What is the Difference Between AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud?

AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud - Comparison Guide

The cloud market has reached its tipping point, especially now that remote work is slowly dominating the work dynamics. As businesses are looking for reliable cloud providers, the comparison for AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud cannot be ignored as they are considered the goliaths of cloud computing technology.

Cloud spend hits a record high in Q1 2020, up 34% due to remote working demand. — Canalys

The competition and subsequent cloud comparison among Amazon (AWS), Microsoft (Azure), and Google (Cloud) have been the talk of the town as all the three are pronounced leaders, according to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant report for cloud IaaS.

Gartner Magic Quadrant Report places AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud as IaaS leaders

The three cloud providers serve the same purpose, yet are quite different with respect to features, functionality pricing, and storage capacity. Be it AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud, an organization should always choose a provider that suits its business and functional requirements.

In this writeup, we’ll conduct a thorough cloud services comparison that highlights the major differences among AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud and what are the corresponding pros and cons of each of the cloud providers.

AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud — An Introduction to the Cloud Services

Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud are gaining immense popularity in the PaaS and IaaS domain. Since Gartner declared three of them to be the leaders in IaaS, businesses have been closely following them to make a well-informed decision.

So, what is the best cloud platform? Let’s start with an overview of the three before moving ahead with the cloud providers comparison.

1. Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Launch: March 2006
Services: 160
Availability: 76 availability zones across 24 geographical regions

Amazon offers on-demand cloud services to organizations across the globe on a pay-as-you-go basis through Amazon Web Services (AWS). Like its other diversified businesses, Amazon’s cloud computing business is widely accepted and ranks in the first position,i.e., their AWS market share is the largest.

AWS had the unusual advantage of a seven-year head start before facing like-minded competition. As a result, the AWS services are by far the most evolved and most functionality-rich. — Jeff Bezos

Who Uses AWS: Platforms such as Slack and Netflix run on AWS to offer 24/7 seamless uptime. Even during the challenging times when COVID-19 is impacting businesses and the workforce adversely, AWS is supporting its customers to handle the surge in demand while working from home.

AWS Advantages:

  • Market leader for IaaS according to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant report
  • Suitable for handling mission-centric, critical workloads
  • Offers customizable services while covering a broad range of the market, i.e., startups, small and medium-sized businesses, and large scale enterprises
  • AWS has a global presence as it subdivides its data centers into regions, each of which further gets branched into two availability zones

AWS Disadvantages:

  • The cost structuring can get tricky to interpret. Amazon Web Services offers discounts for several services, but these lowered costs do not stand true for all the AWS services, which leads to confusion
  • AWS wishes to maintain a competitive edge by launching new services before anyone else. In this race towards getting there first, they often compromise on service quality. So, while they rework on the services post-launch, it takes considerable time to update
  • There is a steep learning curve involved for software-enabled data centers established for large-scale enterprises

2. Microsoft Azure

Launch: February 2010
Services: 600 +
Availability: 60+ regions across 140 countries

Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing service for building and managing applications through Microsoft’s managed service data centers. Microsoft already has a substantial user base for its in-built applications, which gives it a competitive advantage because of the default preference.

Who Uses Azure: Companies like Pixar, Dell, and Xerox use Microsoft Azure to tend to cloud services needs. Salesforce has recently declared Microsoft Azure as its public cloud provider for its marketing cloud.

Microsoft Azure Advantages:

  • Suitable for organizations that are primarily committed to Microsoft technology
  • Azure offers Hyperscale solution that addresses the scalability issues concerning compute, storage, and memory
  • You can save up to 40% on virtual machines when using Azure Hybrid Cloud

Microsoft Azure Disadvantages:

  • Microsoft Azure has shown reliability issues owing to the outages instances reported in the past. For example, the 2-hour long outage that Microsoft witnessed on May 2nd, 2019. Such interruptions pull off the power of control from the customers.
  • Azure apparently offers poor customer support, which, in turn, ruins the customer experience.
  • Microsoft has high expectations from its customers as its sales strategy has always been around focusing on its already established customer base. They tend to overlook the challenges that the non-Microsoft customers face while using Azure.

Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

Launch: April 2008
Products: 90
Availability: 22 regions and 61 zones (deployment area)

Google Cloud is a suite of cloud computing services that runs on the infrastructure that Google deploys for its user-centric products. Its cloud services include — computing, storage, analytics, and machine learning (ML).

Who Uses Google Cloud: Brands such as Twitter, Johnson & Johnson, Forbes, and Spotify, run their operations on Google Cloud.

Google Cloud Advantages:

  • The key advantage of Google Cloud Platform narrows down to Google Kubernetes Engine, which is one of a kind container manager. With its new service, Anthos that runs on Google Kubernetes Engine, Google plans to bring other mainstream cloud services such as AWS and Azure to Kubernetes
  • Google Cloud Platform offers live migrations of virtual machines
  • Flexible cost structure and added flexibility due to its open-source nature

Google Cloud Disadvantages:

  • GCP is often used as a secondary provider as opposed to a strategic provider
  • According to Gartner reviews, GCP shows the immaturity of processes and procedures with enterprise accounts
  • Google needs to up its game when it comes to the range of services it offers. AWS vs Azure offers stiff competition in that regard

AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud: Comparison

Public cloud adoption for AWS is the highest, followed by Azure, and Google Cloud, according to RightScale State of Cloud Report. This implies the immense popularity that the three cloud providers enjoy.

In the following section, we’ll run an AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud services comparison for helping you choose your cloud partner.

A Rightscale report that illustrates how AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud are gaining popularity

1. Market Share

The AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud market share 2020 has shown considerable growth since COVID-19 happened. Here is how the market share is fairing for the three cloud services in 2020 compared to the previous year.

Market Share Comparison for 2019 vs 2020
Amazon Web Services Microsoft Azure Google Cloud Platform

Q4 2019: 32.4%

Q1 2020: 32%

Q4 2019: 18%

Q1 2020: 17%

Q4 2019: 6%

Q1 2020: 6%

Revenue Q4 2019:
$9.8 billion

Revenue Q1 2020:
$10.22 billion

Revenue Q4 2019:
$5.3 billion

Revenue Q1 2020:
$13.3 billion

Revenue Q4 2019:
$2.6 billion

Revenue Q1 2020:
$2.78 billion

2. Compute

This service offers computational capabilities and is a significant part of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Here’s an Amazon AWS vs Microsoft Azure vs Google Cloud comparison for its respective computing services.

a. AWS Compute

AWS Compute: Amazon Web Services offers different types of compute engine services for all types of businesses. These services range from:

AWS Compute Services Use Cases
Amazon EC2 Offers compute capacity in the cloud
Amazon EC2 Auto-Scaling Maintains application availability by allowing to add or remove EC2 instances
Amazon Elastic Container Registry Container that makes it easier for developers to store and manage Docker Container images
Amazon Elastic Container Service Facilitates running and scaling of containerized applications on AWS
Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service Allows to deploy and manage containerized applications using Kubernetes
Amazon Lightsail A convenient way to launch a virtual private server with AWS
AWS Batch Allows running thousands of batch computing jobs on AWS
AWS Fargate Compute engine that helps run containers without the need to manage servers or clusters
AWS Lambda Allows to run code without the need to provision or manage servers
AWS Outposts Can bring native AWS services, infrastructure to any data-center or on-premise facility

b. Azure Compute

Azure Compute: The compute services offered by Microsoft Azure and its applicability are summarized in the following flowchart:

Azure Compute Services breakdown along with when to use which compute service

Google Cloud Compute

GCP Compute: Google’s compute engine services include:

Compute Services Common Use Cases
1. Compute Engine

Web Hosting

Enterprise Apps


2. Migrate for Compute Engine


Multiple data centers

Clouds to Google Cloud

3. Cloud GPUs

Machine learning

Scientific simulations

Graphic visualization

Medical analysis

4. Preemptible VMs

Fault-tolerant workloads

Web crawling

Continuous integration

Hadoop and big data

5. Shielded Virtual Machines

Protect enterprise workloads

Protect against remote attacks

Protect against rootkits and bootkits

6. Sole Tenant Nodes

Dedicated compute for workloads

Meet security and compliance needs

Visibility on physical core usage information

3. Storage

With the help of cloud storage services, clients get the flexibility to store, access, monitor, and manage their data in an organized and efficient way. Here’s how storage is a differentiator between AWS vs Azure vs GCP.

a. Amazon AWS Storage

These are the services that are covered in the AWS storage services.

