Amazon Web Services vs/and Windows Azure

Not long ago I had to answer one very hard question, at least to try finding the answer:-):What is better Windows Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS) for cloud computing? Why can no other providers fit the bill? – may you ask, the thing is that most of them can’t provide the price points or size that Amazon or Azure can provide. In general , building up the operational capability to provide a service like AWS or Azure is a difficult proposition. Both AWS and Azure provide multiple locations and pay-by-the-hour capability. That’s actually really hard to do without massive capital behind it.

As it’s a long live debate(I mean Amazon vs Azure) it was really hard to find the answer. I’ve consulted with our technical specialists, googled this problem, asked Linkedin and Xing members to share their opinions on this question conducted some polls, etc. As you could imagine, there was no definite answer and a cure-all pill and the opinions differed.

Both AWS and Windows Azure are quite young: AWS “was born ” in 2006 and WA in 2008 however there services are used by the world-known corporations as NASA, Ericsson, Boeing, Xerox, etc and they both are considered to be the leaders of the today`s cloud sphere. The two platforms are very alike and have quite the same characteristics.

Among the two gorillas in the cloud space, some developers prefer Amazon, others think Azure is the best, but often the details are sparse as to why one option is better than the other. Among the reasons for choosing AWS/Azure, and not choosing the other they name cost, available resources, development tools and ecosystem.

Also to a great extent language support matters. AWS is platform agnostic while Azure is windows based. Getting stuck in a single framework like .NET where there is only one “provider” for .NET tools can be a huge hindrance in any future decisions you make as a company.

Microsoft (and Azure as default) seems to be all about lock-in. Lock-in on the operating system, lock-in on the language platform, as well as lock-in on the Azure services. Also, many companies do have to solve big compute problems that Java, unlike .NET, is well positioned for. While many larger companies don’t have to be as concerned with lock-in — this is a very scary thought for most start-ups that need a clearer longer-term cost structure.

Mostly the real choice is between IaaS and PaaS. Azure = PaaS and AWS is special in that it provides both IaaS and PaaS. One of the advantages of the AWS is that from AWS you can get the platform capabilities and the freedom to easily deploy brand new technologies before they become part of the platform. So people need to decide what is more important for them and how important cutting-edge is.

And what do you prefer personally: Amazon Web Services or Windows Azure? Feel free to share your opinions and considerations.

Anna Kozik

Business Development Manager