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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

However, one area AWS falls short to some degree is with its hybrid cloud strategy. Unlike Microsoft, AWS has tended to be dismissive of the benefits of on-premise private clouds. Many organisations prefer to keep sensitive data within their own data centres - such as those in the financial sector - using public clouds for other purposes. 

At the same time, this clearly has not deterred many customers from using AWS as part of their cloud strategy, regardless of whether they plan to move all systems to the cloud or not.

Another downside to AWS is the scale of its offering. While this is an attraction in many senses, it can be difficuly at times to navigate the large numbers of features that are on offer, and some see AWS as being a complex vendor to manage.

Microsoft Azure vs Amazon AWS: Azure pros and cons

Although it falls short of Amazon in many respects as part of Forrester's scoring, it still rates highly in most aspects of its offering, and is generally better perceived than other cloud competitors. Also, the analyst firm rates it higher than AWS in certain areas such as development and testing tools, for example.

And the big pull for Azure is clearly where Microsoft already has a strong footing within an organisation.

Azure links well with key Microsoft on-premise systems such as Windows Server, System Center and Active Directory.

In addition, while both AWS and Azure have PaaS capabilities, this is a particular strength of Microsoft's.

One of the downsides however has been a series of outages in recent months and years. Gartner analyst Lydia Leong has recommended considering disaster recovery capabilities away from Azure for critical applications hosted in the cloud.

Also, where AWS provides users with many options for supporting other platforms, Azure can be somewhat restrictive in comparison.

If you want to run anything other than Windows Server then Azure might not be the best solution. While Microsoft claims to have embraced open source platforms, it currently only provides 'limited' support for Linux operating systems.

Microsoft Azure vs Amazon AWS: Verdict

In very general terms, AWS appears be superior in terms of offering the widest range of functionality and most mature cloud offering. It has been suggested that it has a multi-year lead over its rivals in this respect.

Its expansive list of tools and services, along with its enterprise-friendly features make it a strong proposition for large organisations.  Meanwhile its huge - and continuously growing - infrastructure provides economies of scale that enable price cuts.

But it appears that Microsoft has begun to bridge the gap between the two, and will continue to do so with its ongoing investment in building out the Azure cloud platform and plans to strengthen ties with its on-premise software.  


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