Look out, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft is coming for you.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says a head-to-head comparison of Amazon vs. Azure will yield a clear victory for Azure. Azure is the Microsoft cloud-based computing platform and software infrastructure developed for IT professionals to build, implement, and manage applications.
Interesting, Nadella’s claims aren’t just bragging rights—the numbers are out, and it seems that Microsoft is in a serious resurgence, thanks in part to their efforts to expand Azure cloud offerings.
Azure Profits Point to Rosy Picture for 2017
GeekWire reported Microsoft quarterly profits in late January 2017 as blowing Wall Street projections out of the water. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has led the company to $26 billion in revenues, driven in part, by the acquisition of business social networking platform LinkedIn.
LinkedIn both helped and hurt these numbers: According to GeekWire, the revenue contribution from the LinkedIn acquisition was $228 million, which was offset by a $100 million loss. So where does that leave Azure in comparison to AWS this year?
AWS vs. Azure
When you do a side-by-side comparison of Amazon vs. Azure, you’ll quickly see that Microsoft is holding its own against AWS, despite the fact that AWS was first to market. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella believes the pace of growth will continue and exceed competitors in the near future.
By the numbers, Microsoft is currently turning the heads of investors by excelling in these key areas:
- According to GeekWire, Office 365 commercial applications continue to expand, rising 47% over the previous quarter.
- Consumer consumption of Office 365 also rose to an all-time high of 24.9 million. This signifies an increase of almost one million consumer subscribers in three months.
- On the gaming side of the business, Xbox Live active users reached a monthly high of 55 million. That was an increase of 15% from the same time the prior year.
- During an investor call, the company also cited decreased expenses by 15%, in part due to lower employee-generated costs.
- Overall, Microsoft revenue was up by 10% last quarter.
- Office consumer products and cloud-based services increased 22% fro the prior quarter.
- Dynamics 365 cloud offerings raised revenue by 7%.
- Server and cloud products increased 12%.
- Even more startling, Azure revenue increased by 93%.
But don’t think Microsoft is slowing down. It seems clear that the company is actually accelerating efforts to surpass Amazon Web Services by focusing on the latest tech craze—artificial intelligence and machine learning. According to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, the company is working hard to integrate advanced algorithms across all Microsoft products while pushing growth in the Azure cloud.
Cloud-Tech interviewed a team of IT experts last year that suggested the following characteristics set Azure apart from AWS:
- Azure has better out-of-the-box functionality and a faster, more intuitive setup. This is particularly useful for small to mid-sized businesses that lack and IT staff.
- Both AWS and Azure have a variety of costs to fit any business. Azure pricing is more straightforward that AWS, which requires you to purchase storage separately as part of the subscription.
- Azure offers fixed fee helpdesk support, while AWS bills by incidence. The problem, most say, is that you can quickly increase costs if you’re a heavy user.
- Azure makes it easy to integrate on-premise Windows servers in the cloud for hybrid usage. The service also integrates efficiently with SQL and other Microsoft cloud services.
The Microsoft cloud offering has allowed even small to mid-sized businesses to compete with enterprise organizations by allowing the same accessibility and flexibility, along with powerful tools for everything from business analytics to customer relationship management.
Information technology analysts say that Microsoft’s popularity extends beyond the average user to some of the more experienced technology experts in the field of computing.
Azure is for Programmers and Data Scientists
Interestingly, Azure remains the only public cloud providing deep dive capabilities for data scientist and developers including:
- Blockchain as a Service (BaaS), which speeds up transaction verification.
- Build your own Bots with Azure Bot Service.
- Cognitive APIs that allow you to do everything from adding emotion recognition to analyzing and processing videos in your app.
- Cortana intelligence machine learning powering predictive analytics across any industry.
- Robust hybrid options for public or private access, integrating private corporate functions with cloud-based flexibility.
