AWS versus Azure: What is the best cloud platform?
If your company plans to use an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Amazon Web Service (AWS) and Microsoft Azure are the two leading providers of such services. It remains to determine which one is best suited to meet the needs of your business. Find the answer to this question through this comparison.
Amazon Web Services appeared 10 years ago. Since then, the firm has evolved, as well as the competitive landscape that surrounds it. One of its competitors, Microsoft Azure, has been operating since 2010. In six years, Microsoft has succeeded, as usual, to improve its service very quickly to the point of being able to compete with Amazon.
Both companies have had enough time to create stable and flexible products. High-level, it is possible to compare AWS, a reliable and diversified option, with Microsoft Azure, a cloud offer proposed by the creators of many tools that your company already uses as Visual Studio, SQL Server, and of course Windows. These two high-quality solutions are difficult to separate.
Amazon divides its Infrastructure as a Service into four categories: Compute, Storage, Database, and Network. All of these resources are secured by Amazon’s security and identification services, including Amazon hosted Active Directory, AWS Identity Management, AWS Certificate Manager for SSL / TLS certificate management, and AWS CloudHSM.
Users can monitor their usage of infrastructure resources using management tools such as Amazon CloudWatch, AWS Cloudtrail for activity tracking and API usage, and AWS Config for inventory tracking resources.
For computing, the main offering of AWS is the EC2 instances, which can be custom-tailored with a large number of options. Users can configure virtual machines using preconfigured or custom AMIs (machine images). The user chooses the size, the power, the memory capacity, and the number of VMs as well as the regions in which to launch. The firm also offers services like Elastic Beanstalk for application deployment, EC2 Container, AWS Lambda and Autoscaling.
Azure, for its part, groups its infrastructures into four categories: Compute, Data Management, Performance and Networking. These infrastructures are secured by Azure Active Directory, Federation Services, Multi-Factor Auth, and a Role Based Access control model. Azure also offers services and integrations for in-depth monitoring of infrastructure performance.
Azure’s computing offering is centered around its Virtual Machines (VMs), other tools like Cloud Services and Resource Manager for cloud application deployment, and Azure Autoscaling. Azure users choose a Virtual Hard Disk (VHD), equivalent to Amazon AMIs, to create a VM. The VHD can be predefined by Microsoft, by third parties, or defined by the user. For each VM, it is necessary to specify the number of cores and the amount of memory.
With regard to storage, the two firms offer similar options. AWS provides Simple Storage (S3), Elastic Block Storage (EBS), Elastic File System (EFS), Import / Export Large Data Transfer System, Glacier Archive Backup Service, and Storage Gateway. on-premises.
Microsoft, for its part, offers the Azure Storage service, the Azure Blob block storage service, Table, Queue, and File. The firm also offers Site Recovery, Import Export, and Azure Backup services.
Both cloud providers also offer excellent networking solutions. The users can deploy applications to a local (private data center) or global (hybrid or public cloud), counting on Azure Load Balancer, and AWS Elastic Load Balancing.
Both Amazon Virtual Private Clouds and Azure Virtual Network allow users to group virtual machines in isolated networks on the cloud. By using VPC and VNET, users can define a network topology, create subnets, route tables, private IP address rows, and network portals.
The two vendors offer relational databases with SQL Azure Database, Amazon Relational Database Service and Redshift and NoSQL databases with Azure and Amazon DynamoDB DocumentDB.
Companies developing new applications, or new startups, can start their business directly on the cloud, so they do not have to worry about migration issues. For most businesses, however, cloud migration is a transition. In fact, many of them do not plan to operate fully on the cloud. For many reasons, they will use both the cloud and their own data centers.
To deal with this situation, Microsoft offers strong support for the hybrid cloud. The hybrid cloud can launch cloud applications and deploy cloud infrastructure, but also use on-premises computing resources when it seems more appropriate. The hybrid cloud allows for a quick transition between the two.
In the hybrid cloud field, Microsoft is clearly leading the way with platforms like Azure StorSimple, Hybrid SQL Server or Azure Stack. Amazon struggles to catch up, despite the deployment of hybrid solutions like Storage Gateway, DynamoDB Local, or OpsWorks.
Private companies are not the only ones who want to save money. Despite strict regulations, it is possible for government organizations to migrate to the cloud. Amazon and Microsoft both offer Government versions of their clouds, meeting all legal requirements. These two government Clouds comply with ITAR, DISA, HIPAA, CJIS, FIPS, etc.
The government cloud Amazon has the advantage however of being in place for a long time and having to his credit more government customers. Some governments, however, prefer Microsoft Azure.
