The Battle of the Clouds: AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud Platform

By Feryal ShoaibUpdated on Apr 5, 2019

With the continuing rise in popularity of cloud computing, the competition between the cloud service providers is intensifying. The convenience of storing your data and resources on third-party remote virtual servers is playing well with the IT industry, with users now having multiple cloud providers to choose from. Users today, can with relative ease, compare services across domains to find the ones most matched to their budget and needs.

To read more about cloud computing, check out

Introducing the Opponents: AWS vs Azure vs Google

  • Microsoft Azure: Azure entered the cloud arena 8 years ago and has shown great potential. Azure provides a complete set of cloud services, claiming to cover more regions globally than any of their competitors.
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS): With 13 years of experience, AWS is one of the oldest players in the market. Its computing services are pervasive. It is the most widely used cloud platform.
  • Google Cloud Platform (GCP): GCP has been in the market for the comparatively short period of 7 years but has created a notable niche for itself. It was initially created to power services such as YouTube and Google. Eventually, Google followed its entrepreneurial
    instincts and opened its cloud service to the public.

Storage

When considering which platform to use and understand, storage is deemed to be the most significant factor. Cloud storage needs to be able to solve multiple management and computing problems and also ensure that data is transferred without any loss and without compromising on security.

MS Azure uses Azure Virtual Disks that connect to Azure Virtual Machines, which use a block storage device. Block storage divides the data into equally-sized portions. This allows fast changes in just a small piece of data.

cloud storage disk

AWS’s native cloud object storage is S3 which offers a flexible and cost-effective storage solution. It also uses Elastic Block Storage (Amazon EBS). Moreover, it also employs Dense Storage Instances. Dense Storage Instances are an Amazon EC2 instance type that offers customers up to 48 TB of storage.AWS storage is extensively documented and tested.

Lastly, GCP offers a wide range of storage solutions, from block storage to object storage. Google Cloud Storage provides object storage while Persistent Disk offers block storage which uses SSD and HDD storage. Multiple other services for different types of data include Google Cloud Bigtable, Google Cloud Datastore and Google Cloud SQL

Cloud Platform Score (5)
1.      AWS 4.9
2.     GCP 4.6
3.     MS Azure 4.5

Computing Power

This is the processing power offered by cloud services. In general, the higher the computing power, the better the performance. However, as the computing power increases, so does the price, which is why some providers do not provide high computing power.

As far as virtual servers are concerned, MS Azure provides Virtual Machines and Virtual Machine Scale Sets, whereas AWS offers EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) which processes the computing services. It operates by handling virtual machines which are either configured by the user or, for convenience, come with preconfigured settings. In comparison, GCP employs GCE (Google Compute Engine) to principally deliver the equivalent. All three cloud providers support containers which are very simple to manage. You can add more power or storage and very easily shift them to new locations.

cloud computing desktop

In terms of the technicalities, all three are quite similar. It is challenging to differentiate which platform is the most suitable by comparing the computing power.

Cloud Platform Score (5)
1.      AWS 5
2.     GCP 5
3.     MS Azure 5

Locations and Availability

When it comes to budgeting and deploying resources, location is a key determinant. First, you need to ensure that the applications operate at their optimum by having the shortest possible route to the anticipated client base. Second, you want to choose the cheapest option available, remembering that pricing differs by region. For example, the US can be an expensive place to have a cloud server in.

cloud computing regions

 

All three cloud platforms provide great coverage around the globe. AWS leads with 55 availability zonesMS Azure is next, with a coverage of 54 zones. GCP is slightly behind with availability in 49 zones.

In coverage, AWS leads with a 4.9/5, MS Azure is a close second with a 4.8/5, and GCP comes third with a 4.4/5.

Cloud Platform Score (5)
1.      AWS 4.9
2.     MS Azure 4.8
3.     GCP 4.4

Pricing

For startups and scale up companies on a budget, pricing can be the most critical factor. Often, pricing can be complicated, as it varies according to region and specifications.

Starting with MS Azure, which always includes the cost of the local Solid-State-Drives (SSD), one pays regardless of the need for SSDs. AWS and Azure prices differ from region to region. The most expensive zones in Asia can cost up to 50 per cent more than the cheapest zones in the U.S.

Cloud instance pricing AWS vs Azure vs GCP

Moving on to AWS, the primary discounting method for computing resources on AWS is Reserved Instances (RIs). RIs are not actual instances, but instead should be thought of as discount coupons that can be applied to instances that meet specific criteria (region availability zone, instance family, and operating system). AWS has payment options with and without the SSDs.

GCP provides the most straightforward method to save money on computing resources through the use of Sustained Usage Discount (SUD). The SUD offers its customers a monthly discount based on the percentage of time that instances in a particular family operated in a specific month. Google Cloud Platform tends to be the most feasible option when no SSD is needed and the most expensive option when SSDs are required.

If you do not have access to AWS RIs and do not own a Microsoft EA subscription for MS Azure, Google Cloud is probably the cheapest solution because the Google SUD applies regardless.

Cloud Platform Score (5)
1.      GCP 4.7
2.     AWS 4.6
3.     MS Azure 4.5

The Verdict

Overall, the fundamental differences boil down to the pricing and coverage as the technologies employed by all three cloud providers are quite similar. However, AWS wins the race, with MS Azure close behind and GCP quite far off.

Cloud Platform Score (20)
1.      AWS 19.4
2.     MS Azure 18.8
3.     GCP 18.7
cloud report public cloud adoption
To decide which cloud platform is the most suitable for you, take this short quiz!

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By |July 31st, 2018|

About the Author:

Feryal has a background in Computer Science and IT. She has a huge passion for content creation, blogging and software development. Feryal enjoys programming, painting, photography, binge-watching series and most importantly, food.

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