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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

Both support relational databases (Azure SQL Database, Amazon Relational Database Service and Redshift), and NoSQL data bases (Azure DocumentDB and Amazon DynamoDB).

Microsoft Azure vs Amazon AWS: Pricing

Pricing can be a huge attraction for those considering a move to the cloud, and for good reason: there has been a continued downward trend on prices for some time now.

In general terms, prices are roughly comparable, with Microsoft pledging to keep pace with AWS's price drops, which can often be the cheaper option.

The hyper-competitiveness of cloud vendors has been hugely beneficial for customers, with frequent cuts to prices for various services. This is clearly good news for IT departments, often unexpectedly freeing up budgets as vendor margins get thinner.

Microsoft bucked this trend to some degree, and recently made changes to its pricing in line with currency fluctuations, but claimed that UK customers would not be affected. 

Working out pricing can be complex, however. In particular AWS' pricing structures are not always entirely clear, and some customers look to third parties to manage costs.  

AWS provides a price calculator here, as does Microsoft here.

Both vendors offer free introductory tiers, before beginning to charge customers.

Microsoft Azure vs AWS: Customers

A high-profile user base may not be the main reason for choosing either cloud provider. But it can help the more cautious organisations understand how the public cloud is benefitting others in their sector.  

This is clearly a strong-point of AWS. It has increasingly taken on large customer deals, leading to the intriguing situation of a company owned by what was once simply an online bookseller threatening to usurp some of the biggest names in IT.

For example, although the US Central Intelligence Agency eventually signed a contract with IBM, awarding AWS a contract to build its private cloud in a one-off deal in 2013 could be seen as symbolic of a change in mentality by buyers.

A major proponent of AWS has been Netflix - a longstanding customer which recently claimed it would soon be shutting the rest of its data centres in a final move to the cloud. But aside from web pioneers, its real success has been in convincing more traditional businesses to move to the cloud. Read next: How News Corp expects to save 'tens of millions of dollars' by moving to the AWS cloud

Other major customers include: AirBnB, Aon, Channel 4, Financial Times, Dow Jones, Kurt Geiger, Lonely Planet, Nasdaq, Nike, Nisa Retail, Pfizer, and the Royal Opera House. A full list of AWS customers can be seen here.

Microsoft perhaps has less high profile Azure users, with most of the messaging from the vendor appearing to be around its widely used Saas tools.


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