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Microsoft Azure vs Amazon AWS public cloud comparison

Matthew Finnegan | Jan. 19, 2016
ComputerworldUK compares the two leading public clouds, Azure and AWS

It is worth starting by looking at the services offered by the two firms. Both AWS andMicrosoft Azure offer similar capabilities to some degree, along the lines of compute, storage and networking.

They share the common elements of a public cloud: self-service and instant provisioning, autoscaling, plus security, compliance and identify management features.

Both companies also continually invest in meeting demand for new cloud services. This has resulted in more mature analytics offerings. For example, support for Hadoop clusters are provided by both AWS (Elastic Map Reduce) and Azure (HDInsight).

AWS and Microsoft have added machine learning tools and a number of features targeted at the Internet of Things, while customers can tap either cloud to variously build a mobile app or even create high performance computing environment depending on their needs.

Meanwhile the recent buzz around containers is catered for too, with both providers supporting Docker services. Microsoft has also been also been creating its own Hyper-V container technology that it will run in on-premise data centres as part of its forthcoming Windows Server 2016 release. Read next: What to expect from Windows Server 2016

Microsoft Azure vs Amazon AWS:  Compute, storage, databases and networking

It is often compute and storage that customers are most interested in.

For compute, AWS' main offering is its EC2 instances, which can be tailored with a large number of options. It also provides related services such as Elastic Beanstalk for app deployment, the EC2 Container service, AWS Lambda and Autoscaling.

Meanwhile, Azure's compute offering is centred around its Virtual Machines (VMs), with other tools such as Cloud Services and Resource Manager to help deploy applications on the cloud, and its Azure Autoscaling service.

There are a couple of differentiating factors, according to Gartner, such as EC2 instances being billed by the hour as opposed to by the minute with Azure.

Also, while neither provider offers native support for VMware's vSphere virtualisation, Azure's interoperability with Hyper-V might offer some advantages for those running Microsoft's virtual machines in their data centre, and for those using the Azure Stack private cloud system.

Both providers have similar storage options, says Gartner. 

AWS storage includes its Simple Storage (S3), Elastic Block Storage (EBS), Elastic File System (EFS), Import/Export large volume data transfer service, Glacier archive backup and Storage Gateway, which integrates with on-premise environments.

Microsoft's offerings include its core Azure Storage service, Azure Blob block storage, as well as Table, Queue and File storage. It also offers Site Recovery, Import Export and Azure Backup.

The two cloud providers also offer "excellent" networking capabilities - according to Gartner's report 'Key Services Differences Between AWS and Azure' report - allowing applications to be deployed on a local or global level, relying on server load balancing components (Azure Load Balancer, and AWS' Elastic Load Balancing), and direct network connectivity to link with on-premise systems.

 

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