Azure vs AWS: Cloud Computing Provider Breakdown

Companies are migrating to the cloud more often than ever. Due to remote-working environments and ending support for on-premises infrastructure, the cloud has become a necessity for most businesses. In this blog post, we will compare Azure versus AWS to help your business make an informed cloud migration decision.

Andrew Newman

Andrew Newman

Microsoft’s Azure and Amazon’s AWS are the two most popular cloud computing services presently available. While they both tend to serve the same functions, they vary in price, availability, adaptability, as well as other areas that we will explain. This article will compare features and capabilities of Azure against AWS, helping you make a more informed decision for your business’s cloud migration. If you are not very familiar with cloud computing, read our article on cloud computing with Azure for some background.

 

The demand for cloud services has sharply increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with workers forced into a remote, distributed team structure. On-premises infrastructure is becoming outdated faster than could have been predicted and has proven incapable of competing with cloud computing in an increasingly digital economy.

 

While some businesses see this as an added pressure or inconvenience, the companies that have embraced the cloud have been reaping benefits beyond what many would imagine. For instance: here is a breakdown of computing costs on Microsoft Azure versus on-premises computing:

Total cost of ownership on premise vs azure

The cloud eliminates a large portion of capital expenditures completely and lowers the financial burden on your business in other areas. For a sample company over two years, investment could look like this:

Total cost of ownership on premise vs azure pie charts with segments

If you are curious in receiving an estimate catered to  your business, Microsoft has created a Azure Cost Calculator that can be leveraged by those that are highly informed on their current system landscape. If you are not entirely confident in terms of your bandwidth, networking, workloads, and databases, no worries! Avantiico can help you with this process and walk you through a cloud migration.

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Find out why 95% of fortune 500 companies use Microsoft Azure for their cloud computing services.

Azure vs AWS: Hybrid Cloud Capabilities

A major reason Azure is the favorite of most of the world’s large corporations is its ability to function in tandem with on-premises systems. Hybrid cloud architectures allow businesses to take advantage of the cloud’s flexibility without overhauling their entire infrastructure in one go. This is often essential for large organizations that use many applications, workloads, and store massive amounts of data that make a full migration potentially infeasible in the short run. Consequently, a more gradual migration can suit these organizations.

 

Furthermore, it is common that fortune 500 companies have large IT teams dedicated to maintenance of their private servers. This gives them the luxury of creating a quality, secure private cloud, albeit at a high cost. Most companies will not have the human, financial, or physical capital to maintain private servers at a security level near to that of Microsoft Azure. This is because Microsoft is investing over $1 billion annually into cloud security and employs a team for maintenance and updates so their clients do not have to.

 

Employing a hybrid cloud gives businesses all the scaling capabilities of a pure public cloud. When space and computing reach their limit on the private server, the public cloud picks up the overflow, keeping computing available for users without lag or the purchasing of extra servers. This is known as cloud bursting. This can be extremely useful for businesses that experience spikes in their usage. This way a business can continue using their current infrastructure and only pay extra costs of cloud computing during peak usage hours or seasons.

Azure Hybrid cloud architecture
Azure Hybrid Cloud Architecture

AWS did not get involved with hybrid cloud technology until several years after Microsoft Azure, introducing AWS Outposts in 2018. AWS has traditionally preferred clients to move completely to the cloud all in one go, something that is not feasible for many larger businesses that have large amounts of money dedicated to state-of-the-art on-premises servers.

Azure vs AWS Cloud Infrastructure: Virtual Machines and Datacenters

Virtual machines function as emulations of computer systems. They work as a substitute for your physical computing and have their own memory, interface, and storage. Just like computers, there are different processing strengths for different virtual machines. Both AWS and Azure use top of the line processors, as would be expected from the industry leaders, but there are still some points of differentiation for the two services in this respect.

 

An area that Azure is unmatched is its platform as a service or PaaS offering. Azure’s platform can automatically scale resources in real-time, something AWS cannot compete with. Azure can be set up to reduce the number of instances available during certain hours, taking away power during hours of less use to save money. While this is possible on AWS, the effort involved is much higher.

 

In terms of computing power, it is difficult to compare AWS and Azure on paper. However. when tested using the PassMark benchmark, AWS virtual machines were found to be 37% less powerful than the comparable Azure ones.

 

In addition to being more powerful, Azure global infrastructure has more geographic coverage. Azure serves 58 regions with datacenters in 16 countries. While AWS has datacenters in 15 countries, they only serve 24 regions, making AWS an inferior option for many geographic regions. Due to less region differentiation, AWS often has larger regions that serve multiple countries, allowing data to cross international borders at a higher rate than Azure. Some companies may not be comfortable with this.

Map of all Azure datacenters across the globe

Smithfield Foods chose Azure over AWS for reasons related to this. Smithfield had a need to transfer data between geographic regions because of the international nature of their business. Smithfield found that transferring data between the necessary locations was not possible through AWS. Their need for a truly global network led them to Azure.

Price Comparison

Azure vs AWS pay-as-you-go options work particularly well for businesses that are unsure of how much computing services they will need. This structure is ideal for businesses with inconsistent needs.

