Amazon Web Services vs Microsoft Azure: Which Cloud Service Is Better?

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Are you looking for cloud infrastructure services, but don’t know where to start? In this e-guide, we’ll look into the differences between two of the top cloud providers on the market, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

If you’ve been thinking about acquiring cloud services, you’ve probably stumbled across Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS), which are arguably two of the largest and most widely used cloud infrastructure providers in the world. However, choosing which cloud service to use can be challenging and even overwhelming, especially if you consider the many different features and capabilities available.

Whichever cloud you choose will largely depend on a wide variety of factors, such as onboarding, security, feature sets, scalability, integration, and costs. You will also need to consider the industry you operate in, and whether you engage in emerging technologies. Additionally, you’ll need to question whether acquiring a hybrid cloud solution would be better for your type of organisation.


And finally, it’s important to acknowledge that Azure vs AWS truly is a battle of giants. Read on to explore the key differences of Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

The Key Differences Between AWS and Azure

Computing Power

Amazon Web Services (AWS) allows users to setup and configure their own virtual machines (VMs), or to opt for pre-configured machine images. As a user, you’ll be able to choose the power, size, memory capacity, and the number of virtual machines you need. Additionally, you can choose from a variety of regions and availability zones to launch from.  

Microsoft Azure, in comparison, lets you pick out virtual hard disks (VHD), which are essentially equal to machine instance, in order to create virtual machines. The user can pre-configure the virtual hard disks, or let Microsoft – or a third-party – handle the process instead. However, the user must specify the number of cores and memory capacity.

Integrations and Open Source Capabilities

Amazon has developed a strong relationship with the open source community over the past few years. This means that the AWS platform offers more open source integrations, including GitHub and Jenkins. The platform is also much more compliant and accessible to anyone operating on Linux servers.

If you’re already using VBS, Active Directory, SQL databases or other Windows development tools, you’ll find that Microsoft Azure provides native integration for all of these. For example, you can use the same Active Directory accounts you already have to log into Azure SQL instances or Office 365.

Additionally, Azure is considered to be a good platform for .net developers. And even though Microsoft in the past hasn’t always supported the open source model, Azure users can now run Apache Hadoop clusters and Red Hat Enterprise Linux within the platform.

Storage Capacity

Microsoft Azure provides temporary storage via D drive. Block storage is available through Page Blobs for virtual machines, while Block Blobs and Files serve as object storage. The platform also supports relational databases, Big Data and NoSQL, via HDInsight and Azure Table. Azure also provides site recovery, Azure Backup, and import/export for archiving and recovery.

Amazon Web Services, on the other hand, will provide temporary storage that is distributed once an instance is started. This temporary storage is then destroyed once the instance is terminated. The cloud service also offers block storage, similar to hard disks, which can either be separate or attached to an instance. Data archiving is available with Glacier and object storage with S3. AWS also supports Big Data as well as relational and NoSQL databases.

Hybrid Cloud Functionality and Capabilities

Amazon Web Services recently released Snowball Edge, a 100-terabyte hard drive designed specifically for moving workloads between the cloud and the client’s data centre. And by partnering with VMware, AWS added a much-needed hybrid component to its already packed portfolio. However, Amazon has just recently adopted the hybrid cloud function, and it’s still in the process of developing its full capabilities.

Unlike AWS, Microsoft has a well-established foundation when it comes to IT. The Azure cloud platform has a strong legacy behind it as far as hybrid cloud computing and services are concerned. Hybrid SQL Server, Azure StorSimple, and the newest hybrid cloud platform Azure Stack are some of the service provider’s proud offerings.

Azure Stack enables users to move almost complete public Azure functionality into their own on-premise data centres. It even uses the same pay-as-you-go pricing model the cloud service provider offers for its public cloud services.

Compliance Support

Much of Amazon’s success as a company comes down to networking.

