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



The demand for cloud services is skyrocketing high now that remote work is gaining traction. With more and more businesses looking for reliable cloud providers, one cannot ignore the comparison for AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud, the goliaths of cloud computing technology.

The competition and subsequent need for cloud comparison among Amazon (AWS), Microsoft (Azure), and Google (Cloud), is increasing. According to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Services, all three cloud service providers have been pronounced leaders yet again.

The three cloud providers serve the same purpose yet are quite different in terms of 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 run a cloud services comparison highlighting the major differences between AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud.

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

Which 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: over 200
Availability: 80 availability zones across 25 geographical locations

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 impacts 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 cloud infrastructure and platform services 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 unknowingly create a paradox of choice. Thus, it can get challenging to finalize the right service for your business
  • 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 have chosen Azure as their cloud service provider. Salesforce has 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 a 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
  • Microsoft Azure offers poor customer support, which, in turn, ruins the customer experience
  • Microsoft Azure 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 non-Microsoft customers face while using Azure

3. Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

Launch: April 2008
Products: over 100
Availability: 24 regions and 73 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, a powerful container manager. With its new service, Anthos that runs on Google Kubernetes Engine, Google plans to bring other mainstream cloud-based 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

What are the Major Differences Between AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud?

Public cloud service adoption for AWS is the highest, followed by Azure, and Google Cloud, according to Flexera 2021 State of the 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 to help you choose your cloud partner.

1. Market Share

The AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud market share in 2020 has shown considerable growth. Here is how the market share is fairing for the three cloud services in Q4, 2020 compared to the previous year.

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

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

The compute services offered by Microsoft Azure and their applicability are summarized in the following flowchart.

c. Google Cloud Compute

Google’s compute engine services include:

Compute Services Common Use Cases
Compute Engine

Web Hosting

Enterprise Apps

Databases

Migrate for Compute Engine Migration from:

On-premises

Multiple data centres

Clouds to Google Cloud

Cloud GPUs

Machine learning

Scientific simulations

Graphic visualization

Medical analysis

Preemptible VMs

Fault-tolerant workloads

Web crawling

Continuous integration

Hadoop and big data

Shielded Virtual Machines

Protection enterprise workloads

Protection against remote attacks

Protection against rootkits and bootkits

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
Object Storage

Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3):

Used to store and extract any volume of data from anywhere

File Storage

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

Amazon FSx for Windows File Server:
This service is applicable for windows 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

Block Storage

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

Backup

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

Data Transfer & Edge Computing

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

c. Google Cloud Platform Storage

Google offers a range of storage products, which include:

Google Storage Product Subcategories & Use Case
Object or Blob Storage

Cloud Storage:

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

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

Archival Storage

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

File Storage

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

Mobile Application

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

Data Transfer

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

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 comparison, 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
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

Trials: These are temporary offers that exist for a stipulated time. Service continuations require payment

Pricing Models

Pay-as-you-go: 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

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

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 its 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 and Resources
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/hr

Spot Pricing

An offer available for purchasing unused compute capacity at incredible discounts — up to 90% as opposed to a pay-as-you-go basis

Azure Price Calculator An on-site tool to calculate upfront costs and monthly costs.
Steps to estimate cost:

Select service

Choose customized requirements

Get estimated costs

TCO Calculator

Same as AWS — helps calculate the difference in expenditure between on-premises and Azure

Reservations

Azure offers discounts when you pre-book resources in advance. If you communicate your 1-3 year needs in advance, Azure assures discounts of up to 72%

c. Google Cloud Platform Pricing

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:

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

Google Cloud Platform Pricing Plans and Resources
Google Cloud Free Tier

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

Always free limited services for common services

Pricing Innovations

Sustained-use discounts: Get a 30% discount if a large part of the monthly billing cycle runs on the compute 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

Price for Performance Leadership

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

GCP Pricing Calculator

You would be required to fill a form to gain access to the Google cloud server calculator. The calculator will also help run a cloud services comparison to help you make an informed decision

Which is Better: AWS or Azure or Google Cloud?

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 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

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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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