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Amazon Web Services scored slightly higher than Microsoft’s Azure in Gartner’s comprehensive Infrastructure as a Service assessment, released by the research firm today. The ranking can be seen as progress for Microsoft, which is coming from behind in the IaaS sector.

The assessment is based on 234 criteria, broken down in eight categories, four of them technical (compute, networking, storage, and security and access) and four of them non-technical (service offerings, management and DevOps, service and support levels, and price and billing).

Overall, AWS scored 92 percent, followed by Azure with 88 percent and Google Cloud Platform with 70 percent.

IaaS — the provision of operating system, memory and storage over the internet — is where AWS started. Microsoft, on the other hand, traditionally had less experience with IaaS and more with Platform as a Service (Paas) through Azure; and Software as a Service (SaaS), offering Office 365 and Dynamics CRM online.

However, Microsoft has been expanding into IaaS in recent years.A recent report by Morgan Stanley, based on a survey of 100 CIOs, predicted that Azure would be the largest Infrastructure as a Service vendor by 2019, although that survey has been criticized for not taking into account the opinions of developers. Azure is also younger than AWS, having been launched on Feb. 1, 2010. AWS debuted in the spring of 2006.

The new IaaS study was “the result of hard work, an exhaustive criteria-validation process, and a brutal vendor review,” wrote Garner research director Elias Khnaser.

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