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Azure or AWS – Which is Right For You?

By:Christine Fettinger

Azure vs AWS IT Consulting BellevueAmazon Web Services (AWS) may have started as the lead in the cloud computing services space, but Microsoft Azure has proven to be worthy of consideration as a cloud service provider. Read on to find out how Azure and AWS compare to each other.

Azure vs AWS – The Basics
Generally, AWS has the richest array of Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service capabilities as well as a large ecosystem of vendors, partners and open source tools. AWS has more compute capacity in use than all of its competitors combined, although Azure comes in second. Expertise on AWS is easy to find both inside and outside of Amazon, whereas there are a limited number of Azure experts and Azure support can struggle to solve complex challenges.

While AWS is easy to get up and running, it can be hard to master. Reaching optimal use with AWS is such a complex undertaking that engaging third party vendors is often required. AWS releases many services on a consistent basis, but only continue development on popular services, so adopting new services can be kind of risky. Another flipside to their consistent release of new services is that best practices can become quickly outdated, not to mention the problem of having too much choice.

Azure has done a lot of work to catch up to AWS – with sufficient success. They are rapidly rolling out new services and becoming less reliant on Windows. Their support for Linux and other operating systems is improving quickly. Azure interoperates well with on-prem Microsoft offerings including Azure Stack. Visual Studio, Team Foundation Server, and Active Directory all integrate well too. For Windows admins, Azure is known for being easier because they don’t have to learn a new platform.

Azure is still not as mature as AWS, not all of their features are on the same level of completeness, ease of use or API enablement required by enterprises. Although Azure is getting there, some complex use cases may be better suited to AWS since AWS is ahead in the richness of features it offers.

Azure vs AWS – Some Specifics

Azure still has the upper hand in hybrid clouds. Microsoft anticipated the need for hybrid clouds early on and developed Azure accordingly with substantial support for them. With Azure, moving to the cloud can be seamless since onsite servers can run applications on the Azure Stack and compute resources can be set to tap cloud-based resources when necessary. Amazon is still catching up to strengthen its offerings in supporting hybrid clouds.

For open source developers, Amazon surpasses Azure. Historically, Microsoft was very closed to open source applications, which allowed AWS to open up a significant lead over Azure. Within the past couple years, Microsoft has really tried to embrace open source. Although Azure does work most effortlessly with Microsoft development tools, the gap between AWS and Azure’s open source offerings are closing fast.

For businesses that deal with heavy regulatory environments, both AWS and Azure have dedicated government areas of their respective clouds. These areas are cordoned off from the rest of their workloads to ensure that strict compliance needs can be met. Specifically, both government clouds support compliance with ITAR, DISA, HIPAA, CJIS, FIPS, etc. Amazon’s government cloud offerings have been operating for longer and has more relationships with agencies that must meet compliance standards. However, Azure has all of the proper certifications and capability to meet compliance needs.

Azure pricing is more straightforward than AWS. Although price-wise, it is difficult to predict actual costs of actual workloads, for either Azure or AWS, as they can be fiendishly complex and also depend on user behavior. With AWS, pricing is more complex and a third party cost management tool is often needed. There are more pitfalls and hidden charges. In most competitive situations, AWS is not trying to be the lowest cost bidder while discounts can be more common for Azure, especially when competing against AWS.

Both Azure and AWS guarantee more than 99.95% service availability. Both providers give credit back to customers if uptime drops below that.

Both Azure and AWS are solid choices for cloud service providers, it comes down to which provider best suits your needs. If you would like more help or information to decide whether AWS or Azure is right for your business,
contact CyberStreams at (425) 274-1121 or