Comparing Cloud Providers: AWS vs. Azure vs. GCP
In a little over a decade, the cloud went from a new buzzword and fascinating concept to indispensable for business. In fact, by 2020, it’s predicted that 67% of enterprise infrastructure will be cloud-based, and 82% of the workload will reside on the cloud.
Despite the booming success of the cloud, there are still only three providers that largely dominate the space: Amazon Web Service, Microsoft’s Azure, and Google Cloud Provider. The three tech giants give companies the chance to move their infrastructure to be continuously maintained, so that businesses can use their resources and time to stay focused on their product.
Which one is right for you and your business?
It depends. Although the gap between them is closing as their technologies advance, they still have specific advantages depending on your business size, priorities, and needs. By taking a look into what each company offers, you can be confident in deciding which one works best for your situation.
Here is a breakdown of each cloud providers to help you decide which one is right for you!
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
AWS is the first cloud provider. They are the oldest of the three providers and started near the beginning of the cloud in 2006. They’re also the biggest cloud provider available and saw $25.7 billion in revenue last year, more than any other provider.
AWS works as an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud service platform that serves mostly cloud-only solutions. As the first of the cloud providers, AWS offers a much more well-developed platform. AWS works continually to improve its platform, so you can benefit from its years of perfecting the cloud for users. As a result of their high degree of perfection, Amazon has fewer performance issues than Azure and Google Cloud and is highly reliable.
Security is also an attractive feature with AWS. It offers the Amazon Inspector, which assesses applications for potential vulnerabilities and deviation from best practices. In addition to Amazon Inspector, users can choose from a variety of security features that work for them with adaptive tools.
The features that AWS offers are impressive, but can also be a weakness for some companies. Amazon offers over 140 services that cover just about everything you might need. The sheer abundance of options is often overwhelming for small businesses who don’t need as many services and struggle to weed through what they want. However, it’s a great choice for enterprises that have more needs than a smaller or newer company. It also is a safer choice for growing companies that may require more options in the future.
AWS has spent most of its history in cloud-only networks. Hybrid systems, where a user has both on-premise software in addition to the cloud network, were discouraged and mostly neglected. It has recently started building up some hybrid support, but it’s not as well developed as its cloud-only systems. If your business requires a hybrid system, you may want to take caution before using AWS.
In response to Amazon’s growing dominance amongst cloud providers, Microsoft’s Azure became a well-suited rival in 2010. As opposed to AWS’s cloud-only stance, Azure is a hybrid platform that is geared toward app development and Internet of Things.
Since then, Microsoft has pushed Azure as the forefront of their development, even in front of Windows. Although Windows continues to be popular amongst businesses, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella could see that the future was in the cloud platform.
At least in part through careful development and business-friendly options, Azure became a significant contender in the cloud market. Microsoft reported an impressive $23.2 billion in commercial cloud revenue for 2018. However, Microsoft bundles Azure’s revenue with Office 365, so it’s impossible to tell exactly how much Azure accounts for that number.
Microsoft intentionally created a hybrid-platform to rival the cloud-only based Amazon system. Many companies are hesitant to adopt cloud-only technology, so Azure offers a great mix of on-premise technology with the cloud. In one survey, 66.5% of companies cited sensitive data as a threat to using IaaS. With the rise in data breaches and increased data regulation, some businesses need more options for storing data to make sure that it’s more protected. For those who need a hybrid option, Azure offers the most well-developed technology.
Although Azure is not as old as AWS, Microsoft’s history in both technology and business gives them an edge in technical and business expertise. Azure is a well-designed platform that harnesses their expertise to create more options for businesses.
Azure offers an impressive amount of services that help serve a wide variety of user needs. Azure is especially useful for developers as it provides more platform-as-a-service (PaaS) resources than Amazon in addition to its IaaS services. Users can also automate more of their common tasks through Azure capabilities. Automation management is still not offered, though: users still need to directly operate Azure to make sure that all data is maintained.
Scalability is a concern for smaller businesses. With Azure, users can choose to scale up or down their services depending on what they need. For example, retailers are often busy during the holiday season, but business quickly slows down in the months afterward. During busy times, users have the option to scale up for more service. They also have the option to scale down, so users only pay for what they need.
Azure is also ideal for businesses and users that are already using Microsoft products. It’s easy to implement and Microsoft products work seamlessly together. However, it may not be as suitable for users with Apple products, such as MacOS. Azure has recently become a much more open platform, so Linux users will find it’s surprisingly compatible. Even though former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer famously referred to Linux as a “cancer,” Microsoft recently made a move to create a more open environment. As a result, about 40% of virtual machines in Azure run Linux.
Unlike AWS or Google, Azure relies very little on third-party software for backup. This can potentially create a liability since a blow to their system would inevitably hurt their users. Users are very dependent on Microsoft to make sure that Azure’s back-up systems run flawlessly.
Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
Although Google is relatively much smaller than its competitors, it’s still in the running as an extremely competitive option for users. Although Google hasn’t released its revenue numbers for 2018, some estimates put it around $6 billion.
Google Cloud’s strength comes from its innovation. Although it may offer fewer services than its competitors, it’s ahead of the pack in innovative capabilities. GCP specializes in analytics, Big Data, and Containerization. Additionally, it offers many IT-focused services.
Machine learning is another advantage of Google Cloud. It offers better incorporation for machine learning with their services. Services such as Cloud Speech-to-Text and Google Translate are two of several APIs that use specific applications of machine learning.
Google provides IaaA, PaaS, and Storage-as-a-Service (STaaS) platforms. One of Google’s services, BigQuery, even uses Analyzing-as-a-Service (AaaS). It’s unique to Google Cloud, and AWS and Azure don’t offer a similar service. BigQuery allows users to access real-time analytics and find answers about large amounts of data within seconds. This is a significant improvement over the typical hours and days that it would otherwise take.
In addition to Google Cloud’s innovation and speed, it’s also an open provider and heavily supports open source developments. This makes it ideal for companies that would like to develop open source products. It’s important to many in the IT world. Kubernetes is one of their most popular open source programs that is used to manage and deploy containers. AWS and Azure have even adopted Kubernetes because of its capabilities.
For security, Google Cloud automatically encrypts all data. However, it doesn’t offer as strong security as AWS or Azure. They mostly rely on third-party providers for backup and recovery. Their main disaster recovery and migration provider, CloudEndure, was acquired by Amazon, so it’s not clear what will become of their backup service. Relying mostly on third-parties for client backup weakens their ability to promise safety.
Picking the right cloud provider for you
Cloud services allow you to spend less time and resources maintaining your data and more time concentrating on your business. For modern companies building a connection with a cloud service is not a matter of if but when. Research shows that even small and new businesses need the cloud to help get ahead. Finding the right provider takes understanding your needs and priorities and weighing them against what the providers offer.
Amazon Web Services offer the widest range of services and growth capabilities. Microsoft’s Azure has hybrid capabilities necessary for some companies. Google Cloud provides speed and innovation. However, as technology improves each year, there are more options that each provider offers.
The decision over which cloud provider doesn’t have to be overwhelming, though. Take some time to understand what each provider offers to get the insight you need to make an informed choice.
Regardless of which you go with—AWS, Azure, GCP, or perhaps an on-prem infrastructure solution—remember to stay modular and prepare for possible lock-in issues that might arise with signing up for a platform. At MetaRouter, we have leveraged the power of Kubernetes to ensure that our service is available to organizations regardless of infrastructure. By choosing services that remain platform agnostic in the age of cloud proliferation, you can commit to an infrastructure without the anxiety of immobilization as you move forward and grow.