SoftLayer vs AWS vs Azure: A Complete Showdown of the Top 3 Cloud Hosting Platforms

In the pursuit of becoming successful, diverse, cost-effective, and customer-friendly, businesses are focusing on cloud-based infrastructures. Shifting towards cloud infrastructures has thus gained great popularity among companies.

However, as the cloud computing market grows, the race to become the best service provider has more contestants. In this article, we bring three of the best cloud platforms to grow your business.

  • IBM SoftLayer

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)

  • Microsoft Azure 

Now that we have told you about some top cloud computing service providers, you must choose what suits you best. Here is a comparison of all three platforms to give you a clear idea of what all providers offer and how it may impact your business.

What is SoftLayer, and how does it differ from AWS and Azure?




Differences in the three platforms

SoftLayer is a cloud service provider that was bought by IBM in 2013 and provides infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

Amazon web services have the greatest market share in cloud computing platforms and offer a wider range of services. 

Microsoft Azure gains popularity from its integration with other Microsoft services such as office and windows servers. 

SoftLayer offers many features. It allows you to build remote virtual networks and has features like dedicated firewalls.

 These include IaaS, software as a service (SaaS), and platform as a service (PaaS). 

This makes it easier for you if your organization already uses Microsoft services.

 This gives a sense of security to your organization if it focuses on safety and has strict requirements.

With a reliable customer service team and prices fitting the needs of organizations big or small, AWS can fit all your cloud computing needs.

 Azure offers IaaS and PaaS services and provides data encryption and network security to give you the protection you need.

All platforms differ in what they offer, so it is up to you to choose the one that best fits your needs.

SoftLayer vs AWS vs Azure: A complete feature comparison

Each platform provides a distinct set of features that uniquely impact your organization. Here are some of the key offerings of these platforms so you can have a clear outline of what suits you best:




Feature comparison

Provides IaaS offerings and virtual and bare metal servers, which provide higher performance.

The platform provides IaaS and PaaS offerings, including Lambda functions and EC2 instances.

Microsoft Azure offers a wide range of computing options, including containers, serverless functions, and VMs through its IaaS and PaaS offerings.

It gives you multiple storage options, including file and block storage options.

Glacier archival storage, S3 object storage, and EBS block storage are some of the storage options AWS gives you.

The Azure storage offering has many options like object, file, and block storage.

SoftLayer provides you with a database as a service offering which includes NoSQL and relational databases.

It is integrated with DynamoDB and RDS, which help build NoSQL and in-memory databases.

Azure databases give you options such as NoSQL, relational, and in-memory databases.

The platform is integrated with many networking options, virtual private networks, load balancing and DNS.

The networking features AWS provides include Direct Connect and virtual private cloud options. 

The platform's networking options include load balancing, virtual networking, and VPN.

With a high focus on security, SoftLayer provides you with many features. These include data encryption, firewalls, and intruder detection.

KMS, VPCs, and IAM are some security features of AWS.

Azure's strong focus on security gives you multiple options like Azure key vault, Azure active directory, and network security groups.

It allows you to pay for only the services your organization acquires.

AWS have a pay-as-you-go payment policy that makes you pay for the services before you use them.

The pricing model Azure offers is like that of AWS, with a pay-as-you-go payment system. This allows you to purchase reserved instances at a discounted price.

What are the unique services that each cloud platform offers?

Each platform offers multiple different services to meet the requirements of its customers. Every organization demands a certain set of services. Here are a few unique services for each platform so you can choose the perfect one for your business.




service comparison

  • Bare metal servers
  • Virtual servers
  • Object storage
  • Network services
  • Amazon S3
  • Amazon EC2
  • Amazon Lambda
  • Amazon
  • DynamoDB
  • Azure Cognitive services
  • Azure Functions
  • Azure DevOps
  • Azure Kubernetes service

There are a lot more distinct features and services that come along with these platforms. For more information on these platforms, you can contact their respective providers.

How do the costs compare between SoftLayer, AWS and Azure?

One of the most challenging factors when it comes to choosing a suitable cloud service provider is determining its overall cost. The price change depends on multiple factors, services and resources being consumed and the duration of their usage.

However, here is an overview of the pricing model each service provider offers and how it may be suitable for you.




pricing comparison

Flexible pricing model

Pay-as-you-go pricing model

Pay-as-you-go pricing model

With its flexible pricing model, IBM SoftLayer gives you the authority to pay for only the services and resources you consume.

To acquire Amazon Web Services, customers must pay monthly or hourly since it has a pay-as-you-go pricing system. 

