According to CloudHarmony, a cloud services analysis firm, AWS EC2 scored a 365-day availability of 99.9974%, whereas Azure Virtual Machines only reached 99.9377%.
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Latest posts by Michael Pietroforte (see all)

This appears to be a small difference, but the downtime in hours paints another picture. Azure Virtual Machines was down for 42.94 hours, whereas EC2 was unavailable for only 2.01 hours. If your business is down for almost two days because customers can’t reach your servers in the cloud, it can cost your company a lot of money.

Of course, a major advantage of the cloud is that you can distribute your services across multiple datacenters. Some Azure customers, therefore, might not have experienced one minute of downtime. Also, CloudHarmony can only estimate these downtimes because it can hardly monitor every server in every cloud datacenter around the planet.

Amazon Web Services Health Dashboard

Amazon Web Services Health Dashboard

However, I think the differences correspond to the perceived reliability of both cloud providers. Just last week, Azure Europe was hit with a service disruption. Obviously, Microsoft’s efforts to catch up with Amazon come at a price. Whereas Amazon can fine-tune its services and improve their reliability, Redmond is forced to add lacking features under time pressures, which increases the risk of outages.

4sysops has been running for more than five years in Amazon’s cloud, and I only remember one case where the site was down because of an EC2 issue. (If you were sometimes unable to reach 4sysops recently, it’s because we suffered some DDOS attacks. Sorry about that. I had quite some fun scripting defense mechanisms, and I hope we are better prepared in the future.)

Azure Status

Azure Status

It is hard to tell if those relatively low availability rates really hurt Azure. Despite the fact that Microsoft’s cloud has become quite powerful, Azure is the only real option for many Windows shops that count on a hybrid cloud. I also think that Microsoft will manage to improve Azure’s reliability in the future. Offering cloud services is, of course, a very complex task, and it will take some time before the Windows maker adapts to the self-imposed cloud-first paradigm.

What is perhaps most interesting about CloudHarmony’s availability overview is the number of cloud providers. I bet you haven’t heard of most of the more than 30 clouds in the list.

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