Many firms start using Microsoft's Office 365 cloud email service, then naturally move on to its Azure platform because they're already set up with and used to services from the Redmond-based firm.
That's the opinion of Mark Ridley, Group Technology Officer at Blenheim Chalcot. Ridley described Office 365 as being like a "gateway drug" to Azure.
"Avado use Azure," he said, referring to the learning platform company which operates under the Blenheim Chalcot umbrella. "It has always been a big user of Office 365, because lots of firms which use Microsoft Exchange end up there, and that leads you naturally on to Azure. It's like a gateway drug to Azure," said Ridley.
"You've already got your credit card set up [with Microsoft], and people like that they can use [Microsoft product] Active Directory in the cloud, so they just add it to the stack."
Ridley explained that firms under the Blenheim Chalcot umbrella overwhelmingly favour Azure, describing it as a "natural path for corporate IT Microsoft shops to take."
This chimes well with recent Computing research into enterprise cloud use in the UK, which found that 71 per cent of respondents (senior IT professionals at medium to large UK businesses), cited Microsoft when asked which cloud vendors they were thinking of using (for IaaS and Paas).
The next most popular vendor was Amazon, with 46 per cent of the vote.
Ridley continued to explain the reason behind many organisations' preference for Azure.
"The quality of many Azure services is high. For instance its ability to spin up virtual machines, at an IaaS level, it's as good as Amazon. But Amazon is the gorilla in the room," said Ridley. "If you look at the number of different services being provided, every time I look at AWS [Amazon Web Services] there's a new piece being spun out, like unified comms for example."
He explained that organisations select vendors depending on the type of business they are.
"My suspicion is when people build websites they use AWS, but for enterprise IT, Azure is the more natural choice."
However, Ridley added that his own personal preference is for Amazon, but when the organisation he's supporting wants to use Azure, it's an easy switch for him to make.
"Within BC [Blenheim Chalcot] if someone already had a preference for Azure, it's easier to fall into line and use that. I've had a good experience with Azure so far. Things like Active Directory integration is huge, whilst AWS doesn't necessarily offer the same services for enterprise IT, it's more webscale focused."
One Azure service Ridley especially likes is its Machine Learning Studio.
"A huge highlight for me is the Azure Machine Learning Studio, it's first class, a brilliant tool. I don't think there's anything quite the same for end users in Amazon. Potentially the closest is Google's TensorFlow," he added.
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