Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Microsoft Azure Cloud vs. Amazon Web Services

While hosting Microsoft's Azure Cloud and Windows 8 App Kickstarts, we were asked a lot of questions.  But the most prevalent question of all seemed to be "What's the difference between Microsoft Azure Cloud and Amazon Web Services?"

We're glad you asked.  Because as a matter of fact, there are a lot of things that differentiate Microsoft's Azure and Amazon's cloud platform.  Which one is right for you?  Read below to find out:

Who Leads in the Cloud Space?
Amazon has been known as the cloud leader for quite some time now mainly because of its competitive price points.  But that hasn't stopped Azure from claiming some of the top accounts including Boeing, General Mills, Lockheed Martin, Travelocity and Xerox. At the same time, Amazon Web Services have been around longer and plans to expand its global datacenters and cloud portfolio.  When it comes to credibility, Amazon may be the most trusted, but Azure isn't far behind.

IaaS vs PaaS
Amazon is best known for its Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) when Azure provides a Platform as a Service (PaaS).  What's the difference?  In IaaS models, the vendor only provides the underlying infrastructure (to include network, storage, compute resources and virtualization technology).  PaaS models, on the other hand, provide both an underlying infrastructure as well as the application development platform to include automation to deploy, test and iterate applications (through operating systems, databases, middleware, up-to-date tools and services).   

Which Makes Building Easier?
Azure seems to be more user-friendly than AWS.  According to Craig Knighton of LiquidSpace, "it is easier for the average engineer to accomplish high availability on Azure because the tools push you down that path and make it pretty darn easy to build stateless applications."  .NET engineers will also benefit more by utilizing Azure cloud while Java and Python developers may excel using AWS.

Which Performs Faster?
It's a close one, but AWS might take the cake.  Experts believe that AWS and Azure are probably equal when it comes to pure performance, but AWS may out-perform Azure when it comes to specialized applications.

Which Saves Me the Most Time? 
Hands down Azure.  As a strong PaaS, Microsoft's Azure Cloud platform automatically configures, optimizes and updates the cloud environment for the developer, saving loads of time.

Which One is More Cutting Edge? 
AWS may be considered more "cutting edge" than Azure.  The platform gives developers the capability to deploy new technologies event before becoming part of the platform.  But in the case of a simple business application, either AWS or Azure will do the trick.

Which Has a Better Failover Strategy?
It's a tie.  There is no way to provide a 100% uptime of availability zone or data-center whether that be on Azure or AWS.  Keep in mind that disasters usually happen because of poor application not because of the fragility in the cloud.  AWS is still recovering for the 4-day outage it endured in April of 2011.

Which Is Better for Big Data?
Amazon does big data really well.  Whether it's extra-large memory instances, high-CPU instances or cluster compute instances, Amazon really can't be beat.

Which Has More at Stake?
Azure--but that may be a good thing.  Knighton notes that if Microsoft fails with its cloud platform, the company will die a long, slow death.  Amazon, on the other hand, can rely on book selling if AWS fails.  Therefore, with Microsoft facing more pressure with the platform, there's no doubt that its Azure cloud service will succeed.  Either way, one thing is for sure, neither Microsoft or Amazon are going away anytime soon.

Which One's Cheaper?
Both Azure and AWS allow you to utilize a free usage tier to test out the platforms.  From there, it's up to the user to determine how much they want to spend on their cloud platform service.  Therefore, price depends on what services you need to use.  I will say that in order to determine how much money you will spend, Azure has a super easy pricing calculator (vs. Amazon's pricing charts).

Let's face it.  You can't go wrong with either Azure Cloud or AWS.  Both provide great cloud platform options--it all depends on what you need it for most, what type of developer you are and what you're trying to accomplish.  We'll let you make the decision on your own.

Follow me! @AllisonThinkBig


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This is a great post ! it was very informative.