Navigating the Cloud: AWS vs Azure

An image of clouds

Welcome to the cloud dilemma, where the numerous options for hosting your organization's resources can feel overwhelming. In this post, we'll discuss the ongoing debate between two major players: Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.

Market Insights:

There are an abundance of options when it comes to choosing a provider for your cloud environment, and navigating which product is the best fit for your organization's needs can be an intimidating prospect. Let’s start by looking at what other organizations are utilizing to host their networks of cloud resources. In 2023, Amazon Web Services (AWS)  led all cloud services providers and had cornered roughly 31% of the global market, representing almost $100 billion in annual revenue. Microsoft Azure came in a solid second place with 24%, and has been eating into AWS’s lead and growing their share of the global market every year. Google Cloud Platform (GCP), the last of the three major providers, finished the year with about 11% of the global market. China’s Alibaba finished in a distant 4th with 4%. While there are many options outside of the top providers, you will find that because of Amazon and Microsoft markets' lead they both also have some of the most robust communities of developers, partners, knowledgeable consultants, and additional resources that can support you as you build your own cloud infrastructure. 

What the Internet Thinks:

If we take a look at what the blogs have to say on the subject, you’ll probably notice a trend. Here’s a quick summary of what we found while researching the topic and reading opinions on the matter:

Unfortunately, it is a trend without much of a consensus. Most of the opinions and blog posts seem to come down somewhere in the middle, detailing how both platforms offer similar resources and solutions that can be duplicated in either AWS or Azure for similar price points. One blog post hesitantly suggested that AWS may be better suited for your needs as a developer, but stopped short of giving a definitive endorsement over Azure. The Google summary that appears at the top of your results when you search “AWS vs Azure” also seemed to suggest AWS as the stronger option, but upon closer examination of the page that it pulled the answer from, it becomes apparent that the article in question was also hesitant to declare a clear winner. In fact, that only article we found that seemed willing to pick one over the other was posted on Microsoft Forum, and it is unsurprising which side they came down on. 

Choosing the Right Fit

Both platforms offer data storage, computing, security,  and cloud networking for comparable prices, and there is no clear consensus in the community of experts and users on which environment really is stronger. Since there is no satisfying answer to the questions of “which is cheaper?” or “which is more powerful?”, then it seems that you will instead need to consider the specifics of what your team or organization is trying to accomplish with their cloud platform inorder to make a decision between the two leading cloud service providers. 

When Amazon launched AWS in 2006, they wanted to build a platform that would be home for a rich and diverse community of developers. The purpose of AWS was to give these developers a virtual sandbox and the general tools that they could use to create and host whatever application, website, automation, or software they could dream. The overall freedom that Amazon offered is one of the main reasons that developers and the open source community flocked to AWS, and is why so much of today’s internet runs through AWS. 

Microsoft, on the other hand, had a different vision when they launched Azure 4 years later in 2010. Microsoft, which already offered an unrivaled set of software packages and tools, was looking for a way to give their users access to all of the rich Microsoft resources from within a cloud environment while providing a seamless way to integrate all of their technologies and offerings. Since so many organizations are already familiar with Microsoft tools and technologies (and are likely already using them in many instances), it is not surprising to see that Microsoft has been able to gain on AWS’s leading share of the market year over year.

With the intended purpose of both platforms in mind; is your team looking to build a custom software solution from the ground up, or are you interested in integrating your suite of Microsoft technologies? If your organization is already familiar with Microsoft tools (like OneDrive and 365) and is interested in expanding your techstack with resources like Microsoft SQL Server, or experimenting with building applications in SharePoint and integrating all of those tools under one roof, then Azure is a great place to start building. On the other hand, maybe your team is full of developers with a preference to build with open source or custom tools, and would benefit from the freedom that AWS offers. 

In Conclusion

It is easy to see why both Azure and AWS have such a strong presence on the cloud market. They are both very powerful platforms, and both offer ample resources that are likely more than enough to accomplish the goals of your organization. While there is no easy or clear way to answer the general question of which wins out over the other, distinctions between the two can be made regarding their broader application and how they are meant to be utilized. Those distinctions, while small, may be meaningful to your organization and specific projects. It's worthwhile delving into the specifics of what you are hoping to accomplish before committing to building in either platform.

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And for additional reading, see our referenced blogs and forums below: 









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