The Big 3: Microsoft Azure vs AWS vs Google Cloud

In more recent years, public cloud adoption has become an integral part of most businesses' infrastructure strategy and roadmap. Enterprises from around the world have already made the switch from self-hosted infrastructure to public cloud configurations.

And while companies will still need some on-premise technology, they can now develop applications directly in the cloud. In fact, roughly 73% of businesses already have at least one app or part of their infrastructure in the cloud. By 2020, 83% of enterprise workloads will reside in the cloud.

For those looking to go down the road of cloud adoption, several questions come to mind. These are "Which cloud platform should I adopt?" "Which platform provides the most cost-effective services for my needs?" and "How do I go about my cloud adoption?"

How Are Public Clouds Used?

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Typically, public cloud services are used as:

According to industry analyst firm Gartner, the IaaS market has reached $52.9 billion in 2019 and is expected to exceed $83.5 billion by 2021. The SaaS market, on the other hand, is at $87.2 billion and will reach $117.1 billion in two years. Although smaller than both SaaS and IaaS, PaaS will also see steady growth over the coming years. In 2019, the PaaS market is at $18.6 billion, reaching $27.3 billion in 2021.

What's The Public Cloud Market Share

At the moment, three leading cloud platform providers make up the majority of the market share. These are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). As of the first quarter of 2019, AWS dominates the market at a 38% percent market share. It's followed by Microsoft Azure with 18% and Google Cloud at 9%.

Now, even if both Azure and GCP are behind AWS in terms of market shares, they have both seen significant growth in recent years. While AWS has seen 41% in growth, Azure and GCP saw 75% and 83%, respectively.

The Big 3 Cloud Platform Summary Comparison

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AWS Vs Azure Vs Google Cloud Customers

Since it's the oldest on the market, AWS also has the biggest community support and user base. Among its high-profile customers, we can include the likes of Unilever, BMW, Netflix, Airbnb, and Samsung.

Azure has also taken its fair share of well-known customers. In fact, almost 80% of Fortune 500 companies use it. Some of these are Fujifilm, HP, Johnson Controls, Polycom, Apple, and Honeywell, among others.

When it comes to Google Cloud, it also has its own high-end companies that use its services. Among the most noteworthy, we can include PayPal, Bloomberg, 20th Century Fox, Dominos, HSBC Bank, and others.

All three cloud providers offer cloud computing services that can meet even the most basic needs. The main difference lies in the total number of services and how these fit with each company's needs. Below, we will be taking a closer look at each of these platforms in more detail and see which services and features distinguish them from their competition.

AWS Pros and Cons

As mentioned, AWS's primary strength is in the public cloud market, being the cloud IaaS majority market share leader for over a decade. One of the reasons for this popularity is its vast scope of operations. AWS has a broad and growing array of available services.

It also provides a comprehensive network of worldwide data centers. In a sense, AWS is the most mature and enterprise-ready cloud provider as it offers the most capabilities of governing large numbers of resources and users.

On the downside, Amazon's platform has cost-related issues. While it has lowered its prices, many find it difficult to understand its cost structure and manage their costs effectively while running high-volume workloads. Another drawback is its limited hybrid or private cloud capabilities.

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Why Choose AWS

AWS is a good choice for both startups and enterprises alike. The platform provides numerous services for both web and analytical workloads as well as large scale data center migrations.

Amazon is also looking to help differently-sized customers by offering niche services via RoboMaker, while also building a virtual private server in the form of LightSail. This way, they want to help even small, single-server workloads to be onboarded without much overhead.

From a compute perspective:

In terms of managed databases, AWS supports MySQL, PostgreSQL, MariaDB, Oracle, and MS SQL. They also feature their own PostgreSQL and MySQL compatible database offerings. For NoSQL databases, they provide DynamoDB for key-value and document, Elasticache for key-value caching, and Neptune for graphs.

AWS also provides a managed VPN Gateway, NAT gateway, Direct Connect Gateway, Transit Gateway, and a recently announced Client VPN service. This will remove the need to deploy OpenVPN servers when managing access to the company's VMs.

