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Azure vs. AWS: Cloud Computing Comparison

Difference Between Azure and AWS

Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are today’s most popular commercial cloud providers. While they are both excellent cloud computing resources, each has advantages and disadvantages. So, it’s time to explore the differences between Azure and AWS.

This article details Azure vs. AWS, starting with a description and then comparing them based on the services offered, including storage, pricing, computation power, and more.

We will also explore each platform’s career opportunities, salary information, and upskilling opportunities through an online cloud computing program.

What is Amazon Web Services (AWS)?

Amazon Web Services, or AWS for short, is a cloud computing platform created and maintained by the online retailer Amazon. AWS is considered the most comprehensive, widely used cloud platform worldwide, offering over 200 fully featured services via data centers around the globe. AWS is used by millions of customers, ranging from individual consumers to startups to giant corporations, to reduce costs, improve agility, and promote innovation.

AWS offers Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Software as a Service). Amazon Web Services also offers more services and features than the competition, everything from traditional infrastructure technologies like computing, network, big data, and storage to new technologies like application development, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Also Read: Cloud Engineer Job Description: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

What is Azure?

On the other hand, Microsoft Azure is a cloud service platform developed by Microsoft that supports many different departments, including cloud computation, database management, developer tools, storage, networking solutions, and other features, to help organizations become more scalable and expansive in their performance and reach. Like AWS, Azure’s services are split into three categories: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Azure emphasizes security and trust, with over $1 billion invested in security specialists and research and development to protect the customer’s data. Azure offers any cloud service provider’s most extensive compliance coverage, letting you secure your information and simplify compliance with over 90 compliance offerings.

Amazon Web Services Background

Amazon Web Services debuted in 2006, and Azure followed in 2010. AWS is today’s most comprehensive and widely used cloud solution, providing over 200 fully featured services from data centers worldwide. AWS is used by millions of customers, including many of the fastest-growing startups, most prominent corporations, and major government agencies, to reduce costs, improve agility, and accelerate innovation.

According to Statista, as of Q2 2023, AWS held 32 percent of the worldwide cloud market share, while Azure and Google Cloud had 22 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

AWS offers Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). AWS offers more features and services than the other cloud providers, everything from traditional infrastructure technologies (e.g., computation, databases, and storage) to emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, analytics, machine learning, and data lakes.

The AWS cloud platform spans 61 availability zones.

Also Read: How to the Pass AWS Solutions Architect Certification Exam?

Microsoft Azure Background

Azure offers resources for various departments, including cloud computation, database management, networking storage, solutions, and developer tools, to help organizations become more scalable and expansive in their performance and reach. Like AWS, Azure’s services are split into three categories: Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Azure has invested over $1 billion in research and development and outstanding security specialists to protect customer data. Azure has over 90 compliance offerings, so this platform has the most extensive compliance coverage of any cloud service provider, so organizations can simplify compliance and better secure their data.

The Azure cloud platform spans 140 availability zones.

Now that we’ve been introduced to both choices let’s compare Azure vs. AWS services.

The Differences Between AWS and Azure

AWS vs. Azure: A General Overview

These two cloud providers have many similarities, but each has its own distinct features and is suited for specific customers and circumstances. Let’s go over some of the general statistics.

Both platforms have the common elements of a public cloud, like autoscaling, self-service, pay-as-you-go pricing, identity access management features, instant provisioning, and compliance. With over a million customers, two million servers, $10 billion in annual revenue, and 100,000 Weather-Forecasting Computer Cores, AWS is the largest (and oldest) cloud provider whose market share exceeds its combined competitors.

However, Azure is growing at a rate of 120,000 new customers monthly. Additionally, 5 million organizations use the Azure Active Directory, 4 million developers are registered with Visual Studio Team Services, and 1.4 million SQL databases. Azure also boasts 2 trillion messages per week processed by Azure’s Internet of Things (IoT) suites, and 40 percent of its revenue is generated from startups and ISVs, all of which points to Azure eventually catching up with and dominating its AWS cloud competition.

