An Azure for the Win Transcript
Marc Wilson: Hi, and welcome to Azure for the Win, the mostly Azure-focused cloud podcast, brought to you by BlueSilverShift. We like to sit back on a Friday, relax, grab a drink and talk some cloud. [Pops a beverage].
All right, hello. Welcome to the yet-to-be-named Azure podcast with BlueSilverShift. We have your host and moderator here, Marc Wilson, and I have my colleagues, and the founders of the organization, Craig Slack and John Dobson. Why don’t we do just a little bit of an intro. Craig, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do around here at BSS.
Craig Slack: Sure. I’m the Managing Partner for BlueSilverShift. We’re an Azure specialist consulting firm focusing on Microsoft Azure. We do a bit of Office 365. Myself, I’ve been in the IT industry for over 20 years in western Canada.
John Dobson:John Dobson, I’ve been an architect for a while and I’m Craig’s business partner in BlueSilverShift and ready to get going here.
Marc:Right, and again, I’m Marc, and I’m an account executive at BSS. I’ve only been around for a little while, but I’m gonna try to keep these guys in line as we do this podcast. We’ll see how interesting it gets.
Craig: It might be a challenge.
John: It’s gonna be a challenge.
Marc:So, the purpose of the podcast, we really just want to spread awareness on Microsoft Azure’s cloud offering, as well as be able to share our expertise to people that are interested across the industry and on other verticals as well. As far as what you can expect, and a little bit about our style, we want to keep this light, interesting. We may fight with each other, we may fight with outside opinions, but for the most part we’re just trying to get good ideas out there, and put them in front of people that may not be aware of them. So again, trying to keep it pretty light. Some examples we might cover the future, some technical topics: we’re pretty passionate about, things like cloud governance, and there’s definitely going to be some technical aspects of the podcasts, but then we might cover some other, lighter, maybe even a bit more controversial topics, things like ‘is the cloud going to get you fired if you’re an IT professional,?’ and how can you either avoid that pitfall or learn from it and grow from that as well. So, lots of cool stuff coming up in the future.
Before we get started, it’s the end of the day on Friday, so let’s pour ourselves a drink. Craig, why don’t you start, what have you got going here for you and I?
Craig:For sure. Well, you decided you wanted to join me in a scotch, so I appreciate that because I am a scotch man. Today we’ve got a lowly intro into it, a Glenfarclas 12-year-old. It’s a very mellow scotch from the Speyside area in the Highlands. And I’m gonna turn it over to John to talk about what he’s drinking.
Marc: What have you got there, John?
John:I just have a rye and Coke.
Marc:Rye and Coke. Is that going to be a theme?
John: It’s a Canadian drink.
Craig:Well, cheers guys.
All:Cheers everybody. [clinking of glasses]
Marc: Alright, so the first topic we’re going to have for this week’s podcast, just as an introduction, we’re gonna be talking about the differences between Microsoft Azure, AWS and GCP, Google Cloud Platform. On that note, I’ll let you guys take it away. Why don’t we start with Craig?
Craig: Sure. Well, as we mentioned in the beginning, we’re obviously on the Azure side of things, but we are well versed on everything else that’s going on in the cloud. We try to keep up on both the AWS and GCP, and new things that are coming onstream. Really, why we wanted to start with this topic is because it’s one of the very first questions that we get asked by customers. We get into an engagement, the customer knows – they can see on our website – that we’re Azure focused. So they assume that we’re going to be biased towards Azure. And they might even say, “we’re going to AWS” or “we’re going GCP, why should we talk to you guys?” And we come in with an unbiased view in terms of showing, let the numbers speak for themselves.
