Azure vs AWS: Choose the best platform for cloud migration

Azure vs AWS: Choose the best platform for cloud migration
N-iX
2020-03-26T18:46:23+00:00

The battle for the best public cloud service provider is ongoing. Since 2004, when the first AWS service was launched, AWS has rapidly grown into the dominant cloud platform. Although Azure entered the market a few years later, it has presented stiff competition to AWS as a popular choice among C-le...

Azure vs AWS: Choose the best platform for cloud migration
By Vladislav Leveniuk March 26, 2020

The battle for the best public cloud service provider is ongoing. Since 2004, when the first AWS service was launched, AWS has rapidly grown into the dominant cloud platform. Although Azure entered the market a few years later, it has presented stiff competition to AWS as a popular choice among C-level executives in Fortune 500 companies.

If you are hesitating about Azure vs AWS Cloud Migration, here we compare the strengths and weaknesses of each provider to help you make a well-informed decision.

The cloud conundrum: Azure vs AWS Cloud Migration

Many organizations have already made a shift from on-premise servers to the public cloud. Or at least they have moved a part of their infrastructure to the cloud. According to Gartner, the global public cloud services market is expected to reach $354.6B by 2022, up from $227.8B in 2019. Software as a service (SaaS) will remain the largest market segment. The second-largest market segment will be infrastructure as a service (IaaS). And Platform as a Service (PaaS) will take the third place.

“By 2022, up to 60% of organizations will use an external service provider’s cloud-managed service offering, which is double the percentage of organizations from 2018.” - Sid Nag, research vice president at Gartner.

As of today, there are more than 100 cloud service providers, but the market is dominated by AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, and Oracle Cloud. According to the report by Canalys and Synergy Research Group, AWS is the clear market leader globally in the cloud service market, followed by Microsoft at 17%, Google at 6%, and Alibaba at 5%.

Why choose Azure for cloud migration

Azure is available in 58 regions, more than any other cloud provider. 95% of Fortune 500 companies trust Azure as it offers the largest portfolio of compliance offerings. Also, Azure invests heavily in security to protect customers’ data from cyberthreats - $1B investment per year. Azure Security Center offers a set of services and tools for protecting your on-premises and cloud workloads.

Azure is Microsoft's solution so it is highly integrated with Windows and other Microsoft software. Those who are using Office 365 and Dynamics 365 feel very comfortable using Azure.

Azure provides a broad set of services including compute, storage, databases, analytics, networking, mobile, developer tools, management tools, IoT, security, and enterprise applications. 

Azure has native integrations with Windows development tools such as VBS, SQL database, Active Directory. But it is catching up with AWS in terms of open source and offers support of a full range of Linux distributions, Hadoop, Kubernetes, Docker, Windows Server, SQL Server, Oracle, IBM, and SAP

Regarding the pricing, Azure often is less expensive for businesses that are already invested in the Microsoft ecosystem. With Azure, you pay only for the resources you use. And it charges per minute. Azure also offers short term commitments with the option between pre-paid or monthly charges. There are various payment and billing options. The cost of the services is dependent on the services and the quantity of those services. When using Azure calculator, you can estimate the overall price of the services you need.

Azure Storage is a cloud storage solution from Microsoft for different data storage scenarios. It offers a massively scalable object store for data objects, a file system service for the cloud, a messaging store for reliable messaging, a NoSQL store, and a virtual hard disk (VHD).

Microsoft has strong support for hybrid cloud services, with platforms like Azure StorSimple, Hybrid SQL Server, and Azure Stack.

Migrating from an on-premises SQL Server to Azure is easy. Microsoft offers several options. The administrator can back up the database and restore it to Azure, using a file or URL. The database can be copied to Azure blob storage. The whole server can be virtualized and uploaded. The Add Azure Replica Wizard can replicate the database. The Azure Import/Export Service is available for offline migration. The organization puts the data on a BitLocker encrypted drive and ships it to an Azure data center.

Azure’s strengths:

  • Greater availability around the world
  • Free extended security updates 
  • More than 95% of Fortune 500 companies use Azure
  • Discounts on Azure for enterprises that already leverage other Microsoft’s products

Azure’s weaknesses:

  • Less flexible than AWS in terms of pricing
  • Azure is only building its partner ecosystem

Why choose AWS for cloud migration

AWS is present in 69 zones within 22 geographic regions across the globe and plans to open 5 more offices in Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Africa, and Spain. In 2019, it generated revenues of $35.03B. AWS has the largest community of customers and partners around the world which makes it number one among other cloud services providers. Plus, it has an edge over other cloud service providers in terms of government cloud offerings

AWS is a secure cloud computing environment. AWS Security Hub gives you a number of security tools ranging from firewalls and endpoint protection to vulnerability and compliance scanners. 

AWS offers a wide array of services for compute, storage, database, networking as well as ML and AI, data lakes and analytics, blockchain, and IoT. It provides both SQL and NoSQL databases. Amazon RDS is a relational database service that has six database engines: Amazon Aurora, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, MariaDB, and Microsoft SQL Server. The NoSQL solution from Amazon is DynamoDB. Also, it supports MongoDB, Redis, Mongo 3, Memcached, Cassandra. 

