Clash of Clouds: AWS vs. Microsoft Azure

Clash of Clouds: AWS vs. Microsoft Azure

Azure vs AWS

If you were asked to choose the best cloud service provider for your company, which would you pick? You’re not alone in asking this question. Anyone who has any interest in the cloud would like to know the answer. Right now, the two largest and most comparable cloud service providers are Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.

Both companies posted record sales far ahead of the competition: AWS reported $4.58 billion in sales for the last quarter and Microsoft reported Azure revenue up 93% as part its $6.8 billion Intelligent Cloud Services. It’s very difficult to determine who has the edge in the cloud service industry.

Let’s take a closer look at both CSPs and see where their strengths lie.

Cloud Approach: AWS and Azure

AWS offers four distinct kinds of services: Compute, Storage and Delivery, Databases and Networking. In between, you get management and monitoring tools, like AWS CloudTrail, CloudWatch, and so on.

What about Microsoft Azure? It covers similar services: Compute, Data management, Networking, Developer and IT Services, and so on.

As such, both companies cover much of the same ground. The difference between the two lies in their focus.

On one hand, the vast majority of AWS resides on Amazon’s public cloud. On the other, Azure focuses on the hybrid cloud: it aims to integrate its existing onsite applications with its own cloud services. Using apps like Azure StorSimple, Hybrid SQL Server, Azure Stack and others, Microsoft clearly has an advantage with hybrid clouds.

Microsoft leverages on its relationship with large companies, many of which want their data closer to home for a variety of reasons. As such they tend to work well with customers already on Microsoft products.

Which approach is better? It depends on what a company needs from a cloud vendor. Are they focused on the public or the hybrid cloud? Is their infrastructure made up of largely of Microsoft products or do they rely more on open-source software?


This is a difficult standard to gauge. Both cloud providers have aggressively lowered the prices for their services over time, and cost varies depending on usage and other variables.

To make it simple, both AWS and Azure have their own price calculators to help you simulate cost. You may use either AWS Simple Monthly Calculator or Microsoft Azure Pricing Calculator. It’s good to note that AWS bills by the hour while Azure bills by the minute.

Size and Scale

Here we see AWS take a clear advantage. Amazon has been in the cloud industry around far longer than its competitors and has had ample time to mature in its market.

In terms of sheer scalability, AWS leads the pack. While Microsoft leverages big clients who already use Windows and other Microsoft products, AWS provides its technology to small, medium, and large enterprises.

Aside from scalability, AWS was the first to take on open-source applications and is well-known for integrating with them. It supported RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) long before Azure decided to jump on board.

Finally, Gartner has declared AWS a clear winner not just in terms of IaaS but also integrated IaaS and PaaS. It leads the pack in terms of Ability to Execute and Completeness of Vision, proving most useful to customers intending to migrate traditional IT centers into the cloud.

A 2017 Synergy Research report states that AWS now holds 40% of the market share, with Microsoft rapidly striding in at 23%.

AWS has a longer time to develop their technology and greater experience in cloud services. In recent years, Microsoft has pivoted towards the cloud and made great strides in closing the gap. They may still be in the rearview mirror but are catching up.

Time will tell if this race will remain lopsided. For now, AWS is on top and aims to stay there. Of course, try before you buy is a great strategy. Both companies provide free tier accounts you can use to test out their services.

If it there is one caveat to AWS, it’s that its myriad of services may require some expertise to navigate and use its wide variety of services. If you feel you require help in getting your data center into the cloud, don’t hesitate to call in the experts. Contact our cloud specialists at PolarSeven today.