Microsoft Azure leads AWS in cloud market

Microsoft Azure website
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Microsoft Azure cloud has edged Amazon Web Service (AWS) into second place for the first time, according to research released this week.

SaaS-based IT management company Flexera revealed the shift in its latest annual State of the Cloud Report. It found Azure winning out with enterprise customers, while AWS maintained a healthy lead among smaller businesses.

Currently, 46% of all companies run significant workloads in AWS, compared to 45% in Azure cloud. However, 32% say that they're running "some" workloads in Azure, compared to 30% in AWS. This puts Azure slightly ahead overall, according to Flexera's figures, at 77%, up from 73% last year. AWS sits at 76%, down a percentage point from a year ago.

More companies are also experimenting with Azure (12%, versus 11% in AWS). The same proportion of people - 6% - are planning to use both leading cloud systems.

"For the first time, Azure has closed the gap with AWS, while other cloud providers have not shown much growth," the report said.

Google Cloud came a distant third, with fewer than one in five professionals using it for significant workloads and only 22% experimenting with the service.

The differences are even more pronounced when looking at enterprises rather than smaller companies. Enterprise customers use Azure 80% of the time, up from 76% last year, while AWS usage dropped to 77% from 79%. Languishing in fourth place, Oracle saw a marked drop to 27% from 32%.

SMBs favor AWS over Azure, with 69% of them using Amazon's cloud compared to 59% in Microsoft's camp. Azure is making significant gains here too, though; last year, only 49% of SMBs used Azure.

Flexera surveyed 753 technology and business professionals globally for the survey, from companies of all sizes. Six in ten came from central cloud teams, with most of the remainder coming from business unit IT teams or other central computing teams.

Danny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury has been a print journalist specialising in technology since 1989 and a freelance writer since 1994. He has written for national publications on both sides of the Atlantic and has won awards for his investigative cybersecurity journalism work and his arts and culture writing. 

Danny writes about many different technology issues for audiences ranging from consumers through to software developers and CIOs. He also ghostwrites articles for many C-suite business executives in the technology sector and has worked as a presenter for multiple webinars and podcasts.