Earlier this year, Synergy Research Group reported that across six key cloud services and infrastructure market segments, cloud services annual revenues reached $110 billion, a nearly 30% growth from last year. The revenue leaders in the cloud service providers continue to be Cisco, HPE, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, IBM and Salesforce.
Working with our customers, we see most considering Google, AWS and Microsoft Azure. In the federal market, it is even narrower with AWS and Azure dominating the landscape.
Gartner’s 2015 Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Magic Quadrant lists only AWS and Azure as “Leaders” quadrant so it’s no surprise that attention is squarely placed there. AWS is the oldest of the public cloud offerings and has held the Leader quadrant for the last five consecutive years. Azure didn’t even make it into the report until 2013.
Microsoft is investing heavily in development and sales resources to try and win back market share from AWS. Microsoft has an advantage, especially in the federal market, given the predominance of existing Microsoft Office and Windows licenses. While services are integrated and easy to use, Microsoft also has the benefit of existing contracts and relationships to leverage. The complexities of AWS can also be a turn-off for organizations lacking the technical chops to migrate their applications.
Both AWS and Microsoft organize key cloud computing features into groups. AWS calls them Compute, Storage & Content Delivery, Databases, and Networking. Azure brands them Build infrastructure, Develop modern applications, Gain insights from data, and Manage identity and access.
For Microsoft-centric organizations, Azure Active Directory serves as a single sign-on (SSO) option for all your applications. Azure Active Directory can integrate with an enterprise’s on-premises Active Directory to extend an enterprise’s local directories to the cloud. Azure also offers tight integration with Microsoft BizTalk Server and other Microsoft enterprise tools. Azure just recently added Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and is much more limited generally with Linux.
Overall, AWS is superior in terms of functionality and maturity. Generally, the breadth and depth of the AWS offering is both good and bad. We agree with Forrester’s ‘Enterprise Public Cloud Platforms report that gave AWS high marks for the flexibility of platform configuration options, monitoring and policy features, security, reliability as well as its service offerings.
The flexibility and openness within AWS does just not exist in Azure. AWS makes it a lot easier to use open source products, although that flexibility and openness also has a higher cost in terms of expertise to deploy, configure and operate. AWS’ architecture also is the clear leader when zero downtime and global scalability are required. Their significantly larger scale also allows them more flexibility in pricing and making cloud services a true commodity. Azure (and all other cloud providers are years away from this), but we will keep an eye on them.