Why do businesses often choose an Azure alternative?
Do you need a reliable, secure Azure alternative? Find out why businesses choose Microsoft's competitors when it comes to cloud solutions and how they benefit from making this decision.
Public clouds are becoming more and more popular with every passing day. The global public cloud end-user spending is reaching staggering numbers. Gartner forecasts end-user spending on public clouds to hit a figure of $591.8 billion in 2023. This is a huge rise from the $490.3 billion spent in 2022. The question for businesses is which public cloud provider to choose.
Microsoft Azure is one of the most popular public cloud providers. Their revenue in 2022 alone was $75.3 billion. Azure has been seeing a remarkable increase in revenue every year. So why, in recent times, are businesses often choosing an Azure alternative?
There are numerous reasons why businesses of all sizes choose to go with an Azure alternative. Choosing such a high-profile and popular provider might seem like the obvious option, but there’s more to the story. Let’s first begin with understanding Microsoft Azure and what it offers its customers.
What is Microsoft Azure?
Microsoft Azure was first released in October 2008. Since then, it has risen to the highest echelons in the industry. A massive 95% of Fortune 500 companies in the world, across sectors like healthcare, manufacturing, finance, government, and retail, use Azure. Azure has hundreds of product and service offerings and is a celebrity brand when it comes to cloud services.
Some commonly cited benefits and advantages of Azure are strong security, holistic disaster recovery options, flexibility, scalability, and the high speeds that are required for businesses the maintain a competitive advantage gap in today’s world. From the outside, it seems like Azure provides all the services that a modern company needs to succeed.
However, this suggests that there’s something missing in this picture. This could be in the form of some Azure disadvantages or drawbacks, some even better offerings from other companies, or a mix of both. Let’s briefly take a look at the public cloud competitive landscape from Azure’s point of view. Who are the alternatives that companies are increasingly choosing over Azure?
There are many public cloud options that companies can choose from. Similar to Azure, there are public cloud giants that dominate the market. These include IBM Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). With Microsoft Azure, these make up the Mount Rushmore of public cloud service providers, the crème de la crème in their field.
Other public cloud providers are gradually becoming more successful and even attracting business away from the big four. Some of the other cloud providers that are currently doing well include Alibaba Cloud (the second-largest cloud service provider in the world after AWS), Digital Ocean, and Dell.
Going beyond this list, there are smaller cloud providers that are doing tremendously well for themselves, but often falling under the looming shadows of the larger, more renowned companies.
What’s evident is that while the major companies still dominate, the competition isn’t quite as docile as it used to be. There are plenty of smaller public cloud providers who are winning the trust and business of companies around the world. Now that we’re familiar with Azure’s competitors, let’s explore why businesses choose these alternatives over more prominent players.
Why would businesses choose an Azure alternative?
Hidden data transfer fees
There’s nothing quite as infuriating as hidden fees. And that’s something Azure surprises its customers with regularly. Those fees are mainly for data transfer. Depending on the volumes of data being transferred back and forth, the hidden costs add up to significant numbers, which can take large chunks out of a company’s cloud budget.
Small companies or companies with small volumes of data might not see the drawbacks of Azure’s hidden fees. But for larger companies who deal in mammoth volumes of data, it’s quite understandable why they might explore Azure alternatives.
We mentioned earlier that Azure has hundreds of product and service offerings. That’s actually a problem rather than a benefit for many companies. That’s because Azure’s numerous offerings are priced as standalone services. Even though Azure offers a pay-per-use model, companies can get lost in the complicated nature of its fractured pricing system.
This wouldn’t be an obvious issue until a company notices its budget is dwindling and fast. Transparency about pricing is important. Pricing that’s easy to understand is even more important. Companies have too much on their plate as it is. They don’t need the distraction and disruption of being confused by their cloud service provider’s quirky pricing plans.
Customer service and support
One might ask why customer service and support might be an issue when dealing with one of the world's biggest and most popular cloud service providers. The answer lies in the question. Being one of the most popular cloud providers means that there are thousands of customers whose inquiries and requests need to be attended to. Traffic is exceptionally high.
A giant like Azure could never be accused of neglecting their customers. They are probably constantly looking at ways to improve their customer service offerings. That being said, some companies might view Azure’s popularity as a sign that personalized customer support will be minimal. Those companies could potentially choose smaller providers with the resources to provide personalized service.
Larger companies that are likely to continue scaling their architecture can find Azure to be complex and challenging to navigate. This is where a curious little problem of Azure comes into play. Azure and its array of services are incredibly easy to sign up for, which means almost anyone within an organization can accidentally or irresponsibly make their cloud far too complex.
One way that companies can mitigate this challenge is by assigning exceptional professionals to oversee their Azure environments. However, given that Azure is a leader in the world of public clouds, it’s not uncommon that some companies simply expect more from them. Those companies might choose different providers that offer less complex cloud environments.
Nothing stifles a company more than an unwanted vendor lock-in. Beyond operational limitations and complexities, vendor lock-ins are kind of a psychological barrier that gets in the way of companies innovating and truly challenging the limits of what they are capable of in their respective industries.
A lock-in with Azure, one of the most successful cloud providers of all time, might not seem like the worst scenario. However, modern companies, especially SMBs, tend to choose more flexible options. For those companies, concepts like vendor lock-ins are perceived as things from the past, no matter how celebrated a particular vendor might be.
Microsoft Azure will likely continue to grow and dominate the market. Their competitors include global giants, a series of second-tier providers, and numerous new entrants, all of whom are challenging them. Businesses are increasingly flirting with Azure alternatives for many of the reasons listed above.
Public cloud end-user spending is all set to continue to grow and reach numbers that we couldn’t imagine a decade or two ago. As such, it will be interesting to see how Azure, AWS, GCP, and IBM navigate these next few years and challenge smaller players in the marketplace.