AWS vs Azure: Key Differences You Need to Know
The world of cloud engineering is ever changing and AWS & Microsoft Azure are on cloud nine. Quite Literally. Cloud computing came into existence a few decades ago, with AWS being the very first inventor of such a platform. The world, as we knew it, has never been the same ever since. It is important to understand and utilize cloud platforms for businesses today. The question remains, which one is the better platform to use? Before we dive deep into analyzing and comparing AWS with Microsoft Azure, let's understand what cloud really means? In addition to that we will also take a look at the basic understanding of AWS and Azure individually. The contents of this article are as follows:
- What is AWS & Azure?
- Factors to take into consideration. (Companies/businesses)
- Factors to consider. (Students/Learners/Professionals)
- Comparison between AWS & Azure.
- Amazon Web Services Market Share
- Microsoft Azure Market Share
- Deeper Analysis of AWS & Azure
- Final Verdict
What is AWS & Azure?
AWS - Amazon Web Services is a cloud storage and cloud platform service provided by Amazon. In other words, AWS is a subsidiary service by Amazon providing on-demand cloud computing platforms and APIs to individuals, companies, and governments, on a metered pay-as-you-go basis. (Wikipedia)
Azure - Azure is a cloud storage and cloud platform service provided by Microsoft for testing, deploying, building and managing applications. These applications, as developed and maintained on Microsoft servers are managed by Microsoft Data Centers.
Factors to Take into Consideration (Companies/Businesses)
Cloud services are utilized by companies for managing and storing their data on external platforms. Deciding between AWS and Azure is the biggest battle being fought by companies today. Since these two currently determine more than half of the worldwide demand for cloud platforms, it is a crucial decision to make. Some factors that can help businesses make a more informed decision are as below:
Cloud Storage Pricing
Every service comes at a cost today. AWS and Azure also provide these services at a particular cost. Deciding which service to choose depends on the pricing options available in comparison. Both these platforms charge their users as per their users yet the minute differences influence their decisions today.
Data Transfer Loss Rate
Every organization needs to transfer their data some time or another, from one platform to another. It is important to know an estimate of how much data might be lost while the data is transferred. Making a decision becomes easier when such minute details are known before hand.
Rates of Data Availability
Data availability is also a deciding factor for businesses to choose the right cloud platform among many other factors. The rate at which the data can be retrieved and made available matters while making the choice amongst the two cloud computing platforms.
Factors to Consider (Students/Learners/Professionals)
Usage Dominance of Azure and AWS
Azure and AWS have different user base when it comes to comparing their numbers. Both cloud platforms own more than half the worldwide demand for cloud computing software. When as professionals, individuals think of upgrading their skills or try to determine the right certification to pursue amongst AWS and Azure, the answer is to compare on various factors.
Once such factor is to compare the number of users of AWS with those of Microsoft Azure. While AWS shares its market share in dollars, the market share of Azure alone is difficult to figure out since they club their azure market share with the percentage of other server and cloud based services like MySQL server, Excel, etc.
Mode of Learning & Course availability
For most students, the mode of learning holds incredible importance. This is because the preferences of individuals differ and so do their needs. For instance, while some may prefer an online mode of learning, few also prefer to learn in a more personalized manner through offline learning. Comparing the two modes of learning with one's needs is utterly important to determine the right platform for one's self.
In our opinion, learning through an online platform is always a better choice for technologies like cloud engineering, considering the future usage of the skill. For instance, lets consider an employee of an XYZ corporate organization as a cloud engineer. While the engineer functions from Bangalore, India, he or she might in fact be working on the cloud servers based in Dubai or California. Since remote learning is crucial to roles such as cloud engineering, it is thereby necessary to choose the mode of learning that most effectively suits the execution as well.
As learners, most of us continue learning while we are still students and are dependent on our guardians for our education costs. In scenarios like these, the cost of learning matters a ton. While a lot of organizations pay for their employees to gain extra knowledge and certification costs, many-a-times, professionals also delve into the mode of learning for their own continuous growth. The cost of learning is a great comparison point to decide which certification to gain.
As for AWS and Azure however, the cost of learning is pretty much similar. Since they are direct competitors of each other, the costs do not differ all that much from one another. Further on, we will be discussing more points of comparison. Based on them, you will be able to understand which is the better choice for you as a business as well as a cloud professional.
Comparison of AWS and Azure
Amazon Web Services and Azure can be compared on multiple factors for business owners. The decision of which cloud platform to choose is a difficult one to make. Below, you shall find the technical factor comparison of both these cloud computing platforms in depth:
AWS: The AWS Cloud Compute platform (Amazon EC2) was designed to simplify the configuration and understanding of the VMs as per the desirability of the users. The main advantage of this platform is that the developers can easily modify the configuration. It allows users to modify the platform to their requirement with minimal friction.