We’ve done, for multiple customers, economic assessments of what it would cost to move their workloads to AWS, GCP, or Azure, and let the customer make the decision. And in every single scenario that we’ve done that for, if the customer is running a Microsoft stack application or a Windows bay, whether it’s Windows or.net or SQL server or SQL databases, what have you, if it’s a Microsoft stack application, because of the licensing, it’s going to be cheaper, hands down, on Azure. And there’s many reasons for that, which we can get into later – but the numbers don’t lie. And there’s a lot of “FUD” out there: fear, uncertainty and doubt around what it costs to run on Amazon or Azure versus Google. If you just go to the pricing calculators right off the bat, compare Azure, AWS and GCP, GCP looks cheaper, and we get told that all the time where “we know it’s going to be cheaper to run on GCP, so that’s why we’re going that way.” We get them to show us, well, how do you come to that conclusion?
And it’s because with Google, they bake in discounts, right? They’re based on how long you run your compute – if we’re talking to compute only; there’s lots of other facets of the public cloud. But if we talk compute, the pricing for a GCP gets reduced. So if you have a computer machine running 24/7, you’re going to get the maximum discount, whereas if you turn it off every night and you’re only running at one third of the time, maybe you get no discount. I don’t know the exact numbers, but the discounts are baked in. Compare that to the pricing calculator in Azure and AWS, which are very similar. To get those same discounts, you actually have to pre-buy what’s called a reserve instance. So, it’s not an apples to apples comparison. And that’s the one thing that – I’ll kind of stop there and let John talk – that we actually see is the misinformation that’s out there and a misunderstanding of how to interpret all this information. And that’s what I think we can bring as a partner and a trusted advisor to our customers, is cutting through all of that “FUD,” and getting to the real message, and what’s gonna be the real value for you as a customer?
Marc: As someone new to this space, I’ll say those pricing calculators seemed a little bit tricky, for sure, so having expertise is very helpful. I want to say, before I throw over to John, I learned something new today and that is “FUD” – fear, uncertainty and doubt. We’re going to pull that one off in the future. Sorry, John, go ahead.
John: Great points, Craig, all around. I think it’s different strokes for different folks as well. Amazon was there first in the cloud as a tenantable public cloud platform, and they’re the giant that’s out there and I was surprised to actually see Microsoft catch up. So, their CEO energized the company to actually allow them to catch up. And in a lot of ways they’re superseding any, both in the technology in the footprint – Amazon is – right?
Craig: Actually, I’m just going to play off of that, sorry, just before you change topic, because I was speaking to somebody just yesterday, one of our software partners. They said just in the last nine months, prior to nine months ago, they were seeing about 80% of the dealers are going to AWS, and 20%, were going to between Azure and GCP, mostly Azure. Now, whether they’re seeing as 50% of the customers are going on Azure, 30 to 40% are AWS, and the other is GCP. This is the Canadian market, the US is much different, but that’s nine months. That’s a significant change in a short period.
John: Right, and I think it’s got to do with the adoption curve, and in particular the size of the enterprises in the adoption curve and the reasons they want to go for that. So, let’s start with Amazon. They’re first to the market. They are awesome. Their sweet spot is for start-ups and people with no legacy. If you are an enterprise and you’ve moved into Amazon, what happens is, you still have to pay for the operating system, licensing. There’s no capability to actually buy the operative system, licensing within the VM, et cetera. But most importantly, you won’t get deals like SQL, et cetera, on the license side. But Amazon was first and to the market. in my opinion, Microsoft has got some compelling advantages for corporate America. That’s not start-ups with no legacy. It’s corporate America that’s got lots of legacy.
Number one is that they’ve got active directory, and active directory is sold, I say, as a SaaS service, which is software as a service, worldwide, regionally independent solution that integrates with your Office 365, 10 and disclose your own premises active directory that you know and love, that has been going through everything, or has been providing the security authentication framework for years. That’s number one.
Number two Microsoft has Office, meaning that Microsoft owns the Office platform and Office 365. Corporate America, again, is addicted to that, and they only have on-premises exchange servers, all their mail’s in there, you know, Office 365, they also have software licensing that’s all integrated throughout it. So, the integration there, with Azure, is already compelling. On top of that they have, Microsoft also has SQL server and SQL server licensing. We’ve read certain things recently – Craig, correct me where I’m wrong here – that SQL server is five times more expensive to run on Amazon in IaaS or the PaaS equivalent, in Amazon than it is in Microsoft. And it’s because Microsoft owns the platform. So, if you’re integrating an app that’s from an on-premises, and you don’t want to go lift and shift IaaS with that SQL, what you can do is actually just go into like, Microsoft becomes a much more compelling argument cause you can buy that SQL in little increments. The other thing is the enterprise licensing. So, Microsoft has enterprise licensing and they can cut deals. What is the on premises, eight hub? –
Craig:Well, Azure hybrid use benefit.
