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AWS vs Azure (Amazon Web Services vs Microsoft Azure) offer online computing services like databases, servers, and networking, eliminating the need for developers, site owners, and IT professionals to manage equipment and pay for pricey servers and other hardware.
Although there are plenty of other options in the cloud computing industry, the Amazon and Microsoft offerings lead the market and provide some of the most affordable, efficient solutions. That’s why we want to compare AWS vs Azure to help you understand which works best for your operation.

AWS vs AzureAWS vs Azure

An in-depth comparison of AWS vs Azure (with five key criteria)
Whether creating applications, storing data, streaming video, or completing any type of technological project requiring cloud computing, you must look at several key areas to figure out if a service will work properly for you and cost you the least amount of money.
In this article, we highlight five areas to compare AWS vs Azure:

AWS vs Azure in a nutshell 🥜
Both AWS and Azure sell long lists of products and solutions, all of which have their own even longer lists of features.
For instance, AWS solutions include:

  • Virtual servers (Amazon EC2) //  Scalable storage (Amazon S3)  // Managed databases (Amazon Aurora) //  Isolated cloud resources (Amazon VPC)  // Virtual private servers (Amazon Lightsail) //  Machine learning  // Media services //  Quantum technologies  // Robotics //  Machine learning  // Blockchain and many more…

AWS vs Azure reviewAWS vs Azure review
Azure products and solutions include:

  • Virtual machines //  Databases  // Virtual desktops //  Live gaming (PlayFab)  // Quantum computing (Azure Quantum) //  Kubernetes  // AI and cognitive services //  Cloud storage  // Mixed reality //  Media management  // Computing //  Knowledge mining  // Blockchain and many more…

Microsoft homepageMicrosoft homepage
We can’t cover them all. Therefore, we’ll focus on the most commonly used services and offerings for app development, data, and content delivery. This way, we cover industries ranging from financial services to healthcare and manufacturing to media and entertainment.
That’s why our primary feature comparisons only involve computing, storage, content delivery and networking as well as customer support. Everything else is great, but these are the essentials.
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Pricing of AWS vs Azure 💵
Pricing, along with features, is one of the most important aspects when signing up for a cloud computing service. Having said that, an accurate price comparison is rather tricky, considering not everyone will use the same features, computing power, and subscription model.
Your best bet to figure out a pricing comparison, at least for your unique situation, is to utilize the following pricing calculators:

In the spirit of giving you as much information as possible and helping you to decide on a winner in our comparison, we completed our own calculations for a basic cloud computing configuration.

A pricing comparison for computing
For this test, we used this configuration for both AWS and Azure to maintain consistency:

  • A US-East server region
  • A Linux OS
  • 4 vCPUs

For general purpose virtual machines, we added comparable specifications:

  • t4g.xlarge for AWS
  • B4MS for Azure
  • 16 GiB of RAM for both

And for compute-optimized machine usage:

  • c6g.xlarge for AWS
  • F4 for Azure
  • 8 GiB of RAM for both

Finally, we factored in the following configuration for memory-optimized machine usage:

  • r6g.xlarge for AWS
  • E4a (v4) for Azure
  • 32 GiB of RAM for both

Here are the pricing results with a pay-as-you-go model:

  • AWS (General-purpose): $0.13 per hour
  • Azure (General-purpose): $0.17 per hour

And for the Compute-optimized instance:

  • AWS (Compute-optimized): $0.14 per hour
  • Azure (Compute-optimized): $0.20 per hour

And lastly, our Memory-optimized instance results:

  • AWS (Memory-optimized): $0.20 per hour
  • Azure (Memory-optimized): $0.25 per hour

Regardless of the instance type, AWS cloud computing comes out much cheaper than Azure, at least for our tested configuration.
We completed this testing for alternative subscription lengths (like two to three-year contracts) and when you pay upfront instead of subscribing. In each evaluation, AWS came out less expensive per hour of computing power.

🏆 Winner: AWS
On average, AWS cloud computing appears less expensive than Azure, but our simple test doesn’t show the entire picture.
For instance, online reviews state that Azure keeps prices lower than AWS for its object storage and certain database configurations.
But the most realistic answer to the pricing question comes down to a case-by-case basis. No online estimate serves as a replacement for using the provided pricing calculators for your unique project.

Computing features ⚙️

AWS features
AWS vs Azure computingAWS vs Azure computing
AWS offers secure and resizable computing using virtual servers. Also called instances, these virtual machines come in the form of multiple services, most notably the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).
Other computing services with virtual machines include:

  • Amazon EC2 Spot: for running fault-tolerant workloads at a steep discount.
  • Amazon EC2 Autoscaling: A computing instance that automatically removes or adds capacity.
  • Amazon Lightsail: Website and app-building cloud interface that’s extremely easy to use.
  • AWS Batch: Any scale of processing completed in batches.

In addition to virtual machine computing, AWS has plans for containers, serverless setups, hybrid configurations as well as capacity and cost management.
In its most basic form, AWS Compute services include some of the following features:

  • Templated machine images
  • Full security and network access for your Amazon instances
  • Direct access to hardware
  • Automated computing optimization for performance and cost
  • The ability to stop and resume instances
  • GPU graphics instances for graphics-intensive projects
  • Flexible storage
  • Multiple operating systems and software options

Azure features
Azure handles computing in a similar way as AWS but it gives its features and services different names.
Azure compute optionAzure compute option
Azure compute services (with their respective features) include:

  • Azure Spring Cloud: A sleek and optimized app hosting tool.
  • Batch: For batch and large-scale computing apps.
  • App Service: Azure’s general feature for hosting things like mobile app backends and RESTful APIs.
  • Container instances: A rapid way to use a container without virtual machine provisioning.
  • Virtual machines: Azure’s classic method for running VMs.

