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Azure, AWS, or Google Cloud – Which is best for your company?

Cloud technology has become ubiquitous. It enables companies to improve the scalability, security, and integration of their services, while reducing costs.

In this article, we analyze and compare the three biggest cloud providers: AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. Then, from our team’s perspective, we discuss the most appropriate platforms. This evaluation enables businesses to choose the most appropriate platform and improve their performance through cloud migration.

By definition, cloud technology provides pervasive, appropriate, on-demand network access and sharing of configurable IT resources (e.g. networks, data stores, servers, applications, and services) that can be quickly enabled and assigned with minimal effort and interaction with the service provider. Cloud models include platform as a service (PaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and software as a service (SaaS). According to Gartner, the IaaS market is projected to grow to $64.3 billion in 2021. The main advantages of the cloud technology include:

  • On-demand self-service – Clients subscribe only to desired services, such as server usage or network throughput, and it is done automatically without providers’ involvement.

  • Elastic and measured services – The chosen services can be extended or canceled dynamically at any time, so the resource size (amount) looks infinite.

  • Optimal resource utilization – With the help of measurement capabilities, users only pay for what they have used.

  • Resource pooling – Computing resources are shared among customers on a multi-user model. The clients are not aware of the resource location.

At Plexteq, we have our own certified staff who can lead your business through a smooth and hugely beneficial migration to a cloud platform. We have proven experience in multiple cloud projects. By affiliating with Plexteq, you can improve the scalability, security, and integration of your services, while reducing costs.

The three big cloud players on the market are Amazon Web Services (AWS), currently with 33% market share, Microsoft Azure (20% share), and Google Cloud Platform (GCP, with 9% market share). In this article, we analyze and compare these three cloud platforms so you can decide which solution will best fit your needs.

Overall Comparison

Despite AWS’s obvious domination, Azure and GCP are catching up and also offer certain benefits. AWS maintains its market leader role by providing a wide range of services, with more than 175 tools, including computing, storage, database, analytics, networking, mobile, developer tools, management tools, IoT, security, and enterprise applications.

Microsoft’s aspirations are to be a popular choice with C-level executives who have longer relationships with the vendor. They know how to utilize their company’s computing needs all in one place, from productivity and enterprise software, all the way down to flexible cloud computing resources for their developers, with a single provider.

Public cloud adoption for AWS is the highest, followed by Azure and GCP, according to Flexera’s RightScale 2019 State of the Cloud Report. This demonstrates the immense popularity that the three cloud providers enjoy.

All three providers are strong in machine learning, as they possess huge internal research and development expertise, but in this area Google takes the lead because of the power of its search algorithm. Google also dominates with its deep expertise around open source technologies, especially containers, thanks to its central role in the development of Kubernetes for orchestration and the Istio service mesh, which are likely to become industry standard technologies.

AWS introduced SageMaker in 2017 as a machine-learning tool by applying a hosted environment for Jupyter notebooks with a built-in management model. Microsoft’s Azure Machine Learning enables developers to write, test, and deploy algorithms, as well as access its API marketplace. Google offers a robust AI platform, which helps machine-learning engineers build and deploy models based on its popular open source TensorFlow deep-learning library.

Use Cases

Among the big three, Google Cloud Platform was the last to enter the game. Initially, it targeted mid-size companies. But 2019 was a year of big moves for GCP. With new CEO Thomas Kurian, GCP embarked on a new strategy with an ambitious goal to attract large corporations by offering them industry solutions.

“In every industry, we see customers wanting to adopt digital technology either to lower cost, grow their top-line revenues or change... how they bring products in certain markets, and we at Google are using our cloud platform as a vehicle to deliver digital solutions to them.” – Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud Platform

Although Google Cloud Platform is the third most-utilized cloud platform behind AWS and Azure, it showed the most robust growth among enterprises in 2019. According to Flexera’s State of the Cloud 2020 report, Google adoption rates among enterprises rose by 70% – a sizable increase from 2019. Also, a 2020 survey conducted by SADA Systems comparing the big three cloud providers claims that 49% of IT managers are using GCP. Azure comes in second place with 48%, and AWS has only 42%.

