Microsoft Azure vs. AWS (2021)

Microsoft azure data center

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is a general term that commonly refers to utilizing digital computing resources such as virtual machines, networking, storage, app hosting, and many other key services. From there, these services are broken up into three main categories: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)Cloud provider keeps the virtual hardware up-to-date, but operating system maintenance and network configuration are up to the cloud tenant.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)Provider maintains a managed hosted environment where developers can upload web applications without worrying about hardware and software requirements.
Software as a Service (SaaS)The cloud provider manages all aspects of the system. The tenant only needs to provide data.

Clouds can be private, public, or hybrid. Public cloud services can be accessed by anyone, while a private cloud solution utilizes a company’s existing data center to supply hosted services to a finite number of individuals. As you may expect, a hybrid cloud is a combination of both of these environments. A hybrid cloud provides the flexibility of a public cloud while leveraging a business’ existing on-premise infrastructure. 

Regardless of your specific cloud platform, an attractive benefit of cloud computing is that it allows businesses to focus less on back-end operations and more on their key processes. Rather than allocating resources to manage and develop computing infrastructure, cloud computing will enable users to rent digital infrastructure and scale as needed. This elastic nature of the cloud allows businesses to design infrastructure to fit current and future demands easily. 

Cloud computing has gained popularity globally as businesses strive to become more agile. As demand for these services continues to rise, it’s important to do your due diligence before selecting a provider.

Benefits of Microsoft Azure

For over a decade, Microsoft Azure has been offering comprehensive cloud computing services developed for many industries. It brings to market a powerful platform with a familiar interface that can integrate seamlessly with other Microsoft applications. Although Azure may not currently be the industry leader, it has grown to be a close second.

Over 95% of Fortune 500 companies use Azure, and it offers services to over 60 global regions between 140 countries, more regions than any other cloud provider on the market. Microsoft’s Business Application line, Dynamics 365 is too, hosted on Azure. The hosting cost is fixed, through the Dynamics 365 monthly software subscription. 

In a word of growing data concerns, Azure is built on a strong foundation of security standards and recognized by the U.S. Government as the most trusted cloud. 

Azure also provides a reliable platform for .NET developers. Azure App Service creates an effortless migration process for moving .NET apps to the cloud. By supporting new and existing .NET applications, Azure has developed a competitive edge while providing peace of mind to many of its customers.

Benefits of AWS

Amazon Web Services (AWS) prides itself on being easy to use, flexible, and cost-effective solution for businesses transitioning to the cloud. AWS markets itself as a one-stop shop for computing and IT needs by leveraging an extensive array of tools.

Developed in 2006, AWS has grown to be the industry leader of cloud service providers. Bringing to the table similar offerings to Azure, AWS offers over 200 fully-featured services through a network of global data centers. In addition, these services are provided utilizing the common pay-as-you-go solution that is present between most cloud providers.

Offering 80 availability zones across 25 different regions, AWS allows users to connect to a powerful and secure computing infrastructure. Much like Azure Virtual Machines, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud delivers reliable on-demand computing resources to its users.

Key Differences Between Azure and AWS

Azure vs. AWS: Features and Services

Microsoft Azure and AWS largely share common features and services, although there are slight differences between the two providers that can be seen by comparing their corresponding offerings. The table below illustrates how these services are being brought to market and how they differ between the two providers.

SoftwareAzure AWS
Compute ServicesEmulated compute power through Azure Virtual Machines. Custom tailor Azure Autoscale to optimize performance for an uninterrupted experience. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud offers compute power in the form of Instances. In addition, Autoscaling automatically adjusts to maintain performance. 
Cloud Storage· Distributed object storage· Block Storage· File Storage· Cool Storage· Cold Storage· Object storage· File storage· Block storage· Backup storage· Edge Storage
NetworkingManage what you want to manage with Azure Networking capabilities. Consistently meet workload requirements with the help of Azure’s vast global infrastructure of private fiber.AWS offers similar networking capabilities to Azure, including building, scaling, and securing the data on your network.
App HostingAzure App Service is a fully managed platform for building, deploying, and scaling web apps and APIs. Utilize App Service Migration Assistant to migrate applications to the cloud easily.AWS breaks down its app hosting environments into a few different services, such as Amazon EC2, S3, RDS, CloudFront, SQS, and DevPay.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)Azure AI provides proven and secure AI capabilities such as machine learning, knowledge mining, and AI apps. In addition, Azure Cognitive Search delivers a tool to extract insights from your datasets easily.AI and machine learning services focus on providing a broad set of solutions to the market.
Internet of Things (IOT)Azure IoT offers the industry’s widest collection of services that can adapt to your specific industry needs. In addition, available AI modules are easily and quickly deployed at scale.AWS IoT offers a broad range of solutions designed for industrial, home, and commercial applications.
IntegrationAzure Integration Services leverages API Management, Logic Apps, Service Bus, and Event Grid to create a scalable environment for integrating on-premise and cloud-based applications.AWS application integration offers API Management, Event Bus, Messaging, No-code API integration, and Workflows.
SecurityState of the art multi-layered security backed by a global infrastructure. The Azure compliance program is in alignment with 91 different security compliance standards.AWS compliance program is in alignment with 75 different security compliance standards.
Availability Zone140 Zones (2021)61 Zones (2021)
Data Back-up and RecoveryYesYes
Active Directory/Cloud DirectoryAzure AD is multi-tenant cloud based identity and access management solution for the Azure platform. You can use it to provide secure access for organizations and individuals.AWS Cloud Directory is to provide a platform that IT organizations and developers can build upon, much like the rest of AWS’s infrastructure platform. Most IT and development organizations can’t use AWS Cloud Directory “out-of-the-box” without significant work.

