12 Mar Wedia Hosting Services: Going ‘Multi-Cloud’ with AWS and Azure
Interview with Pierre Chouteau, Wedia’s Cloud Architect
When it comes to cloud service providers (CSPs) – companies that offer storage or software services in the cloud – you may be familiar with the industry leaders: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. As companies turn to cloud technologies for storing data, hosting websites and supporting business applications, they often find themselves evaluating these different cloud vendors before selecting the right one for their business.
While they propose similar offerings around compute, storage and networking, considerations such as a company’s existing infrastructure, tools and business needs play a large role when moving your business to the cloud – or moving from one cloud to another – which was the case of Wedia, a provider of cloud-based marketing solutions that had been using Amazon’s cloud platform for many years.
Why did Wedia decide to employ Microsoft Azure?
There were a few reasons why we decided to adopt a multi-cloud approach and add Azure to our cloud architecture. The question initially arose following our 2017 acquisition of damdy, which had been using the Microsoft Azure cloud for video management, while Wedia had been using AWS for its Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model. It quickly became evident that leveraging the strengths of two cloud technologies was better than standardizing onto a single one.
What were some of the advantages in moving to Azure?
Because Microsoft is a leading software company in many consumer markets we benefit from the coherence of its technologies. There are many advantages at the development level, such as with Visual Studio, all the development tools around .NET, as well as with the Windows ecosystem and its Active Directory that allows increased security.
Moreover, the shift initiated by Satya Nadella towards the Open Source world makes it possible for us to have fewer constraints as we also use technologies like Java and Php. Ultimately, the Azure cloud has profoundly changed our development methods – the fact that the entire lifecycle of our products, from conception to exploitation in the cloud is coherent has allowed us to be much more agile, much more “cloud-spirited” and thus save money in terms of R&D and maintenance.
Plus, not only has this move been beneficial to us, but to our customers as well. Microsoft has built very advanced business services around its products which meet the expectations of our customers. This includes SQL Server, Power BI (business intelligence tools), Dynamics Microsoft CRM and Office 365, like Sharepoint, Office suite etc.
Have you noticed any major differences between the two clouds?
While the scope of Azure and AWS are almost equivalent, the way to address challenges is significantly different. While Amazon’s cloud offering consists of a multitude of low-level services and is better on the IaaS side, Microsoft – with its “product” culture – offers highly packaged Azure services with a high level of abstraction.
And again, the company’s turn towards the open source community has allowed it to integrate important open source bricks into Azure, like video encoding (Azure Media Services) and AI services (Cognitive Services, Computer Vision, Machine Learning and ultimately Deep Learning). Some of these advanced AI services are “ready to use”, like automatic transcription, language translation and time-coded facial or emotion recognition and give us new possibilities for providing our customers a much more innovative product. For example, if a client wants to generate a video transcript, they can automatically convert the audio from the video to a transcript through speech-to-text services built into the platform. The automated transcript is also time-coded, so that when you click on a segment of the text, it sends you to the corresponding part of the video.
Another key difference we have noted is the partner relationship. Our relationship with Microsoft is much more profound than with Amazon. With Microsoft, we have better consulting and more personalized support services, while with Amazon we have very little contact. Our Gold Partner relationship with Microsoft allows us to work and exchange in advance with Azure’s technical and product teams, and gives us access to pre-releases (beta) that include experimental features which our customers can test with our help. Our clients can therefore benefit from this partnership, while we can be a beta tester of new features.
So, do you recommend a multi-cloud strategy?
In the end, we’re now able to give our customers the choice of hosting their data on Azure or Amazon. This gives us more flexibility too: since Amazon is historically a retailer, some customers refuse to be hosted on its cloud because they consider Amazon as one of their competitors.
While we “only” started using Azure at Wedia two years ago, we’ve recently started to shift more towards Azure – largely because we share their vision and philosophy, incorporating advanced functionalities around assets, business analytics, and AI.
But ultimately we believe that having a multi-cloud vision and expertise is a guarantee of success and quality: we’re able to take the best wherever it is.