Why Microsoft is well positioned to win the cloud war

Microsoft Cloud Leader

Microsoft will be the long term winner of the cloud war

As the owner of a cloud computing blog, I am often asked, between Microsoft, Amazon and Google, what platform I think will be the long term victor in the battle for cloud computing dominance.

To me, the answer is simple – Microsoft’s Azure.

There are many reasons why I think that Microsoft is well positioned to win this battle against it’s competitors and some of those reasons are not obvious to the untrained eye.

Before I get to them, let’s take a step back and examine the cloud landscape for a moment.

Cloud computing has become a key driving force for businesses today because businesses have rapidly moved from from on-site data centers in order to cut costs and increase agility and profitability. This has driven the growth of the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) market, worth a total of $23.6 billion in 2017 (up from $18.2 billion in 2016 according to Gartner’s August 2018 figures).

IaaS is a model where a third-party provider hosts and maintains core infrastructure, including hardware, software, servers and storage on behalf of a customer. This typically includes the hosting of applications in a highly scalable environment, where customers are only charged for the infrastructure they use.

The big three public cloud vendors in this space are Amazon Web Service (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

Even though Amazon’s AWS has been the most prominent and visionary product in the category since 2006 (51.8 percent for 2017 according to Gartner), Microsoft is nipping at their heels in a stunning second place showing.

Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella identified the cloud as a priority and under his leadership, the company made a stunning shift to the cloud and built a huge global cloud network of its own.

According to Gartner, Microsoft displayed growth of more than 98 percent for its IaaS offering, placing it firmly in second spot with a market share of 13.3 percent, up from 8.7 in 2016.

Microsoft has quickly caught up to AWS in many respects and leapfrogged over Google and other cloud service providers in many areas.

Features and services

While AWS still offers the largest range of services with nearly 100 across compute, storage, database, analytics, networking, mobile, developer tools, management tools, IoT, security and enterprise applications, Microsoft has been churning out similar services at a rapid pace as well. Microsoft provides robust and mature self-service and instant provisioning, autoscaling, plus security, compliance and identity management features.

Microsoft and AWS both have added machine learning and IOT tools so customers can tap either cloud to variously build a mobile app or even create a high performance computing environment depending on their needs.

Compute, storage, databases and networking

For computing power, while AWS has EC2 instances and related services such as Elastic Beanstalk for app deployment, the EC2 Container service, AWS Lambda and Autoscaling, Microsoft is not far behind with Virtual Machines (VMs) and other tools such as Cloud Services and Resource Manager to help deploy applications on the cloud, and its Azure Autoscaling service.


All three cloud providers support relational databases – that’s Azure SQL Database, Amazon Relational Database Service, Redshift and Google Cloud SQL) – as well as NoSQL databases with Azure DocumentDB, Amazon DynamoDB and Google Bigtable.

AWS storage includes its Simple Storage (S3), Elastic Block Storage (EBS), Elastic File System (EFS), Import/Export large volume data transfer service, Glacier archive backup and Storage Gateway, which integrates with on-premise environments.

Microsoft’s offerings include its core Azure Storage service, Azure Blob block storage, as well as Table, Queue and File storage. It also offers Site Recovery, Import Export and Azure Backup.


AWS and Azure offer roughly similar pricing for their features and most companies will end up making a deployment decision based on the unique needs of their business going forward and what other applications or infrastructure they already have in place.

In General

Now Amazon does have some inherent advantages since they have been building out their infrastructure since 2006 and have had a lot of time to work out the kinks and figure out economies of scale when it comes to deploying servers world wide.

There are some problems with their approach though.

First, their hybrid cloud approach is less open to the concerns of clients who would like to have some serves on site. Amazon believes that as long as the cloud is secure, corporate clients shouldn’t really care where the data is stored, only that it is safe and accessible as needed.

Next, the scale of their offerings is simply overwhelming. It feels like Amazon develop new modules for AWS daily. While that is somewhat hyperbolic, a downside to having so many options is that customers often find it difficult at times to navigate the huge amount of available features and that creates the perception that AWS is too complex to manage.

Microsoft on the other hand is already entrenched in most enterprises and is well positioned to add Azure into the mix and help those companies make a smoother, more stable migration to the cloud. Azure has hooks into a lot of Microsoft’s offerings so it’s an easier sale and implementation. Azure integrates easily with key Microsoft on-site software like Windows, Windows Server, System Center and Active Directory.

While all that is well and good, there are more fundamental reasons why I think Microsoft will be the long term winner in the cloud wars.


Microsoft (under Satya Nadella) have shown that like Apple, they don’t have to be the first to the party but they eventually figure out how to give companies what they want. Office 365 is a great example of that approach. The company has shown an ability to take time to figure it out and get things right eventually.


As I said before, Microsoft technology is embedded into the heart of most companies with Windows, Office and more. Microsoft is not the most exciting player in the market but a lot of times, companies are not looking for cutting edge. They are simply looking for quality solutions that are tested and will work. A lot of those companies have great relationships with their Microsoft sales reps and support staff. Over the long term I am guessing that will mean something.


Microsoft tend to make software apps that are simple and relatively intuitive. Over the long term this has the benefit of getting substantial buy in from the developer community as well as corporate clients and end users.

Stability and style

While Amazon has a TON of money and market cap, it’s not exactly the most stable company in the world. The tech sector is well aware of the struggle Jeff Bezos had to go through to get here and how aggressive he can be in pushing the company forward. The new Microsoft under Mr. Nadella is calm and stable and ultimately I believe going to be a safer bet for investors and professionals in the space.


Amazon have a lot of other things to keep an eye on while they attempt to retain their #1 spot in this space. They have Whole Foods, Amazon.com, The Washington Post and more. While the company can obviously walk and chew gum, those other areas of the business are less technology focused and over the long term expose the company to all types of non technology risks. Microsoft simply have less non technology exposure and I believe this makes them a better bet over the long term.


While currently AWS continues to be the clear market leader, the gap is rapidly closing.

I believe that Microsoft will eventually catch up simply because they have the time, will, patience and money to do so. They are massively investing in the Azure cloud platform and wisely are creating tight integration points with their on site software to offer corporate customers maximum flexibility.

I believe for all the reasons stated above, Azure will become a more poplar choice over time and Microsoft will win this war.

Use the comments and tell me what you think…

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