Difference Between IBM Cloud, Amazon AWS & Microsoft Azure

Cloud computing has now become the essential driving force for business in the current market on a global level. On various occasions as developers, service providers & startup founders we keep comparing between the best cloud service providers. We want to hit that perfect goal that satisfies the pocket, project requirement, and the output while harnessing the power of the cloud. It’s a small battle at some point in time. Isn’t it? When Microsoft came up with Azure it took with a nice surprise & yet, the companies like IBM Cloud or Amazon Azure have nurtured the cloud computing over the years. Concerns regarding security and data sovereignty have been addressed by the big three players in public cloud:  Amazon Web service (AWS), IBM Cloud & Microsoft Azure.

Amazon was the first one who introduced ‘commoditized’ cloud computing solutions back in 2004 in the form of first AWS. Since then, they kept innovating and adding services to keep an upper-hand in the market. This also makes them expensive as compared to other cloud providers. Google, Microsoft, IBM later came into the game, bringing their own ideas and infrastructure, and quickly become up to the par with AWS.

AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud offers somewhat similar capabilities around flexible compute, storage and networking. All three provide self-service, instant provisioning, compliance, and identity management services, auto-scaling as common elements of the public cloud. All three vendors are strong in machine learning, which is a branch of artificial intelligence, and have added machine learning tools and features targeted at latest technology such as internet of thing (IoT) and service less computing. As you can see, compute offerings of AWS, IBM Cloud, and Microsoft Azure have a great deal in common but they also have several differentiating features that make them unique from each other on many levels such as how they name and group their services along with the pricing. Let’s take a look at some key differences among these three.

IBM Bluemix cloud is a Platform as a service (PaaS) that supports several programming languages & tons of services that help in development as well as in operations. Unlike AWS, the IBM Cloud helps run, deploy and manage applications over the cloud in few minutes. Choose any runtime language or your own & you can put your project in zero to production within minutes.

IBM Bluemix Cloud

With the features like Bluemix Live Sync, we can update a running app automatically by connecting your Git repo through a simple interface, integrated source code editor, charts for projects status & much more.

A large catalog of third-party & IBM open source APIs allows developers to connect to any application with ease & fast, through IBM API connect.

IBM Cloud has three primary sections: Infrastructure, applications & services. The infrastructure is available through SoftLayer data centers which are interconnected with the unmetered private network. It has the ability to provision bare-metal servers. Applications go on CloudFoundry, Open Whisk or Docker. And, the Services has a huge portfolio such as Watson, Databases, Analytics & lots more.

From the storage perspective, Amazon simple storage service (S3) has been running the longest thus it has extensive documentation in the form of webinars, sample code and libraries, articles and tutorials. Moreover, Amazon has a very active discussion forum where Amazon developers provide useful information on regular basis. As compared to Amazon’s S3, Microsoft Azure storage and IBM Cloud storage is nowhere as sophisticated although their storage services are admittedly reliable and robust. Amazon storage service is quite expensive so those who want to have storage within a limited budget then Microsoft Azure storage or IBM Cloud storage can be considered as great options.

As far as the bandwidth is concerned, the IBM cloud charges only for the bandwidth that leaves from your account & the bandwidth used within its worldwide private network is absolutely unmetered.

With Watson on IBM Bluemix infrastructure, you get access to one of the most sophisticated cognitive technologies for building secured smart apps that can analyze & deliver text, images or video content within the app.

IBM cloud provides the foundation for enterprise apps, including those with a mobile-first approach. Push notifications, functionality, docker-based to apiconnect-based Flexible development environments, & overall security are some of the key points to pick IBM cloud.

This article is part of the series of articles that I’m writing recently on IBM Cloud (We’d decided to deploy an app on AWS, now comparing various options at hand) & hence I’ll be using that as the pivot for this comparison. Please note that the actual availability of the infrastructure or services mentioned here may differ. So, feel free to add in comments if you’ve something to add.

