Cloud Backup, AWS, and Azure

I get asked a lot these days about cloud backup, private clouds, and public clouds (in particular, AWS and Azure.) Makes sense, right? Cloud, particularly IaaS is growing like a weed. As a brief reminder, IaaS stands for Infrastructure as a Service and provides data center, infrastructure hardware, and infrastructure software over the Internet.  Amazon’s AWS is the most famous IaaS example although Microsoft Azure is coming on strong.  PaaS stands for Platform as a Service and provides software developers the ability to build new applications or extend existing ones.  The most famous PaaS’s are’s, Google’s AppEngine, and Microsoft’s Azure.  And then there’s SaaS, or Software as a Service, which is basically applications hosted and made available over the Internet.  The most famous examples of SaaS are and Google’s Gmail.

So what does this have to do with cloud backup?  Well, as mentioned in my post the other day, there is a lot of venture capital money flowing into cloud-related ventures in general and cloud-related backup ventures in particular.  Quite often, this venture capital money is going into backup vendor-specific proprietary multi-tenant cloud development.  Unitrends for example offers its own version of this which is called Vault2Cloud; other vendors offer it as well.

But what about non-proprietary, non-backup vendor-specific, clouds?  Some backup vendors support performing backup to public IaaS clouds such as Amazon’s AWS or Microsoft’s Azure.  The problem I see is one of technology over people – most vendors doing this kind of work have a tendency to just offer the raw ability to connect to AWS or Azure and tell the user that the integration is the customer’s problem.  This contrasts with the typical vendor-specific proprietary multi-tenant cloud which is much more tightly integrated.

But beyond that, I’m often asked what the primary differences are between AWS and Azure from a backup vendor’s point of view.  Here’s what I see as those primary differences:

  • AWS has methods for performing physical media import/export at high speeds; Azure does not have this yet.
  • AWS has a 10Gb direct connect feature that Azure does not have yet.
  • Azure has native VHD/VHDX support; AWS allows importing of VMDKs but its native format is the AMI (AWS Machine Image.)
  • Azure and AWS both have very aggressive pricing models and tend to largely match each other on price reductions.
  • AWS has a very inexpensive storage option called Glacier which has a very long time to access (several hours); Azure lacks this.
  • Azure has Microsoft’s ecosystem and tremendous reseller base behind it; AWS has Amazon’s quickly emerging ecosystem.

Have I missed anything you think is important?  Please let me know.


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