Microsoft Azure vs. AWS – How They Stack Up in 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.”

ZDNet

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.

Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise Mobility + Security Sweet Ebook

Public Cloud Computing with Office 365 – How Can It Help my Small Business?

T1NUHZ0SU7.jpgYou probably remember when Microsoft cornered the market with their office suite. Today, Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint remain the go-to office tools for every size and type of business.

The next generation of Microsoft tools is here; Office 365 in the cloud is designed perfectly for your small business. Industry leaders are saying that “Microsoft Gets it Right with Office 365.”

Let’s look at public cloud computing with Office 365 and the specific ways it can help your small business stay competitive in today’s marketplace.

Office 365 – Tools You Can Use

Microsoft has been the leader in office applications for years, and with the Office 365 release, they’ve packaged all of the most useful resources into one cloud-driven application.

The first benefit of Office 365 is the same as any other public cloud service; you do not have to install and maintain expensive hardware. You don’t have to purchase a firewall or malware protection; your cloud provider handles all this, saving you time and money. These services are accessed via a monthly subscription, which makes for a budget-friendly line item in your expenses column.

Another benefit is increasing productivity that comes from accessing data storage and office tools all in one place. Your Office 365 subscription comes with SharePoint, which serves as a central hub for data sharing. You won’t have to worry about version control because SharePoint handles versioning along with restricting access so simultaneous edits can’t occur.

Your small office will also benefit from being able to access work from anywhere there is an Internet connection and on any digital device. Email, document sharing, conferencing, and office tools are now all in one place and accessible at any time or from any location, resulting in improved collaboration.

The time to deploy software is crucial in any office setting, but particularly in the smaller office, where workers tend to wear multiple hats. Office 365 has the same familiar feel of the Microsoft products you’ve been using for years, which will help you get up and running quickly on your new service. The user interface (UI) on Office 365 is instinctive, clean, and efficient.

Compliance is another important benefit for small offices seeking to engage in government contracts, or medical offices concerned about HIPAA. Microsoft Office 365 is fully compliant with ISO 27001 standards, SAS70 II and I audits, HIPAA, FERPA, and have received the EU Safe Harbor seal.

Office 365 – Security in the Cloud

Despite a mass migration to cloud technology, there are still holdouts that say the cloud is not safe. But TechRepublic highlights the security of Office 365 as a key reason to select it.

Microsoft uses 128-bit SSL/TSL encryption, which makes it unreadable to those without permission. Anti-spam and anti-virus protection along with standard security measures in Microsoft data centers that are considered to be industry best in class.

Small businesses simply cannot afford the kind of security measures Microsoft employs.

These are just some of the benefits of public cloud computing with Office 365. Contact us to talk about how this service could help your small business.

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What is a Cloud Automation Framework and How Can It Help Your Business?

Hybrid_Cloud_Solution-1.jpgA cloud automation framework is a simple framework that automates certain operations within the cloud-based infrastructure. Cloud automation frameworks are generally split into three separate modules: infrastructure automation, deployment automation, and self-healing automation.

The Types of Cloud Automation

Infrastructure automation is one of the most basic types of cloud automation; it involves creating a template for infrastructure that can then be easily replicated and deployed. A little more complex is deployment automation, through processes are automatically deployed throughout the system, and manual effort is reduced. Finally, self-healing automation involves finding errors within the system and correcting them automatically, though those who are responsible for managing the infrastructure will still be notified of the errors. 

Cloud automation offers better control over a system without consuming a large amount of additional resources. Systems have grown in complexity, and there are now a lot of moving parts; by automating the monitoring of these systems, companies can ensure that nothing is forgotten or overlooked. 

The Benefits of a Cloud Automation Framework

Fewer accidents. A system that is automated is going to perform the same task at the same time in the same way -- repeatedly. Through automation, you eliminate the possibility for human error... and that can be incredibly useful, especially as your organization grows.

Lower cost. Cloud automation frameworks have lower costs associated with them, as less administrative and IT time needs to be spent on these now automated tasks. Instead, the resources that would have gone to these automated tasks can go to improving upon operations and to revenue generating activities.

Better scalability. When businesses grow, they often no longer have the time to spend on daily tasks. Automating these tasks creates an organization that can scale up without having to worry about allocating an ever-increasing amount of money and time.

Improved security. Systems that can detect and mitigate their own threats -- by self-healing or auto-correcting -- are systems that are far more secure. As systems grow in complexity, it becomes more difficult to identify potential threats.

Automating your business practices will save you both time and money. In your daily operations, your administrative time will be reduced. In extreme scenarios, automation can avoid costly mistakes. Either way, though, actually attempting to automate your business can be a little overwhelming. CWPS can help. Contact CWPS if you want to explore areas in which automation can help your bottom line. 

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6 Tips for Securing Your Cloud Computing Solutions

nature-laptop-outside-macbook.jpgCloud solutions are more effective, reliable, and affordable -- but security can still be a concern. Cloud computing solutions need to be secured differently from traditional on-premise infrastructures, however. and securing them improperly can lead to significant issues. Here are some important tips for keeping your cloud computing solution secure. 