As far as network security is concerned, AWS has managed services for:

For data security, AWS provides:

Microsoft Azure Pros and Cons

Though Azure came later on the cloud market than AWS, it got a significant jumpstart by taking its on-premise software and moving it to the cloud. This includes Windows Server, Office365, Sharepoint, .Net, SQL Server, Dynamics Active Directory, and more.

This is particularly important since many businesses use Windows and other Microsoft software. And as Azure is highly integrated with these applications, companies that use Microsoft software will also feel at home using Azure. Also, those that are already Microsoft enterprise customers can expect sizable discounts.

The drawbacks of Azure sometimes come in the form of technical support, training, documentation, and the width of its ISV partner ecosystem.

Why Choose Azure

Azure also provides a wide range of features that may be preferred by customers that are already using Microsoft products. With over 151 VM types over 26 VM families, Azure can support both small web workloads as well as SAP, HPC, and Oracle workloads. It also has Windows and Linux distros like CentOS, SUSE, RHEL, and Ubuntu, as well as a separate family of instances for AI/ML workloads.

For those who want to interface Azure and run services in their own data centers, they can use Azure Stack, its hybrid cloud computing software solution. The platform also offers support for hybrid storage apps like StorSimple. Data centers with predominantly Microsoft workloads that need to migrate to the cloud can use Azure Site Recovery to do so.

When it comes to SQL and NoSQL databases:

In terms of billing, Azure provides a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) model. Those that have existing enterprise accounts can also pre-purchase Azure subscriptions as part of their annual renewals. This makes it easier for budgeting.

Google Cloud Platform Pros and Cons

Unlike the other two, GCP specializes in high compute offerings in the form of ML, Big Data, and analytics. It also offers great scale and load balancing. Many customers choose to use GCP as a secondary provider. Nevertheless, those that are more open-source and DevOps-centric will tend to go with GCP as their main cloud provider.

In terms of downsides, Google's platform doesn't offer the same array of features and services like Azure or AWS. It also doesn't have as many global data centers as its two main competitors, but it's expanding at a rapid pace.

Why Choose GCP

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While Google has the smallest number of VM sizes (28 instance types over 4 categories), it makes up for it by allowing its customers to create their own custom sizes based on memory and CPU. This means that users can match their cloud workloads sizing to their own on-premise sizing.

Billing is also based on the total memory and CPU used rather than VMs, which reduces the overall waste of unused capacity. Another waste-reducing feature is its per-second billing instead of the traditional per-hour method. Google also provides automatic discounts that can reduce the on-demand price. The sustained use discount, for instance, offers a price reduction when a VM runs more than a certain number of hours in a month. This makes GCP the most cost-effective cloud provider.

VM startup times in GCP are very fast, making scaling out especially responsive. The platform also helps its users assess, plan, and live-migrate their VMs to GCP for free. It does this through its third-party cloud migration tools like CloudPhysics, Velostrata, and CloudEndure.

Having a global, low latency network, GCP is great at its networking. While other cloud providers limit their VPC networks to any given region, Google's VPC network spans all its regions. This makes it easier to build applications for global customers without the need for cross-region infrastructure design or data replication. The same thing goes for object storage.

GCP provides support for managed PostgreSQL and MySQL databases. Also, for those wanting a globally distributed database, they can use Spanner. This is Google's NewSQL globally distributed database service that provides developers a production-ready storage solution that uses consensus algorithms and atomic clocks, among other such features. These help with synchronizing transactions between nodes.

What Cloud Solution is Best for You?

While the aforementioned services are not all that each platform has to offer, they are, however, the most noteworthy features that set them apart from one another. That said, here is a short rundown to help you make a decision.

Choosing AWS - Amazon's platform has a rich collection of tools and services for large scale uses. That said, you should make sure to understand its pricing structure before running a high volume of workloads on the service.

AWS is a good fit for:

Choosing Azure - Azure's biggest appeal is its Microsoft software integrations. Similarly, the platform's focus on the hybrid cloud helps bridge your legacy data center environment with the scalable Microsoft cloud.

Azure is a good fit for:

Choosing GCP -  Google is a great platform in terms of its application container deployments, big data, ML, and analytics capabilities. It also offers the best pricing model of all the three.

