AWS vs. Azure: Which Is Better for Cloud Computing?

In this article, discover the key features that can help you settle the AWS vs. Azure debate when picking a cloud provider.

Cloud computing first came to light during the mid-2000s, with providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft’s Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) taking charge. Over the years, Cloud computing has been gaining popularity and has seen exponential growth and adaptability in the last decade. In fact, the global cloud infrastructure spending reached US$247.1 Billion in 2022 and is expected to grow further by 23% in 2023.

Today, there are several service providers in the Cloud computing space with a variety of offerings such as pocket-friendly costs, easy setup options, and state-of-the-art security. As a result, more and more companies are migrating their infrastructure to Cloud platforms to take advantage of various business benefits associated with their adoption.

In this blog, we explore the AWS vs. Azure debate in detail to help you decide which one best meets your needs.

AWS

What Is AWS Cloud?

Amazon’s first public release of Amazon Web Services (AWS) was in 2006, with the platform becoming the first Cloud provider in the market, offering services like S3 bucket storage, EC2 compute machines, and the Simple Queue Service (SQS).

Currently, AWS is the largest provider of Cloud services, with a 33% market share and annual revenues of up to US$80 Billion in 2022. The platform offers over 200 services spread across 99 availability zones within 31 locations. Some of the most common AWS services include:

  • Block Storage
  • Compute Clusters
  • Machine Learning
  • Containerization
  • Databases and Data Lakes.

Notably, AWS is trusted by some popular organizations, including Netflix, Facebook, Twitch, and LinkedIn.

Azure

What Is Azure?

Azure is Microsoft’s alternative to AWS’ Cloud computing service that was launched in 2010, with Microsoft envisioning it as an extension of the Windows Operating System over the internet. However, with the success of AWS, Microsoft realized the potential of the Cloud computing market and directed its complete focus on developing relevant services.

Azure offers over 200 cloud services worldwide, providing solutions to the Finance, Healthcare, Government, and Manufacturing industries, to name a few. Azure’s global infrastructure has grown to 60+ regions (more than any other provider) and 200+ data centers, delivering the best coverage and low latency.

Despite being late to the market, Azure has quickly caught up to AWS, with its market share growing from 10% to 20% between 2017 and 2020. Today, Azure’s market share stands at 23%, serving over 70% of all organizations and 95% of Fortune 500 companies.

AWS vs. Azure: Head-To-Head Comparison

Both AWS and Azure offer high-quality services with modern facilities like serverless environments and state-of-the-art security protocols. Due to such similarities, it is challenging to draw any significant distinctions between the two platforms. Nonetheless, they do certain things differently that may be important to consider in the AWS vs Azure debate.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Azure
Industry leader with a 33% market share Rapidly growing market share and emerging
as a popular choice for large enterprises
Offers better integration with third-party technologies
like Oracle
Integrations better suited with Microsoft technologies
such as SQL Server and Windows
Offers a dynamic pricing model with on-demand and reserved services,
as well as a special savings plan
Offers dynamic pricing at lower prices than AWS. Additionally, provides discounts
for existing Microsoft customers and charges per minute for cost savings
You can configure the EC2 Instances yourself or choose from a pre-configured image Only pre-configured VMs constructed on a virtual hard disk

The table above highlights some of the key differences between AWS and Azure that may help you make a decision. However, we assess the more critical differences in detail below.

Migrations

Ease of migration is vital for users looking to migrate their setup to a Cloud infrastructure. Luckily, both AWS and Azure offer migration assessment services that help you with the process. On the one hand, the AWS Migration Readiness assessment provides an IT infrastructure overview, letting you know whether your system is ready for the cloud migration process. It provides an understanding of where your organization is on its Cloud journey, highlights weaknesses from a migration perspective, and provides suggestions to fix the shortcomings.

Similarly, the Azure Migration Reportworks in the same fashion. It gives you a description of your servers’ readiness for migration to Azure and creates a migration strategy. Furthermore, it highlights possible issues hindering the migration process and offers suggestions to solve them. Additionally, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) tool estimates the entire cost of migration, including server and storage costs.

Pricing

There is no fair comparison when it comes to both AWS and Azure’s pricing models because each service has a different cost that varies across regions and service levels. However, to set a baseline, we look at the prices of a Linux VM with a 4-core CPU and 16GB of RAM. On the Azurepricing page, this VM (named B4ms) can be used for $0.166/hour and go as low as $0.1118/hour with a savings plan. The same machine on the AWS pricing calculator (named t4g.xlarge) costs $0.1344/hour.

The Azure option comes out cheaper in this basic comparison. The outcome was further confirmed by Microsoft, who claim AWS is up to 5x more expensive compared to Azure in this detailed comparison.

Azure also has an edge because it offers specialized discounts if you are an existing Microsoft services user, such as Windows and Office 365.

Certifications

Both industry giants host many certifications that you can obtain by passing an exam. Holders of either AWS or Azure certifications are well-recognized and highly regarded in the software industry.

AWS has a total of 12 certifications that cover topics like Cloud Solutions Architect, Security Specialist, and Machine Learning. The certification pricing starts from US$100 for a basic level exam up to US$300 for a specialty.

Microsoft certifications cover various topics due to MS owning various products. You can become a certified professional in many Azure cloud services, including DevOps, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, and other Microsoft technologies like Office, PowerBI, and SQL Server.

Moreover, Azure certifications are priced according to region. Every exam costs $165 in the U.S. and can go as low as $80 in others. Some regions like India also have the option to pay in local currency.

AWS vs. Azure: Which Is Better?

Ultimately, it primarily comes down to what meets your business needs, coupled with some minor factors that can sway your decision, one way or the other. Essentially, AWS is an older player in the Cloud computing space and offers tested and proven services. This reason alone could be a dealbreaker and compel you to opt for AWS. However, it is important to note that Microsoft has been present in the overall software space for much longer and has been gaining traction in the Cloud computing space. Moreover, if you already use Microsoft services like Office 365, Azure will be more suitable for you due to easy integrations and special discounts.

Conclusion

The AWS vs. Azure debate has been a long-running one since both providers offer excellent services that help businesses of all sizes with efficient scaling and innovation.

Presently, AWS dominates the cloud computing market with a total share of 33%, but Azure isn’t far behind. Despite its late entrance, Azure has managed to take over 23% of the total market and is the preferred option for some leading companies.

The choice between AWS and Azure is mostly down to preference as both providers offer market-leading services with some additional perks like AWS’ stronger consumer base and Azure’s easy integration with Microsoft technologies.

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