Choose the Right Cloud Provider for your Migration
You run Microsoft applications on-prem. So, the obvious cloud strategy is to migrate to Azure, correct? Well, no, it’s not that simple.
You could select from any of the top three providers, and it probably wouldn’t be a bad choice; but let’s assume you want to make the best choice.
Understand what it is that you want to achieve in the cloud, then compare those parameters to the services provided by each of the top providers. Your selection should be based on your actual requirements, not the on-prem Microsoft = Azure cloud assumption.
Obviously, you will have technical requirements that must be understood and met in your new environment, but you should also be thinking outside of that box.
- Are you already using a cloud provider for some services? How does this impact your strategy?
- Do you use specialist SaaS applications, (CRM, Case Management, litigation systems etc), what platform are they on, what is the supplier’s road map?
- Do you need new skill sets either in-house or from a managed service? If you are recruiting, are you able to do so from a large pool of skilled candidates?
- Does your long-term cloud strategy require specific resources – sovereign locations, multi data centre redundancy, serverless computing, cloud architecture in remote installations, satellite uplinks etc
Are you able to run your infrastructure from a single cloud provider? (we do not recommend multi cloud strategies
Compare the Top Two Cloud Providers
AWS v Azure Market Presence:
AWS and Azure offer similar basic cloud capabilities around flexible compute, storage, networking, and pricing. Both share the common elements – autoscaling, self-service, pay-as-u-go pricing, security, compliance, identity access management features and instant provisioning. However, the provenance of these two providers is quite different.
AWS have been building hyperscale cloud networks since 2000 (publicly available since 2006), a full 10 years before Microsoft produced Azure, that’s an unheard-of head start for any technology. AWS has grown as part of Amazon which is a high-volume low-margin business; this has shaped the development of robust, scalable, and cost-effective cloud systems in a way that is quite different from other providers.
It’s been over 11 years since AWS first made it possible for customers to run their Windows workloads on AWS; longer than Azure has been in existence, and according to a report by IDC, AWS host nearly twice as many Windows Servers in the cloud as Microsoft. Andy Jassy, CEO of AWS, once famously addressed the question “Are Microsoft catching you up?” with the answer “There is no compression algorithm for experience. You can’t learn certain lessons without going through the curve.”
An April 2021 report by Canalys stated that AWS has a market share of about 32%, while Azure ranks after it with a 19% share.
Development & Support:
The big difference between AWS and Microsoft is that AWS has developed all its services specifically for the cloud from their inception, they are not trying to convert existing on-premises products and licensing. AWS cloud services were originally developed to support their own commercial activities (Amazon) before making them publicly available; in our experience this has meant their products are far more stringently tested before release and they offer a much broader spectrum of services.
AWS Market Place allows developers to build commercial products specifically to run in AWS and is a huge source of verified systems. These include well known technology giants like Cisco. Our own observations are that developers are moving to AWS, due to attractive license costs and a desire to work with more open platforms. In 2019, there were over 1900 features and services released by AWS (90% of these driven directly by customers) vs 1000+ for Azure.
AWS has well received training programmes, and their time in the market has resulted in a larger population of certified engineers and certified support partners. A simple search on LinkedIn reveals jobs for AWS (300K+) v jobs for Azure (200K+)
AWS v Azure Costs:
Microsoft have made some bold claims regarding their Azure pricing compared to AWS. Microsoft claim “AWS is 5 times more expensive for Windows server”. Well, Microsoft have excluded licensing costs and many other elements which they “assume” will be paid to Microsoft (not Azure) from a different budget. In some cases, they have also excluded virtual hardware costs from some of their publicised pricing. On the other hand, they do make some attractive offers based on porting existing licenses into Azure.
Both providers have complicated charging structures which makes comparisons difficult, we advise customers to focus on the cost/ value proposition around the specific solution they require.
The AWS Cloud spans 84 Availability Zones within 26 geographic regions around the world, with announced plans for 24 more Availability Zones and 8 more AWS Regions in Australia, Canada, India, Israel, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, and United Arab Emirates (UAE). AWS’ global reach delivers your data and systems quickly and without interruption. Each AWS region consist of multiple Availability Zones, located several miles apart to meet DR requirements, each Availability Zone (AZ) is composed of a group of separate datacentres. AWS owns and operates all its data centres (excluding China)
Compare this with a region in Azure, which may be one datacentre or even a co-location space in a third-party datacentre. If your internal policies dictate that you replicate your data in more than one data centre, a region with just one facility may not be able to meet that requirement.
Neither AWS or Azure (or Google Cloud) are a bad choice. But the best choice will depend on many of the elements discussed here, namely understanding your user case requirements, technical abilities, and migration strategy; and making an assessment independently of any predisposition to any one provider.