AWS, Azure… and Why We Recommend Cloud Hosting
Cloud hosting, and cloud computing in general, has profoundly changed the way in which many enterprises now coordinate their IT infrastructure – offering reliable and powerful computing resources ‘on-demand’ at a cost effective price.
Available through platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, the growing acceptance of cloud technology has helped to transform IT delivery and software development by removing the traditional barriers related to expensive hardware purchase – so allowing SME’s to benefit from more powerful computing resources, whilst also helping them to become more flexible and dynamic.
So how do you get started? Well, suppose you’re tasked with creating a new web-based application – what resources would you need? Perhaps a web server, a database, and to provide connectivity to both – all reliably, securely, and on budget. Which is when you might start having conversations about AWS and Azure – the first and second biggest cloud hosting platforms respectively.
In this post, we’ll discuss a little bit about both – how each platform works, and what we would recommend for software development. Enjoy!
In terms of growth, AWS (established in 2006) leads the charge in cloud development and overall profitability, sporting year-over-year growth of 64% – which is pretty impressive.
In fact, one of their most famous customers is the TV streaming giant Netflix, who reportedly have three to four thousand servers running with Amazon at any one time (keeping our binge watching habits intact!). So if vendor longevity and consistency is a concern, rest assured that AWS is going nowhere fast.
So, why is AWS so popular? Well, because AWS can pretty much handle any data requirement, the costs are very reasonable, and you’ll be supported no matter how large your company scales in the future.
For example, for most small web applications, renting one or two small servers would probably suffice. But what if you needed something more powerful? The commercial model of Amazon is that you pay by the hour, with bulk discounts – so a large server might cost you two pounds per hour, and an even larger server may cost you three pounds per hour.
In addition, if you needed a live production server because all your work is hosted online for customers to use 24/7 – well, Amazon can do that to, and you can turn off any rented server to save money, if needed. Besides server rental, you’ll also need to pay for any memory, disk space, and data transfers you use, but overall, these costs aren’t of serious concern. More to the point, AWS is the right choice for open source software users, offering a superior range of features and support for software like redhat – which (strangely) Azure doesn’t provide.
Azure started out a little differently to AWS. Established in 2010 and being more of a market newcomer, Microsoft didn’t originally offer servers in the same way that Amazon did – that is, for virtual computers running Linux or Windows.
Instead, Azure (which offered the same cloud computing resources as AWS) was designed so that customers either had to rewrite their own code to work on Azure, or buy into the platform which included Microsoft’s additional services – unlike Amazon, where you could put anything on their system you’d written before.
However, for those businesses already invested in Microsoft’s portfolio of systems, it made a lot of business sense to keep their IT infrastructure geared towards a Windows ecosystem – which is where Azure found its foothold. Yet, as AWS innovated and made the cloud more enterprise-friendly, Azure was forced to change, and these days they operate more like AWS – on a pay per use basis and across open source platforms (although it’s complicated).
As a result, Azure has a substantial ‘big business legacy’, and isn’t seen as being as accessible or as user-friendly as AWS, even though, comparatively speaking, they offer the same features as AWS, give or take a few which may be project specific.
However, with AWS having a four year lead and a more mature product offering than Azure, Microsoft is doing its best to bridge the gap.
What Does Blueberry Use?
If a customer is already running Microsoft Azure, or has a strong usage case for implementing it, then Blueberry will manage the project with no difference in quality from any similar AWS project.
However, we don’t typically recommend using the platform, because for most development applications AWS is usually the better option. Why? Well in our opinion it has a great features base, strong software support, its cost efficient, and we’ve used it since its inception – 10 years ago. Which is why we’re also an accredited Amazon Consulting Partner.
Fundamentally the lesson we tell people is to make sure you’ve understood what your real requirements are, as choosing a cloud vendor should ultimately come down to your specific wants and needs, and the workloads you’re expecting to run. Once this has been spec’d out, it’s much easier to proceed with the right choice for your software.