Should You Go With AWS or Azure? That May Be the Wrong Question

Ellen Rubin<br/>ClearSky DataEllen Rubin
ClearSky Data

Ellen Rubin is CEO and co-founder of ClearSky Data.

It wasn’t long ago that Amazon Web Services (AWS) was the de facto choice in every public cloud conversation. No matter your market or the size of your business, if your IT team was talking about capturing better economics in the cloud, they were talking about AWS. As Microsoft Azure picks up momentum, especially among enterprises, those conversations are following a different pattern. Instead of asking, “Should we move to AWS?,” as they have for nearly 10 years, CIOs are often asking, “Should we move to AWS or Azure?”

Unfortunately, this is the wrong question. We’re now living in a multi-cloud environment. The future is not one in which IT leaders will choose which cloud to embrace, but rather, which clouds to embrace for which applications.

How Choosing a Public Cloud Provider Became an Either/Or Proposition

When AWS first came on the scene, enterprises were wary. While AWS was becoming a mature public cloud offering, and devOps professionals rose up as primary consumers, enterprise IT didn’t “know” Amazon, and CIOs didn’t want to get locked into relationships with an unfamiliar vendor. Meanwhile, the competition was lagging far behind Amazon in terms of features and functionality. Today, that is no longer true. Azure now stands up convincingly against AWS, and Microsoft has the advantage of long-standing connections with enterprise IT leaders. The CIOs and VPs of infrastructure who balked at going all in with Amazon have known their Microsoft reps for years, and they’ve relied on Microsoft solutions throughout their careers.

Azure’s ascent is clear in RightScale’s “2017 State of the Cloud” report. The latest statistics show Azure adoption climbing from 26 percent to 43 percent, while AWS had a modest bump from 56 percent to 59 percent. When you drill down into those numbers and focus solely on large enterprises, Azure looks even stronger.

Given this shift, it’s easy to see how the market conversation might boil down to, “AWS or Azure?” But in practice, it seems users continue to resist tying themselves to one provider or another. RightScale’s “2017 State of the Cloud” report also indicates that 85 percent of enterprises have multi-cloud strategies, a three-point rise over the previous year. This is as it should be.

Competitive Cloud Future Benefits the Enterprise

The public cloud is not one-size-fits-all, no matter whether you’re considering AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, IBM SoftLayer or another provider. This is a good thing. Avoiding vendor lock-in is a tenet of IT stewardship, and leaders should apply it to cloud services as they move ahead with transforming their operations.

That transformation is well underway, with nearly 75 percent of organizations reporting hybrid cloud use, according to RightScale. Hybrid cloud is becoming a necessity, as enterprises seek to deliver true data mobility to their users, including access to data on demand – without the cost or complexity of traditional enterprise data storage. Multi-cloud strategies are central to this evolution, which should come as welcome news to IT leaders. You don’t need to ask, “Which cloud is better?” when the question that delivers value is: “Which cloud is better for my applications and my enterprise?”

Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Penton.

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