GCP is a good fit for:


What Are the Best Microsoft Products and Tools Today?

Pretty much everyone who's been around a computer knows about Microsoft. That said, not that many people know about some of the best Microsoft products and tools in use today. To that end, we've compiled a short list of such products, particularly useful for businesses of varying sizes.

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing service used for building, testing, deploying, and managing various applications and services through data centers managed by Microsoft. The tool provides infrastructure as a service (IaaS),  software as a service (SaaS), and platform as a service (PaaS). It also supports many programming languages, tools, and frameworks, including most Microsoft as well as third-party software.

Microsoft SharePoint

Microsoft SharePoint Online is a cloud-based service that allows users to create, design, and manage workspaces, contents, and sites. It also enables users to share digital documents securely among team members within or outside of the organization and across multiple devices.

You can use SharePoint to build customized web-based applications to solve various business issues. It also offers many out-of-the-box features to create websites, content management, and community building. With SharePoint Online, you will be able to create custom apps, deploy them into App Catalog, and can integrate almost any cloud-based application.

Microsoft PowerApps

Microsoft PowerApps is an enterprise service that allows companies to develop so-called "no-code apps." The tool is available for different operating systems, including Windows, iOS, and Android. It offers built-in connections, allowing it to integrate your apps with other cloud and on-premises services. This can include things such as Azure, Salesforce, SharePoint, OneDrive, SQL Service, Dynamic CRM, etc.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is an all-encompassing digital hub aimed at teamwork and collaboration. It's able to bring people, conversations, and applications together into one place for seamless communication and file sharing. Microsoft Teams is integrated with other Office 365 services, allowing it to utilize tools like Word, Excel, Delve, PowerBI, PowerApps, SharePoint, and more.

It's also easy to add a tab for each of these services in your channel within Teams, making it a smooth user experience overall. Also, you can add third-party tools and services such as Facebook, GitHub, Yammer, or RSS feeds, depending on your needs or your day-to-day work. Microsoft Teams also allows for video calls, meetings, and voice, working across multiple platforms such as Mac, Android, iOS, and, of course, Windows.

Microsoft Power BI

Power BI is a cloud-based analytics service. It allows companies to see their most critical business data in a single view. The platform will also be able to create interactive reports that monitor the wellbeing of the organization. You can transform hard data into more compelling and stunning visuals to share with colleagues.

It allows users to collaborate and share customized dashboards and interactive reports, while also scaling across the organization using built-in governance and security. Users can also access Power BI on multiple devices such as their web browsers, tablets, smartphones, PCs, or laptops.


How to Prepare for SQL Server 2008 End of Support

For those of us who don't know, on the 9th of July 2019 Microsoft will end its support for SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2. Afterward, you will no longer receive any regular security updates.

It will result in the SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 as increasingly more vulnerable to cyber-attacks in the future, as well as potential business interruptions and loss of data. Likewise, the end of support will also mean that you can fail to meet various compliance standards and industry regulations. Also, your organization will encounter higher maintenance costs regarding legacy servers, firewalls, intrusion systems, and other similar tools that help protect your network and computers.

So, what are your options going forward? There are several options available to you to make this transition a seamless one for your organization.

Migrate to Azure

The first of these options is to migrate to Azure SQL Database Managed Instance. It is a pretty straightforward option with no application code changes and almost no downtime to your systems. A similar option is to move to Azure Virtual Machines. It will provide you with three years of extended security updates at no cost, and you can update to a newer version whenever you are ready.

By making use of Azure Hybrid Benefit, on the other hand, you will be able to run Windows virtual machines on Azure at a lower rate. You can save up to 55% with this option on your existing licenses. You will, however, need to have Software Assurance to use it.

All of these options presented here will require an Azure environment. It can be purchased in different ways and can be used beyond just hosting virtual machines. And SQL Server in Azure can be operated as a database-as-a-service

so that any patches will be assured automatically.