Storage Service Type Subcategory
1. Object Storage

Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3):
Used to store and extract any volume of data from anywhere.

2. File Storage

Amazon Elastic File System:
Provides a network file system (NFS) which is scalable and fully manageable.

Amazon FSx for Windows File Server:
This service is applicable for windows file servers, accessible over the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol.

Amazon FSx for Lustre:
This service makes it easy and economical to launch and execute file systems where speed matters.

3. Block Storage

Amazon Elastic Block Store:
Works in alignment with AWS EC2 for throughout and critical transactional workload.

4. Backup

AWS Backup:
Holds the ability to centralize and automate data backup in the AWS environment.

5. Data Transfer & Edge Computing

AWS Storage Gateway:
A hybrid cloud storage service that gives access to illimitable space.

AWS DataSync:
It makes it easier to migrate large data for Windows File Server.

AWS Transfer Family:
Offers complete support for to-and-fro file transfers for Amazon S3.

AWS Snowball:
A device that provides block storage and Amazon S3 congenial object storage and is primarily used for local storage and large-scale data transfers.

AWS Snowmobile:
Offers exabyte-scale service to allow movement of large data files to AWS.

b. Microsoft Azure Storage

These are the types of Azure storage services made available by Microsoft.

Storage Service Type Use Case
1. Disk Storage Offers scalable and secure ultra-disk storage for deployed virtual machines.
2. Blob Storage Allows creating data lakes for your analytics needs and also offers space for creating cloud native apps.
3. Archive Storage Is a low price storage service that enables secure file shares across the cloud network.
4. Queue Storage Offers message queuing for large and critical workloads across applications.
5. Data Box It is a device that enables data transfer to Microsoft Azure and Edge Compute.
6. Azure NetApp File Offers secure and fool-proof file shares for enterprise workloads without code change.
7. Azure HPC Cache Enables transferring and management of surplus compute capacity to Azure.

c. Google Cloud Platform

Google offers a range of storage products, which include:

Storage Service Type Use Case
1. Object or Blob Storage

Cloud Storage:
Secure cloud storage that offers edge-caching and swift data access. Suitable for video streaming and data lakes.

2. Block Storage

Persistent Disk:
Offers block storage for virtual machines and containers. Suitable for virtual machine disks, sharing read-only data, and virtual machine backups.

Local SSD:
Offers transitory local block storage for virtual machines and containers.

3. Archival Storage

Cloud Storage:
It offers ultra-low-cost storage and is suitable for backups, managing long-tail content, and media archives.

4. File Storage

Cloud Filestore:
Offers fully managed and scalable storage, which is suitable for home directories and application migrations.

5. Mobile Application

Cloud Storage for Firebase:
Offers storage for user-generated content and is suitable for managed uploads over applications.

6. Data Transfer

Data Transfer Services:
Enables streamlined offline, online, and cloud-to-cloud data transfer. Suitable when migration from S3 to Google Cloud.

7. Collaboration

G Suite Essentials:
Offers content storage and collaboration. Suitable for accessing files from anywhere and at any time, and video conferencing.

4. Pricing

When it comes to AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud pricing, they seem to continuously compete with each other by offering discounts and best-in-the-market service packages.

Let’s discuss the AWS vs Azure vs GCP cost model in detail.

a. Amazon AWS

Amazon follows the pay-as-you-go approach,i.e., you only pay for what you use and for as long you use it. Their other pricing principles include — Save when you reserve and pay less when using more.

Amazon AWS Pricing, Plans & Resources
1. Free Tier

12-Month Free:
Available to new AWS customers applicable from the sign-up date. However, restrictions exist.

Always Free:
These are limited and basic services that are always free and available for existing and new customers.

These are ephemeral offers that exist for a stipulated time. Service continuations require payment.

