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Winning against Amazon Web Services - Discussion Guide

Windows Azure vs. Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Windows Azure is an enterprise platform that enables users to build, deploy, manage, scale applications in the cloud, offering compute, storage,
database, and networking resources as an end-to end solution. This discussion guide gives a brief overview comparing Windows Azure to Amazon
Web Services and provides guidance on how to position Windows Azure against AWS.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides a collection of web services that
comprise a cloud computing infrastructure as a service (IaaS) offered
over the internet, hosted in 9 Amazon regions across the world. Its offers
a range of cloud services for compute, storage, database, development,
deployment and automation, networking, and content delivery needs.
AWS major cloud portfolio* includes Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Simple
Storage Service (S3), Relational Database Service (RDS), Elastic
Beanstalk, Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), and CloudFront. AWS offers its
services at multiple usage levels based on tiered pricing, serving all
customer segments from SMBs to large scale enterprises. It has been
leading the public cloud IaaS market with wide margins through
competitive pricing, providing high scalable offerings at low prices.
AWS has been making moves to target the enterprise, and public sector
market by launching the new services such as Glacier storage, its Redshift
data warehousing product, and Cluster High Memory and High storage
instances that target the enterprise workloads like Data warehousing,
archival storage , enterprise LOB applications . Unlike other major cloud
vendors that are providing private /hybrid cloud solutions for enterprise
segment, AWS wants to penetrate into the segment with its public cloud
offering. But, AWS procurement models, security, and privacy issues are
holding it back from gaining traction with enterprises.
*All AWS offerings are covered in capability comparison section

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AWS Strengths:

First to market - perceived positively and as a price leader in the

Identified as a leader in Gartners Public Cloud IaaS magic quadrant
Number of different instance types high memory , computer , clustered
compute etc.
Supports a variety of OS (Windows, Red Hat Linux, IBM) , 32 & 64 bit
platform support and any development tools
Continously innovative and wide range of cloud portfolio, serving all
customer segments
Auto-scaling for EC2, API stack for all services, and integrated Command
Rich set of predefined AMIs, platform certification
Multiple geo-locations and edge sites globally, providing good service
Supports certified partner and community AMIs for multiple platforms in
their online image library
Partnerships with IBM, SAP, CA, Oracle etc. to run their software on EC2
Ease of use - Offers simple capabilities, APIs and tools are simpler and
easily adoptable ,customer can host existing on-premises application
without changes

AWS Weaknesses: is not a traditional software company, and has limited

experience building enterprise class services
Lack integrated management capabilities - Manual creation,
configuration and management of VMs required. For users, managing
and building AMIs & instances is challenging
Moving VMs between on-premises and AWS requires conversation to
proprietary AMI format
No full-fledged PaaS offering. AWS Elastic Beanstalk is an attempt at
PaaS but lacks many features.
No specific Private Cloud strategy
AWS recent product offerings are overlapping with its customers,
resulting in perceived it as a threat e.g.: Redshift, App Marketplace,
Though, AWS offers website hosting through EC2 and S3, it is more

How to position Windows Azure against Amazon?

Windows Azure positioning - As a comprehensive cloud platform, Windows Azure makes it easy to build new apps or move existing applications to
the cloud. The platform enables both Platform-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-Service cloud computing models. As a PaaS, the underlying OS
and system management tasks are automated, allowing developers to focus on applications. With the IaaS, customers can immediately move
applications as it is to Windows Azure and can gain full control over the application environment. Furthermore, Windows Azure Cloud Services that
run on web/ worker roles, which can be linked with persistent VMs, allows deployment of mixed mode applications.
Microsofts hybrid cloud strategy with Windows Azure:
We believe IT will be a hybrid world a mix of on-premises and off-premises solutions spanning public clouds, private clouds and traditional IT.
And accordingly, we shape our cloud offerings.
Our solutions span public and private cloud environments and our services span productivity, database, business applications, and
Were anchoring the private cloud environment with a cloud-optimized operating system and management solution, Windows Server and System
Center, which manages everything from infrastructure to applications to clouds.
By the same concept, Microsofts public cloud offerings are anchored by Windows Azure, which is a comprehensive IT platform across compute,
storage, network capabilities and higher-level services like relational databases.
Microsoft has combined decades of experience running apps at internet scale with our years of experience in on-premises software to create this
broad and deep array of cloud solutions
In the world of hybrid cloud environments, a distributed computing fabric that brings things together you need commonalties across identity,
virtualization, management, and application development. It's the commonalities between the two that provide the real magic and uniqueness in
Microsofts business cloud strategy

Positioning against AWS:

AWS positions Infrastructure as a Service as the cloud computing approach that offers customers higher flexibility, puts them in control of the
cloud infrastructure, and enables them to migrate the applications without any modification at a lower cost. To effectively compete against AWS:

