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AWS vs Azure-Who is the big winner in the cloud war?

Research firm Gartner published a document that states –

“Public cloud services, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and IBM Cloud, are innovation juggernauts that offer highly operating-cost-competitive alternatives to traditional, on-premises hosting environments.”

If you are new to the world of cloud computing, you will want to select a cloud platform that can help you easily get started with learning cloud computing.  It is extremely important for one to familiarize themselves with various leading cloud service providers before deciding which cloud is best to get started with a career in cloud computing.

It’s not just the learning community but several organizations also want to do a comparison of AWS and Azure before they can make their decision to move to cloud based environment. However, the reality is that this is not a technology decision. Both AWS and Azure are solid performers with equivalence in almost 99% of the use cases. Choosing between Azure and AWS is a more of a business decision and depends on the requirements of the organization. For example, if an organization is in need of a strong Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider or needs Windows integration, Azure would be the preferable choice while if an enterprise is looking for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS ) or diverse set of tools then AWS might be the best solution.

In this article we will shine a light on the competition between the two heavyweights of the cloud services – Azure vs AWS. We’ll check out an overview of AWS and Azure, and look into the key considerations for choosing Azure or AWS.

AWS vs Azure - A Key Comparison

AWS vs Azure -Which cloud is best?

 

AWS vs Azure - The Showdown

AWS

Azure

 

On-demand cloud computing platform for Amazon

Public cloud platform for Microsoft

 

Friendly with the open source model from the beginning.

Not so good relationship with the open source community.

Has an edge over Azure in terms of government cloud offerings.

Limited reach when it comes to government cloud offerings.

Flexible Pricing Model

Comparatively less flexible pricing model when compared to AWS.

AWS is yet strengthening its offerings to support Hybrid clouds.

Excels in Hybrid Cloud Space-Organizations can integrate onsite servers with Cloud instances.

AWS has a software marketplace with extensive partner ecosystem -Windows and Linux

With limited Linux options, Azure is still building its partner ecosystem.

EBS storage is superfast for big data.

Standard storage has difficulties for big data and hence premium storage is required.

More mature cloud environment for big data.

Less mature for big data but Azure’s services are improving.

Machines can be accessed individually.

Machines are grouped into cloud service and respond to the same domain name but different ports.

Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2); pay by the hour.

Azure Infrastructure Services , pay by the minute.

S3 – Short-term archiving and retrieval.

Long term data archiving and retrieval through Amazon Glacier.

Blobs, Queues and Tables- Similar to S3.

No long term data archiving and retrieval option yet.

Security is provided through user defined roles with exceptional permission controls.

Provides security by enabling  permissions on the whole account.

AWS vs Azure - Overview

AWS remains the global market share leader in public cloud services at 33%  followed by Azure at 13% and Google Cloud at 6%. – Synergy Research Group Report

AWS and Azure offer largely the same basic capabilities around flexible compute, storage, networking and pricing. Both share the common elements of a public cloud – autoscaling, self-service, pay-as-u-go pricing, security, compliance, identity access management features and instant provisioning.

 “With AWS a new server can be up and running in three minutes (it used to take Eli Lilly seven and a half weeks to deploy a server internally) and a 64-node Linux cluster can be online in five minutes (compared with three months internally)…The deployment time is really what impressed us.”~ Dave Powers, Associate Information Consultant at Eli Lilly and Company.

With over a million customers, 2 million servers, 100,000 Weather-Forecasting Computer Cores and $10 billion in annual revenue, AWS is the largest cloud computing platform. AWS commands  40% of the cloud computing market share, more than the market share of its three biggest competitors put together. The most experienced and oldest cloud player with 11 years in operation provides extensive list of computing services and functions of mobile networking, deployments, machine learning and more. Meanwhile, growing at a rate of 120K new customers per month, 5 million organizations using Azure Active directory, 4 million developers registered with visual studio team services,1.4 million SQL databases, 2 trillion message per week processed by Azure IoT, and 40% of revenue generated from start-ups and ISVs- Azure is on the verge of dominating AWS cloud services.

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Let’s understand in detail, on what each cloud provider brings to the public cloud table and the key differences between them.

AWS vs Azure – Compute

Calculate, process, and compute – that is the fundamental role of a computer. The right cloud service provider can help scale to 1000’s of processing node in just couple of minutes. For organizations that need faster data analysis or graphics rendering, there are two choices available – buy additional hardware or shift to the cloud. This is what is the goal of public cloud services.

For compute, AWS’ primary solution is its EC2 instances which provide scalable computing on-demand and can be customized for different options’ also provides other related services like the EC2 container service, AWS Lambda, Autoscaling, and Elastic Beanstalk for app deployment. Azure’s compute offerings are based on VMs with multiple other tools such as Cloud Services and Resource Manager which help deploy applications on the cloud.

AWS still offers the largest range of services, close to 100 across compute, storage, database, analytics, networking, mobile, developer tools, management tools, IoT, security and enterprise applications.

 

 

AWS vs Azure - Compute

Service

AWS

Azure

Deploy, Manage, and Maintain Virtual Servers

EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud)

Virtual Machines and Virtual Machine Scale Sets

Docker Container Registry

ECR (EC2 Container Registry)

Container Registry

Scale Instances Automatically

Auto Scaling

Virtual Machine Scale Sets

Auto Scaling

App Service Scale Capability (PAAS)

Platform-as-a-service

Elastic Beanstalk

Cloud Services

Integrating systems and running backend logic processes

AWS Lambda

Event Grid

Web Jobs

Functions

 

AWS vs Azure – Storage

A key functionality of cloud service providers is their storage capability. Running services in the cloud involve data processing that needs to be saved at some point of time. AWS’ storage services are longest running , however, Azure’s storage capabilities are also extremely reliable. Both Azure and AWS are strong in this category and include all the basic features such as REST API access and server-side data encryption. Azure’s storage mechanism is referred to as Blob storage , and AWS’s is called Simple Storage Service (S3).

