AWS vs Azure is a question you’ll bump into often when it comes to cloud computing. Both their cloud ecosystems offer countless benefits from superior compute power, scalability, and security to unrivaled cost-effectiveness and carbon footprint reductions.
The cloud computing industry has grown rapidly, exploding into a vast array of cloud providers, technologies, products, and services. Even a simple cloud deployment offers hundreds of options. It’s strange to say, but it’s an issue of too much choice!
To complicate things further, many providers use unique terminologies for similar offerings. The same tech will have different names, muddling like-for-like feature comparisons. Hence, you need a guide to help make difficult decisions simple.
In this article, i am going to help you decide between the two giants of cloud computing: Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.
Excited? Let’s get started!
Why AWS vs Azure
Every industry has its market leaders—a select few companies that rise above the rest, setting the benchmark for excellence.
If you’re exploring cloud products and services, then Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Web Services are the three providers who’ve become synonymous with “cloud,” with Alibaba Cloud joining the fold recently.
Before rising to prominence in the cloud market, Amazon and Microsoft were global leaders in their respective fields. Each was uniquely renowned for a history of innovation, excellence, and market dominance.
Embarking into the cloud frontier, they had the ideal technological foundation, expertise, and financial resource to develop industry-leading cloud computing platforms. Both providers have led the creation of new cloud products and services since the technology’s emergence.
Unsurprisingly, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services have again been named Leaders in Gartner’s most recent Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Services. Both feature highest in the top-right corner of the Leaders quadrant, awarded on Ability to Execute and Completeness of Vision. AWS takes the honor of a first place, securing the top spot for the tenth consecutive year.
Amazon Web Services vs Microsoft Azure Features Comparison
Comparing the AWS and Azure cloud platforms is no simple task. As traditional systems have moved from on-premises to cloud, both providers have expanded their service offerings to include over 25 different cloud solution categories.
Today, AWS and Microsoft Azure offer hundreds of competitive cloud solutions encompassing countless products and services. There is a wealth of choice with categories spanning compute, storage, database, security, robotics, machine learning, and even quantum technologies. To avoid getting lost in the details while comparing apples to apples, you’ll need a basic level of knowledge and understanding of the two technologies.
Thankfully, products and services from the Amazon Web Services Platform and Microsoft Azure Platform are mostly grouped under the same category headings. To help you accelerate and simplify the decision-making process, i have taken the time to compare the most commonly sought-after cloud products and services across several business-critical categories.
Compute resource is the foundation on which you’d build your cloud deployment. The decisions you make in this category will directly influence the speed and performance of your platform. Including the systems you run on it and the services your employees utilize. So, you must choose the right configuration for your business needs.
You also need to factor in compute cost, as it forms two-thirds of the average enterprise cloud spend, according to ParkMyCloud CEO, Jay Chapel.
Comparing Amazon Web Services vs Microsoft Azure compute capabilities. VMs emulate physical computer systems’ functionality and power almost any workload you can think of.
Both AWS and Azure adopt a similar approach to VMs. However, as you dig into two services, you’ll discover they use different terminology for their individual compute offerings.
Virtual Machine Features
As you explore VM-instance deployments in Amazon EC2 and Azure, you’ll discover the providers share many similar—if not identical—features. These include:
The ability to use stored disk images to create instances.
On-demand capabilities to launch and terminate instances.
Restriction-free management of your instances.
The ability to tag your instances.
A variety of available operating systems to install on your instance.
Virtual Machine Access
You’ll find that both Azure and AWS adopt a similar approach to VM access of Linux and Windows machines.
For Linux machines, if you want SSH-based terminal access, Amazon EC2 and Azure both require you to include your own key SSH key. In addition to this, neither provider supports SSH browser access.
When it comes to VM access for Windows machines, Amazon EC2 and Azure support access through standard Remote Desktop Protocols (RDP).
Where they do differ slightly is in the provision of additional access pathways. Azure offers additional access to Windows machines via Microsoft PowerShell, while Amazon EC2 provides additional Windows machine access through its IPv6 address and Session Manager.
Comparing VM machine performance between Azure and AWS is no easy task. We can’t simply declare that one of these cloud providers is better than the other. There are hundreds of comparable VM instances available between AWS and Azure, with the performance scale tipping one of two ways, depending on the comparison.
A recent study from Cockroach Labs compared AWS vs Azure vs GCP CPU performance across a range of single-core and 16-core VMs. GCP came out on top in the single-core category, with performance 10% higher than AWS, with Azure coming in last. When comparing 16-core VMs, AWS came out on top with the fastest iterations per second. GCP was second, and Azure took last again.
Azure and AWS cloud platforms are built on a global cloud infrastructure of hundreds of data centers interconnected through hundreds of thousands of lit fiber optic and undersea cable systems. Each is renowned for delivering state-of-art networking services that offer high-speed performance, high availability, strong security, and global coverage.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) will ensure your users get the fastest access to your content, wherever they are based. AWS and Azure each offer a CDN solution: Amazon CloudFront and Azure CDN, respectively.
By distributing and delivering content locally, you’ll benefit from quicker load times, reduced bandwidth strain, and improved responsiveness of your applications and websites. Each provider delivers this service by replicating and hosting your content across their distributed global network of interconnected data centers.
A DNS service is used to convert human-readable domain names into the IP addresses used by servers to communicate.
Both Amazon and Microsoft offer similar cloud-based DNS solutions: Amazon Route 53 and Azure DNS. Both platforms support most DNS record types, any-cast-based serving, and domain name registration.
Comparing cloud storage options between the Microsoft and Amazon cloud platforms is split into five distinct storage service types:
Distributed object storage: Redundant key-value stores in which you can store data objects.
Block storage: Virtual disk volumes you can attach to a VM instance.
File storage: Designed for file-server-based storage.
Cool storage: Designed for the storage of backups.
Cold (archival) storage: Designed for storing archival data inline with compliance or analysis purposes.
Security will be among your primary considerations when choosing a cloud provider.
When comparing cloud security between AWS and Azure, look closely at the core security pillars that will combine to protect your cloud-based applications, data, infrastructure, and systems. This means exploring controls, policies, processes, and technologies that define your security stance.
Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are renowned for their robust security stance and the implementation of cutting-edge security. Both continually invest in cybersecurity research and development to deliver a secure platform, resilient to the ever-evolving and escalating threat of the technology landscape.
A firewall is the first line of defense for your infrastructure. It is responsible for protecting your network against unwanted intrusion.
Both Microsoft and Amazon ringfence their cloud platform with state-of-the-art firewalls, providing you with a base level of protection. In addition to this, both cloud providers offer a range of competitive firewall-as-a-service products to enhance your security stance.
Hared Responsibility Model
Implementing security in the cloud is a shared responsibility.
Understanding where responsibility ends and begins between you and your cloud provider is critical in maintaining a strong security stance. A misunderstanding here can create vulnerabilities and gaps in your security that would otherwise be easily avoidable.
Amazon Web Services and Azure provide clear documentation on their shared responsibility model, giving you the information you need to understand where security responsibility sits.
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