Azure also provides options for functions, service fabric, and something called Azure Kubernetes Service for applications with containers.
With these functions, Azure presents some excellent features:

  • DevOps for local debugging.
  • Application updates.
  • Programming models.
  • Autoscaling with a load balancer and scaling limits.
  • Multi-region traffic managers.
  • Security features like SSLs.
  • Image and graphic services.

🏆 Winner: Tie
It’s almost impossible to say that either AWS or Azure beats the other in terms of computing features. Each service offers essentials like instances and virtual machines, automatic scaling, location management, and high-intensity graphic support.

Storage offerings 📦

AWS storage options
storage for amazon storage for amazon
When it comes to storage solutions, AWS has a myriad of choices such as Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Elastic File System for file storage, and AWS Storage Gateway as a hybrid data transfer tool. You can also take advantage of Edge storage, backups, and block storage.
Sticking to the essentials, here are the most important features from AWS in terms of storage:

  • Distributed object storage with a globally unique key, regional deployment, and event notifications.
  • Block storage with a maximum volume of 16 TiB, encryption, and snapshotting.
  • Local disks with up to 2,500 GB of storage capacity per volume, up to 24 volumes per instance, and no redundancy.
  • File storage, cool storage, and archival storage.
  • A backup solution with two types of cold storage – one that lets you access files more frequently.

Azure storage options
AWS vs Azure storage AWS vs Azure storage
Azure provides high-performance disk storage, file storage, data boxes, backups, and more. here are some specifics:

  • Distributed object storage with an account-level key, regional and zonal deployment, and event notifications.
  • Block storage with 64 TiB of maximum volume size, encryption, and snapshotting.
  • Local disks with up to 2,400 GB per volume, the potential for unlimited volumes per instance, and no redundancy.
  • File storage, cool storage, and archival storage.
  • Only one backup solution for storing infrequently accessed data.

🏆 Winner: Azure (but very close)
Azure wins in the areas of block storage maximum capacity, the account-level key, and its multiple deployment types. However, AWS has superior cold storage, making it almost a tie.

Content delivery and networking features 🚚
AWS and Azure build their cloud systems on networks of data centers all around the globe. They both offer high speeds, incredible networking services, and top-notch security, regardless of your location.
Here are some highlights from AWS:

  • Products for networking: CDN, virtual networking, load balancing, dedicated interconnecting, and DNS.
  • Cloud network locations in over 245 regions.
  • CDN security through its own AWS Shield and Route 53 products.
  • DNS with latency and geography-based routing.

networking for amazonnetworking for amazon

And a comparison from Azure:

  • Products for networking: CDN, virtual networking, load balancing, dedicated interconnecting, and DNS.
  • Networking locations in over 60 regions.
  • CDN security through third-party partners like Akamai and Verizon.
  • DNS with any-cast serving but no geography or latency-based routing.

AWS vs Azure networking AWS vs Azure networking

When comparing AWS vs Azure, we also found they both have features for private connectivity, load balancing, and decreased latency.

🏆 Winner: AWS
Although Azure is still a state-of-the-art system for networking and content delivery, AWS has it beat with its more powerful DNS and a higher number of cloud network locations.

Customer support ℹ️
When trouble comes along with your cloud infrastructure, it’s nice to know that someone is on your team to help you troubleshoot and resolve issues in a timely manner.
Microsoft and Amazon aren’t exactly known for their superior customer support from a consumer products perspective, but there are ways to improve assistance for cloud computing if you opt to pay for a support plan.
Cloud computing services typically offer two types of customer support: self-service and direct human support.
Self-service means you complete the research yourself and find solutions to your own problems using online resources.

From a self-service perspective, AWS offers:

  • A knowledge center with tutorials
  • A support center for tapping into more personalized support
  • FAQs
  • A Getting Started guide
  • Developer resources
  • Product videos
  • Forums

AWS support centerAWS support center

Online resources from Microsoft for Azure include:

  • Online documentation through a knowledge center
  • A community support center
  • A blog
  • Training modules
  • FAQs
  • How-to videos
  • Social media accounts
  • Alerts and management tools
  • An automated advisor

AWS vs Azure supportAWS vs Azure support

Direct customer support appears more user-friendly on the Microsoft Azure website, with clear links to create a support ticket using your Microsoft account. Amazon has a support ticket module but it’s not as user-friendly and easy to submit a ticket.
AWS and Azure offer paid customer support plans if you need more help than the free ticketed assistance:

  • $29 per month to $1,000 per month for Azure premium support
  • $29 per month to $15,000 per month for AWS premium support

🏆 Winner: Azure
From a more objective standpoint, Azure typically comes out to be more affordable for customer support, and its ticketing system offers a simpler way to contact the support team. My view on the interface is more of an opinion, but I feel Microsoft has a cleaner online support module for finding videos and tutorials.

Final thoughts on AWS vs Azure for cloud computing
Which cloud computing giant wins the battle?
Let’s take a look at the results:

  • Pricing: AWS wins
  • Computing: tie
  • Storage: Azure wins
  • Content delivery and networking: AWS wins
  • Customer Support: Azure wins

That’s two points for AWS and two points for Azure – with a tie for computing.
That gives you some clarity: if you mainly require the best storage or customer support, consider Azure. If networking is of a higher priority, go with AWS.
As a tie-breaker, we’ll argue that the AWS vs Azure comparison is so close that the pricing category decides in the end. Since AWS offers considerably lower rates (not always, but on average), we’ll give AWS the crown for now!

Share your own experiences with AWS vs Azure in the comments below.


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Layout and presentation by Chris Fitzgerald and Karol K.