AWS’s cloud object storage solution offers high availability and automatic replication across regions. Temporary storage in AWS starts functioning when an instance starts and stops when an instance terminates also provides block storage that is similar to hard disks and can be attached to any EC2 instance or kept separate. Azure uses temporary storage and page blobs for VM based volumes. Azure’s Block Storage option is similar to S3 in AWS. There are two classes of storage offered by Azure -Hot and Cool. Cool storage is comparatively less pricey than Hot but one has to incur additional read and write costs.

Azure vs AWS - Object Storage

Service

AWS

Azure

Service Name

S3

Azure Storage-Blobs

Hot

S3 Standard

Hot Blob Storage

Cool

S3 Standard -Infrequent Access

Cool Blob Storage

Cold

Amazon Glacier

Archive Blob Storage

Object Size Limits

5 TB

4.75 TB

# of Object Limits

Unlimited

Unlimited


 

Azure vs AWS– Block/Disk Storage

Services

AWS

Azure

Service Name

EBS

Managed Disks

Volume Types

Cold HDD

General Purpose SSD

PIOPs SSD

Throughput Optimized HDD

Standard Premium SSD

Availability SLA

99.9%

99.9%

IOPs/GB for SSD

GP SSD -3

PIOPS SSD up to 50/GB.

1.8 to 4.9 – This is fixed based on the disk type.

 

AWS vs Azure  Pricing

Cost is a major factor of attraction for organizations planning to move to the cloud. With increasing competition amongst cloud service providers, there has been a continued downward trend on prices since quite some time now. AWS and Azure offer free introductory tiers with restricted usage limits that let users try and use their services before they can buy. Also, both offer credits to grab the attention of start-ups onto their cloud platforms.

AWS provides pay-as-you-go model and charges per hour while Azure’s pricing model is also pay-as-you-go , they charge per minute. AWS can help you save more with increased usage- the more you use, the less you pay. AWS instances can be purchased based on one of the following models –

  • Reserved Instances – Paying an upfront cost based on the use, one can reserve an instance for 1 to 3 years.
  • On-demand Instances -Just pay for what you use without paying any upfront cost.
  • Spot Instances- Bid for extra capacity based on the availability.

Azure offers short term commitments to its users allowing them to choose between pre-paid or monthly charges. Azure is a little less flexible than AWS when it comes to pricing model.

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AWS vs Azure – Databases

All software applications today require a database to save information. Azure and AWS both provide database services, regardless of whether you need a relational database or a NoSQL offering. Amazon’s RDS (Relational Database Service ) and Microsoft’s equivalent SQL Server database both are highly available and durable and also provide automatic replication.

AWS works perfectly with NoSQL and relational databases providing a mature cloud environment for big data. AWS’ core analytics offering EMR ( a managed Hadoop, Spark and Presto solution) helps set up an EC2 cluster and provides integration with various AWS services. Azure also supports both NoSQL and relational databases and as well Big Data through Azure HDInsight and Azure table. Azure provides analytical products through its exclusive Cortana Intelligence Suite that comes with Hadoop, Spark, Storm, and HBase.

Amazon’s RDS supports six popular database engines – MariaDB, Amazon Aurora, MySQL, Microsoft SQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle while Azure’s SQL database service is solely based on MS SQL Server. Azure’s interface and tooling makes it easy to perform various DB operations while AWS has more instance types which you can provision and get that additional control over DB instances.

AWS vs Azure – Content Delivery and Networking

Every cloud service provider offers multiple networks and partners that interconnect the data centres across the globe through  diverse products. AWS provides Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) for users to create isolated networks within the cloud. A user can create route tables, private IP address ranges, subnets, and network gateways within a VPC. Similarly, Azure offers Virtual Network (VNET)  for users to create isolated networks. Both AWS and Azure provide firewall option and solutions to extend on-premise data centre into the cloud.

AWS vs Azure - Content Delivery and Networking

Service Name

AWS

Azure

Isolated private cloud

Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)

Virtual Network (VNET)

Global Content Delivery Networks

CloudFront

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Manage DNS Names and records

Route 53

Traffic Manager

Azure DNS

Dedicated Private Network Connection

DirectConnect

ExpressRoute

AWS vs Azure - The Verdict

We have tried to shower some light on AWS vs Azure debate in this article. There is no clear winner in this battle of cloud service providers as organizations have the fortune of choosing the most attractive features from each of these cloud service providers to enable a multi-cloud strategy. Companies that need high availability and resilience should consider multiple-data centre hosting’s. Attempting to compare Azure and AWS is extremely difficult as both continue to launch new pricing structure, new products and new integrations. The decision to choose either of the platforms with depend on the needs of an organizations how AWS vs Azure comparison meets those requirements. Regardless of whatever the comparisons may be , deciding on the right public cloud service provider requires thorough research on what one really needs and also what the service provider has to offer. The users are likely to be the big winners in the cloud battle between AWS and Azure as each of these providers lures its customers with expanded offerings at economical cost.

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