Microsoft Azure: the best integration with Microsoft services
Microsoft has always been focused on its business customers. It therefore seems logical that the integration of Azure with Windows and the other services of the firm like Active Directory, TFS and Visual Studio is irreproachable. For example, you can use the same Active Directory accounts to connect to Azure cloud services such as Office 365 or Azure SQL.
AWS, the best choice for open source
For open source customers, until recently, it was not possible to use Azure as a cloud vendor. Indeed, Microsoft has long maintained a bad relationship with the open source community. However, recently, the situation is changing.
Anyway, in this area, Amazon AWS clearly leads the dance. AWS has always been Linux-friendly and on good terms with the open source community. The firm offers many integrations of open source tools.
Microsoft Azure, however, is making great efforts to catch up in this area. PowerShell and .NET Core are open sourced. SQL Server runs on Linux, and Hyper-V lets you run Docker. On Azure, you can also launch Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Apache Hadoop clusters.
Amazon retains the advantage because of its seniority in the open source domain, and because Azure will always work better with Microsoft development tools. However, if you want to use open source tools in the cloud, do not neglect Azure and see if this cloud is better suited to your needs. The gap is closing quickly.
AWS, the most complete and flexible offer
The depth of the AWS offering is one of its key strengths. Amazon dominates in several areas such as platform configuration options, monitoring features, security and reliability. Its partner ecosystem and overall product strategy are also seen as significant benefits, along with the AWS Marketplace and its many third-party software services.
Another benefit of the AWS cloud is its openness and flexibility. For example, Transport for London has used AWS to handle demand peaks for its online services like the Journey Planner Tool. To do this, the organization has relied on EC2 instances, the Simple Email Service, the Simple Notification Service for push notifications, the Simple Queue Service and the Cloud Watch metrics and Route 53 Domain Name Server.
Relying on the typical customer of a provider is not necessarily the best way to choose a cloud. However, customer analytics can help to understand how the cloud in question benefits other businesses and allows better choice.
AWS multiplies contracts with very large companies and organizations, and this has allowed it to compete with the giants of the IT industry. For example, the CIA used AWS to develop its private cloud in 2013. This is also the case for Netflix, which recently announced its intention to close all its data centers to migrate fully to the cloud. High-profile clients include AirBnB, Aon, Channel 4, Financial Times, Dow Jones, Kurt Geiger, Lonely Planet, Nasdaq, Nike, Nisa Retail, Pfizer, and Royal Opera House.
Microsoft Azure has fewer well-known users, but also has a lot of prestigious customers like Pearson, Ford, NBC News, Dunnby and Easyjet.
For some companies, the simplicity of the licensing system is a key factor in choosing a cloud. In general, service providers charge customers based on the licenses they use and the use they make of them. However, large companies are already paying many licenses for application servers like SQL Serve or BizTalk. Fortunately, migrating to the cloud does not necessarily mean that these investments are lost.
Microsoft offers license mobility for some application servers. It is important to check in advance if an application is eligible for this mobility, and keep in mind that Windows Server is not. For example, the SQL Server license is eligible, and a previously paid license can be used on the Cloud.
Azure and Aws both guarantee a service availability of over 99.95%. If a problem occurs, customers are reimbursed. The two suppliers, however, experienced occasional outages, which affected services like Netflix or Office 365.
Costs (Pay as you go)
Vendors of cloud platforms will all say that a migration to the cloud can save money. However, in reality, it is difficult to really estimate the real costs of such a transition. Some things to consider depending on the behavior of the user. For example, turning off Virtual Machines when not in use greatly reduces costs. There is no need to compare AWS and Azure in terms of tariffs. It is possible to estimate the costs of your projects on the respective official sites of Amazon and Azure.
Note, however, that AWS charges customers based on hours of use. Therefore the minimum usage is one hour. The AWS instances can be purchased with three different models :
- On-demand: customers pay for what they use
- Reserved: Customers book instances for one to three years with a cost based on usage
- Spot: a customer bidding system for additional capacity available
Azure, for its part, bills its customers according to the minutes used and also offers one-off discounts.
Microsoft and Amazon both offer different levels of support, depending on how fast users want their issues resolved, and whether they want a dedicated account manager or technical support for the solution. third party plugins integration if something goes wrong.
The main difference is that Azure’s support offerings are billed on a monthly basis, while AWS’s offerings vary based on monthly usage. As a result, Amazon support costs can increase rapidly for the most demanding users.
AWS vs. Azure: verdict
Ultimately, choosing the best cloud provider depends on your needs. The best solution is to test the trial version of AWS and Azure to experience the qualities and defects of each of these services.
If cost is an essential criterion in your eyes, it is wise to use the estimation tools proposed by each supplier on their respective official sites. Similarly, cloud cost monitoring tools can measure your actual IaaS usage and alert you if these costs are out of control. This will make it easier to regulate your monthly expenses.