Understanding the differences between OpenAI and Microsoft Azure OpenAI

When comparing OpenAI and Microsoft Azure OpenAI, it’s important to recognize their unique strengths and collaborative potential. Both entities leverage cutting-edge AI technology, yet they serve different audiences and purposes, offering distinct features and benefits.


OpenAI is a leading AI research lab that develops advanced AI models such as GPT-4, DALL-E, and Whisper. These models excel in tasks like language generation, image creation, and speech recognition. OpenAI focuses on creating safe and beneficial AI for a wide range of applications, from personal use to enterprise solutions.

Key Features of OpenAI

  1. Advanced AI Models: OpenAI’s models are state-of-the-art, offering unparalleled capabilities in natural language processing, computer vision, and more.
  2. Wide Accessibility: OpenAI’s tools are available to the public through APIs, with various subscription options catering to different needs.
  3. Research and Safety: OpenAI prioritizes research into AI safety, ensuring the technology is developed responsibly and ethically.

Microsoft Azure OpenAI

Microsoft Azure OpenAI combines OpenAI’s powerful models with Microsoft’s robust cloud infrastructure. Available exclusively to Microsoft Enterprise customers, Azure OpenAI offers a suite of AI capabilities tailored for enterprise use.

Key Features of Microsoft Azure OpenAI

  1. Custom Models: Azure OpenAI allows for the customization of AI models to meet specific business needs and requirements.
  2. Text Prompt Processing: Fine-tuned AI models are designed to handle specific tasks efficiently, ensuring high performance.
  3. Ethical AI Usage: Azure OpenAI includes features for prompt examination to ensure ethical use, monitoring, and preventing misuse of AI technologies.
  4. Seamless Integration: Azure OpenAI integrates seamlessly with other Azure services, providing businesses with a cohesive and powerful suite of tools.

Key Differences and Feature Matrix

  • Ownership and Operation: While OpenAI operates independently, Azure OpenAI is a collaborative effort between Microsoft and OpenAI, combining strengths from both organizations.
  • Access and Availability: OpenAI’s models are publicly accessible with flexible subscription options. In contrast, Azure OpenAI is available exclusively to Microsoft Enterprise customers and requires an Azure subscription.
  • Support and Integration: Azure OpenAI offers integration with Azure Cognitive Services and comprehensive support for enterprise users. OpenAI provides customer support through various channels for its public API users.
  • Training Data Usage: Azure OpenAI uses customer data strictly for custom model development and does not use it for broader model improvements. OpenAI used training data for model improvements prior to March 2023.
  • Regional Availability: Azure OpenAI is available in specific regions, aligning with Azure’s data center locations, while OpenAI’s services are accessible globally.

Your prompts (inputs) and completions (outputs), your embeddings, and your training data using Azure OpenAI:

  • are NOT available to other customers.
  • are NOT available to OpenAI.
  • are NOT used to improve OpenAI models.
  • are NOT used to improve any Microsoft or 3rd party products or services.
  • are NOT used for automatically improving Azure OpenAI models for your use in your resource (The models are stateless, unless you explicitly fine-tune models with your training data).
  • Your fine-tuned Azure OpenAI models are available exclusively for your use.

The Azure OpenAI Service is fully controlled by Microsoft; Microsoft hosts the OpenAI models in Microsoft’s Azure environment and the Service does NOT interact with any services operated by OpenAI (e.g. ChatGPT, or the OpenAI API).

CategoryFeatureOpenAIAzure OpenAI
Network SecurityVirtual Networks✔️
Private Endpoints✔️
Identity and Access ManagementAzure RBAC✔️
Azure AD✔️
Data SecurityEncryption at Rest✔️✔️
Encryption In Transit✔️✔️
Data Sovereignty (region)✔️
Logical Storage Isolation✔️
Customer Managed Keys✔️
Privacy Standards*✔️✔️
Use Customer Data for Training*✔️
Data Privacy✔️✔️
Can opt-out of API data retention✔️
Data Residency
Can choose between different regions✔️
Ethical AIContent Moderator Controls✔️✔️
Responsible AI Principles✔️✔️
Content Moderator Opt-Out✔️
Infrastructure Security
Infrastructure Security✔️✔️
Virtual Networking✔️
Private Link✔️

* Azure OpenAI does not utilize customer data for enhancement purposes. For more information, see the Azure OpenAI data, privacy, and security guide.

** Various compliance standards/certifications applicable to Azure OpenAI include CSA STAR Attestation, ISO 22301:2019, SOC1,2,3, and Germany C5. For a comprehensive list of Azure Compliance Offerings ( The OpenAI API complies with SOC 2 Type 2 standards and has undergone an audit by an independent third-party auditor based on the 2017 Trust Services Criteria for Security. For more information on API data usage policies (

Integration and Benefits

Azure OpenAI

  • Enhanced Flexibility and Control: By integrating with other Azure services, Azure OpenAI offers businesses greater flexibility, control, and the ability to leverage a comprehensive cloud ecosystem.
  • Enterprise-Grade Solutions: Azure OpenAI is tailored for enterprise use, providing robust, scalable AI solutions that meet stringent business requirements.


  • Innovative Capabilities: OpenAI’s models represent the forefront of AI development, driving innovation across various industries and applications.
  • Research-Driven Approach: OpenAI’s commitment to ongoing research ensures continuous improvement and the ethical advancement of AI technologies.


By understanding these differences and the unique offerings of each platform, businesses and developers can choose the solution that best aligns with their needs and goals. Whether leveraging the enterprise-grade capabilities of Azure OpenAI or the cutting-edge models from OpenAI, both options provide powerful tools to harness the potential of artificial intelligence.