and will result in happy adoption rates with your team.

However, regardless of which platform you choose, just be sure to make the decision with an informed perspective. Do your research and try the platforms on for size. Talk to colleagues and see what their organizations are using. When in doubt, reach out to a strategic IT consultant. Sometimes a one-on-one consultation with a tech industry expert can help you take the initial steps toward successful and streamlined Cloud migration.

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