John:So, they’ve got that – which, do you want to talk about that, Craig?
Craig:I’ll explain it briefly, yeah, in quick summary. If you own an operating system license or SQL server license on-prem, and you’ve paid software assurance on that, you can actually carry that forward to the cloud. We’ve actually spoken to some customers that are under the misconception that if they’re paying software assurance on it, they can carry it to AWS or GCP that is actually incorrect. And if you talk to Microsoft, they’ll tell you that you’re invalidating your Microsoft license by doing that. So, it’s only under Microsoft that that applies. But having said that, those same customers that make that mistake of thinking that they can carry their software assurance to a AWS or GCP, what they don’t realize is they’re paying for that license a second time, because it’s built into the per-second or per-hour compute costs on AWS and GCP – cause they have to pay Microsoft.
Marc: Basically, that would be shown to the, up to the end user or the customer?
Craig:Not easily, no.
John:Not easily. These systems are so confusing now and for a customer to untangle the technology and then to go on untangle the licensing, oftentimes it’s cheaper to pay double.
Craig:Or you don’t know you’re paying double.
John: Or you don’t know you’re paying double, which is even worse. On that thread though, Microsoft also is now the largest open source vendor in the world, so you can run Linux VMs, you can run a lot of different open source technologies to do clusters, et cetera, inside of Microsoft Azure, and it used to be just only an Amazon that you were doing that. Microsoft also has a unique policy governance framework that is extensible and it’s actually something that’s growing like cr-, they’re throwing lots of updates into it. And when I say it’s extensible, meaning that you can configure it in multiple ways for multiple needs, so if you’re a customer and you need different subscriptions, you can actually carve out your subscriptions and adhere them all at the same policy. “One policy to rule them all,” they say. And within that policy you would have common elements and then you would have everything else underneath, and you’re also able to further bind that with not just management groups, but to exclude certain resource groups where it comes down to the exception. So, Microsoft is also in front with the number of feature updates and the cadence of the releases of those updates, is greater than what I’ve seen from Amazon or Google. And it just means that there’s this development machine that’s listening from user voice – it’s a platform on Microsoft – and it’s listening to customers and they’re putting that data back in to the customers. They’re eating their own dog food, essentially, of what they want you to do for your deployments to get your cloud enablement. And all these feature updates are coming out all the time. So, I’m just surprised, you know, to see 60 updates in a quarter.:
Craig: The pace has been incredible, and I think there’s a lot of stuff in the media about crediting Satya Nadella about changing the entire Microsoft culture, and in a very short period of time, and it’s evident. So, John and I, many of our listeners wouldn’t know this, we had a previous company before BlueSilverShift. We started it in 2010, building a software as a service, SaaS, solution, and we were looking at, in 2010 the cloud was still relatively new, but we knew we didn’t want to buy a server, put it in a rack and host it somewhere. So, we started looking, at the time, between AWS and Azure, and AWS of course created this public cloud market, or at least the whole concept behind it. We evaluated between AWS and Azure, which platform we wanted to load on. We were developing in Microsoft, there was going to be Windows BMs. We knew it was going to be Microsoft stack, but Azure, it was just not gonna work for us. We couldn’t make it – well, we could make, could have made it work, but it just would’ve been either cost prohibitive or painful technically or other. There was a whole slew of reasons. And so we made the decision to go AWS. And I interestingly, about three years later, I had the same sort of opportunity with a client to evaluate what platform were on. They an on-premise application, monolithic application, and they were moving into the cloud, and they had to evaluate, and I ran that evaluation. We looked at AWS and Azure are very closely and admittedly Azure had made some inroads and gains on what AWS had done technically. From a technical standpoint, they had changed the whole environment. I think the underlying Azure stack at that point was rewritten. But still it was lagging in a certain number of areas, you know, the network stack or all the firewall, everything. It just wasn’t there. But, in the last three years, three or four years, totally different platform.