 

For this model, businesses only pay for the resources they use. Costs are either accrued based on time used or per GB, depending on the service. Examples of pricing and Azure’s price match guarantee for comparable services against AWS can be seen in the table below:

Azure vs AWS price match guarantee table showing pay as you go pricing

The other option for both services is a prepaid subscription where your business reserves a certain amount of resources. This option makes per GB charges much smaller. Furthermore, pricing depends on service level agreement (SLA) tiers for resources within both AWS and Azure.

 

Due to the variability of needs on a per company basis, the two providers are difficult to compare. There are discounts offered by both AWS and Microsoft, with Azure being cheaper for companies that use SQL and Windows already. Overall, Azure tends to come out 40-70% cheaper than Azure for comparable services.

Unification of Azure with Microsoft Applications

Consolidating your software needs to one company makes sense from a practical standpoint. As your applications will be tied to the cloud, it is best not to include too many independent parties as this creates a disjointed network and complicates support. When your software needs are met by one company, this makes support far easier. Microsoft is the only company that offers a suite of cloud-backed resources comprehensive enough to handle all software and cloud computing requirements for any business. If there are ever any issues, Microsoft or Microsoft’s Partner support will be best equipped to solve problems when all software involved is familiar and intrinsically compatible.

 

With Azure, deployments can be easily managed through the Azure Portal. Manage subscriptions, security features, SQL databases, virtual machines, and much more from within the portal. With plenty of tutorials and other resources available, Azure Portal can easily be managed by your in-house IT team. By using the ample learning resources that Microsoft has available for free, your team can administer sections of the Azure Portal with little security experience or background knowledge of cloud computing. Many important functionalities available in the Azure portal can be administered by a citizen developer with some free online training.

Screenshot showing the different capabilities available in the Azure Portal
The Azure Portal

Almost all Microsoft software runs on Azure. Microsoft 365 tools such as Teams, Outlook, and OneDrive all connected to Azure in some way. These could be via Azure virtual machines, Azure Service Fabric, or Azure Cloud Services.

 

Developers will be pleased with Azure’s PaaS ability, as it provides them with an environment to build and deploy new cloud tools. For the management of those apps, Azure dev-ops allows continual fine-tuning and monitoring. With less time being spent maintaining on-premises infrastructure, your team can focus on creation and business process improvement.

 

Additionally, direct integration between Azure and Dataverse allows for enhanced scalability and security for your tools within Power Platform. Azure’s connection to the rest of the Microsoft software product suite is a massive value proposition for those currently using Microsoft tools or are looking to use them in the future. Moreover, if your company is currently using Microsoft tools, it is possible you already have an enterprise agreement in place, which will make the choice easy!

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A Quick Note on Security

Given both AWS and Microsoft Azure’s standings as industry-leaders in cloud computing, they must hold themselves to the highest standards in this realm or risk losing their reputations. National governments, intelligence agencies, and large corporations holding sensitive data use both AWS and Azure so there is very little margin for error. As a result, there is no clear frontrunner in terms of security, they are both exceptional.

 

However, while Microsoft and Amazon take care of the infrastructure and physical protection of their datacenters, some security burden still falls on the buying company. The operating system and applications are not the responsibility of the cloud computing provider. Unification is once again a benefit here. With top-quality operating systems and applications, receiving constant security updates, Microsoft gets the edge. Unifying your applications on Azure makes support easier and removes complications around assessing the security capabilities of independent software.  

Getting Started with Azure and AWS

Maybe your business is less concerned with performance and just wants to know which one of these services is easier to get up and running. The answer to this depends on the on-premises servers your business is currently using. AWS requires businesses to move their applications to Linux before a migration. This is fine if you already are running on Linux, but for businesses using Windows or SQL servers, this is a complicated extra step. Azure has more flexibility in this aspect and is five times less expensive for such a migration from SQL or Windows servers.

Is Amazon Your Competitor?

This is a question some companies ask themselves before choosing a cloud computing provider. While Microsoft focuses on technology, Amazon is more varied in their pursuits. For instance, if your business is in the logistics space there might be some conflict around paying your direct competitor for a cloud migration.

 

Even in the tech realm, Microsoft is highly inclusive. Microsoft enterprise software can link to your non-Microsoft CRM or ERP systems with help from an implementation partner such as Avantiico. Even perceived competitors such as SAP that are also involved in ERP software have an agreement with Microsoft to allow their software to run on Azure. This is a massive endorsement for both the quality of Azure services and attitude towards Microsoft, as a company.

Final Notes

The Azure vs AWS debate is a complicated one but can be quite clear depending on your needs.

 

Major factors to consider when deciding Azure vs AWS:

  • Superior Azure hybrid cloud architecture
  • Regional factors for datacenters
  • Unification of applications with Microsoft
  • Unification of support with Microsoft and Microsoft Partners 
  • Security of your OS and applications
  • Migration compatibility: effort to migrate current on-premises computing

Free Avantiico Migration Consultation

Learn more about the benefits of the cloud for your business

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