Azure vs AWS: Cloud War 2021

Cloud war has been fuming since the two leaders of the public cloud realm, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, came into play. With cloud computing in full swing, cloud players are innovating and extending their capabilities to have the edge in 2021 and the coming years.

This article will give you a detailed analysis of Azure and AWS with respect to their current market share, services, pricing models they offer, and more to help you choose the most suitable cloud service provider for your IT infrastructure.

Azure vs AWS: Comparison 101

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Services 2021 has positioned Amazon Web Services and Azure as leaders in the cloud computing space. Conversely, Google maintained a lower position (compared to AWS and Azure) in the same quadrant.

Cloud War - Comparison

Now, let’s deep dive into comparing Azure vs AWS based on various parameters, features, and functionalities.

1. Key Differences Between Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Features/Landscape Azure AWS
Year of Inception/Launch 2010 2006
Market Share for Cloud Infrastructure Services (Source) Azure, on the other hand, controlled 22 percent market share in Q2 2021 As of Q2 2021, AWS holds 31 percent of the entire market share
Licensing Programme Microsoft’s Open Volume Licensing programme allows you to purchase cloud services via Azure SKUs from Microsoft resellers. AWS License Manager offers more flexibility in managing software licenses from vendors.
Hybrid Cloud Model Azure Stack is Microsoft’s hybrid cloud platform that is currently leading the hybrid cloud market. It is the go-to and more agile option for deploying hybrid workloads. AWS Outposts is Amazon’s hybrid cloud offering, a recommended option for heavy AWS users. AWS is less flexible when it comes to partnering with third-party hardware companies for on-premise system integrations.
Availability Zones Azure currently has 140 availability zones within 54 Azure regions. AWS operates in 81 availability zones spanned across 25 geographic regions worldwide.
Maturity Azure’s cloud environment is a little less mature for big data applications, but it has a more mature partner ecosystem than AWS. AWS lags behind partner programs in terms of maturity, but it provides an advanced and more mature environment for big data use cases.

2. Services

a. Compute Services of AWS and Azure

Category/Type Azure AWS
Instances or Virtual Servers Azure Virtual Machines (VMs) Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
Azure Spot Virtual Machines Amazon EC2 Spot
Virtual Machine Scale Sets and App Service Autoscale Amazon EC2 Autoscaling
Azure Batch AWS Batch
CycleCloud Amazon ParallelCluster
Hybrid and Edge Computing Azure Stack AWS Outposts
Azure VMware Solution VMware Cloud on AWS
Serverless Azure Functions AWS Lambda
Containers Container Instances Elastic Container Service (ECS) and Fargate
Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS)
Container Registry Elastic Container Registry (ECR)

b. Storage Services

Category/Type Azure AWS
Object Storage Blob Storage Amazon Simple Storage Services (S3)
Virtual Server Disks Managed Disks Elastic Block Store (EBS)
Data Archival and Backup Storage Cool Tier S3 Infrequent Access (IA)
Storage Archive Access Tier S3 Glacier, Deep Archive
Azure Backup AWS Backup
Hybrid Storage File Sync DataSync
StorSimple Storage Gateway
Shared Files ​​Files Elastic File System
Bulk Data Transfer Import/Export Import/Export Disk
Data Box Import/Export Snowball, Snowball Edge, and Snowmobile

c. Networking Services

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d. Databases

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3. Pricing Models

Model Azure AWS
Free Trial Azure Free Account ● You can unlock 54 Azure products across compute, storage, security, databases, and many more. ● Azure Free Account offers you two types of trials: ○ Always free with access to 29 cloud products (at zero charges) ○ 12 months of free trial with access to 25 cloud products Besides, you will receive free credits worth $200 that you can spend within 30 days of your sign-up. AWS Free Tier ● You have access to 85 different services ranging in compute, databases, storage, AI, etc. ● AWS Free Tier comes with three options: ○ Always free with no expiration period and is available to all AWS users ○12-month free trial for your first AWS sign-up with limited access to certain services. E.g., Free access to EC2 for 750 hours a month with a t2. or t3. micro instance available Short-term free trials on activation of a specific service.
On-Demand Provides the pay-as-you-go option for on-demand purchases. In Azure, you will be charged on a per-minute basis. AWS also has the ​​pay-as-you-go pricing model where you “only pay for what you use.” You are charged on an hourly basis.
Reserved (Reserving instances or resource capacity brings in cost savings of up to 72%) Azure offers reservation options for 16 different services to reserve instances or resource capacity for 1 or 3 years. Azure reservations have three payment modes: upfront payment and monthly payments. AWS reservation models with a one or three-year commitment are available for Amazon EC2, Redshift, RDS, OpenSearch Service, ElastiCache, and DynamoDB. Pricing options for AWS reserved capacity are no upfront, partial upfront, or all upfront.
Spot Pricing Azure and AWS both support the spot pricing model where you can bid for spare resource capacity. When your bid price exceeds the current price of a spot instance, your requested capacity is allotted if available. Spot pricing can get you deepest discounts up to 90%.

The Showdown — Who Will Rule The Cloud War?

The war between cloud players will continue to rage as the IT industry and businesses evolve. While AWS continues to dominate the market, Azure is catching up real quick and is expected to emerge as a clear leader, making a tight space for itself.

However, the most critical question that you should ask is:

Azure or AWS — Which Is The Better Cloud Service Platform For Your Business?

When choosing between AWS and Azure, you need to assess your current IT infrastructure, workloads, scaling and migration needs.

Regardless of this never-ending battle, your cloud strategy should boil down to your architectural needs. Consider fusing a multi-cloud approach into your existing IT strategy for high availability, better resilience, and wider choices of cloud products or services

Rodney Joyce

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