John: Completely different.
Craig: Azure is enterprise grade and it’s in our opinion, the, the enterprise —
John: It’s one of the most robust public cloud offerings out there
Marc: So, with all the benefits that we’re seeing, you’re talking about the velocity being so impressive, where do we see the differences between the platforms in five years from now? How do you see those trajectories veering off from each other? And if you could take a guess, what do you think is gonna be the main difference between the three different offerings in five years’ time?
Craig: That’s a very good question.
John: Yeah, that’s very good question. I think more and more people are dropping off Amazon for those reasons that we’ve been talking about, where they’ll get the licensing advantages and they’ll get some more of the management features in Azure. But Azure’s is going to continue still throwing up the data centers, but Amazon’s its own worst enemy, with its success, meaning that Walmart, I think, was the first major retailer that had all their stuff in Amazon that said, hey, we’re going to take it out of there and move it over because they don’t want to empower their competitor by giving them money.
Craig: Because Amazon bought Whole Foods, of course.
John: Yeah, and that’s brick and mortar.
Craig: And that’s happening in a lot of retail. We have a number of retail customers, that are like, “we can’t go on AWS for that reason,” not only because of Whole Foods, but because Amazon is displacing a lot of brick and mortar retailers.
Marc:So, they’re refusing to go on Amazon because they just see it as basically feeding their competition.
John:Whereas Microsoft is far more agnostic within that space except against maybe other people that compete against Microsoft there when you go to Amazon or Google.
Craig: So that’s a good question around, where do we see it in five years? I mean, five years is a lifetime in the cloud.
John:Well, again to go back to a slide that I recently saw from Microsoft is that 95% of on premises servers will be in a public cloud. So only 5% will remain behind, whether that’s a print server or some type of Scada system, et cetera, everything else is going to be in Azure. So you’re going to see Microsoft, like their stock, like their earnings increasing even more in five years. So you’re going to see them rise up and do something pretty important overall with what they’re doing, and you just going to see a mass movement over to it. But that the cloud brings a couple of advantages. One is time to market and another one is the ability to empower developers to quickly solve business problems. And that was really prohibitive before. So when you see, the more business problems you see developers solving, the more disruption you’ll see, and the more competitive, the more competition between competitors actually happening. So that’s where the cloud is going to be in five years.
Craig: Yeah. So public cloud is really, from an infrastructure perspective, is a commodity. So it’s a race to the bottom. The company that, like, whether it’s Amazon, Microsoft, Google; the company that can serve up that infrastructure for the lowest marginal cost is going to win, or they’ll be able to sell it for the lowest cost.
John:And develop the most features while the cost is being driven down —
John:– will attract more people and, and Amazon’s not developing enough features in comparison to Azure.
Craig: Not at the same pace.
Craig:But where I think an both Amazon and Google cloud platform have a strong presence is in open source companies that are heavily using open source. There’s definitely some great advances in machine learning on Google in particular, and so there’s going to be these niche offerings that I think both AWS and GCP are going to shine in, and there’s nothing looked precluding you from choosing a best of breed public cloud for the different applications. So –
John: Except for one point and that’s on egress. All of them charge on egress traffic. So, traffic coming out of the cloud.
Craig:Yeah, that’s right.
John:We do get asked that a lot of times with customers. We have multi cloud strategy, which is kind of — it’s got diminishing returns.
Craig:Yeah, there’s lots of factors to consider, but where I was going was, I think the open source side of things is where AWS and GCP are strong today and will continue to be strong. Where they’re going to see their presence eroded is in the Microsoft Windows, whether it be hosting windows VMs, or Platform as a Service, web servers. But yeah, I mean Microsoft is, as John said, the biggest open source provider, partly because they bought GitHub. But –
John:Still, doesn’t matter
Marc:Number’s a number.
