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Virtualisation: Windows Blob Storage vs Amazon S3

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This post is a guest posting from Jerry Huang from Gladinet and discusses the differences between Microsoft’s cloud platform Azure and the Amazon S3 platform. 

 This month, Microsoft transitioned Windows Azure Platform from public preview mode to full production mode. Azure Storage is part of the Azure Platform and competes directly with Amazon S3. It is great news for cloud storage consumers but which one to choose?

This article will compare the price, performance, developer support and partner support between the two.

Round 1: Price

Glad2Glad1Microsoft has great introductory offer to celebrate the commercial launch of Azure. As shown below, everyone can get 500MB free storage and everything in January 2010 is free (check price here : http://www.microsoft.com/WindowsAzure/offers/?lang=en&country=US&offer=MS-AZR-0001P ). There are additional benefits for MSDN subscribers such as 10G free for 8 months with additional ongoing benefits (check MSDN benefits here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-gb/subscriptions/ee461076.aspx).

As a counter measure from Amazon S3, it offers free transfer until June 30, 2010 (check price: http://aws.amazon.com/s3/#pricing ).

Other than these free offers, the price between Azure Storage and Amazon S3 is pretty much the same with $0.150 per GB. Since Amazon is more established, it favors big customers since the price will be lower if you have more than 50TB of data. 

Glad3In round 1, Microsoft has the edge on price with free introductory offers, especially for MSDN subscribers.

Score: Microsoft Azure Storage 1  | Amazon S3 0

Round 2: Performance

For performance, we will need to compare the upload and download speed from the same location to both Azure Storage and Amazon S3. We will use a tool – Gladinet Cloud Desktop (http://www.gladinet.com ), which can map both Azure Blob Storage and Amazon S3 side by side as virtual folders in a network drive.

The test will be simple, drag a big file from local PC to Azure first for the upload, then drag it from Azure to another place on local PC for the download. Then repeat the same steps for Amazon S3. We will compare the time it takes afterwards.

Glad4File Size : 15,903,611 bytes

  Upload Time (Sec) Download Time (Sec)
Azure Blob Storage 80 17
Amazon S3 89 10

In round  2, Azure has better upload time while Amazon S3 has better download time.  Considering Amazon S3 may have more usage, having a shorter download time has an edge because it means  a closer data center.  However, if your use case is online backup – write once and seldom read, you may favor upload speed.

The test result may also vary from location to location so one person is close to Azure while the other person is close to Amazon data center and vice versa.  I would recommend using Gladinet Cloud Desktop to test the water for both before committing  to either one.  For important documents, you may want to consider using both.

At the end, both are fast enough for daily usage.

Score: Microsoft Azure Storage 1  | Amazon S3 1

Round 3: Tools

As it is now, doing simple Google Search on “Amazon S3″ and “Azure Blob Storage” reveals more tools for the Amazon S3 than for Azure Blob Storage.  Amazon S3 holds the edge now. However,  it is unthinkable that Microsoft will not catch up with all its software and platform power, given it time. With Azure integrated into Visual Studio,  I would expect more tools to show up for Azure Storage.

Score: Microsoft Azure Storage 0   | Amazon S3 1

Round 4: Partners

Amazon S3 has been powering several well known online storage companies, such as Dropbox, JungleDisk and etc. These vendors have locked into Amazon S3 and unlikely to switch. Microsoft Azure has its own same-company partners in Windows Live (such as Live Mesh & SkyDrive) too.

Score: Microsoft Azure Storage 1  | Amazon S3 1


Windows Azure Storage is an exciting cloud storage offering, competing with Amzon S3 directly.  The competition is healthy with consumers have more choices and more free options.


  1. Map Drive and Backup to Azure Storage in 3 Steps (http://gladinet.blogspot.com/2010/01/map-drive-and-backup-to-windows-azure.html )
  2. Manage Azure Blob Storage with Ease!  (http://gladinet.blogspot.com/2009/12/manage-azure-blob-storage-with-ease.html )

About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
  • Ben Stone

    Your joking right ? THis is supposed to be a review ? More like a product advertisement disguised as a review !

    Oh, and by the way, if Gladinet actually worked and did not give a heap of errors then maybe I’d have not commented but sheesh !

  • http://www.brookend.com Chris Evans


    You’re welcome to your opinion. It is made clear at the top of the post who is posting. I am reviewing the Gladinet product now and will produce an unbiased review within the next few days.


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