Securing Your Cloud Computing Solutions

1. Get your team on board. Your employees are likely going to be your biggest security risk. Training, seminars, and lessons may all be necessary to ensure that they are current on modern security standards. When employees are trained in security procedures, they are more likely to be active and engaged with security maintenance

2. Invest in identity management and authentication services. Cloud services are highly accessible and this can be a double-edged sword. In order to secure your cloud-service, you need to control your credentials. Identity management and authentication services should be used to secure the entirety of a system, so that a single log on is used and needed. 

3. Always have a very clear chain of command. Employees should always be aware of their own responsibilities during a security event and the chain of command that flows above them. Employees are more likely to be responsive to security risks if they know exactly who is responsible for each security issue. 

4. Invest in a layered security platform. A layered security platform will divide your organization's infrastructure based on priority, thereby ensuring that the most important items are behind multiple layers of security -- without compromising the performance of other components of the system. 

5. Restrict permissions to those absolutely necessary. Every employee should have only the permissions that are necessary for them to successfully complete their work. When employees leave the organization, they should have their permissions changed -- and when they move from department to department, the same thing should happen. Restricting permissions isn't about trusting employees; it's about reducing the amount of damage should their login information fall into the wrong hands.

6. Encrypt files and backup files.  Any copy of a company's files needs to be treated with the exact same level of security as the originals. Your cloud computing solution should encrypt all of its files and its backup files. Even if there is a security breach, the company will be able to recover. 

Securing a cloud computing solution isn't as difficult as it used to be -- in fact, thanks to the extensive resources the cloud environment offers, it doesn't have to be difficult at all. CWPS can help your organization in building your security from the ground up, to defeat even the most persistent of cyber attacks.

Guide to Keeping company's data safe

The 4 Biggest Cloud Migration Pitfalls (And How to Avoid Them)

pexels-photo-335907.jpegIt's inarguable that moving towards the cloud is beneficial for many businesses. In fact, it's become the de facto standard for organizations of all industries and sizes. But that doesn't make the process of migration a simple one; a poorly executed migration can result in administrative headaches, business interruption, and even lost data. With that in mind, here are four of the biggest cloud migration pitfalls and how to avoid them.

1. Choosing the Wrong Vendor

Microsoft, Amazon, and Google all provide cloud-based services, but these services aren't necessarily equal -- and attempting to mix infrastructures could lead to more complication than is necessary. Companies should not only be aware of which vendor they want to use, but also the licensing agreements that they require for their current (and future) workload. An MSP can aid in analyzing the benefits for each vendor, as well as determining the resources that will be needed.

2. Not Considering Third-Party Integration

Businesses are now running multiple apps in cloud-based environments. When transitioning from on-premise apps to cloud-based apps, organizations are going to have to re-integrate all of the third-party solutions that they use -- and this may not always be as clear cut a process as it should be. Third-party solutions should be integrated and tested out in a pilot test program before the organization completely transitions.

3. Investing Too Little Time Into Preparation

Is your organization going to use a private cloud, a public cloud, or both? How many services are going to be run on each? There are many advantages to a multi-cloud approach, but it also takes a lot of planning. A cloud migration should be 90% preparation and 10% implementation. Too many businesses begin their transition with very little idea of how they're going to complete it, by transitioning small portions of their infrastructure at a time.

This is an area where working with an MSP can really shine. An MSP can give your organization all of the information it needs to complete its transition in a well-prepared and well-scheduled fashion. Ultimately this transition will take far less time and will be far less risky.

4. Failing to Protect Their Data

As of 2017, security is not the paramount concern of businesses on the cloud. Instead, most businesses are concerned with reducing costs. But security is still one of the major issues for businesses new to the cloud, as a cloud-based infrastructure requires a different approach to security.

Not only do businesses need to protect their data once on the cloud, but they also need to protect their data during the process of transition -- and they need to choose a cloud service model that appropriately protects their most important digital assets. To avoid this, businesses need to carefully consider the benefits of a private cloud, public cloud, and hybrid cloud, and need to invest time and money into training employees regarding the new security standards.

For the most part, organizations stumble when migrating to the cloud because of inexperience rather than inattention; there are some things a business simply would not know about cloud services and cloud integration beforehand. MSPs can help an organization prevent costly and time-consuming pitfalls, and ultimately save an organization both time and money. For more information about completing your cloud migration, contact the experts at CWPS.

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Selecting Hybrid Cloud Solutions? Partner With an MSP

33491176_s.jpgHybrid cloud adoption is undeniably on the rise. This is leading to increasingly complex cloud environments, many of which can be both difficult to implement and to manage. Partnering with an MSP is a simple way to get all of the advantages of hybrid cloud solutions alongside the ease-of-use that managed services can provide.

Current Trends in Hybrid Cloud Computing

Organizations are using both public clouds and private clouds for different applications and resources. Different cloud models may be used for different workloads, while some clouds may be reserved for an organization's most critical assets. Whereas before a company might have a single private cloud and a single public cloud, today they can have multiple clouds of both types. Companies may have a single cloud simply for data while maintaining different clouds for each of their applications. Through the use of these disparate clouds, a hybrid cloud solution can become quite unwieldy.

via GIPHY

Not only are there many moving parts, but these parts are all interacting with each other and integrating separately. Ideally, the goal is to establish a seamless hybrid cloud environment, in which both public clouds and private clouds can work easily together. The system needs to be able to work consistently, even as data is moved from one cloud to another.

