AWS and Azure Fight to Make Cloud Storage Magic

Gartner has also examined cloud storage services, and the results were nearly identical with Azure and AWS both chosen as visionaries and with a great ability to execute. And again, though the two both showed up in the same top square, AWS ranked substantially higher.

Microsoft is not one to give and is willing to wait years and years for a product to mature and take what Redmond believes is its rightful place at the top of the market. This is good news for AWS users, because Amazon must keep moving the technology forward or risk losing its number one position to Microsoft.

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Public Cloud Storage Services

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There are literally hundreds of cloud storage providers. One reason AWS and Azure do so well in this market is storage is already part of a broad and compelling cloud platform, creating instant market share.

Plus the storage can leverage the other components of the cloud platform, such as tight integration with applications and services you may already be using on AWS or Azure. And these cloud networks themselves are robust and resilient, offering even more value and maximizing uptime and data availability.

Another AWS strength is that storage was one of Amazon’s first services, and its object storage service in now eight years old.

Now AWS offers a few ways to store data. “AWS Simple Storage Service (S3) is accessible through RESTful API. AWS also offers a persistent block storage service, Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS), which serves as virtual machine (VM) storage; and a long-term archival storage, Amazon Glacier,” Gartner points out. “To enable hybrid cloud storage deployments, it offers AWS Storage Gateway, a cloud storage gateway device that presents an on-premises Internet SCSI (iSCSI) block and virtual tape library (VTL) interface. Amazon CloudFront, an integrated content delivery network (CDN), provides performance optimization for distributed content.”

So what makes AWS storage so good? Gartner says the technology is well-rounded and proven. Sounds dull doesn’t it? But Gartner hastens to add the storage is agile and innovative.

Another plus – the services are broadly available throughout the world, and supported by a large base of systems integrators and other partners.

With these strengths, Amazon storage is becoming a bit of a standard. “The Amazon S3 API is evolving as a de facto standard for developers writing storage applications for the cloud. It is supported by leading independent software vendors (ISVs), such as backup, archiving and on-premises object storage vendors, which move data to the AWS cloud,” Gartner enthused.

Not all is perfect in AWS storage land, and Gartner has a few notes of caution. For one, AWS may be facing competitors will to cut prices to the bone in order to steal market share.

For vendors selling to managed service providers (MSP), for instance, a price war has been raging for over a year, and is in the process of sweeping away per-GB pricing entirely.

Some AWS users are looking for improved professional services since their workloads are increasingly mission-critical. And finally “AWS’s lack of detailed architectural information for services such as Amazon Glacier can sometimes frustrate customers that are looking for better transparency from cloud providers,” Gartner said.

What about Microsoft?

Microsoft Azure was always built with existing Microsoft technologies in mind. The development is side is really focused on .NET, and the DBMS of choice is clearly SQL Server. “Microsoft Azure offers tight integration with other Microsoft technologies, including server products, system management and various cloud offerings, such as Office 365,” Gartner explains.

Microsoft does not go into markets to lose, and Gartner estimates the company has invested some $15 billion building cloud infrastructure, an amount few rivals can match.

And while the AWS vs. Azure fight is about technology and approach, Microsoft has been keen to match each and every AWS price drop.

So what does Azure have going for it? Microsoft is a credible, trusted and stable vendor clearly committed to this market.

Microsoft makes it easier for companies to store data in Azure by offering the StorSimple gateway. And finally, “Microsoft has a focus on performance to enable demanding workloads, and on rapid write consistency to enable file services in a collaboration environment,” Gartner says.

Gartner has two major knocks against Azure. The technology is not as mature, nor the partner network as extensive as with AWS.

And “Microsoft has limited partnerships with the major storage vendors, such as EMC, NetApp, IBM, HP and Hitachi Data Systems. Thus, it lacks credentials when used to extend enterprise on-premises storage environments,” the research house concluded.

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