Microsoft Azure has a pricing model like AWS with a pay-as-you-go system. 

This saves an extra outflow of cash as no unused resources are charged. 

AWS also offers reserved instances which allow you to book servers beforehand at a discounted price. 

Reserved systems are also a possibility just like AWS. Other options include pay-per-second and pay-per-minute pricing to give you a wider range of cost-saving methods.

Furthermore, with hourly and monthly pricing options, SoftLayer provides you with financial flexibility so you choose the best offer.

This can be cost-effective for your business if you need services at a certain time.

Bearing this in mind, you must choose the one that might fulfill your organization's needs and fit your company budget.

SoftLayer vs AWS vs Azure: How do they compare in popularity?

Popularity is determined by what an organization demands. For instance, your company might desire SoftLayer to fulfill its cloud computing needs if it suits you. 

However, since AWS and Azure provide more features and scalability, they are deemed more popular, with AWS leading the charts. 

In the end, the popularity of each platform is determined by how well it fits into the system of any organization, and only you decide if it is a clever idea to use a particular one.

SoftLayer vs AWS vs Azure: Market Share: Who is the winner? 

Amazon Web Services is the leader in cloud platform market share, with Azure falling short in second place. IBM's SoftLayer has a smaller market share than AWS and Azure, which are the top cloud service providers.

AWS leads the market with its worldwide reach and scalability allowing customers to get a broad cloud computing experience.

Here’s a comprehensive table to help you set apart the winner as of 2022: 

  • SoftLayer has a 3% market share.
  • AWS accounts for a whopping 32% of the shares.
  • Azure accounts for a 20% market share. 

What are the benefits of using AWS and Azure over SoftLayer?

Since AWS and Azure are bigger platforms than SoftLayer they provide you with several more benefits over IBM cloud (SoftLayer) including:

  • AWS and Azure provide a larger set of features and services to clients. This gives your organization flexibility and a bigger choice when it comes to cloud capabilities compared to Softlayer.

  • For many services, such as storage and computing, Azure and AWS offer customers a much better pricing model, unlike SoftLayer.

  • AWS and Azure have a worldwide setup of data centers that provides you with lower latency and more coverage. So, no matter where your organization is, AWS and Azure can provide you with features and services.

  • Azure and AWS are integrated with the ability to scale quickly and efficiently. This allows your organization to adapt to quick changes and growth.

With all these benefits that come along with Amazon Web Services and Azure, many organizations prefer them. However, it is up to you to choose the one you think is best.

SoftLayer vs AWS vs Azure: Pros and cons of each platform

Every platform excels in one field but needs improvement in others. We have listed the pros and cons of each cloud service provider for you to gain better insight into each of them.




Pros of each platform

  • Flexible pricing model with monthly and hourly options.
  • Good security features like firewalls.
  • Allows you to create hybrid cloud environments
  • Wide range of features and services.
  • Biggest market share.
  • Beneficial for new and small businesses
  • Suitable for large companies and organizations.
  • Allows you to integrate with other Microsoft services like windows.
  • Supports hybrid cloud environments




cons of each platform

  • Smaller market share as compared to AWS and Azure.
  • Limited scalability options so can be unable to adapt to changes.
  • Less features and services
  • Can be complex to learn for inexperienced users.
  • Limited support for hybrid cloud environments.
  • Has a higher cost for some services in comparison to other platforms
  • Smaller market share than AWS.
  • Some services lack in features in comparison to AWS.
  • Is more expensive than other platforms for certain services and offerings

Now, with the pros and cons outlined, you must evaluate which of the three platforms is best for your organization. Some features might be beneficial to you but not suitable for another business. In the end, you must decide which platform will fit your needs.

Which cloud service platforms are best for small businesses or individual users?

AWS and Azure are the biggest cloud computing platforms since they provide the greatest features and services. This makes them favor large companies more.

They can still benefit businesses looking to grow quickly if they have similar requirements. However, smaller companies feel more comfortable with SoftLayer due to its flexible pricing and good security.

Ultimately, it is your decision what you want to choose and what you feel is the best option for your organization.


SofLayer, AWS, and Azure are the three most top rated cloud hosting platforms that individuals and organizations implement. 

Each platform has its own set of pros and cons, and the final choice would depend on your specific requirements and budget. We’ve talked about how popular AWS is with its wide range of services, making it a great choice for businesses with complex business models. 

Azure is also a great choice and is known for its scalability, compatibility, and ease of use. The ultimate choice depends on you, so carefully evaluate the choices before you make your final call. 

About the author


Youssef is a Senior Cloud Consultant & Founder of

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