IBM Cloud Amazon AWS Microsoft Azure
Application Services
Blockchain X

Blockchain as a Service

Business Rules X X
Cloud Automation Manager X X
Message Hub

Simple Queue Service

Queue Storage

WebSphere Application Server X X
Workload Scheduler X X
Cloud Foundry Elastic Beanstalk Web Apps Cloud Services
Kubernetes EC2 Container Service Container Service
OpenWhisk Lambda Functions / WebJobs / Logic Apps
Application Security
App ID Identity & Access control Azure AD/Role-based control
Application security Inspector Security Center
Single Sign On Directory Service Azure Active Directory
Activity tracker X X
Key Protect Key Management Service Key Vault
Virtual servers


Virtual machines

Dedicated virtual servers

Dedicated EC2

Bluemix private cloud X X
Bare metal servers X X
VMware solution

VMware on AWS cloud

Hardware security module

Cloud HSM

Azure key vault

Intel TXT X X
nVidia GPU

EC2 elastic GPUs

Block storage Elastic block storage Premium storage
File storage Elastic file system File storage
CDN CloudFront CDN
IBM cloud object storage S3 Blob storage
Mass storage servers X X
Quantastor storage appliances X X
DNS Route 53 DNS traffic manager
Local Load Balancing Elastic Load Balancing Load balancer Application Gateway
Dedicated Netscaler VPX/MPX X X
Vyatta gateway appliance X X
Private Network Virtual Private Cloud Virtual Network
Network Security
Fortigate security X X
Dedicated hardware firewall X X
Hardware firewall

Security groups

Network security groups

SSL certificates

Not with EC2

Veeam X X
Evault Backup & Recovery Cloud Backup
r1soft X X
Data & Analytics Services
Apache Spark X X
BigInsights for Hadoop X X
Cloudant NoSQL DynamoDB DocumentDB
Compose Enterprise X X

Elasticsearch Service


MongoDB DynamoDB DocumentDB
MySQL Amazon RDS Azure Database for MySQL
PostgreSQL RDS SQL Database

Simple Queue Service

Queue Storage

Redis ElastiCache Azure Redis Cache
RethinkDB X X
ScyllaDB X X
dashDB Redshift SQL Data Warehouse
dashDB for Transactions Redshift SQL Data Warehouse
Data connect X X
Data Science Experience X X
Decision Optimization X X
Geospatial Analytics

Earth on AWS

IBM Graph X X
IBM Master Data Management X X
IBM Watson Machine Learning

Machine Learning

Machine Learning

Information Server X X
Informix X X
Lift Data Pipeline Data Factory
Master Data Management X X
Streaming Analytics Kinesis Analytics Data Lake Analytics
Weather Company Data X X
API Connect

API Gateway

API Management

Watson Services


Bing speech API

Discovery X

Bing Autosuggest API

Document conversion X X
Language translator


Translator API

Natural language classifier


Speech recognition API

Personality insights X X
Retrieve & rank X X
Speech to text


Bing speech API

Text to speech


Bing speech API

Tone analyser


Linguistic analysis API

Visual recognition


Computer Vision API

Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT Platform

IoT (Preview) / Kinesis Firehose

IoT Hub / Event Hubs

Context mapping X X
Driver behaviour X X
IoT for electronics X X
IoT for insurance X X
Push notifications

Notification service

Notification hubs

Mobile foundation

Mobile hub

Mobile apps

Mobile analytics

Mobile analytics

Mobile engagement


On IBM Cloud we get a standard configuration server up & running within 20-30 mins. GPU cards, SAP certified servers, power servers built on IBM OpenPower architecture are also available for setting up under the bare metal server provisioning. Configuring the VMware servers is a matter of minutes through the IBM VMware Solution.

Of course, there’re projects when you won’t need every bit of the services. In such cases, you’re good to go even with lesser matured but reliable platforms.

With the given wide range of infrastructure, services, cognitive abilities, Blockchain & the subject matter expertise – I’m inclined to deploy the next project on IBM Cloud. I’ll keep you posted if & when I do that.

But, I won’t judge any provider here & rather, I’ll let you decide what to choose. All these three offers free trial & free tier for easy on boarding & testing before we finalize on any one of them. Let me know how it goes.


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