The cloud market in China is changing fast. The official launch of the commercial operations of Microsoft Azure (Azure) earlier this year started a new chapter (as detailed in my March blog post), while last weekend’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) summit was held in China for the first time and announced the third episode of this war. AWS is speeding up building its ecosystem and starting to challenge both Microsoft’s early-mover advantage and the market share of other global and local players.

To help CIOs and enterprise architects set up their hybrid cloud strategy in the region, we’ve put together a brief comparison of the Azure and AWS offerings and ecosystems in China:

  • Operations.Microsoft made Azure available for preview in China on June 6, 2013 and announced its commercial launch on March 25, 2014, stating that it would be operated by 21ViaNet and have a service-level agreement (SLA) of 99.95%. It has two dedicated data centers in Beijing and Shanghai. AWS announced the availability of its “Beijing region” in China on December 18, 2013, but it still hasn’t announced its official commercial launch, other than a partnership with Cloud Valley. Currently, AWS has only one data center in Ningxia province.
  • Offerings.Azure offerings cover services for compute (VM, websites, cloud services, etc.); data (storage, SQL database, HDInsight, backup, etc.); applications (service bus, Active Directory, CDN, media services, notification services, etc.); and networking (virtual network, Traffic Manager, etc.). Azure also provides other solutions, such as infrastructure services, data management, and application development and deployment.

AWS also offers comprehensive cloud services, such as compute (EC2, Auto Scaling, ELB, etc.); storage (S3, Glacier, EBS, etc.); databases (DynamoDB, RDS, Amazon Redshift, etc.); networking and CDN (VPC, CloudFront, etc.); analytics (EMR, Kinesis, Amazon Redshift, etc.); applications (AppStream, CloudSearch, SNS, SQS, etc.); deployment (CloudWatch, Elastic Beanstalk, CloudFormation, OpsWorks, etc.); as well as other services, including payments.

In general, Chinese companies will find it easier to migrate their legacy applications to the cloud via Azure’s offerings; AWS’s offerings will suit those companies that want to build native cloud applications for new business.

  • Pricing.Microsoft has localized Azure for the Chinese market: It provides a clearly defined pricing system for enterprises, which is fine-grained and customized for different types of service configurations and SLAs. It also provides a pricing calculator to help customers calculate the prices for selected services, even including the guidelines for China’s official invoice process (fapiao). As AWS hasn’t officially launched commercially yet, it doesn’t provide any pricing information for its “Beijing region” offerings in China. Companies and individuals must apply for a limited preview account to access it.
  • Ecosystem.In addition to 21ViaNet, Azure’s partner ecosystem includes firms like Pactera, Teamsun, YunGoal, and Yunhe Data, making it a relatively large ecosystem. However, AWS announced its AWS Partner Network (APN) on December 12 and is catching up fast: ISVs and systems integrators of various sizes, such as CS&S, AsiaInfo, Neusoft, Trend Micro, Digital China, Qihoo 360, HillstoneNetworks, Eayun, and VisualOps, have already joined APN.

This is a critical moment for Microsoft: It must leverage its large base of enterprise customers and traditional developers as well as its industry expertise to tackle the AWS threat. But it doesn’t have much time to do this. What do you think will happen in this latest episode of the China cloud wars? Let us know in the comments!