On-Premises Upgrades

For better security, performance, availability, and opportunity for innovation via cloud analytics, you should also upgrade your systems to SQL Server 2017. Several enhancements come with SQL Server 2017, which will help you stay more secure and increase performance. Among these, we can count the Automatic Plan Correction, which will help detect and automatically correct any query plan stability issues.

Similarly, there's the Adaptive Query Processing (AQP) that can batch mode operations used with Columnstore indexes. There are also numerous other diagnostic and troubleshooting improvements. Some Showplan enhancements, for instance, are great at query tuning. Several new DMVs are useful for diagnostic and troubleshooting purposes.

SQL Server 2017 also brings to the table some community-driven enhancements such as the possibility for smart transaction log backup, differential backup, better TempDB monitoring, and diagnostics, as well as improved backup performance for small databases on high-end servers.

Keep in mind that, if you are unable to make the transition before the deadline, there is the possibility to extend security updates for an additional three years. Nevertheless, this option comes at a rather steep cost, but you have the opportunity to cover only the workloads that need it while you make the necessary upgrades.


While the end of support for SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will happen in July 2019, it will also occur for Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 on January 14, 2020. You can take this opportunity to modernize your entire database to the latest version of the Windows Server. Managed Solution is here to help you through this whole transition.


Top Benefits of Windows AutoPilot

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Every time a new Windows device is deployed, custom images need to be built, maintained, and applied to make it ready for new users, despite already having a perfectly good operating system installed.

After that, IT department members need to follow up with hours of manual app setups, drivers, policies, settings, etc. All of this, mind you, needs to be done for every repurposed device found in an organization, which implies a lot of time, energy, and resources being spent that could be used elsewhere. This is where Windows AutoPilot comes into play.

What is Windows AutoPilot?

Windows AutoPilot is a collection of technologies specifically created to remove all of the issues mentioned above. Its purpose is to set up and pre-configure new devices and get them ready for use. You can also use the AutoPilot to reset, repurpose, or recover old devices, allowing the IT department to do these tasks with little to no infrastructure.

The AutoPilot tool was designed to simplify the entire lifecycle of Windows devices, going from the initial deployment to the eventual end of the life cycle. In short, using cloud-based services, such as Windows AutoPilot, will help organizations by reducing their overall costs in terms of deployment, management, and even retiring old devices.

This is done primarily by reducing the total time spent on these processes, as well as the amount of infrastructure needed for maintenance, which will not only make life easier for the IT department but also the end-users.

That said, here are the main benefits of using Windows AutoPilot.

No More OS Re-Imaging

Traditionally, IT members had to manually install apps and drivers, manage the infrastructure, and set policies. With AutoPilot, however, all of this is done automatically. With a smart and easy pre-configuration, you will set all of these once, set up an AutoPilot profile in Microsoft Intune, and have all settings applied to all of your Windows devices under that profile.

The Self-Deployment Mode

Windows AutoPilot's Self-Deploying mode takes streamlining one step beyond by enabling any new Windows 10 device, which has been pre-enrolled in the AutoPilot program to be ready without any additional interaction from the IT department. In other words, your new device will automatically get all the settings configured the moment you power it on and connect it to the internet.

Stay on Top of Security and Compliance

AutoPilot’s Enrollment Status Page will ensure that your devices are fully configured, secured, and compliant with all requirements before users access it. Your system managers will be able to check the status of each device in real-time, allowing them to keep the equipment in out-of-box experience (OBE) until all policies and configurations are provisioned. They can then choose actions that users can perform in the event of failures and set up custom messages.

The Windows AutoPilot Reset Feature

Windows Autopilot Reset allows you to prepare devices for re-use by removing personal files, settings, and apps, reapplying the device's original settings. This is done while also maintaining the device's identity connection to Azure AD and its management connection to Intune. The Reset feature takes the device back to a business-ready state, allowing the next user to utilize the device at a moment's notice.

Should You Migrate to the Cloud?

If you're wondering if you should migrate your digital operations to the cloud, you've come to the right place. If you don't know what the cloud is, you'll probably be surprised to know that chances are you're already relying on it to solve many of your day-to-day tasks. If, for instance, you're sending emails on the move, using a bunch of apps to manage your workload, or checking your bank balance on your phone, everything is done via the cloud.