Let’s get into some cloud benchmarks:

  • Ease of Use. The Amazon Web Services interface is loaded with features and is simple to use. Additionally, AWS comes with informative and extensive documentation. Alternatively, Azure organizes all the clients’ account details and stores them in one convenient place. However, Azure’s documentation is more challenging to locate and understand, and AWS’s user interface isn’t as intuitive.
  • Computation Power. When cloud customers select a service, they want a platform that will easily handle basic tasks such as computing, calculating, and analyzing. The best cloud providers must help their clients quickly expand to hundreds or thousands of processing nodes. Companies looking for rapid data analysis or graphics processing must either commit funds to expand their in-house computing facilities or migrate to the cloud.

AWS’ principal computing solution consists of EC2 instances. EC2 provides flexible computing on request and can be adapted for different applications. Other related services for app deployment include AWS Lambda, the EC2 container service, Autoscaling, and Elastic Beanstalk. On the other hand, Azure’s compute services rely on virtual machines (VMs) and feature many assorted tools that expedite cloud-based application deployments, like App Service, Azure Functions and Container Service, Cloud Services, and Resource Manager.

However, AWS provides many more services, including analytics, computing, storage, databases, developer tools, networking, mobile, management tools, and business applications.

  • Storage. Next to computation, storage is probably the most in-demand cloud service. Data is everywhere, and organizations need places to store it. AWS offers several storage services, including AWS Simple Storage Service (S3), Elastic File System (EFS), FSX, Elastic Block Storage (EBS), and File Cache. Azure offers data storage options such as Azure Blobs, Files, Elastic SAN, Queries, Tables, and Managed Disks.
  • Pricing. Regarding Azure vs. AWS pricing, both are pay-as-you-go, but with significant differences, such as AWS charging hourly while Azure charges on a minute basis. AWS and Azure offer free introductory tiers (along with restricted usage limits), allowing potential customers to try out and use the services before committing. Additionally, both providers offer credits to lure startups onto their cloud platforms.AWS also helps customers save more with increased usage, so the more they use, the less they pay. Customers can buy AWS instances via one of these price models:
    • Reserved Instances: The customer pays an upfront cost based on use; customers can reserve an instance that lasts one to three years.
    • On-demand Instances: Customer pays for what they use without paying any upfront cost.
    • Spot Instances: Customers bid for extra capacity based on availability.
      Microsoft Azure offers its users short-term commitments, letting them choose between pre-paid or monthly charges. Overall, Azure’s pricing model is slightly less flexible than AWS’s.
  • Databases. AWS has Amazon RDS, and Azure has Azure SQL Server Database. Amazon RDS supports different database engines such as Amazon Aurora, MariaDB, MySQL, Microsoft SQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle, while Azure uses SQL Server Database.

In terms of database interface, Azure offers a more user-friendly experience, while AWS provides better provisioning with more instances. Additionally, both providers offer services for analytics and big data; AWS uses EMR, and Azure has HD Insights. In addition, Azure provides the Cortana Intelligence Suite that includes Hadoop, Spark, Storm, and HBase.

However, regarding maturity, AWS gives clients a more mature environment for big data.

  • Content Delivery and Networking Connectivity. The Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) enables users to create isolated networks under the Cloud umbrella. This function lets customers create private IP address ranges, subnets, route tables, and network gateways.

Meanwhile, the Microsoft Azure Virtual Network (VNET) is a counterpart to Amazon’s VPC, letting customers do everything VPC does. Additionally, both platforms have solutions to extend on-premises data centers into the cloud, including firewall options.