Integrating and Establishing a Hybrid Cloud Solution

MSPs are experts in both developing and integrating a hybrid cloud solution. Where a hybrid cloud solution already exists, a managed service provider will be able to offer ways to improve consistency and seamlessness between each cloud solution. Where a hybrid cloud solution hasn't yet been established, an MSP will be able to develop a solution from the ground up that is tailored to the organization's current and future needs. Either way, the MSP will be able to optimize and tighten the hybrid cloud, so that it operates consistently and offers the organization the resources that it requires. MSPs will also be able to secure the hybrid cloud effectively; otherwise, security will be determined by the weakest link.

Many organizations are going to find themselves moving to a hybrid cloud infrastructure if they haven't already. In fact, some organizations may already be using a public and private cloud architecture without proper integration. Through the use of an MSP, better integration can be achieved, and an organization can make better use of its existing resources. For more information about MSPs and their benefits, contact the experts at CWPS today.

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5 Advantages to Cloud Contact Center Software

CloudContactCenter1.jpgA cloud-based contact center is one of the best alternatives to maintaining a live or on-premise call center. Through a cloud-based contact center, organizations can connect with their current and prospective clients with very limited overhead, paying for the call center time as a service. In this post, we examine the five biggest advantages cloud contact center software has over traditional solutions.

1. Cloud Contact Centers Are Cost Effective

Rather than having to pay for space, employees, and equipment, companies can instead pay-as-they-go with a cloud contact center. This gives the organization a significant amount of flexibility, as it can decide to alter its services whenever it needs to.

2. Cloud Contact Center Solutions Can Quickly Scale

Because there's no investment in infrastructure, a cloud center solution can be scaled up to a company's needs quickly -- and without any tremendous cost to the business. Many companies fail when they are starting to expand because they need to invest in new equipment and labor. A contact center doesn't require this investment.

3. Cloud Contact Center Solutions Are Global

A cloud center solution can reach out to customers throughout the globe. This is critical for organizations that may have worldwide reach. Customer support can be available in any time zone and for any customer, thereby improving customer satisfaction and retention.

4. Cloud Contact Center Solutions Can Customize Themselves

Cloud contact center software can tailor itself to specific customers, by integrating itself into customer relationship management suites and directing employees as needed. This ensures a better experience for the customer; their prior history and needs will be remembered by the contact center. Interactive Intelligence, for example, can use machine learning and algorithms to make predictions.

5. Cloud Contact Centers Manage More Than Just Contacts

A cloud contact center can collect detailed information about customers -- ranging from demographic information to the size and frequency of their purchases. This information can then be used by a company to fine-tune their processes and their sales. Advanced cloud contact software can integrate directly with ERP and CRM solutions, creating a complete ecosystem through which the customer can be reliably taken care of.

Cloud contact centers -- and the software solutions used to manage them -- are excellent ways for a business to expand its reach without a significant investment in new technology or employees. For more information about the various benefits of cloud contact centers, contact CWPS today.

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Our Expanded Portfolio of Cloud Solutions

Cloud Solutions2014 promises to be a big year for cloud solutions and at CWPS we've been hard at work to support your transition to this popular method of IT and Voice delivery.

Our Expanded Selection of Cloud Solutions

We've partnered with industry leaders to deliver best-in-class cloud solutions that are available right now:

  • Amazon for Infrastructure as a Service
  • Microsoft for Email and Productivity Apps
  • Box for Cloud File & Content Sharing
  • 8x8 for Hosted Voice Services
The Cloud is not an all or nothing proposition...

You can continue to use some on-premises IT resources and transition others to the Cloud over time. We'll guide you through different approaches - public, private, and hybrid Cloud solutions - to help you find the best price/value balance in the delivery of IT and Voice services for your organization.

Planning and executing the transition to the Cloud is streamlined with CWPS’ expertise in design, implementation, management, security, and customer service. Let's talk about Cloud solutions for your business. Contact CWPS today to arrange a planning discussion: (877) 297-7472 or connect@cwps.com.

VOIP Assessment

 

Scaling IT with Cloud Solutions Enables Your Business to Compete

cloud-data-center-150The physical server is rapidly becoming an outdated relic of the modern office as the emergence of cloud technology makes dedicated servers an unnecessary expense.

Cloud Solutions - Not Just For Enterprises

Smaller businesses can now afford a cloud computing infrastructure that were previously available only to the largest corporations.

A private hosted cloud solution is ideal for accommodating changing market conditions. You can very affordably keep up with rapidly changing data and IT requirements.

A cloud approach to IT can mean no more...

  • Extra hardware to invest in
  • Software licenses to buy
  • Budget-busting onsite tech support visits

CWPS can help you quantify the business case for moving to a cloud solution. Contact us today at: (877) 297-7472 or connect@cwps.com.

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