AWS undermines Azure with new PowerShell, Windows Server 2012 features

Amazon Web Services adds Windows Server 2012 and PowerShell features to its public cloud in a bid to undercut Microsoft Azure.

Amazon has adopted PowerShell and key Windows Server 2012 features in a play to draw IT pros away from Microsoft's Azure cloud.

Amazon Web Services' (AWS) Tools for Windows PowerShell should attract IT pros and developers who already are skilled in Microsoft's popular server scripting environment, and Microsoft's plans to dominate the public cloud space could be stymied if Amazon succeeds.

"All I can say is, 'Wow, Amazon is mounting a full court press to appeal to Windows developers,'" said Al Hilwa, program director for applications development software at research group IDC, based in Framingham, Mass.

In fact, the new AWS toolset provides more than 550 cmdlets that IT pros can use to write AWS scripts and execute them from the Windows PowerShell command line.

Meanwhile, Amazon added support for Windows Server 2012 virtual machines (VM) for the first time in its AWS Marketplace, according to posts to the Amazon Web Services Blog.

It's a savvy move because it is an important ecosystem that they can monetize effectively, Hilwa said.

"Clearly they are going head-to-head with Azure competing for the Microsoft ecosystem [by supporting] Microsoft's latest OS and framework along with many of the older versions," he added.

Previously, customers could run Linux VMs and earlier versions of Windows Server.

Now, they are able to run many Windows Server applications on AWS' Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) under a Windows Server 2012 VM, the post said. With the addition, AWS currently supports Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2, 2003 R2 and 2012.

Meanwhile, the AWS Tools for Windows PowerShell provide cmdlets for managing a wide range of AWS services, such as EC2, Elastic MapReduce, Simple Storage Service and Elastic Beanstalk.

Once again, Microsoft is left chasing the leader. In fact, in early December, yet another price cut by Amazon forced Microsoft Azure to lower rates for cloud storage.

"Amazon definitely is further along with respect to features, customers and pricing than all other IaaS [Infrastructure as a Service] providers," said Jeremy Przygode, CEO of Los Angeles-based Stratalux Inc., a cloud-based managed services provider and an AWS user.

Though Microsoft is playing catch-up to Amazon, Microsoft certainly isn't done for, he said.

Last spring, for instance, Microsoft added support for Linux VMs to Azure.

Azure's so-called "persistent VM roles" also host Windows Server 2012 sessions in the cloud, putting the Amazon and Azure offerings on parity.

"They will eventually make Azure a very competitive product and should be able to undercut Amazon, if only on the Windows platform," Przygode said.

The AWS ecosystem is expanding rapidly and Azure would do well to figure out how to attract those folks to the Microsoft platform.

A call to Microsoft for comment was not returned.

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