Simply put, cloud computing is computer-work based primarily on the internet. In the past, people would install programs and applications on their physical computers or servers located in the building. Cloud computing allows people to use that same software directly on the internet.

The reason why many businesses are moving to the cloud, and why you're also probably considering it, is that cloud computing will help increase your company's efficiency, improve your cash flow, and reduce your expenses, among other benefits. Migrating your data to the cloud will provide you with unprecedented levels of flexibility and scaling opportunities without having to worry about any on-premise datacenters. One such cloud service is Microsoft Azure.

Why Use Microsoft Azure As Your Cloud Service?

Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing service used for creating, testing, and deploying applications. It provides software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (Iaas) capabilities.

Below are some of the benefits of using Microsoft Azure for your cloud computing capabilities:

Seamless Scalability - One of the major benefits that Azure has to offer is its flexibility to scale. With Azure, scaling is simpler from a logistics standpoint, as opposed to traditional hosting since primary servers don't need to be taken down. Also, companies don't have to add physical infrastructure every time they are looking to scale.

Improved Security and Compliance - When it comes to on-premise data centers, companies have a fair degree of control over their security measures, which is also one of the main reasons for worry for when migrating to the cloud. With Azure Security Center, businesses can rest assured that they have access to 24/7 unified security management across all hybrid cloud networks. Azure not only presents itself as a secure cloud network, but it can also act as an added layer of security for all company data centers.

In terms of compliance, however, it's important to note that Microsoft holds more certifications than any other cloud provider, particularly in terms of security and privacy, such as for GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, and more.

Disaster Recovery Capabilities - A comprehensive disaster recovery plan can be quite difficult to achieve on-premise. With Azure, such a model comes standard out of the box. It provides both regional and global fail-over options, rolling reboot capabilities, as well as hot and cold standby models.

Cost-Effectiveness - In terms of costs, Azure will be able to save companies up to 72% compared to pay-as-you-go pricing with one-year or three-year terms on Linux or Windows virtual machines. Also, companies can choose to go hybrid, meaning that they can still maintain their on-premise data, while also benefiting from Azure's overall flexibility and security.

Azure Migrate - Azure doesn't only focus on storage. You'll also get access to an integrated delivery package for sourcing, testing, and delivery. One such service is Azure Migrate, which assesses the migration sustainability of your on-premise devices, provides cost estimates, and utilizes performance-based sizing. This tool is perfect if you're in the early stages of migration or are thinking of a lift-and-shift-style migration to the cloud.

What to do When Microsoft Stops Supporting Windows 7

Many businesses around the world are impacted every time a piece of software product reaches its end of life, mainly when we're talking about an operating system such as Windows. Back in 2014, when Microsoft ended support for its popular Windows XP, 40% of all computers around the world were directly affected.

Not upgrading the system on time will leave it vulnerable to all sorts of cyber attacks and security concerns. Nevertheless, there are several reasons why some businesses are still hard pressed to change their systems. On the one hand, it could be because updating/upgrading computers can be a time-consuming process - mainly if we're dealing with small to mid-sized organizations.

At other times, it's because the business is running on legacy systems and software that only work on older operating systems. There's also the possibility that the hardware, itself, is old and they can't handle the requirements needed for the upgrade. Then, there's also the issue of training employees to use the new software. All of these will bring added expenses and disruptions that small to mid-sized organizations may avoid undertaking.

Nevertheless, those operating on Windows 7 should know that Microsoft will terminate its support on January 14, 2020. And while this may still seem like a long way away, it leaves little room for a comfortable transition to a new operating system as well as figuring out the next course of action. So, with that said, what are the options for those using Windows 7?

The Extended Security Option

If you, somehow, find yourself past the due date on January 14, 2020, and are still using Windows 7, Microsoft is offering businesses three more years of extended security for them to come up with a plan for transitioning to newer software or hardware.

However, this program comes at a cost, which can be paid on an annual basis. The pricing is by the total number of devices, starting from $50 per device in the first year, moving to $100 in the second year, and finally to $200 in the third. Do, however, keep in mind that, if you're planning to exercise this option, you must do so from the beginning. Microsoft will not allow you to buy in years two or three if you haven't been in the program from the start.

