Cloud Computing

Analyst Report: Amazon AWS vs. Microsoft Azure

After Microsoft needed to fight against vendors like Novell, Oracle, IBM or HP for on-premise market shares in the last decades, with the Amazon Web Services a new giant has been established in the public cloud, who puts out feelers to the enterprise customer. A market which predominantly is dominated by Microsoft and which reveals an enormous potential for the vendors.

Market forecasts by Crisp Research show a strong growth by 40 percent per year for the next years, whereby revenues in Germany in 2018 amounted up to 28 billion euros. This free analyst report compares the service portfolio as well as the strategy of the Amazon Web Services with that of Microsoft Azure.


The Windows Azure Storage outage shows: Winner crowns have no meaning

The global outage of Windows Azure Storage due to an expired SSL certificate again has struck big waves on Twitter. The ironic aftertaste is particularly due to the fact that Windows Azure was recently chosen by Nasuni as the “Leader in Cloud Storage”. Especially because of performance, availability and write errors Azure could stick out.

Back to business

Of course, the test result has been rightly celebrated on the Windows Azure team’s blog (DE).

“In a study of the Nasuni Corporation various cloud storage providers such as Microsoft, Amazon, HP, Rackspace, Google were compared. The result: Windows Azure could reap in almost all categories (including performance, availability, errors) the winners crown. Windows Azure is there clearly shown as a “Leader in Cloud Storage”. Here is an infographic with the main findings, the entire report is here.”

However, the Azure team was brought back to earth with a bump due to the really heavy outage which could be felt around the world. They should rather go back to the daily business and ensure that an EXPIRED SSL CERTIFICATE never lead to such a failure. Because this has relativized the test result and thus shows that winner crowns have no meaning at all. Very surprising is that always evitable errors lead to such catastrophic outages. Another example is the problem with the leapyear 2012.


When do we see a Microsoft Cloudbook?

With Windows 8 Microsoft put many things in the center of the cloud. As it is known from other systems a central Microsoft account can be used to synchronize settings, apps from the marketplace and data across devices. Production and media data can be integrated into the system via SkyDrive. Office 365 and Office 2013 are also available as local and cloud solutions.

The strategic realignment pays off

This also shows the strategic direction of the past months, meanwhile Microsoft has been started e.g. to market SkyDrive with very competitive prices and also to open the SkyDrive APIs for developers. Another important step was the focus on the Office suites for the cloud.

Windows Azure serves as the new central anchor

A further important step was the expansion of its cloud computing platform Windows Azure with the Windows Azure Mobile Services. Developers of Windows 8 applications thus have the opportunity to take advantage of Windows Azure as a cloud backend for their apps in order to store data, send messages or to authorize users. First, only Windows 8 is supported but Windows Phone, iOS and Android will follow.

With its Windows Azure Mobile Services Microsoft is not alone in the market of backend-as-a-service (BaaS). Vendors like Urban Airship, Parse or Kinvey are already there. The idea of ​​a BaaS is to help developers to focus mainly on the frontend of their application. All other topics that revolve around the backend does, and simplifies the service.

Windows Azure Mobile Services

After a basic configuration the data can be stored in the Azure Cloud and associated with the SQL database within Azure. Afterwards the apps can access the data without developers having to write additional code. In the background the Windows Azure mobile services rely on a REST API and JSON-based ODATA format. In addition, the service helps you create spreadsheets, data exploration and configuring the indices and access control. Furthermore, users can authenticate and send messages to the clients.

Compared to other BaaS providers Windows Azure mobile services also enable dashboard analytics capabilities that helps developers to monitor the use of the app, and other metrics.

SharePoint is another building block for enterprise customers

Recently Microsoft has announced the integration of SharePoint and Yammer. Today, users can already connect the two systems with Web Parts and the new Open Graph Yammer to an integrated solution. In addition, standard user profiles, document management functions and feed aggregation will ensure a closer alignment of both solutions in the future.

With “Microsoft Yammer Enterprise” the various paid services are combined in one offer in the future. The user then pays three dollars per month, instead of the current 15 dollars. Also a closer link with Microsoft SharePoint Online and Office 365 Enterprise is planned.

Expansion of SharePoint functionality

Among the most important SharePoint enhancements belongs the new “drag and drop functionality”, so that documents can be quickly deployed via SharePoint. Also new is that tasks can be consolidate across Outlook, Project and SharePoint.

At the base of SharePoint, Microsoft has made ​​changes as well. With the result of improved scalability and performance, due to a new cloud architecture. The Web Content Management has now expanded and simplified cross-site publishing.

In addition, the development of the risk management enables IT departments in companies a better control over the distribution of documents across SharePoint, Exchange and Lync.

New Cloud App Model

In addition SharePoint 2013 features a new cloud application model in the future. Microsoft addressed thereby systematically over 700,000 developers who implement their applications based on SharePoint. The new cloud app model and the new Office store shall help them to simplify the development, purchase, roll-out and management of their applications.

Mobile apps provide access to documents and data

To give users the option to access documents and files from anywhere and with any device, they can use SharePoint Mobile apps in the future. Via different devices, Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS and Android, they can access both SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint Online.

When we will see a Microsoft Cloudbook?

However, an interesting question still remains. Will Microsoft go maybe the Google way in the future? Is there may soon be a Chromebook counterpart from Microsoft? The browser is becoming the main work area. Furthermore more and more applications move to the cloud via SaaS. And not to forget, with the Windows Azure infrastructure Microsoft provides a fully developed and efficient cloud environment over which even Office 365 is deployed and also a “Microsoft Cloudbook” can be readily supplied with applications, etc. With Windows Azure, Office 365 (Office 2013), SharePoint, Yammer,, SkyDrive, Skype, Windows Store, etc. Microsoft has created the necessary circumstances the recent months and years.