Microsoft Azure vs Amazon AWS

Microsoft Azure vs Amazon AWS

In very general terms, AWS appears be superior in terms of offering the widest range of functionality and most mature cloud offering. It has been suggested that it has a multi-year lead over its rivals in this respect.

Its expansive list of tools and services, along with its enterprise-friendly features make it a strong proposition for large organizations.  Meanwhile its huge – and continuously growing – infrastructure provides economies of scale that enable price cuts.

But it appears that Microsoft has begun to bridge the gap between the two, and will continue to do so with its ongoing investment in building out the Azure cloud platform and plans to strengthen ties with its on-premise software.

Selecting one cloud over the other will come down to the needs of each individual customer, however there are a number of differentiating factors that separate the approaches of the two firms, which can help end-users consider which is right for them.


 Compute, storage, databases and networking

It is often compute and storage that customers are most interested in.

For compute, AWS’ main offering is its EC2 instances, which can be tailored with a large number of options. It also provides related services such as Elastic Beanstalk for app deployment, the EC2 Container service, AWS Lambda and Autoscaling.

Meanwhile, Azure’s compute offering is centered around its Virtual Machines (VMs), with other tools such as Cloud Services and Resource Manager to help deploy applications on the cloud, and its Azure Auto scaling service.

AWS storage includes its Simple Storage (S3), Elastic Block Storage (EBS), Elastic File System (EFS), Import/Export large volume data transfer service, Glacier archive backup and Storage Gateway, which integrates with on-premise environments.

Microsoft’s offerings include its core Azure Storage service, Azure Blob block storage, as well as Table, Queue and File storage. It also offers Site Recovery, Import Export and Azure Backup.

The two cloud providers also offer “excellent” networking capabilities – according to Gartner’s report ‘Key Services Differences Between AWS and Azure’ report – allowing applications to be deployed on a local or global level, relying on server load balancing components (Azure Load Balancer, and AWS’ Elastic Load Balancing), and direct network connectivity to link with on-premise systems.

Both support relational databases (Azure SQL Database, Amazon Relational Database Service and Redshift), and NoSQL databases (Azure Document DB and Amazon Dynamo DB).



AWS is normally the cheaper option but Microsoft has pledged to keep the pace.

There has been a continues reduction in price in the cloud services for the past year, so price is one of the best drivers for moving to the cloud

In general terms, prices are roughly comparable, with Microsoft pledging to keep pace with AWS’s price drops, which can often be the cheaper option.

AWS provides a price calculator here, as does Microsoft here.



This is clearly a strong-point of AWS. It has increasingly taken on large customer deals, For example, although the US Central Intelligence Agency eventually signed a contract with IBM, awarding AWS a contract to build its private cloud in a one-off deal in 2013 could be seen as symbolic of a change in mentality by buyers.

A major proponent of AWS has been Netflix, News Corp plans to move to AWS and save millions of dollars, AirBnB, Aon, Channel 4, Financial Times, Dow Jones, Kurt Geiger, Lonely Planet, Nasdaq, Nike, Nisa Retail, Pfizer, and the Royal Opera House. A full list of AWS customers can be seen here.

Microsoft still has to get there currently the bigger customer names are Ford, NBC and Easy Jet


Pros and cons

As mentioned before, the reasons for picking one vendor over another will differ for each customer. But there are aspects of the competing clouds that will offer benefits in certain circumstances.

The breadth and depth of the AWS offering is seen as a plus for AWS.

The vendor ranks highest in many fields such as platform configuration options, monitoring and policy features, security, reliability as well as its service offerings. Its partner ecosystem and general product strategy are also second to none, according to Forrester, and its AWS Marketplace has a large number of third party software services.

Another of the benefits of the AWS cloud is its openness and flexibility, especially mixing Microsoft and non-Microsoft systems on its EC2 platform.

The best advantage for Azure is clearly where Microsoft already has a strong presence in an organization. Azure works well with Microsoft on-premise systems.


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