What concerns storage options, AWS has file storage with EFS, block storage with EBS and object storage offered with S3. Data archiving services are available with Glacier. Scalability with AWS is not a problem as it has a service that monitors your application and automatically adjusts capacity to maintain steady, predictable performance at the lowest possible cost. The issue, however, arises when you can’t predict and control when you run out of burst balance of IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second). There is no metric for IOPS credit usage. As a result, you go down to the base performance until you buy a new tier of burstable IOPS. 

AWS’s primary strength is in the public cloud market. So it is less open to private or third-party cloud providers. But in recent years, it has significantly developed its hybrid cloud direction with the release of Outposts. With AWS VPN, you can create IPsec Site-to-Site VPN tunnels from an Amazon VPC to on-premises customer gateway enabling a hybrid environment. AWS Direct Connect (DX) allows you to establish dedicated connections from on-premises to AWS. AWS Systems Manager offers a standard-instances tier and an advanced-instances tier for servers and VMs in your hybrid environment. The standard-instances tier enables you to register a maximum of 1,000 on-premise servers or VMs per AWS account per AWS Region. Amazon EC2 Dedicated Hosts allow you to use your eligible software licenses from vendors such as Microsoft and Oracle on Amazon EC2, so that you get the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of using your own licenses, but with the simplicity of AWS.

When it comes to pricing, AWS has a pay-as-you-go model, and you are charged per hour. In AWS like in Azure, you pay for compute, storage and data transfer. In Azure, you always have to pay for a VM no matter whether you actively use it or not. In AWS, you don't need to pay for a stopped instance. AWS’s compute service is called Amazon EC2. And it has 5 different pricing models depending heavily on your needs: on-demand, savings plans, reserved instances, spot instances, and dedicated hosts. For storage, you pay per GB you used. For data transfer, you are charged also per GB. But Data transfer charges are incurred when data is transferred out from AWS services to the Internet or between AWS regions or Availability Zones. You can always calculate your monthly bill using the AWS Pricing Calculator. 

Regarding the migration options, AWS offers the AWS Database Migration Service for moving existing databases. It supports both migrations from one platform to another as well as same-platform migrations. Offline migration is also possible with AWS’s Snowball, an appliance that holds 50 or 80 terabytes under 256-bit encryption. For even larger transfers, Snowmobile is available, which can ship as much as 100 petabytes in a truckload.

AWS’s strengths:

  • The largest community of customers and partners
  • The wider range of services
  • Flexible pricing
  • A variety of relational databases to choose from

AWS’s weaknesses:

  • AWS is more expensive than Azure. AWS is 5 times more expensive than Azure for Windows Server and SQL Server.
  • No metric for IOPS credit usage

The rise of multicloud computing

Cloud computing is a popular choice of many enterprises, SMEs, and startups. The question is what strategy do they adopt - a single, multicloud, or hybrid? According to the Datamation survey, 43% of respondents still use a single cloud provider, 35% use two cloud providers, and 17% employ three cloud providers. 

However, a majority of companies have adopted a multicloud strategy to avoid a vendor lock-in and ensure effective data backup. And AWS + Microsoft Azure is a common multicloud combo. As the Cloud Adoption and Risk report by McAfee claims, 78% of organizations are currently using both AWS and Azure together, typically as an official multicloud strategy. Hybrid cloud is adopted by companies for whom a latency is critical as well as financial institutions that have to store sensitive data on their own private, on-premises servers under the law.

Why partner with N-iX?

Azure or AWS Cloud Migration is a complex iterative process that involves a lot of challenges and requires a well-designed strategy. Thus, companies that decide to move to the cloud often partner with a reliable DevOps engineering vendor who has experience in Azure & AWS Cloud Migration.

N-iX expertise in cloud computing includes on-premise-to-cloud migration, cloud-to-cloud migration as well as multicloud and hybrid management. The company is a certified AWS partner. The vendor's portfolio consists of many successful projects, including some of the recent ones: 

  • AWS and Azure multicloud migration and management for Lebara, a fastest-growing mobile company in Europe;
  • Infrastructure as Code with Ansible for Origin Enterprises, a large Agri-Services group;
  • Moving the legacy app to AWS Cloud platform for FPL Online Pte Ltd, a leading insurance broker in Singapore;
  • Azure cloud migration of legacy infrastructure and multi-tenancy implementation for Orbus Software, a sole developer and distributor of iServer Product suite worldwide; 
  • Design and development of AWS infrastructure, environment optimization, fully automated CI/CD for an Asian fintech company (NDA).

Summing up

As you can see, the choice between Azure and AWS is not a technology decision. Both platforms are highly secure and offer powerful computing, storage, and networking capabilities and. There is no clear winner. It’s all about your business needs. Amazon is the most mature cloud provider that offers the widest set of products and services. But businesses that rely on Microsoft technologies and products like Office and .NET often decide to choose Microsoft Azure.

Once you settle on a cloud provider, you will need help with defining your Azure or AWS Cloud Migration strategy. Feel free to contact our AWS and Azure experts and they will be happy to help you.

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By Vladislav Leveniuk March 26, 2020

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About N-iX

N-iX is an Eastern European provider of software development services with 1000+ expert software engineers onboard that power innovative technology businesses. Since 2002 we have formed strategic partnerships with a variety of global industry leaders including OpenText, Novell, Lebara, Currencycloud and over 50 other medium and large-scale businesses. With delivery centers in Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria, and Belarus, we deliver excellence in software engineering and deep expertise in a range of verticals including finance, healthcare, hospitality, telecom, energy and enterprise content management helping our clients to innovate and implement technology transformations.

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