Azure vs AWS which is best?

June 15, 2021
5 minute read

25% of all IT budgets will be spent on cloud services in 2020 according to Gartner’s predictions. When choosing a cloud services platform, there’s a lot for organisations to consider, especially as the choice of products available is increasingly competitive. Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure are two market leading cloud platforms available to businesses developing web applications as their core offering. Although Azure joined the cloud market sometime after AWS and owns a fraction of the public cloud market in comparison, it arrived with a bang and is a serious contender in the cloud space.

But between AWS vs Azure which is best?

What is Azure?

Azure, or Microsoft Azure is a known as a public cloud computing platform that offers the following:

  • IaaS (Infrastructure as a service)
  • PaaS (Platform as a Service)
  • SaaS (Software as a Service)

It gives users access to computing resources over the internet for building, testing, deployment and service management. Azure is regarded as a ‘hybrid platform’ because it’s customers needn’t move everything directly into Azure. Users can run a subset of their landscape on premise alongside Azure hosted services.

…and AWS?

In 2006, Amazon launched their cloud service platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS) during cloud computing’s early transitional phase. It offers a wide range of APIs and cloud computing services on demand to individuals and organisations globally. As a close competitor of Azure, it shares a lot of similarities. But how do the two differ? Which is best for your organisation?

Round one: Compute

‘Compute’ covers how well each system helps to calculate, process and, well compute data. If you’re not too familiar with what a desirable cloud service provider should be offering, it’s essentially speedy data analysis and graphics rendering. For organisations there’s two routes:

  1. Buy more hardware
  2. Move to cloud services

Azure and AWS differ on the compute aspect. The AWS favoured solution is its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances, which are beneficial for scaling computing on-demand and can be customised. Whilst Azure centres its computing offering around Virtual Machines (VMs) and a series of tools, such as Azure Autoscaling and features that support deployment applications on the cloud like Resource Manager and Cloud Services.

Round two: Security

Nearly 66% of organisations believe security is the biggest challenge in cloud adoption. Azure and AWS both perform well in terms of security and follow best practice by offering role-based access control (RBAC). This means organisations can determine which users have access to specific resources within the cloud.

Thanks to Microsoft’s history in networking, Azure’s RBAC (called Active Directory) is especially strong and its capabilities exceed AWS’s offering. Azure provides an underlying platform (they refer to it as “foundation”) across its entire landscape. They continually invest in this foundation layer to ensure security is constantly reviewed and updated. This is broken down into three categories:

1. Physical security

This is the multi-layered protections that are implemented across all data centres within the 54 regions they offer. One of its key purposes is to stop any unauthorised access to their network. This includes features such as DDos controls. Along with these sort of security controls, Microsoft are constantly working to identify flaws and vulnerabilities in their landscape.

2. Built-in security controls

Azure’s built-in tools are provided to deliver the following:

  • Identify management through Azure Active Directory
  • Use VPNs or dedicated Azure ExpressRoute
  • WAF – Web application firewalls
  • Using Azure data storage with its built-in encryption to protect and safeguard data.

3. Azure unique intelligence

Azure security centre threat protection allows organisations to identify risks and threats through a dashboard. The dashboard has big data and machine learning running in the background in order to capture and analyse the data to provide you with meaningful information.

Although AWS doesn’t offer the same level of sophistication in security as Azure, it doesn’t neglect to protect its users and their data either, but it does require a knowledgeable cloud architect.

Round three: Pricing

Cost is a huge deciding factor for organisations considering a move to the cloud. When comparing Azure vs AWS, they’re closely matched. Both Amazon and Microsoft platforms offer free introductory tiers with limited usage that allow users, ‘try before they buy’, and both have credit available to attract the attention of start-ups.

AWS has a pay-as-you-go model that charges users per hour, whilst Azure customers pay by the minute. Although AWS’s pricing does offer slightly more flexibility, Azure customers can choose from short term packages that are pre-paid or charged monthly.

The cost of cloud services is deeply intertwined with scalability. Whilst you can look at pricing as simply as a set budget, it’s more realistic to monitor costs vs performance.

Conclusion: Azure vs AWS which is best?

If you look at Azure vs AWS on a feature-by-feature basis, there isn’t that much variance or a clear winner. Both are strong contenders in the cloud service provider market, but finding which provider is best for your organisation requires discussion around specific requirements. Digging deeper into your business’ needs will highlight whether your company and its background is more aligned with Azure or AWS.

Speaking with a Microsoft Gold Partner like is a good place to start. We are a leading Sitecore Partner who has over 20 years’ experience in hosting, designing, building and optimising websites for enterprise organisations.