Microsoft Azure vs. AWS

There has been a lot of talk lately about Microsoft Azure vs. Amazon Web Services (AWS), and what each service can do for your business. People are often romanced by the idea of AWS – it’s the new thing! It’s shiny! And it’s provided by Amazon! Amazon has made a name for itself as an online retail giant, and people are quick to sing their praises. However, succeeding at retail and providing successful business management platforms aren’t exactly the same thing.

It’s hard not to get caught up in the hype – after all, that’s why hype exists; but hype doesn’t equate to money in your pocket, so I recommend looking beyond it.

Go With What You Know

The first thing to consider is what platform you’re currently using. If you’re a Microsoft shop already, there is no reason to fix what isn’t broken. Of course Microsoft has been around so long people tend to forget all the functionality it can provide. We’ve all been burned by a technical meltdown, and because of Microsoft’s longevity in the business, people often point fingers at the technology, but what about all the positives?

This is Microsoft’s business. They aren’t a new player to this game, and they’ve been at the forefront of Cloud technology development. Despite the fact that AWS was first launched in 2006, Azure has come leaps and bounds to catch up since 2012. In fact, they have developed 19 data centers worldwide with an over $15 billion dollar investment in global data center infrastructure. Azure is constantly evolving, and focuses on being reliable, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable. What’s more, they’ve developed their solutions to fully and completely integrate with one another. This means if you’re already running on Microsoft products, Azure will not only integrate with what you’ve got, it will work in a similar way. That limits both the learning curve of changing platforms and potential issues surrounding the cross-compatibility between different products.

Limit Your Risks

Your data is yours and yours alone, and you’re responsible for protecting it. Your customers and clients expect you to keep their private information safe, and you’re dedicated to protecting them as much as yourself. So with all the concern about data security, can you really trust just anyone?

Not really. But you can trust Microsoft.

Microsoft utilizes their Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) to build proper security into Azure from the start. They were also the first cloud provider to adopt the new international standard for cloud privacy (ISO 27018), and have received 6-stars from the Electronic Frontier Foundation in relation to protecting your data from government requests.

Amazon has only received 2-stars – isn’t your business worth the complete set?

What About the Money?

Everyone is looking to save money, that’s just smart business. So it’s easy to be wooed by promises of lower fees – but there is more to it than the monthly cost.

Microsoft is committed to matching pricing for AWS for commodity services, which fundamentally takes the price question out of the equation. If it costs the same amount, then you have to look into what you’re getting for that cost. Think of it this way – if two jugs of water cost $1 each, but one is a gallon and the other is only a quart, which is the better deal?

When it comes to leveraging existing enterprise agreements, maintaining licenses and utilizing support contracts, Microsoft Azure is the clear leader in the space. They are a long time leader in the software deployment and the “as-a-service” business, and are adept at creating contracts that work for the end-user.

Microsoft users enjoy better performance, reliability and scalability than AWS users do, and that right there is money in the bank.

Hybrids Aren’t Just Cars

One of the more compelling perks of Microsoft Azure is their Hybrid approach. That means you can move some, but not all of your data to the cloud, keeping what you want on-premise. Azure offers a complete hybrid solution that combines:

  1. A common virtualization platform
  2. Common Management
  3. A common identity platform
  4. Rich cross-premise connectivity
  5. A common development platform

With Microsoft’s focus on enabling a hybrid cloud, you can leverage your existing datacenter investments without arduous or expensive work arounds. AWS currently doesn’t provide for that.

What Do You Need?

Both AWS and Azure offer Infrastructure-as-a-Service packages that work and will benefit your business, but at the end of the day, what is it that you need?

If you’re a Linux shop with the internal skills to effectively build, scale and manage your own infrastructure, Azure may not be as appealing to you. Azure uses some, but not all types of Linux under Hyper-V, and while there are work arounds to deal with it, it may not be worth your time. Conversely, if you’re a Microsoft shop, you can use Active Directory, Windows Server, SQL Server and Systems Centre to monitor and manage your cloud workload.

At the end of the day, what you really need to consider is the future. Cloud is a relatively new concept, and your business is unique and always changing. You need to give careful consideration to which cloud service will benefit you now, and in the future – you don’t want to solve today’s problems by creating tomorrow’s. Your business deserves access to a platform that will improve overall performance today, while being dynamic enough to handle your business as it changes. Both Azure and AWS have their pro’s and con’s, you just need to determine which ones suit your business the best.

If you’re seriously considering a move to either Azure or AWS, I welcome a call to help you evaluate what each solution can and cannot do for you, and to provide an unbiased recommendation.


– Software Delivered as Promised. No Surprises.

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Calvin Gorriaran

Insight written by Calvin Gorriaran

Director, Infrastructure Services at Rand Group

A proven track record of excellence, Calvin Gorriaran has spent the last 15 years working for fast-paced technology organizations with a focus on Internet Services and high availability. With a history of building, designing, and managing stable and secure large capacity infrastructures, he has the ability to work with technical and non-technical leadership to provide real commonsense solutions that positively impact businesses.

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