Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Azure are the most used cloud platforms with a combined market-share that dwarfs the rest of the major suppliers including Google. Of the two, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the most used platform, with Azure showing fast growth, particularly amongst enterprise businesses.
As cloud procurement and technologies have improved, there have been trends in which organisations have moved all their infrastructure to a single provider to simplify their IT systems while others have used the flexibility of multiple cloud platforms to use a combination of providers based on the best individual solutions that they offer – for example taking advantage of lower storage costs for archiving with one provider whilst utilising a higher class of virtual machine elsewhere to maximise application performance.
There are competing benefits between the services and facilities offered by the major cloud providers, but there are also similarities and in some cases, the choice of which platform is best will come down to one or two factors such as cost, or perceived compatibility. It can even be a decision which is made based on the preferences of the consultant who developed the virtualisation strategy.
There are some key aspects to the market that are worth considering:
- Familiarity – As a Microsoft product, Azure offers a familiar means of usage that, whilst not a reason on its own to choose a platform, should also not be underestimated. Users can employ the same coding languages they are familiar with in other Apps meaning that the learning curve for experienced Windows apps developers is shallower.
- Support – In the UK, there is an extensive network of Microsoft Gold Partners who can manage Azure, and there are also many reliable sources online including TechNet and the Developers Network. Amazon too has the same range of local and online resources to support businesses who are choosing to move to the cloud.
- Marketplace – Amazon’s services marketplace is extensive, offering access to consulting partners around the world with specialisms in different areas as well as applications and plug-ins for the platform that support management and maintenance. Azure offers a similar range of products.
- Software Development Kit (SDK) – The Azure SDK allows users to run a version of it on their own machines as Azure Stack – provided that those machines meet the specifications. This allows for a unique private/public cloud environment to be created with the same systems running on both.
- Cost – A key consideration for anyone choosing between AWS and Azure is the cost of using the platform for the long term. In fact, like for like comparisons between resource and subscriptions show that the costs are remarkably similar – the market has become commoditised.
There’s no doubt that Amazon, the AWS Company, is the main player in the cloud hosting market – but Microsoft and Google have been late entrants to the market by comparison. Furthermore, they both have experience chasing down competitors and they both have the money to do so. We can expect to see the market become more competitive, but in the meantime organisations should still ensure they have a strong understanding of their needs before choosing a provider – for the time being, this is still an industry of niche offerings.
To speak to a member of our team of Azure and AWS Experts, please contact us, or call on 0203 697 0302.