Microsoft Azure vs. AWS – How They Stack Up in 2018 - CWPS

Posted by Gary Utley on April 5, 2018

141021-OSX7TL-419What’s the “state of the state” for cloud adoption this year? According to Gartner, the "default position has now flipped as businesses consider cloud deployments first for most upgrades or new installations."

It seems like the scales have finally tipped in favor of cloud adoption, after more than a decade of architectural stability, security, and expansion. Gartner says that more than 70% of all businesses will be in the cloud by 2021. Forrester agrees, citing 2018 as the milestone year when more than 50% of all businesses will have significant architectural frameworks in the cloud.

Two of the most dominant players providing those cloud architectures are Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS). In a head-to-head comparison of Microsoft Azure vs. AWS, how do they stack up against the influx of traffic heading in their direction? Why would an SMB or even an enterprise organization choose one or the other? What are the nuances that set these providers apart from each other?

AWS – E-Commerce Giant

A comparison of Microsoft Azure vs. AWS by RightScale in their “State of the Cloud Report,” shows AWS leading Microsoft 64% to 57% in cloud adoption by enterprise organizations. The majority of these adoptions include running some sort of application in the cloud:

Adoption Type AWS Microsoft Azure
Actively running apps 68% 58%
Experimenting with apps 15% 22%
Planning to use apps 7% 8%

While AWS is leading on the app side of deployments, they made another market capturing move in late 2017 when AMS and VMware announced an expansion of their hybrid cloud offering with disaster recovery services. VMware developed the strategic relationship with AWS about a year prior to this announcement, but VMware can also be used with Azure services for machine virtualization.

AWS offers these services in the cloud:

  • Compute
  • Storage
  • Databases
  • Analytics
  • Networking
  • Mobile
  • Developer Tools
  • Management Tools
  • Internet of Things
  • Security
  • Enterprise Application

However, from a revenue perspective AWS is the clear leader, with four times the revenue generated from the cloud as Microsoft Azure. AWS got into the cloud game a few years earlier than Azure, as well, so Microsoft has some ground to gain in terms of revenue and new client business. That’s really in every area except one; Computer World UK has suggested that Azure is closing the gap on infrastructure as a service (IaaS), especially for enterprise organizations:

But despite AWS’s dominance, Microsoft has quickly gained ground under the leadership of “cloud first” CEO Satya Nadella, building a huge global network of its own.

The AWS IaaS offering includes:

  • Content delivery and storage
  • Compute
  • Networking
  • Database

For comparison, the Azure IaaS offering includes:

  • Data management and databases
  • Compute
  • Networking
  • Performance

In a feature-by-feature comparison, Microsoft Azure vs. AWS offers similar services for storage and networking. They both have all the benefits of the public cloud, including scalability, security, self-service, and reliability. Both companies have invested big money in their cloud offerings.

Currently, AWS offers the biggest range of services that include database, mobile, developer and management tools, security, applications, IoT, and AI. AWS has a relatively new machine learning service for developers that offers image recognition, text to speech, and access to the same engine behind Alexa.

AWS provides a number of other tools to help developers get the job done:

  • Container Services
  • Elastic Beanstalk
  • Lambda
  • Batch

However, AWS does not have the same volume of tools for app hosting as Microsoft. Azure is the winner for developer tool for cloud-hosted developer apps.

So, while AWS is the market leader, who you should go with depends upon the services you’re searching for. Developers that gravitate toward Microsoft and hybrid applications are going to want to go with Azure.

Microsoft Azure – Trusted Innovation Provider

“Microsoft Azure can hook into all those Windows Server customers in the enterprise data center and stretch into its cloud.”


Some of the reasons that customers choose Microsoft to begin with; they are one of the most trusted and reliable names in IT. Microsoft excels at offering software as a service (SaaS) applications in the public cloud.

But Microsoft Azure has some other offerings that set the provider apart. For example, Azure does seem to lead the pack in compliance, with more than 70 offerings. They were the first to commit to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and have been selected as the leading and most trusted vendor for government organizations

Microsoft Azure offers the following services in the cloud:

  • Compute
  • Networking
  • Storage
  • Web + Mobile
  • Containers
  • Databases
  • Analytics
  • AI + Machine Learning
  • Internet of Things Integration
  • Security + Identity
  • Developer Tools
  • Management Tools

Like their IaaS applications, hybrid models are an area where Azure is gaining ground on AWS. The Microsoft Azure Stack includes a consistent hybrid cloud with open source tools for developers to bridge the gap between cloud and on-premise deployments. It offers a virtual machine architecture, IaaS and PaaS capabilities that make on-premise solutions much more portable.

Azure also has a huge footprint, with services available in 44 regions across the globe.

When it comes to Microsoft Azure vs. AWS in machine learning, Microsoft also offers a comprehensive service that lets developers deploy algorithms and APIs. Azure offers management and security tools like Active Directory and EMS.

For developers, Azure has:

  • App Services
  • Cloud Services
  • Service Fabric
  • Container Service
  • Batch
  • Functions
  • WebJobs

This is just a few of the tools available to developers in the Microsoft Azure cloud. .Net developers have a fairly easy time publishing an application to Azure; the platform does much of the work and the process is intuitive.

Feature Breakdown: Microsoft Azure vs. AWS

One of the difficulties in migrating to the cloud is our use of legacy applications. Often, organizations do not have the resources available to create a new app for the cloud environment, so a hybrid model becomes the best option.

Also, Azure has a seamless integration with Active Directory and Visual Studio. However, AWS has traditionally won the race for open source developers. AWS has always welcomed Linux users and has solutions for open source applications. Staying true to the competition that defines the cloud race, Microsoft recently opened their .NET frameworks to developers and launched the SQL Server on Linux.

Finally, the other big consideration when comparing Microsoft Azure vs. AWS is that Microsoft has developed and is still working on an interconnected universe of interoperable services. It’s now possible to leverage solid Microsoft architectures and apply them in the cloud, in the pipe, and on the ground. End users have been using Microsoft tools for decades; the Office 365 world now includes every office communication and organizational tool imaginable, from good old standbys Word, Excel, and Outlook, to file storage in SharePoint, as well as Skype for Business, an ERP for analytics, and more. Microsoft has developer tools and cloud offerings that include security designed for today’s mobile world with Microsoft Office 365 EMS.

This interoperable universe makes for easier transitions and stakeholder buy-in when seeking to roll out new software. This could be a plus for your team.

But What About Cost? Microsoft Azure vs. AWS?

In the past few years, the competitive nature of the cloud deployment market has ensured that the costs of Microsoft Azure vs. AWS have remained relatively close.

Click here for a cost calculator for AWS.

Click here for a cost calculator for Microsoft Azure.

Microsoft Azure vs. AWS -- Bottom Line?

So the question, at this point, is which to choose: Microsoft Azure vs. AWS. For developer tools, hybrid models, and interoperability between platforms, we choose Microsoft Azure every time. For more information on how the cloud can help your business, contact CWPS.

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Topics: Office 365, cloud solutions