Azure & AWS features to blow your mind

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Azure & AWS features to blow your mind

3 features that set AWS apart

AWS and Azure are two of the top public cloud providers, and while it may seem like they offer many of the same features, they each boast unique advantages. Amazon offers more flexible pricing for their cloud services, though with some of the technical details abstracted. AWS provides additional features to virtualisation, storage and application development.

Application Streaming

Amazon AppStream 2.0 is a fully managed, secure application that allows native desktop applications to be streamed directly to users via an ordinary web browser. AppStream 2.0 allows you to continue using legacy desktop applications in the cloud while users interact with them on any HTML5 compatible browser platform. This significantly increases infrastructure flexibility. AppStream 2.0 is priced per hour, on top of a small monthly fee. In the Asia Pacific region, an application running on a general purpose instance with 2 virtual CPUs and 4 GB memory is 10 cents per hour. Larger configurations are available with hourly costs around $3/month. See for more information.

Video Gaming

A very exciting product that Amazon offers is their own modern, cross-platform AAA game engine called Lumberyard. Lumberyard includes a full current stack from rendering and networking to level editing and character modelling with animation, plus many more features for modern game development.

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Being an AWS product, Lumberyard includes native support for Amazon’s GameList – a managed service to aid in multiplayer game deployment and maintenance; and Cloud Canvas – a tool to help build online features such as leaderboards, news feeds and connect to other AWS products such as S3. Lumberyard is completely free to use with Amazon’s infrastructure or your own physical hardware. See for more details.


Amazon has a growing collection of artificial intelligence applications and services. Amazon Polly is Text-to-Speech-engine-as-a-service, a feature unique to Amazon Web Services. Amazon Polly supports many languages and lifelike voice output. With an easy to use API, text can be read aloud with the output used in many applications. By streaming the output directly from the cloud, low-power applications such as tablets, smartphones, public address systems can also benefit from text-to-speech. Amazon Polly supports Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML), a W3C format for influencing speech generation and voice, and there are many controls available for pronunciation. Amazon Polly is quite affordable with 4 minutes worth of text costing mere cents and free replays. See for more details.

CT4 are Amazon AWS partners and have the expertise to help you and your business grow on Amazon’s cloud services. Contact us here.

3 features that set Azure apart

While the top public cloud providers, AWS and Azure, may seem to be offering much the same product set, each have their own strengths and features. As previously discussed Microsoft offers a simpler pricing model with deeper access into the technical options of the public cloud platform. Microsoft offers some rather fascinating artificial intelligence products as discussed in our earlier post. In this post, I’d like to share 3 rather unique features of Azure that Microsoft offers that can help your business grow and save you development time.

Custom Search

Custom search for websites and applications is not a trivial feature to develop. Microsoft aims to solve this problem by allowing you to add custom search to your application without developing it! Using Azure Search you can take advantage of Microsoft’s knowledge and experience with natural language processing to help users easily find the information they need. Azure Search is fully managed and scalable so you don’t need to manually manage your search indexes. As an Azure service, you can use a familiar API and a .Net SDK. Azure Search is charged by the hour (plus bandwidth) with plans based on the number of indexes, documents hosted and storage needed.

For more information see:

Video Analysis

The Azure Video Indexer is a new cloud service from Microsoft, currently in preview, which analyses videos to discover insights and timings into speakers and scenes in the video. Video Indexer has many uses including audio transcription in several languages, speaker and scene identification based on visual analysis, emotion detection plus many more. Video Indexer can be used on-demand via the web portal or developers can use the REST API to analyse videos programmatically or within their own applications.

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For more information see:

Multi-factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication is increasingly becoming a core requirement for any online services. Microsoft has an MFA cloud-based solution available for Azure and other Microsoft services.
Explainer: Multi-factor authentication helps to ensure authorised access to a system by requiring another factor of verification on top of your password in case it’s compromised. This usually consists of something physical you possess such as a code generating device, one-time use password or code sent to your phone.

Azure Multi-factor Authentication provides a range of verification options – phone call, SMS, or mobile app and uses machine learning to identify inconsistent sign-in patterns and possible threats, alerting administrators of suspicious activity. Multi-factor Authentication Server can be deployed on-premises or used within Azure to help secure VPNs, Active Directory and Remote Desktop. Using their SDK you can integrate Azure’s Multi-factor Authentication into your own applications for increased sign-on or transaction security. Within the Australia East region, Azure MFA is currently $1.784 per month for per user for unlimited authentications, with similarly priced plans for other usage models. (Pricing may vary if you have an Enterprise Agreement.)

See for more details.
CT4 are Microsoft Azure partners and have the expertise to help you and your business grow on Microsoft cloud services. Contact us here.