Google notes the following industries are their main focus, and each has a different selling point:

  • Retail

  • Manufacturing

  • Financial services

  • Healthcare and life services

  • Media and entertainment

According to Google, its GCP customers include:

  • 8 of the top 10 telecommunications companies

  • 7 of the top 10 software and internet companies

  • 7 of the top 10 media and entertainment companies

  • 7 of the top 10 retail and consumer goods companies

By searching with Intricately, the top 10 GCP users are:

  1. Verizon: $79.9M

  2. Twitch: $63.8M

  3. CenturyLink: $61.8M

  4. Yahoo: $46.6M

  5. LinkedIn: $41.1M

  6. News Corp: $40.9M

  7. SAP: $40.1M

  8. Facebook: $39.4M

  9. Intel: $39.2M

  10. Marriott International: $35.9M

Amazon states that AWS has more than 1,000,000 users. It serves the fastest-growing startups, largest enterprises, and leading government agencies in a diverse set of industries, including healthcare, media, financial services, insurance, real estate, education, and the public sector.

AWS use cases:

  • Backup and storage

  • Big data

  • Enterprise IT

  • Gaming

  • Web, mobile, and social apps

  • Websites

According to Intricately, the top 10 AWS users are:

  1. Netflix: $19M

  2. Twitch: $15M

  3. LinkedIn: $13M

  4. Facebook: $11M

  5. Turner Broadcasting: $10M

  6. BBC: $9M

  7. Baidu: $9M

  8. ESPN: $8M

  9. Adobe: $8M

  10. Twitter: $7M

Microsoft launched Azure 10 years ago. Since then, it has been competitive with AWS as a popular choice among enterprises. Ninety-five percent (95%) of Fortune 500 companies trust Azure. As a technology and business services company, Microsoft understands all too well what enterprises need, as its products such as Office, Outlook, and Windows have been used in offices all around the world for decades. Azure is a compelling option for companies that want to migrate from other Microsoft products, such as SharePoint, or integrate tightly with an existing Windows deployment.

Like GCP, Azure also offers industry-specific solutions to help businesses innovate, make data-driven decisions, and increase efficiency:

  • Manufacturing

  • Financial services

  • Gaming

  • Government

  • Health and life sciences

  • Energy

  • Retail

Here are some of the biggest spenders on Azure:

  1. Verizon: $79.9M

  2. MSI Computer: $78M

  3. LG Electronics: $76.7M

  4. CenturyLink: $61.9M

  5. NTT America: $48.7M

  6. Wikimedia Foundation: $42.6M

  7. LinkedIn: $41.2M

  8. News Corp: $40.5M

  9. Adobe: $39.9M

  10. Intel: $38.5M

Cost Comparison

Pricing is one of the crucial factors for those considering a cloud transition, and with good reason. There is a constant downward trend on prices as the big providers compete. It’s not easy to make a price comparison, as all three have different pricing schemes, discounts, and frequent price cuts. In general terms, prices are roughly comparable, especially since AWS shifted from hourly to by-second pricing for its EC2 and EBS services, bringing it in line with Azure and GCP.

  • AWS pricing: Amazon’s pricing is particularly inscrutable. While it does offer a cost calculator, the many variables involved make it difficult to get accurate estimates. Gartner advised, “[Amazon’s] granular pricing structure is complex; use of third-party cost management tools is highly recommended.”

  • Azure pricing: Microsoft Azure doesn’t make things any simpler. Because of Microsoft’s complicated software licensing options and use of situation-based discounts, its pricing structure can be difficult to understand without outside help and/or considerable experience.

  • Google Cloud Platform pricing: By contrast, Google uses its pricing as a point of differentiation. It aims to offer “customer-friendly” prices that beat the listed prices of the other providers. Gartner noted, “Google uses deep discounts and exceptionally flexible contracts to try to win projects from customers that are currently spending significant sums of money with cloud competitors.”

All vendors provide free introductory plans, allowing customers to try their services before they buy, and typically offer discounts to attract innovative startups to their platforms. They also offer “always free” tiers with clear usage limitations.

Support Quality Comparison

All three providers have well-established and proven customer service (email, chat, phone). We have seen multiple reports that Azure apparently offers worse customer support than AWS or GCP. As for documentation, AWS has more extensive online support, but Azure and GCP are quickly catching up.

IaC Support

Today, many businesses are beginning to store infrastructure as code (IaC). There are many tools that enable companies to automate their infrastructure (i.e., to perform automation and configuration orchestration with tools like Terraform).

