Amazon Web Services vs Windows Azure

Amazon Web Services
Access a reliable, on-demand infrastructure to power your applications, from hosted internal applications to SaaS offerings. Scale to meet your application demands, whether one server or a large cluster. Leverage scalable database solutions. Utilize cost-effective solutions for storing and retrieving any amount of data, any time, anywhere. Amazon Web Services free tier has no alternatives.
Windows Azure
Windows Azure is an open and flexible cloud platform that enables you to quickly build, deploy and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters. You can build applications using any alternative language, tool or framework. And you can integrate your public cloud applications with your existing IT environment.
Comparing Amazon Web Services vs Windows Azure is like comparing apples to oranges. Because your business is unique and nobody except you can decide, which is better for your company. But we can add some fun to your research and suggest some new comparison parameters.

Let's start with videos. We think that Amazon Web Services has better video than Windows Azure

Ok, now let's compare the UI. Looks like Amazon Web Services has more user-friendly interface than Windows Azure because it's bigger. At least on our screenshots

To compare the popularity of the solutions we counted how many alternatives people search for each of them on the Internet. And it turns out that Amazon Web Services is more popular than Windows Azure

Now let's look at the recent activities of our competitors:

- AWS introduced per-second billing for EC2 instances (in 2017)
- AWS offers a virtual machine with over 4TB of memory (in 2017)
- Microsoft launched new archival storage option for Azure (in 2017)
- Microsoft launches new tools to help enterprises move to its Azure cloud (in 2017)
- AWS now supports Docker containers (in 2014)
- Following SAP and Oracle, IBM jumps to Microsoft Azure (in 2014)
- Microsoft Azure appliance makes comeback (in 2014)
- Microsoft and Docker team up to make containers play nice on Windows Server and Azure (in 2014)
- Microsoft Azure now also supports Google's Kubernetes (in 2014)
- Microsoft unveils Azure DocumentDB, a NoSQL database as a service (in 2014)

Looks like Windows Azure was recently more active than Amazon Web Services (at least in our news). We also found some news, in which Amazon Web Services and Windows Azure meet head to head:

2017 - AWS offers a virtual machine with over 4TB of memory to challenge Windows Azure

Amazon’s AWS launched its largest EC2 machine (in terms of memory size) yet: the x1e.32xlarge instance with a whopping 4.19TB of RAM. Previously, EC2’s largest instance only featured just over 2TB of memory. These machines feature quad-socket Intel Xeon processors running at 2.3 GHz, up to 25 Gbps of network bandwidth and two 1,920GB SSDs. There are obviously only a few applications that need this kind of memory. It’s no surprise, then, that these instances are certified to run SAP’s HANA in-memory database and its various tools and that SAP will offer direct support for running these applications on these instances. It’s worth noting that Microsoft Azure’s largest memory-optimized machine currently tops out at just over 2TB and that Google already calls it quits at 416GB of RAM.

2017 - Microsoft launched new archival storage option for Azure to keep up with Amazon Web Services

Microsoft introduced a new storage option for its Azure cloud computing platform - Azure Archive Blob Storage. This will give developers a cheaper alternative for the long-term storage of large amounts of archival data like logs, raw camera footage, audio recordings, transcripts and medical documents and images. The main difference between the cool and archive tiers is that while archival storage is cheaper, the data retrieval costs are higher. Data that’s stored in the archive tier is also not immediately available for retrieval. The blobs first have to be “rehydrated” and that can take up to 15 hours for blobs that hold less than 50GB of data. It’s worth noting, though, that alternative cold strorage services Amazon Glacier and Google Near have been around for years now.

2014 - Microsoft improves Windows Azure security with enhanced encryption to catch up with Amazon Web Services

Microsoft is enhancing the encryption of data transfers between users and the Azure cloud guest operating systems.  The encryption improvements, which apply to Microsoft Azure cipher solution for hosted guest virtual machines, gives users better and more secure connections during the transmission of data. The new enhancements apply to the Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Socket Layer (SSL), which makes it harder to decrypt connections and information going across such connections. This follows  recent moves by Google to secure and encrypt emails and encryption upgrades for and OneDrive. Besides, last year, Google also announced that users’ data that is placed in its Cloud Storage system will be encrypted by default.

2014 - Amazon and Microsoft drop cloud prices

Cloud computing is becoming cheaper and cheaper. So, if you once (for example, a year ago) calculated whether it was cost-effective to migrate your IT infrastructure to the cloud and decided that it was still expensive, then recalculate again. Since then, cloud platform reduced prices two or three times. Another round of happening now. Since tomorrow  Amazon S3 cloud storage pricing will decrease by 6-22 % (depending on the used space), and the cost of cloud server hard drives (Amazon EBS) will fall by 50%. And a month later Microsoft's cloud platform Windows Azure  will reduce its prices by 20% to keep them a little lower than Amazon's. So think once again, why buy an in-house server if the cost of the cloud tends to zero.

2012 - Amazon - gets closer to Windows, OpenStack - closer to Linux. Windows Azure is in panic

The situation on the cloud (IaaS) platform market more and more reminds us the history of the desktop operating systems (Windows and Linux). On the one hand - open and standard-based platform OpenStack. It's standards this week were supported by two more giants - IBM and Ericsson, that joined the OpenStack alliance. Before them the alliance included Rackspace, Citrix, Intel, AMD, Cisco, Dell, HP. On the other hand - proprietary but already very popular platform Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS gained it's popularity as a simple and open platform which allows to restore Linux or Windows server and scale it depending on the load. It was relatively easy to move applications of AWS. But as Amazon adds new features to AWS, it lockes clients and partners more and more in its golden cage.

Since the beginning of the year AWS added two new services: DynamoDB (full-featured NoSQL database) and Simple Workflow Services (engine for business process automation, that can engage local apps as well as app hosted on AWS). Of course, these are useful things, but using them, developers make it very difficult to move applications from AWS to a private cloud or to another platform. In the same way Microsoft was adding to Windows office suite, browser, mail client.

Of course, nobody likes to be locked to one provider. But the system developed by the open community without owner - has its own drawbacks. For example, its development is slow. After 2 years since founding, OpenStack is still in the testing stage. The official launch is planned only for 3 or 4 quarter of this year. After this launch, in theory, many Amazon-like IaaS-services and private clouds will appear. And they will enable easily move applications from one provider to another.

For the complete compliance with the Desktop OS world, the cloud platform market needs a system like Mac - a niche platform that will be waiting for its time and then explode. Ironically, the most likely contender for this role is Microsoft's Windows Azure. By the way, in the near future Microsoft is going to add Linux-server support to Azure.