In a couple of years, Amazon and Azure in Cloud Platform and Services could be like Coke and Pepsi in soft drinks.
With the launch of Amazon S3 in March 2006 and Amazon EC2 in Aug 2006, Amazon publicized the “Cloud Services” early that it has a significant lead over its peers. On the other hand, we have seen time and time again how Microsoft take a lead from behind. It is not clear who will be the leader in a couple of years when Amazon has the leader role now.
When you look at customers in a given product category, there seem to be two kinds of people. There are those who want to buy from the leader and there are those who don’t want to buy from the leader. A potential No.2 has to appeal to the latter group.
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So what are the differences that Windows Azure has that appeal to the latter group?
Amazon brands the storage and computing separately as S3 (Simple Storage Service) and EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud). The short brand gives strong lasting impressions on the brand names. (How can you forget S3?). The 3 and 2 combination also re-enforces each other. Amazon has other services such as SimpleDB and etc but not as easy to remember as the S3/EC2 combo. Everything is under Amazon Web Service (AWS) but not many are saying “let’s compare AWS to Azure”.
Windows Azure brands the whole Cloud Platform and Service together under Azure. It also gives strong impressions to the platform. (Cloud Computing Service, try Windows Azure).
Some thinks bottom up, some thinks top down. From the branding perspective, they appeal to different groups of people.
Azure focus more on the cloud platform as a whole with Visual Studio 2010 integration. The “Hello World” examples from Microsoft evangelists are more about how to use VS 2010 to create new apps using SQL Azure instead of SQL 2005, how to use Azure Blob Storage instead of local file system.
When applications are locked into the Azure Platform, it is like Microsoft Office locks into Windows Platform. The binding is strong and supports each other. Azure has a strong appeal to the Visual Studio and .NET developers.
Azure has Azure Appliance that can be used by enterprises for private cloud. Amazon currently is public cloud only. Microsoft has enterprise customer base and channels. For the customers and channels that are already familiar with Windows Servers and Enterprise solutions, they are easier to accept Azure.
They both have HTTP REST API. To make developers’ life easy, they both wrap the API into SDKs. Azure’s SDK is more object oriented. For example, if you want to create a blob, you use a container object and invoke the CreateBlob method. Amazon’s SDK is more transaction based, closely mirrors the REST API. Azure’s SDK is closer to what a VB programmer likes. Amazon SDK is closer to what a network engineer likes. They appeal to different groups with different design philosophy.
They may have other differences in pricing and other technical details, which could mirror each other over a long period of time and lose the difference.
The branding, the focus, the channel could be the determining factors that differentiate them apart.
Gladinet is committed to support both of them, bringing their cloud services to Desktop and File Servers; providing easy access solution for users who wants to use Amazon S3 and Azure Storage. Amazon S3 or Azure Storage, it is all good with Gladinet.