Position Microsoft as a provider of end-to-end cloud offerings across the cloud stack. Articulate the advantage of having flexibility of PaaS
solution, and which highly integrate with existing IaaS components. Shape the discussion as development and deployment oriented, where AWS
lacks, and focus on the overall business value
Showcase Windows Azures new features like Mobile Services instance and Web Sites instance models, which offers more flexible options
Highlight the better integration between our networking solutions and their flexibility in working both IaaS and PaaS environments.
Emphasize Microsofts commitment to the cloud and its vision in providing a continuum of solutions that enable private cloud, public cloud, and
a hybrid cloud
Emphasize on AWS limited application model, demonstrating ease of Windows Azure in building new apps or bringing existing apps to cloud,
using IaaS, PaaS, or both
Outline flexibility with Windows Azure in moving between Microsofts on-premise and off-premise cloud offerings, back and forth, which is not an
easy way in AWS case
Highlight the rising vendor lock-in concerns with recent AWS integrated workflow offerings, which makes harder for developers to move their
work to non-Amazon platforms
Raise awareness of the introductory special offers like free trials, the MSDN subscriber offers, and the MPN offers
Flexible Procurement model similar model that Enterprise is familiar with (Enterprise Agreement)
Highlight that Windows Azure is covered under existing EAs in few countries at a discounted price for yearly commitment, while declaring that
negotiating an EA with AWS is challenging
Highlight that with Windows Azure, customers are leveraging the relationship with a trusted technology vendor with decades of experience in
delivering IT solutions
Showcase Windows Azure cloud solutions as more enterprise ready, highlighting the product integration capabilities, strong SLAs and bundled

Technical Comparison of platforms

Key differentiators:
Hybrid IT Consistent platform between on-premises , hosted and public
cloud with common management , identity, development , integrated
virtualization and complete development platform.
Easily migrate VMs to Windows Azure without making any changes.
IaaS + PaaS: Virtual machines in Windows Azure can connect with other
virtual machines and cloud apps (web and worker roles), creating seamless
communication between the various roles. Amazon does not have a focused
PaaS offering
Windows Azure Cloud Services run on web and worker roles that can be
linked with persistent VMs allowing deployment of mixed mode applications.
AWS doesnt offer this.
Building highly available applications with Windows Azure is easy since all
user have to do is to place VMs in an availability set. With AWS, user have to
place VMs in different availability zones and provision a load balancer (which
is not free).
AWS offer annual SLA for EC2, and doesnt offer SLAs across all services.
Azure offers monthly SLA across all the GA services
Elastic Beanstalk is still in beta stage and doesnt offer full-fledged PaaS
Windows Azure Blobs and Tables provides additional data durability
compared to AWS storage solutions, through geo-replication capability
between two data centers 100s of miles apart.
Windows Azure Virtual Machines provide automatic data durability. With
AWS, customers have to remember to take snapshots periodically and store
in S3.
Windows Azures locally redundant storage is more durable than
AWS Reduced Redundancy Storage (Windows Azure offers durability at same
levels as three replicas, providing resiliency against hardware failure, thus
data is only expected to be lost when there is a major datacenter disaster. In
contrast AWS provides 99.99% durability with RRS., which means user can
expect to lose 1out of 10,000 objects/year on average).
Windows Azure SQL Database provides automatic high availability and a
99.9% SLA at no additional cost. Whereas, Amazon RDS has no SLA, and
can achieve only warm failover at double the base cost
Windows Azure provides a rich cross-premises network connectivity
stack (machine-to-machine connectivity with Connect and site-to-site with
Virtual Network). AWS addresses site-to-site connectivity with VPC
Windows Azure offers two levels of load balancing. Traffic Manager can
distribute incoming traffic across datacenters in different continents for
global load balancing. Role instances within an app are automatically load
balanced. Whereas, AWS ELB can load balance across availability zones only.
Windows Azure Active Directory is a unique identity management service
that Windows Azure provides for authentication and access control. AWS has
no equivalent.
Service Bus supports hybrid messaging through Service Bus Relay


Windows Azure

Amazon Web Services

Compute - VM
with admin

Virtual Machines, Worker role,

Web role w/ elevated privileges

Elastic Compete Cloud (EC2)


Web app support Web roles w/full IIS, VM Role

EC2 VMs (Linux/Windows)

Other compute

Web Sites, Mobile Services,

Cloud Services

VM Import, Autoscale,
Amazon Elastic MapReduce


Windows Azure SQL Database

Amazon RDS, RedShift

Blob storage

Windows Azure Blobs

Simple Storage Service (S3)

Table storage

Windows Azure Tables

SimpleDB and DynamoDB

Storage Drives

Windows Azure Drives

Elastic Block Storage

Backup and
archival Storage

Windows Azure Backup,


Amazon Glacier, Storage

Gateway Appliance

Storage Import


AWS Import export

App Deployment

Automatically handled

Amazon Elastic Beanstalk,

CloudFormation, Data

Bulk Email

N.A.(partner solutions like


Simple Email Service


Windows Azure Service Bus,



Other Analytics & Windows Azure SQL Reporting


Amazon CloudSearch


Virtual Network, Connect and

Traffic Manager

Direct Connect, VPC, Elastic

Load Balancer, Route 53

Caching Service

Windows Azure Cache

AWS ElasticCache

Content Delivery Windows Azure CDN

AWS Cloud Front


Management Portal, Powershell,


AWS Management Console


Diagnostics & Service,

Management APIs, SCOM Pack

CloudWatch, Alarm

Authentication & Windows Live, Accounts and

Subscription, Federation Future,
Windows Azure Active Directory

Identity & Access

Management (IAM), MultiFactor Authentication (MFA)


Eclipse and Visual Studio


Eclipse and Visual Studio Toolkit

Support Libraries .Net, PHP, Java, node.js, Python

& SDKs

Java, .Net, PHP, Ruby,


Industry Specific Windows Azure Media Services,

Mobile Services

AWS GovCloud