Comparing Microsoft Azure to AWS (Amazon Web Services) For Non-Profits

Written by Shawn Lyles

July 31, 2015

Comparing Microsoft Azure to AWS (Amazon Web Services) For Non-Profits

In the past I have written about Amazon Web Services (AWS) and how they are winning over programmers and AWS vs Azuredevelopers. We also recently published a Microsoft Azure resources center page with the most relevant and up to date Microsoft Azure information on the web. In this post I am going to compare both cloud services from Azure and AWS for non-profits. My goal is to help non-profit organizations reach their goals by having a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of these different cloud services.

AWS has officially been operating since 2006, so they have been around longer than most cloud services. Microsoft Azure on the other hand is more of the “new kid on the block” only being in the market since 2010. Even though AWS has a big head start with their cloud service, it hasn’t stopped Microsoft Azure from going full steam ahead with their Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings.

Comparing Main Services:

Both AWS and Azure have similar core features that fall under four different categories or functions:

AWS: Amazon’s four core features consist of Compute, Storage & Content Delivery, Databases, and Networking. These features are under Amazon’s extensive admin controls, which also include identity management, auditing, encryption key creation/control/storage, monitoring and logging, and more.

AWS also has powerful analytics (Amazon EMR uses Hadoop as their framework, and Kinesis which can do data stream processing in real time) and many other application services and deployment options.

Azure: Microsoft Azure’s core features/functions are: Build infrastructure, Develop modern applications, Gain insights from data, and Manage identity and access. Azure also has Hadoop implementation, HDInsight, and Apache Storm which can do real-time stream processing as well.

Microsoft Azure also offers virtual machines (VMs) that you can get off the ground quickly and give your organization’s developers what they need to build and deploy your non-profit’s apps. Storage and database options are available as well.

IaaS Resources Compared:


AWS Azure
General Purpose (T2, M3) General Purpose (A-series)
Compute Optimized (C3, C4)

  • 36 vCPU X 244 GB
Compute Optimized (A11)

  • 16 vCPU x 112 GB Network Optimized (A9)
  • 16 vCPU x 112 GB x 40Gb Infiniband
Memory Optimized (R3)

  • 32 vCPU X 244 GB X 6.4 TB SSD
Compute Optimized (D-series)

  • 16 vCPU X 112GB
Storage Optimized (I2)

  • 32 vCPU x 244 GB x 6.4 TB SSD
Storage Optimized (DS)

  • In Preview
Dense Storage (D2)

  • 32 vCPU x 244 GB x 48 TB
Performance Optimized (G-series)

  • 32 vCPU x 448 GB


AWS Azure
S3 Object Storage

  • 11-9s durability (FAQ)
  • 3-9s availability
  • Reduced redundancy option
  • Geo-redundancy option
Standard Storage Account

  • Blob, Table, Queue Storage
  • File Storage
  • Local, Zone, Geo redundancy option
  • 3-9s availability
EBS Block Storage (Volumes)

  • Magnetic
  • SSD
  • Provisioned IOPS
  • Encryption option
Premium Storage Account

  • In preview
  • 50K IOPS per VM, < 1 ms latency
  • Locally Redundant
Glacier Archival Azure Backup
Import/Export Methods Import/Export Methods


AWS Azure
Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) Virtual Network
VPN Point-to-Site, Site-to-Site
Direct Connect ExpressRoute
Elastic Load Balancer Traffic Manager/Azure Load Balancer
Route 53 Bring your own

Databases/Data Warehouse

AWS Azure
DynamoDB Azure Tables
ElastiCache Azure Cache
Redshift SQL Server Data Warehouse


Comparing Pricing:

AWS Azure
  •  Free Tier
  • Per Hour
  • No charge for “Stopped”

Pay for EBS volume

  • Free Trial
  • Per-Minute
  • “Stopped (Allocated)” bills for VM, not SW
  • No charge for “Stopped (De-Allocated)
Models On-demand, Reserved, Spot On-demand, short term commitments (pre-paid or monthly)
  • Reserved Instances
  •       All upfront (largest discount)
  •       Partial upfront
  •       No upfront
  • RI Volume Discounts
  •       $500k-$4M = 5%
  •       $4M – $10M = 10%
  •       >$10M = contact AWS
  • Spot Instances
  • RI Marketplace
  • Through Resellers
  • Enterprise agreement
  •        Upfront monetary commitment to Azure
  •        Consumed throughout the year by using any Azure services
  •        Billed for overages at EA rate
  • MSDN (per month credit)
  • BizSpark

Neither AWS or Azure currently have a non-profit discount.

Microsoft Azure primarily targets Platform as a Service (PaaS) customers, and is focusing on Software as a Service (SaaS) with Office 365. Azure is growing their IaaS each year but are second as far as their current market share.

If your non-profit is mostly in need of PaaS, you want seamless hybrid cloud, and you’re already using Microsoft services, Azure is the sure winner for your organization. Having all or most of your cloud services under “one roof” can help to streamline your non-profits efficiency.

Calculate your costs:

AWS Pricing Calculator

Azure Pricing Calculator

If you need any help with getting started, let us know.

Contact us

You May Also Like…

You May Also Like…


Translate »
Share This