Think Microsoft has been making ground in the file storage space? You're right.

Recent research from Nasuni, a cloud storage management company, shows Microsoft Azure beats Amazon Web Services S3 and Google Cloud Storage in the enterprise storage space.

Ranking Cloud Storage

But nothing is quite as black and white as it first seems — and it is also important to understand what Nasuni measured.

The 2015 State of Cloud Storage report looked at the major publicly available Cloud Storage Providers (CSPs) along the dimensions of speed, availability and scalability, a key consideration of for enterprises considering the cloud as part of their storage infrastructure.

It evaluated companies on:

  • Performance:How fast data can be read/written to the cloud?
  • Availability:Is the data in the cloud always available? Is the cloud ready to accept data?
  • Errors: As the number of objects stored in the cloud increases, are there resulting errors?

This is the third such report form Nasuni and the first in two years. This year it evaluated Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Storage, as well as HP’s Cloud Object Storage and IBM’s SoftLayer.

It dropped HP because there was a change in its strategic direction and dropped IBM because its experience with its service was checkered with scheduled outages.

John Capello, vice president of product strategy for Nasuni, told us Microsoft’s storage service came out ahead overall, although Amazon beat Microsoft in some scalability and availability tests.

If you're going to be writing and storing lots of different files to the cloud and if you're small to mid-enterprise business, Microsoft performed better than Amazon. Amazon was a very very close second. The real lesson for us was these are the only two players in the space," he said.

Amazon’s Focus

This sounds surprising, given the accepted wisdom that Amazon is the storage gorilla par excellence. It still is, Capello says, but the findings need to be put in context.

There are some things that Amazon does well. If you look at where that is it tends to be on the large file sizes, and the large thread counts. The reason that we said Microsoft was better [for enterprises] was because of the distribution of file sizes in the enterprises. File sizes in the enterprise tend to be around the 100k to 1 MB. We weighed it heavily towards the small file sizes.”

He also said Amazon’s business focus explains why Microsoft has been making progress in the enterprise space.

Microsoft seems to have come out of the cloud services or cloud storage from an enterprise perspective. And this really comes through in performance [metrics]," he said.

Amazon, for its part, has been focusing precisely on this market segment, particularly in terms of scale and analytics.

This really follows the DNA of each company. Which is surprising, because the conventional wisdom has always said that when you think cloud services, Amazon is No 1. It is No 1 in some areas, but not all," he added.

One of the most widely adopted and fastest growing cloud services is public cloud storage. Some analysts project a 33 percent compound annual growth rate for public and private cloud storage over the next five years. As a result it is becoming an increasingly important technology area and one that still has a lot of play in it in the coming years as enterprise looking to cut storage costs.

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