2. Pricing Models

Adapt to change without being obliged to keep paying for services you don’t need.

Save When you Reserve:
Endow in reserved instances such as Amazon EC2 and Amazon RDS. The higher the upfront payment, the better the discount.

Pay Less by Using More:
The more services you opt for, the lesser you pay. This is called a volume-based discount offer.

3. AWS Price Calculator: For estimating the price of AWS services Three Steps to Estimate Price:

Add Services

Configure services as per your business needs

View estimated costs

4. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Calculator: For analyzing cost savings while using AWS What is included in TCO reports?

In-depth cost breakdowns

Cost comparisons for on-premise vs AWS

FAQs for eliminating confusions

b. Microsoft Azure

Microsoft also works on a similar pay-as-you-go model to offer its customers the same experience as that of AWS. Microsoft Azure has compared their pricing plans with AWS to showcase how their plans are comparatively cheaper.

Microsoft Azure claims that their services are 5x cheaper when it comes to Azure vs AWS pricing, for Windows and SQL services.

Here are some of the Azure costing resources for getting started:

Microsoft Azure Pricing, Plans & Resources
1. Azure Services

Linux Virtual Machines: Starting from $0.004/hr

Functions: Starting from $0.20 per million executions

Block Blob Storage ( ZRS Hot): $0.023/hr

Block Blob Storage (ZRS Cool): $0.013/h

2. Spot Pricing An offer available for purchasing unused compute capacity at incredible discounts — up to 90% as opposed to pay-as-you-go basis
3. Azure Price Calculator A on-site tool to calculate upfront costs and monthly costs.
Steps to estimate cost:

Select service

Choose customized requirements

Get estimated costs

4. TCO Calculator Same as AWS. Helps calculate the difference in expenditure between on-premises and Azure.
5. Reservations For analyzing cost savings while using AWS Azure offers discounts when you pre-book resources in advance. If you communicate your 1-3 year needs in advance, Azure assures discounts up to 72%.

c. Google Cloud Platform

Google also works on a pay-as-you-go basis by asking you to pay for only what you need. GCP also assures $0 up-front costs and no termination fees. The storage price of Google Cloud Platform is 21% less (average) when it comes to GCP vs AWS for online storage.

Other price plans and resources include:

Other price plans and resources include:

Google Cloud Platform Pricing, Plans & Resources
1. Google Cloud Free Tier

An annual free trial along with $300 credit for Google Cloud services of your choice (eligibility criteria follows)

Always free limited services for common services

2. Pricing Innovations

Sustained-use discounts: Get a 30% discount if a large part of the monthly billing cycle runs on commute engine and Cloud SQL.

Preemptible VM Instances: Get up to 79% discount for workloads such as data mining and data processing.

Per-Second Billing: Offer that includes billing on a per second basis.

Custom MachineType: Choose any configuration for CPU and memory and save up to 48%.

3. Price for Performance Leadership

List Price Leader: Compute engine price is 8% less (average) as compared to EC2.

4. Pricing Calculator You would be required to fill a form to estimate the cost of your customized cloud product. It will also help compare how the costs are better than other cloud providers.

AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud — Which one to Choose?

Choosing between AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud solely depends on your business needs and corresponding workloads. It is not necessary that your competitor’s cloud service adoption might be the best fit for you too.

Here when to choose what cloud service:

  • When to choose AWS: If you are looking for a wide range of cloud services and tools with the maximum reach, AWS is your best fit.
  • When to choose Azure: If you have your operations running on Windows and Microsoft applications, Azure is the best choice to make.
  • When to choose Google Cloud: Though it may not look like a viable option compared to the other two providers, it is a committed platform for small, web-oriented startups. If you are keen on the use of machine learning, Google Cloud can be a good pick.

Contact Net Solutions for building cloud applications

Rajnish Kumar Sharma

About the Author

Rajnish Kumar Sharma is a Project Lead at Net Solutions and is a part of Continuous Integration (CI), Continuous Delivery (CD), and security initiatives. Apart from exploring new technologies and handling technical challenges, Rajnish is equally passionate about movies, cricket, and traveling.

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