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Microsoft Azure Vs. AWS: 5 Partners On Why Azure Is ‘Superior’

With Microsoft Azure getting the highest rating from partners in CRN’s inaugural Cloud Barometer survey, solution provider executives point to Microsoft’s ‘more mature’ partner programs as well as Azure’s unique product capabilities.

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Microsoft Azure Vs. AWS

As demand for cloud computing soars, the battle between Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services is only getting more intense. And even with the trend toward multi-cloud environments, some solution providers are choosing sides in the Azure vs. AWS contest. To get a sense for how partners currently view the top cloud platforms, CRN recently conducted its inaugural Cloud Barometer survey, which asked partners to rate their satisfaction with the leading Infrastructure-as-a-Service platforms across five key categories. Survey respondents awarded the highest overall rating to Microsoft Azure, followed by AWS at No. 2 and Google Cloud at No. 3.* Azure also received top partner ratings in three of the five categories covered in the survey: product capabilities, profitability and maturity of pricing. AWS won two categories—ease of integration and support for demand generation—while Google Cloud received no first-place finishes.

In a statement provided to CRN, Microsoft Channel Chief Rodney Clark said that “we view this ranking as an affirmation of our commitment to provide opportunity for partners to build and sell differentiated solutions that help customers migrate to the cloud.” AWS and Google Cloud declined to comment.

In the survey, 58 percent of Azure solution providers also reported having had a highly strategic sales relationship with Microsoft over the prior three months. By comparison, 43 percent of AWS partners and 31 percent of Google Cloud partners reported the same with their respective vendors.

Along with conducting the Cloud Barometer survey, CRN spoke with a number of Microsoft Gold partners who have predominantly chosen to focus on Azure over the AWS cloud service. These Microsoft partners cited advantages ranging from Microsoft’s “more mature” partner programs, to the Azure Active Directory authentication service, to Azure’s hybrid cloud capabilities. What follows are their comments from recent interviews comparing Microsoft Azure vs. AWS.

Azure: ‘Superior’ To AWS And Google Cloud?

AWS remains by far the largest provider of cloud infrastructure services with market share of 32 percent, followed by Azure at 20 percent and Google Cloud at 9 percent, according to data from Synergy Research Group for the first quarter of 2021. But there’s a good reason that Azure edged out its rivals in the Cloud Barometer survey results, said Reed Wiedower, global alliances leader and CTO for the Cognizant Microsoft Business Group, an Azure Expert Managed Services Provider. “From the partner ecosystem perspective, Microsoft has just been in the business of partners for much longer than Amazon or Google,” Wiedower said. “Their partner programs are much more mature.”

And crucially, Microsoft doesn’t have a business model built on selling ads or on selling products that compete with customers, as do the parent companies of Google Cloud and AWS, he said. Ultimately, with Microsoft’s partner-friendly programs and business model, “Azure is superior to AWS and Google,” Wiedower said.

At Logicalis Group, CEO Bob Bailkoski said that the global solution provider has chosen to invest around Azure to a far greater degree than on AWS, including through achieving Microsoft’s prestigious Azure Expert MSP certification. Logicalis has only a “small capability” around AWS in the U.S., while Azure has become one of the biggest focus areas at the solution provider in recent years, he said. That’s due in part to the “natural affinity” that many Logicalis customers have with Microsoft, as well as the complexity of understanding and working with AWS when compared to Azure, Bailkoski said. “Microsoft’s articulation of the opportunity that’s available with Azure is much easier for our customers to understand—especially in the C suite—than it is perhaps with AWS, which is a slightly more technical, developer-style solution,” he said.

In the following slides, we’ve included comments from five additional Microsoft Gold partners that focus mainly on Azure over AWS.

*CRN’s Cloud Barometer survey took place from November to December 2020 and received responses from 211 Infrastructure-as-a-Service solution providers, who were invited to rate the cloud platforms that they currently partner with. For more details on the survey results—and partner insights on all three of the top cloud platforms—please see our CRN Magazine cover story for June.

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