Amazon EC2 vs Microsoft Azure: What are the differences?
What is Amazon EC2? Scalable, pay-as-you-go compute capacity in the cloud. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.
What is Microsoft Azure? Integrated cloud services and infrastructure to support computing, database, analytics, mobile, and web scenarios. Azure is an open and flexible cloud platform that enables you to quickly build, deploy and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters. You can build applications using any language, tool or framework. And you can integrate your public cloud applications with your existing IT environment.
Amazon EC2 and Microsoft Azure can be primarily classified as "Cloud Hosting" tools.
Some of the features offered by Amazon EC2 are:
- Elastic – Amazon EC2 enables you to increase or decrease capacity within minutes, not hours or days. You can commission one, hundreds or even thousands of server instances simultaneously.
- Completely Controlled – You have complete control of your instances. You have root access to each one, and you can interact with them as you would any machine.
- Flexible – You have the choice of multiple instance types, operating systems, and software packages. Amazon EC2 allows you to select a configuration of memory, CPU, instance storage, and the boot partition size that is optimal for your choice of operating system and application.
On the other hand, Microsoft Azure provides the following key features:
- Use your OS, language, database, tool
- Global datacenter footprint
- Enterprise Grade with up to a 99.95% monthly SLA
"Quick and reliable cloud servers", "Scalability" and "Easy management" are the key factors why developers consider Amazon EC2; whereas "Scales well and quite easy", "Can use .Net or open source tools" and "Startup friendly" are the primary reasons why Microsoft Azure is favored.
According to the StackShare community, Amazon EC2 has a broader approval, being mentioned in 3605 company stacks & 1612 developers stacks; compared to Microsoft Azure, which is listed in 497 company stacks and 470 developer stacks.
GCE is much more user friendly than EC2, though Amazon has come a very long way since the early days (pre-2010's). This can be seen in how easy it is to edit the storage attached to an instance in GCE: it's under the instance details and is edited inline. In AWS you have to click the instance > click the storage block device (new screen) > click the edit option (new modal) > resize the volume > confirm (new model) then wait a very long time. Google's is nearly instant.
- In both cases, the instance much be shut down.
There also the preference between "user burden-of-security" and automatic security: AWS goes for the former, GCE the latter.
Most bioinformatics shops nowadays are hosting on AWS or Azure, since they have HIPAA tiers and offer enterprise SLA contracts. Meanwhile Heroku hasn't historically supported HIPAA. Rackspace and Google Cloud would be other hosting providers we would consider, but we just don't get requests for them. So, we mostly focus on AWS and Azure support.
I chose DigitalOcean because their pricing is very fair. Their tech support is very quick to respond to any inquiries you may have. They also have a community of developer who are more then happy to help you with any non-account issues you may have.
The drawbacks of this decision are their managed services can be quite pricey at $15/mo extra for a MySQL database.