As you may know, Amazon has had long and stable relationships with various organisations and government agencies. This has resulted in that their compliance offerings come with certifications in DISA, CJIS, ITAR, FIPS, HIPAA and many, many more. AWS also provides strong security measures, ensuring that only authorised personnel will have access to the cloud, which is an important requirement for any organisation handling sensitive data.

However, Microsoft Azure is far from a poor option. Microsoft is said to have over 50 compliant offerings for customer companies and agencies, including HIPAA, ITAR, FIPS, DISA, and CJIS. In addition, Azure provides its customers with the same level of security as AWS, which involves setting up permissions so only properly vetted individuals will have access to the cloud.

Read More: Microsoft Azure Security Practices. 

Licensing Options

When it comes to licenses, Amazon has a wide variety available for customers. Interested companies may purchase new licenses, which are bundled up with EC2 or Relational Database Services instances, or they may use their existing or previously purchased licenses as part of the company’s strong partnership with Microsoft. This is a clear benefit, in other words.

Prospective users of AWS can use either Dedicated Hosts or Software Assurance to bring their licenses to the cloud. However, before any of the licenses can be moved, users will need to make sure that all Microsoft Server applications and products are safely migrated to the cloud service provider through the License Mobility program, which must be covered with active Software Assurance.

In addition, the list of eligible products must cover server applications, which includes SQL Server Enterprise Edition, Exchange Server, and SharePoint server.

In Azure, Microsoft provides customers with license mobility for qualified application servers, but it’s your company’s responsibility to investigate whether their servers meet the requirements for mobility in order to avoid paying for additional licensing. Microsoft’s Windows Server is unfortunately not eligible, i.e. running on-premise Windows Server with SQL server.

For instance, if you want to setup a virtual machine in the cloud running the same stack, you must actually pay for two Windows Server licenses. This is due to that particular license is charged on a per-usage basis and not eligible for mobility. An SQL license, on the other hand, is eligible so you will be able to run SWL servers in the cloud.


With Amazon Web Services, companies can expect more features and capabilities, which is great for users who are willing to learn the inner workings of the solution. In general, our IT experts agree that AWS provides great flexibility, lots of power, and room for customization with excellent support for third-party integrations. However, there’s no getting away from the fact that there is a learning curve with this particular cloud service.

Microsoft Azure makes things easier for those who are already Windows admins. Since the cloud service is a Windows platform, it doesn’t require the user to learn anything new (unless you’ve never touched Windows before, that is). In a nutshell, Azure is easy to integrate with existing on-premise Windows servers that have cloud licenses and it’s conducive for creating hybrid cloud environments.

Lastly, it’s a clear benefit for many that common tools such as Active Directory and SQL databases work efficiently with Azure.

What are the AWS and Azure Pricing Plans?

As you’re probably aware, Amazon Web Services offers a pay-as-you-go pricing model, where services are charged by the hours. Instances can be availed through various purchasing options, which include on demand, reserved, and spot purchasing.

On-demand purchasing means that users will only need to pay what they use without any upfront cost. Reserved purchasing means that users may reserve an instance for one or three years without upfront fees based on use. Lastly, you’ll find spot purchasing which involves users bidding for the extra capacity available.

Microsoft Azure also offers a pay-as-you-go pricing model. The difference compared to AWS, however, is that Microsoft charges by the minute, which provides customers with a more precise pricing model. In addition, Azure offers short-term commitments to interested parties, with the option between pre-paid purchasing and monthly-charges.

Choose Your Next Cloud Service Provider

As you can see, both Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure have key benefits and disadvantages. So how do you choose which one is right for you?

The bottom line is that you must identify your exact needs, requirements and limitations when it comes to cloud computing. This way, you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly which of Azure and AWS will be the right fit for your company. But is the jury still out? YourShortlist offers non-chargeable, independent buying advice to UK business. Simply click on the Contact Us button, and one of our experts will get back to you as soon as possible.