Azure vs. AWS: Support

Both Azure and AWS offer comprehensive support plans designed for the developer to enterprise levels. Offering more than just break/fix support, users are given the option to receive guidance on best practices and third-party software support depending on the chosen plan. As far as pricing is concerned, both providers seem to have relatively similar pricing structures until the enterprise level.  

When comparing the cloud’s enterprise-level support plans, there is a notable gap between the two offerings. Azure prices this tier at $1,000 per month while AWS is priced at $15,000 per month. So, what justifies this price difference? Well, at this level, AWS offers customers access to a designated account manager and a support concierge. Secondly, AWS provides a business-critical system down the response time of 15 minutes or less.

Azure vs. AWS: Pricing

As both providers offer a complex selection of services, it is nearly impossible to say that one cloud is more affordable than the other. Instead, the best approach is to examine the pricing of similar services between the two providers and draw conclusions based on your business’s specific cloud computing needs. To get an apples-to-apples comparison, we recommend using the official pricing calculators that Azure and AWS provide.

For the most part, it would seem that both providers are competitively priced between one another. Although, when drilling down into specific services, there are a few discrepancies that are worth noting. For instance, when comparing running Windows Server and SQL Server virtual machines, AWS is 120-150% more expensive than Azure. Also, when looking at archival storage pricing, AWS’ price per GB is nearly double that of Azure.

 A potential pitfall to AWS is that it prides itself on the sheer number of services that it offers. This can create costly architectural mistakes if users do not fully understand the costs of these services and the costs to support them. To combat this issue, Azure offers a smaller number of benefits that cater toward a broader selection of applications. This not only assists users in developing their system but also makes the billing process much more straightforward.

Azure vs. AWS: High-level Price Comparison

Azure VMs / Amazon EC2 Instances Per Hour

SoftwareAzure AWS
On-DemandWindows / General Purpose / 4 CPUs / 16 GB Memory$0.5970$0.8560
Reserved 3 YearWindows / Compute Optimized / 4 CPUs / 16 GB Memory$0.2507$0.3253

Object Storing

SoftwareAzure AWS
HDD$0.05 (Per GB)$0.045 (Per GB)
SSD$0.153 (Per GB*)In 128 GB increments$0.10 (Per GB)

Contact our Azure specialist team with help and guidance on Azure pricing.

Azure Hybrid Benefit

Azure offers strong hybrid cloud capabilities by leveraging existing infrastructure without adding any costly workarounds. Whether your business is on-premise, in the cloud, or somewhere in between, Azure can offer licensing benefits that drastically reduce operating costs. This works by allowing companies to utilize their on-premises Windows Server and SQL Server licenses on Azure.

By bringing your licenses forward, customers have the potential to save up to 85% when compared to the average pay-as-you-go rate. Qualifying licenses even receive 180 days of dual-use rights between on-premise and the cloud. As many businesses are making the switch to the cloud, the Azure Hybrid Benefit can easily become an important decision for many business leaders.


Through our comparison, it’s clear that the best cloud cannot be determined based on a provider’s market share. Making the right decision for your business’ cloud presence can seem like a challenging task, and the truth is that each provider offers comprehensive and powerful solutions. Selecting a cloud provider comes down to the specific requirements of each business. To truly distinguish what cloud makes the most sense for your application, we recommend working with a certified partner that you can trust.

Here at Calsoft, we have been assisting small to enterprise-level corporations pinpoint their ideal solutions for over twenty years. Through a detailed analysis of your specific operations, we are confident that we can get you up and running on a cloud platform that best fits your needs. If you would like to learn more, please feel free to reach out to us, as we’d love to lend a helping hand.