Craig:Yeah, exactly. Everybody has a spin on it.
John:But they’re viewed to be anti-open source or anti –
Craig:But they’ve changed that.
Craig: Absolutely. They’re contributing a lot to the open source community. You know, they’re opening stuff up, as are AWS and Google for that matter. And Kubernetes wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Google.
Marc: So when you see this competition in action and you’re kind of thinking, okay, well where does the competition go? Let me get the question I’m trying to ask. So, what I want to know is, between these different cloud offerings, is this like a Highlander situation? Is this like, “there can only be one?”
John: No. No. They keep each other honest. One announces a price reduction, another one comes in.
Marc: Yeah. Okay. True capitalism, cloud capitalism, a free market in action. So, we’re not going to see a case where there’s going to be, one cloud provider that’s going to pull the ball in 10 years, 15 years?
John:No, because that would be one company doing everyone. So, Microsoft is owned by – is a public company, let’s call it, it’s got majority ownership by Bill Gates as an example, even though I don’t know if he’s actually the owner. [inaudible]. Jeff Bezos is the owner of Amazon, meaning he’s got majority within the public company. Those two guys are not in competition. I mean it’s just two public services that are out there. Amazon web services was created for the retail business because the retail business couldn’t find someone to do everything they needed to do within there. And then they perfected the offering and made it tenantable.
Marc:Okay, well, it’s good to know that. I’m learning something there for sure. On that note, I’m going to wrap this up with one last question. Now this is a bonus question, and I kind of had it in mind earlier, but I think John, you’ve somewhat just inspired it. You said that Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos are not in competition. Let’s say that they were. So, my bonus question for today: Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Larry Page all dropped on an island wearing nothing but a loin cloth. Battle to the death. Who comes out on top? I know who my opinion is. No, uh, nothing but their wits.
Craig:At least this isn’t the eff, marry, kill question.
MarcNo it’s not, it is not. I don’t know if we want to know the answer that one. So, Page, Gates, Bezos, dropped on an island, 24 hours, however long it was. It’s Battle Royale. Who comes out–, who’s the lone survivor at the end?
John:I don’t know. Do you have a clue on that?
Craig:I would say –
Marc:Bill Gates has got ___
Craig:Well, Bezos is maybe on the younger side, has got a little more energy.
John:He’s physically fit.
Craig:Larry Page, I think he’s high on the hog. He’s been there for a long time, so I think he’s… (trails off). Bill Gates would probably take out Larry.
John:Between Bill and Jeff?
Craig:But then Jeff would be last standing.
John:The pen is mightier than the sword.
Marc:I can see Bill Gates setting up all kinds of crazy traps. Whereas Jeff Bezos is just tearing his shirt off, smearing himself with mud.
John:That would be the most watched survivor episode.
Marc:New Reality show idea.
Craig:So, I just will say one thing we didn’t, we kind of wrapped up before we had a chance to talk to you about the next level, which is Platform as a Service. We talked a lot about Infrastructure as a Service. So, I’d like to put my vote in for an upcoming episode very quickly after this that we talk about PaaS, because I think that, in my opinion, that’s a huge differentiator for these cloud platforms going forward. Between AWS, GCP, and Azure, they’re all vying for different aspects of what PaaS and SaaS offerings they can provide. That’s where the real value of the public cloud comes in, is in the PaaS and SaaS. IaaS, that’s table stakes. That’s no different than a hosting in a Colo. So, let’s elevate ourselves and let’s identify where we can take advantage of those PaaS and SaaS offerings. So, sorry to interject that.
Marc: No, good comment to bring us back on topic. I need some moderation myself, for sure. Well, Craig, John, thank you both for your time this Friday. Let’s enjoy the rest of our evening. Everyone listening, thank you for taking the time to join in on the yet-to-be-named Azure podcast with the BlueSilverShift crew and we’ll see you all next Friday.
Craig:And cheers to our inaugural kickoff ????
(There’s about 30s at the end – not sure if it’s supposed to be an outtake?)