Azure: Microsoft provides a more flexible platform for building new applications or deploying old ones. Since Azure allows users to modify their VHD - Virtual Hard Disks directly, its flexibility is unbeatable. It also allows users to tap in to the compute service and add on-demand cloud storage facility.
AWS: AWS offers temporary storage allocated once an instance is started. This temporary storage is then destroyed when the instance is terminated. They assist their users with block storage (same as hard disks), that can be separate or attached to an instance. Other available storage options with AWS are Object Storage and Big data.
Azure: Azure also offers temporary storage through D drive, block storage through Page Blobs for VMs. Block Blobs and Files also serve as object storage. Supports relational databases; NoSQL and Big Data through Azure Table and HDInsight. Azure also offers site recovery, Import Export and Azure Backup for additional archiving and recovery options.
AWS: Amazon offers Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). It helps users to create isolated networks within the cloud infrastructure. With the help of a VPC, users can create subnets, route tables, private IP address ranges, and network gateways.
Azure: Microsoft offers Virtual Network (VNET)/ It helps users to create isolated networks as well as subnets, route tables, private IP address ranges and network gateways.
Both these cloud computing platforms offer solutions to extend the on-site data center into the cloud and firewall option.
AWS: Amazon offers a pay-as-you-go model, where AWS charges the users on the basis of per hour usage. Instances are purchasable on the following models:
On demand: Pay for what you use without upfront cost.
Reserved: Reserve an instance for 1 or 3 years with upfront cost based on use.
Spot: Customers bid for extra capacity available.
Azure: Microsoft’s pricing is also based on a pay-as-you-go model, however Microsoft charges the user based on a per minute data usage system. This model therefore provides a more simplified and specific pricing model. Azure also offers short term commitments with the option between pre-paid or monthly charges, giving the users the flexibility to design their own preferred payment schedule.
Some additional factors that can be compared as well while choosing amongst AWS and Azure are: Support Plans, Compliance Rates and User Friendliness.
Market Share Comparison
Amazon Web Services and Azure choose different modes of portraying their individual market shares. AWS discloses its market share in the terms of revenue. In Q3 2019, they reported their revenue to be $8.9 Billion USD as compared to the $11.6 Billion USD revenue reported in Q3 2020. However, as for Azure, the market share is reported in collaboration with other cloud based services such as SQL Server, Windows Server, Enterprise Services and others.
The image above shows an analysis of the leading cloud services across the globe and their market shares as well. When in comparison with all others, it is clear that Amazon and Microsoft are the leading players in the market. While Amazon is farther ahead than Microsoft, it is also to be considered that AWS came into existence way before Microsoft Azure did. The benefit of time and trust is a huge player in the industry. However, in the little time that Microsoft Azure has been in the market, it has managed to acquire more than 50% of the cloud users across the industry so far.
Amazon & Microsoft Continue to account for over half the worldwide marketshare.
- Synergy Research Group.
Deeper Analyses of AWS & Azure
As we look into the comparison of AWS and Azure as the cloud computing platforms for businesses, some other points also come up.
a. Both Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure have seen an overall growth in their revenue in the past few years.
b. Yet, both the platforms have also held a diminishing rate of growth each year.
c. In the recent years - 2019 and 2020, Microsoft Azure has slowly been leaving AWS behind the curve.
d. The strange fact still remains that while Microsoft seems to be moving ahead than Amazon, its diminishing growth rate is higher than that of Amazon.
These factors yet again make it utterly difficult for users to determine right platform to choose. Further below, we share with you the conclusion that we seem to be the fittest result of the comparison so far.
Final Verdict: AWS or Azure?
This may seem like a diplomatic answer however the truth is that there is no better platform objectively available amongst AWS and Azure. Different businesses naturally have different requirements. The decision of which platform suits your business the best is impossible for us to make for you. Yet, we hope that the points of comparison we were able to share above would be helpful to you in some way or another. In a nutshell, the battle between AWS and Azure can never be won by one single platform. All we can do is help you understand the situation of the two competing platforms on a surface. Further on, it is entirely up to you to decide the right software for your requirements.
When it comes to the professionals - namely cloud engineers, there are a number of factors that can be considered. The comparison options of the certifications to gain are not in fact limited to AWS or Azure. Multiple other players are now available in the market. The closest to the two is of course a global leader - Google. Google cloud came into existence way after Amazon and Microsoft had already taken over the market. However, Google being Google, it didn't take them long to become a strong contender in the market either. In addition to these, Adobe, Oracle and many other platforms are also now stepping forward and making their mark on the world.
As a whole, the best recommendation would be to become both AWS and Azure certified for a professional wanting to make it as a cloud engineer. The salary packages are over the roof with these certifications making their mark as the no-brainers. We hope that we made this decision easier for you. Having a little extra knowledge never hurt anyone.
For any further comparison points, advantages - disadvantages or further knowledge that you might like, feel free to connect with us and share your queries. Tell us the platform you chose in the comments below.