  • Machine Learning. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are hot concepts in today’s IT world, so naturally, they must be considered when shopping for a cloud provider. AWS uses SageMaker, while Azure has a machine learning studio. Both platforms provide a solid, managed service that covers the machine learning pipeline from end-to-end to quickly build, train, and deploy a machine learning model. Although AWS and Microsoft Azure make ML model building more straightforward, faster, and accessible, they have different approaches. Amazon Sagemaker relies entirely on code, while Microsoft Azure incorporates an easy-to-use drag-and-drop UI to architect the model-building process on canvas.
  • Job Opportunities. Online research on job sites such as LinkedIn shows that AWS has more job opportunities. However, this isn’t surprising, as AWS has been around longer and has a larger market share.
  • Salaries. While salaries can vary depending on location, the economy, demand, job title, and experience level, Glassdoor.com reports that an AWS solution architect earns $177,939 annually. At the same time, the same position involving Azure makes $237,153 annually. Glassdoor also shows Azure cloud engineers earn $163,000, while AWS cloud engineers earn $223,000. These figures, of course, are just small samples of cloud-based careers.

Also Read: What is Cloud Computing? What You Need to Know to Get Started

AWS vs. Azure Certification

Certifications provide IT professionals with essential training and skills while offering easily verifiable credentials to potential employers. Let’s explore available Azure vs. AWS certifications.

AWS Cloud Certifications

  • AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
  • AWS Certified Developer- Associate
  • AWS Certified SysOps Administrator- Associate
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect- Associate
  • AWS Certified DevOps Engineer- Professional
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect- Professional
  • AWS Certified Data Analytics- Specialty
  • AWS Certified Advanced Networking- Specialty
  • AWS Certified Security- Specialty
  • AWS Certified Database- Specialty

Azure Cloud Certifications

  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Engineer Associate
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Scientist Associate
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure DevOps Engineer Expert
  • Microsoft Certified: Microsoft Azure IoT Developer Specialty
  • Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 for Sales Functional Consultant Associate
  • Microsoft 365 Certified Fundamentals
  • Microsoft 365 Certified: Messaging Administrator Associate
  • Microsoft 365 Certified: Teamwork Administrator Associate
  • Microsoft 365 Certified: Security Administrator Associate
  • Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator

Finally, let’s review each provider’s pros and cons to the customer.

Advantages and Disadvantages of AWS

Here’s a short list summarizing the pros and cons of Amazon Web Services.

The Good

  • It’s easy to use
  • It’s cost-effective
  • It’s flexible and easily scalable
  • It’s dedicated to innovation

The Not-So-Good

  • Default restrictions on some resources, such as running instances
  • Emphasis on security limits certain features

Advantages and Disadvantages of Azure

Here’s a list summarizing Azure’s strengths and weaknesses:

The Good

  • Excellent on-demand scalability
  • Strong emphasis on disaster recovery and data security
  • Superior hybrid capabilities
  • Good pay-as-you-go pricing
  • High availability and redundancy
  • Excellent analytics, real-time dashboards, and advanced tools for business sustainability

The Not-So-Good

  • Requires more maintenance and management, including server monitoring and patching
  • Requires strong expertise to ensure that all components are working correctly

Also Read: How to Become a Cloud Engineer? A Complete Guide

So, Which Platform is Better? Azure or AWS?

Although this may sound like a cop-out, it really depends on what you’re using the cloud for and what aspects you value. For a typical non-business consumer, AWS works best. Azure is best if you own a company with lots of sensitive data to store and process. However, here’s where it gets complicated: AWS offers great IaaS and a healthy selection of tools that organizations and companies of all sizes can benefit from.

The best advice for potential customers is to list your requirements and the elements that matter most to you and your organization and see how they stack up with what these two cloud platforms offer.

Do You Want to Boost Your Cloud Computing Skills?

If you’re proficient at cloud operations, you’re in a better position to take full advantage of everything cloud computing offers. It’s an excellent way for you (and your organization) to get the most out of every dollar spent on the cloud.

So, why not check out this highly instructive cloud computing course? This program covers Azure and AWS, teaching you how to design, plan, and scale complex cloud implementations. Live virtual classes and over 40 hands-on projects will help you boost your cloud computing skills to the next level.

You might also like to read:

Cloud Computing Technology: Your Complete Guide

Virtualization in Cloud Computing: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

IaaS: A Comprehensive Guide

What Are the Different Types of Cloud Computing? A Comprehensive Guide

Cloud Computing Salary: 2023 Guide, Trends, and Predictions

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Career Breakdown: Who is a Cloud Data Engineer?

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