Windows Azure, a cloud computing service from software giant Microsoft, has just hit eight years since the initial launch. As a cloud-based IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and PaaS (Platform as a Service) from the same company, Azure is often confused with Microsoft Office 365.
Microsoft office 365 is also a cloud-based service, but as a productivity suite, it’s considered a SaaS (Software as a Service) more than anything. It relies on Windows Azure Active Directory Services, but the two are not comparable.
Azure versus AWS
The service that is most comparable with Windows Azure would be Amazon Web Services (AWS), a cloud-computing service that has been running for over a decade now. For the most part, what AWS offers fall under IaaS, such as AWS CloudHSM’s key storage service and Amazon’s Active Directory. They’re further categorized into four classes: content delivery and storage, compute, networking, and database.
Here’s where the comparison comes in, as Azure’s services can also be grouped into roughly the same four classes: data management and databases, compute, networking, and performance.
Cloud computing services such as AWS and Azure offer a wide range of benefits for software development departments and companies, including simplifying application creation and deployment. But which service is best for your business? Although many would say that it depends on your specific needs, there’s a reason—or several—that Azure seems to be the popular choice.
Easier App Development
Azure offers a myriad of app deployment options. App Services, Cloud Services, WebJobs, Container Services, Batch, Functions, and Service Fabric are just a few examples of Microsoft’s app development tools. Compared to Azure’s extensive library, AWS has a limited number of solutions for scaling and deployment—Container Service, Batch, Lambda, and Elastic Beanstalk.
Hybrid Consistency for Reduced Risk
Some companies that wish to migrate to cloud computing may not have the resources needed to create new apps for their cloud environment. In such scenarios, hybrid clouds are perfect. Instead of full conversions that would require the user to start from scratch, hybrid clouds allow portions of data and systems to be kept in-house. Through this method, the risk of data loss or damage is mitigated.
Microsoft has foreseen the need for hybrid clouds early on in the game, and has thus designed Azure accordingly. Unlike AWS, Azure offers considerable support for hybrid consistency everywhere—from identity management, data protection and security, and application development. Users can even run their applications on the Azure Stack using onsite servers.
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Amazon AWS has a pay-as-you-go pricing model which charges per hour. There are several options: On Demand—where you only pay for what you use (no upfront cost), Reserved—where you can reserve an instance for 1 or 3 years, and the upfront cost is based on what you use, and Spot—where you and other customers can bid for any extra available capacity.
Windows Azure also follows a pay-as-you-go pricing. However, it charges per minute rather than hour. And while some may find this excessive, most prefer this model as it provides more exact charges. And similar to the pricing options of Microsoft Office 365, Windows Azure offers short-term commitment plans with options t charge either pre-paid or monthly.