For many enterprise organizations, it’s the hybrid options that really tip the scales in favor of Microsoft Azure. Many IT executives have no plans currently to run everything in the cloud, but instead prefer to split applications by leveraging the benefits of hybrid models. This is an attractive option for those conservatives who prefer not to put all their “eggs in one basket.”
Microsoft has prepared for this trend by creating a stronger support mechanism for hybrid cloud models. They work in close collaboration with enterprise organizations that want to deploy existing infrastructure assets while migrating some data and applications to the cloud. Microsoft Azure helps these businesses ingrate seamlessly between both models.
Even the Amazon CEO acknowledged in Fortune last year that they need to catch up in this area. This includes expanding in the IoT (Internet of Things) and machine learning, something that developers say truly sets Microsoft apart from the rest of the cloud providers.
When you start stacking service against service, it becomes clearer why Microsoft is nipping at the heels of AWS. But what are the ramifications for your particular business model?
Corporate Impact of Microsoft Azure PaaS
Research giant Forrester Consulting studied the economic impact of Microsoft Azure platform as a service (PaaS) In June 2016. The company analyzed what could happen when an enterprise organization shifted to Azure in a secure cloud. The goal was to determine the return on investment of moving from IaaS (infrastructure as a service) to PaaS. The study shared some startling insights into the true ROI behind going to the cloud:
- Azure was a time-saver for IT staff
Azure PaaS-enabled enterprise organizations to enact an 80% reduction in IT staffing management of apps deployed across the platform. The amount of time spent server patching, configuring firewalls, and setting up the network were all reduced when the enterprise went to the cloud.
- The cloud allowed faster overall deployment
The study showed there was a 25-hour average reduction in the time it took to deploy a new application. This increased overall profit in the study group by $376,441 in the first year alone.
- Staff reduction – Cost Savings
Subsequently, IT teams can be reduced in size. In the study cohort, it was determined that organizations could save more than $600,000 annually in saved staffing costs.
- Increased new business opportunities
New and migrated apps in the Azure cloud allowed for vertical and new business streams. Significantly, the study noted that the time to market was typically less when deployed in the cloud.
The study concluded that there was a considerable overall cost reduction associated with a cloud deployment, especially, when compared to on-site infrastructure development. Cloud options allow small companies to avoid the cost of buying, setting up, and maintaining an on-premise deployment. The cloud is flexible, able to adjust to almost immediate growth or a reduction in the need for services, all of which may happen quickly in a small business.
What’s Next for Microsoft PaaS?
Redmond Magazine has joined Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in predicting big things for Microsoft Azure’s cloud-model. They are projected to hit a $20 billion annual run rate in the commercial cloud by 2018. Mary Jo Foley in her January 2017 article says:
Microsoft will continue to make a lot of noise around hybrid cloud, bots, voice input and extended reality in the coming year. Like its competitors, Microsoft will tie almost every product and service development back to AI and machine learning. But the real buzz among business users will be around much more mundane, real-world products and services, such as LinkedIn integrations, Dynamics 365 ERP/CRM and SQL Server on Linux.
Most pundits agree that Microsoft will continue to expand integration across consumer applications such as OneDrive and Skype. Virtual and augmented reality along with machine learning will continue to take center stage this year.
Cloud adoption will increase exponentially this year, with enterprise level organizations finally accelerating their transition to the cloud or hybrid models. Gartner suggests that more than $1 trillion worldwide will be affected by this massive migration. Everyone agrees Microsoft Azure is uniquely positioned to be the PaaS of choice for these migrations.
Are You Ready -- Microsoft Azure?
Internet eBusiness Solutions has been helping business customers migrate to Microsoft Azure for years. We have more than 14 years experience in on-premise, cloud, and hybrid models. IES is one of the leading Microsoft Dynamics software resellers and developers. We specialize in Microsoft Dynamics GP, CRM, NAVE and Sharepoint and can help you design and implement a solution for your business no matter what size our industry you’re in. Contact us and join the thousands of other companies we’ve helped take advantage of Microsoft’s excellent PaaS offerings.
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