Upgrading or Replacing Your System

When transitioning to Windows 10, there are several options available to you. If you already have a relatively new computer, you can either choose to upgrade Windows 7 into Window 10 or wipe everything by doing a clean install.

The second option is generally more preferred since the system will have a better overall performance than the first option. The clean install route, however, is also more time-consuming as you will need a backup of your data, as well the download and installation of programs.

There's also the option of buying a new computer with Windows 10 already installed. It is the preferred option if you have an older PC that's unable to support the new systems.


It's safe to say that the faster you start on this road, the better and less expensive it will be. That's unless you want to keep your old system, but at the cost of not being connected to the internet. Together with Managed Solution, you will experience a fast and seamless transition to the new system.


How to Use Microsoft Secure Score to Tell if You’re Secure

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Security issues are becoming an ever growing concern across the digital landscape. As such, numerous security solutions have been developed as a means of counteracting these threats. Unfortunately, however, leveraging these solutions and configuring their controls, coupled with a lack of knowledge around these controls, many security teams are having difficulty balancing security and productivity, while remaining on top of developing trends.

With Microsoft Secure Score, however, companies can have far better control and visibility over their security posture. The platform offers integration with other Microsoft products, Microsoft 365 identities, data, apps, devices, and infrastructure. It also provides a comparison score to other companies and score tracking, taking into account when third-party solutions tackle recommended solutions.

Microsoft Secure Score gives you points every time you configure recommended security settings and features, take important actions, and perform security-related tasks, even when implementing them with third-party software.

How To Improve Your Security Score

Security recommendations to help streamline the process are organized into groups as follows:

Your current score and available points will be divided among these groups. On the overview page, you'll also get a historical trend and benchmark comparisons of your security score, helping you to make better decisions down the line.

Whenever you decide to take action on any of these groups, you will be presented with four options:

Extra Information About Microsoft Secure Score

It's important to note that some improvement actions will be scored in a binary fashion, meaning that you'll get all of the points once the operation is performed. Other actions, however, you will only get a percentage of the points of the overall configuration. So, if the action of protecting all of your users with multi-factor authentication, for instance, is worth 30 points, but you only protect half of your employees, you will only get 15 points.

You can also view your company's score over time in the history tab, which includes a global and industry average, as well as all the actions taken within any given time frame. Lastly, you should keep in mind that the Microsoft Secure Score is not an absolute measurement of your digital safety since no online service is immune from security breaches. It is more of a summary of your security posture based on the measures you've implemented in your Microsoft environment. This tool will help you have a better chance of not being breached.

Managed Solution Becomes Microsoft AEP

 San Diego, CA – August 5, 2019 – Managed Solution today announced it has become a Microsoft Authorized Education Partner (AEP), demonstrating its ability to meet Microsoft academic customers’ evolving needs in today’s dynamic business environment. To earn a Microsoft AEP authorization, partners must complete a test to prove their level of academic licensing and market expertise.

The AEP program is designed to train participating re-sellers on Microsoft’s Academic licensing, authorize them to purchase and resell Microsoft Academic licenses, and demonstrate to potential customers that they are approved and knowledgeable academic partners.

“This Microsoft AEP authorization shows our commitment and specialism in the academic IT marketplace and demonstrates our knowledge of Microsoft and its academic products,” said Sean Ferrel, Founder and CEO of Managed Solution. “We hope to accelerate our academic customers’ successes by serving as technology advisers for their IT requirements.”

“By becoming AEPs, partners show themselves to be committed and trained in providing discounted Microsoft academic products to the education market,” said Anthony Salcito, VP of Education for Microsoft Corp.’s Worldwide Public Sector. “This authorization, along with our other education partner initiatives, gives our partners recognition of their areas of expertise and our academic customers the confidence that they are buying from academic IT specialists.”

The Microsoft AEP Program is designed to authorize and equip organizations that deliver academic products and services through the Microsoft platform with the training, resources and support they need to provide their customers with superior experiences and outcomes.