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Amazon, Microsoft face off in heavyweight cloud computing prizefight

Cloud computing is becoming more affordable than ever, thanks to growing competition among some of IT's most recognizable brands. We are talking about, of course, Amazon and Microsoft, two businesses with two popular cloud solutions. Amazon Web Services and Azure constantly come to mind when firms think of adopting cloud technologies.

"For Amazon to remain atop the cloud market, however, Amazon will have to fend off Microsoft, which is now under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella."

What's perhaps most interesting - and exciting - is that the battle for the cloud has really only just begun, Network World's Brandon Butler reported.

Kyle Hilgendorf, Infrastructure-as-a-Service research director at Gartner, explained Gartner and other IT industry sources have named Amazon Web Services as the No. 1 Infrastructure-as-a-Service solution available.

For this to remain the case, however, Amazon will have to fend off Microsoft, which is now under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella. Since taking over the Redmond, Washington-based brand, the Microsoft cloud has experienced significant improvements, according to Butler.

Cloud computing is a lucrative market for both Amazon and Microsoft. Cloud computing is a lucrative market for both Amazon and Microsoft.

"The race has just begun, and it's a very long race," Hilgendorf said, as quoted by Butler.

Breaking down the functions of Amazon, Microsoft clouds

Both Amazon and Microsoft offer highly functional cloud suites to customers. Hilgendorf conducted research regarding the capabilities of Amazon Web Services and Azure, discovering AWS covers 92 percent of enterprise use cases, compared to Azure which is capable of 75 percent of workloads, Butler reported.

The Gartner study also indicated Amazon Web Services deliver five times the capacity of its closest 14 competitors combined.

Microsoft is not going down without a fight, however. The tech giant is known for having strong relationships with partners to push its IT solutions on a more widespread scale. Microsoft, along with Accenture, launched the Accenture Hybrid Cloud Solution for Microsoft Azure last year. The hybrid suite enables organizations to effectively maintain hosted applications and infrastructure in cloud environments.

Nadella noted businesses need both cloud solutions and partners to succeed in the "mobile-first, cloud-first world."

"The Microsoft cloud, combined with Accenture's industry knowledge and implementation expertise, accelerates our customers' cloud adoption and unlocks new benefits, including powerful new applications, data-driven insights and increased productivity," Nadella said in a statement.

In the years to come, the worldwide cloud sector should prove even more lucrative for service providers such as Amazon, Microsoft and their partners. An IHS Technology report is far more bullish about the service's future prospects. The study noted the market is projected to exceed $235 billion by 2017, triple the cap in 2011.

What's at stake?

The global cloud computing industry totaled $75 billion in 2014, according to a GMR Data report. Amazon and Microsoft were some of the usual suspects among the vendors leading this burgeoning market forward.

Between 2013 and 2014, the number of cloud subscribers increased 100 million to reach 730 million users worldwide. IHS Technology Senior Director and Principal Analyst Jagdish Rebello, indicated cloud computing influences almost every enterprise and customer globally.

As Amazon and Microsoft try to outdo the other in the near future, customers are the ones who will benefit the most, as prices come down and more functional environments are available.

About Dane Moorefield