The cloud has long since ceased to be a trend – rather, it forms the basis for highly scalable business growth. With the crisis year 2020, companies have learned to appreciate the advantages of the location-independent availability of cloud applications. The positive experience with the new territory of remote work has reduced the fear of contact with the cloud. According to a Gartner study from Q2 2021, global revenue from public cloud services has increased by 23%. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) remains the largest segment; however, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) are also seeing strong growth.
So it’s a good time to take a closer look at the two top dogs in the business cloud business. Because we can already reveal, not all clouds are the same; each provider has its own technologies and use cases, which is why not every cloud provider and every cloud model is equally suitable for every business model.
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Amazon Web Services (AWS) was developed in 2006, among other things, as a solution for virtualization and is therefore still particularly strong today in the provision of (cloud) infrastructure. With around three dozen web services, AWS offers a broad portfolio for the needs of both small and large companies. However, the focus of the online giant Amazon is on the provision of a fast and powerful infrastructure. Therefore, especially online commerce or streaming services rely on the AWS cloud.
The focus of the AWS Cloud is on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings. Amazon wants to enable customers to make a simple, fast and future-proof transition to the cloud: Therefore, in addition to infrastructure solutions (compute resources, storage solutions, databases), the cloud provider also offers solutions for current and future trends such as Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Internet of Things (IoT).
The advantages of the AWS offer at a glance
Pay only for what you consume thanks to pay-per-use cloud servers.
AWS provides customers with virtual servers in the cloud. These are suitable for both Linux and Microsoft Windows distributions. Amazon even offers its own storage service for pure data storage: Amazon Simple Storage Service (AWS S3). The pricing model of the AWS cloud solution is based on the amount of usage – e.g. time usage used working storage or used compute units – so you only pay for what you actually use. However, it is important to calculate the resources used precisely so that you don’t get a nasty surprise at the end.
Global server network reduces access times; regional server choice supports GDPR compliance
Amazon delivers the content of the various AWS cloud services via CloudFront, the content delivery network (CDN) belonging to the cloud. Currently, servers are distributed across 18 geographic regions in 54 Availability Zones. The data is distributed globally across servers, which significantly reduces access time. To comply with DSGVO regulations, companies can choose where their data is stored. The access times reduced in this way make AWS particularly interesting for web hosting.
Developer tools for agile software development
AWS offers strong approaches for software development: Developers can develop, analyze, debug and test products in the cloud; with access from anywhere in the world. The pay-per-use principle also allows costs for virtual servers and access times to be well calculated.
AWS Marketplace for the IT world of tomorrow
In addition to providing servers and storage capacities, AWS also offers a selection of software from independent providers. These address the modern IT trends of IoT, AI and Big Data in particular. This offers companies a good entry into the IT world of tomorrow.
Who is the AWS Cloud offering aimed at?
Despite the high level of functionality, AWS is hardly worthwhile for companies that want to use the cloud almost exclusively in an office environment. The situation is different if the cloud is used for application development. Or a web store is to be connected. Especially for development environments, the pay-per-use system of AWS is also quite attractive, since budgets can be planned very precisely with it.
Microsoft followed suit with a cloud offering only four years after Amazon: Like AWS, Windows Azure, now Microsoft Azure, is based on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings. In addition, Microsoft also offers a hybrid cloud approach with the Azure cloud. A plus point here is certainly the development-side link with the SaaS tool Microsoft 365, which ensures stable use of the office and collaboration suite in the Azure cloud. A comprehensive service offering of around 200 individual products and cloud services make the Azure cloud interesting for many use cases.
The advantages of the Microsoft offering at a glance
Support for hybrid environments
In addition to pure public cloud use, Microsoft Azure was also developed for use in hybrid environments; this makes Azure cloud use interesting even for those companies that would rather not rely on cloud solutions due to the sensitivity of certain data. These include the financial sector as well as the healthcare sector, or public utilities such as municipal utilities. A hybrid landscape also opens up the advantages of flexible working with less sensitive data in the cloud for these institutions. At the same time, the separation of business-critical areas with high data protection and security requirements into the private cloud or onto their own servers ensures that the compliance requirements of the respective industries are met.
Savings in licensing through the inclusion of existing licenses
Hybrid thinking makes the Azure cloud extremely competitive. Microsoft offers customers the option of including existing Windows Server and SQL Server licenses when investing in the cloud. This means that not every license has to be purchased from scratch: This results in significant savings when implementing the Azure cloud compared to re-implementing the AWS cloud. This often makes Azure the first choice for hosting Office applications as well as databases in the cloud. Azure also unfolds a high savings potential for the use of virtual machines due to the licensing model.
Regional server network for high availability and DSGVO compliance
Microsoft Azure is available worldwide in over 60 regions and more than 140 countries. The regional network setup avoids a single point of failure. This is achieved by networking at least three physically separate data centres in each region. In addition to the high availability of the servers and thus data, Microsoft also responds to the requirements of the DSGVO through regional storage.
Similar to AWS, Azure also offers options for application development. For example, in addition to “App Service” for the development of cloud apps for mobile and web devices, there is also “PlayFab,” a LiveOps back-end complete platform for the development and execution of live games.
Azure Marketplace for future technologies
Azure also offers future-ready solutions on its own Azure Quantum platform. Especially in the areas of quantum computing as well as in the optimization of existing solutions. This enables companies to benefit from future trends today.
Who is the Azure offering aimed at?
Especially in an office environment, Azure is mostly the better choice. This is because Azure was explicitly developed for Windows environments in combination with the MS 365 office suite and therefore supports them optimally. With the option of continuing to use already licensed products, the financial entry hurdle for the cloud introduction is also lowered.
AWS or Azure? The right cloud provider for your needs
It exists – but we cannot give a final answer here for which of the two you should choose. Because which cloud provider is right for you and your business depends heavily on your individual requirements. We usually recommend the Microsoft Azure cloud to our customers for office environments, as this optimally implements the requirements. Depending on compliance and data protection requirements for specific business areas, we couple this with a private cloud or on-premise areas. However, for application development as well as web-hosting, Amazon Web Services is often better suited. With the pay-per-use principle and an exact cost calculation, there is a high savings potential here for temporary development projects. But here, too, it is often advisable to install a hybrid cloud infrastructure that includes several providers and connects them through interfaces.
Due to the complexity of the design, architecture and implementation of cloud projects, careful planning of the project is the be-all and end-all for success. This is why we accompany our customers from the creation of their requirements catalogue, through consulting and the creation of the cloud architecture, to implementation and ultimately support and maintenance of the finished cloud infrastructure. This holistic approach to planning and implementation is the central element in successfully transferring your business to the cloud.
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