On Azure, Terraform allows automation by defining and creating an entire Azure infrastructure with a single template format language: the HashiCorp Configuration Language. With Terraform, developers define templates that automate the process to create network, storage, and virtual machine resources for a given application solution. Users can use their existing Terraform templates for other platforms with Azure to ensure consistency and simplify the infrastructure deployment without needing to convert to an Azure Resource Manager template.

Similarly, AWS CloudFormation is a configuration orchestration tool that allows users to code their infrastructure to automate the deployments. The main difference is that CloudFormation is deeply integrated into and can only be used with AWS, and CloudFormation templates can be created with YAML in addition to JSON. CloudFormation allows users to preview proposed changes to the AWS infrastructure stack and see how they can manage dependencies between their resources. To ensure that the deployment and update of infrastructure are done in a controlled manner, CloudFormation uses rollback triggers to revert infrastructure stacks to a previously deployed state if errors are detected.

GCP also supports Terraform to provision resources with declarative configuration files – resources such as virtual machines, containers, storage, and networking. Google Foundation Toolkit provides several modules for Terraform. Terraform’s IaC approach supports DevOps best practices for change management, letting users manage Terraform configuration files in source control to maintain an ideal provisioning state for testing and production environments.

Solutions for IoT

For building IoT solutions, all three platforms have good offerings. Azure possesses a whole Azure IoT platform. It also provides IoT Central, a software-as-a-service solution covering end-to-end scenarios like device management, telemetry ingestion, command control, rule-based alerts, and rich visualization. It was recently expanded, with Azure IoT Edge and Azure Sphere. IoT Central provides numerous templates to bootstrap the IoT setups, but it might be limited to problem types it can solve.

AWS provides a large selection of web services including the full set of IoT platform-related services such as AWS IoT Core, SiteWise, IoT Analytics, and IoT Greengrass. AWS IoT focuses on industrial, connected home, and commercial solutions. The wide coverage of AWS services can make it attractive for larger projects or companies that already use AWS’s cloud offerings.

Google has always focused on serverless computing, machine learning, and container orchestration via Kubernetes. GCP’s IoT platform lags behind Azure and AWS in terms of the range of services. GCP IoT’s main use cases include asset tracking and maintenance, logistics and supply chain management, and smart cities/buildings. Google’s expertise in AI and machine-learning capabilities like translation, search, and security can bring a competitive advantage over the other two players.

Why Choose Azure for Cloud Migration?

Comprehensive hybrid cloud support

Azure has always been the go-to option for hybrid deployments among the big three, with its well-established Azure Stack. Azure Stack makes it easy for companies to run Azure applications from the public Azure cloud while leveraging data hosted on-premises, as well as running the same services from the public Azure cloud on the Azure Stack platform.

Great availability around the world

Microsoft Azure is a leader in terms of the number of data centers in the world. It is present in 60+ regions and 140 countries. This ensures that your data in the cloud is also available. Azure offers up to 99.99% uptime in its service level agreement. This is less than five hours of downtime every year.

Discounts on Azure for enterprises that already leverage other Microsoft products

Azure is a Microsoft solution, so it is highly integrated with Windows and other Microsoft software. Those who are using Office 365 and Dynamics 365 feel very comfortable using Azure. Azure is less expensive for businesses that are already invested in the Microsoft ecosystem. If you have an enterprise agreement for other products such as Windows, Office, SharePoint, System Center, etc., you can simply add Azure to that existing agreement by making an upfront monetary commitment. You can then use eligible Azure cloud services throughout the year to meet the commitment. And you can pay for additional usage beyond the commitment, at the same rates. So, like any enterprise license agreement, you are committing to a contract term and volume to gain additional discounts.

The largest number of compliance offerings

Azure is a cloud provider you can trust. It has the most comprehensive set of compliance offerings (90) of any cloud service provider. The company boasts more than 3,500 cybersecurity experts who process 6.5 trillion threat signals daily. Also, Azure invests heavily in security to protect customers’ data from cyberthreats – $1 billion per year.

Why Choose GCP for Cloud Migration?

A solid open-source community

Google has made more than 2,000 open-source ventures in the past several years and has become the biggest contributor to the open-source software library. In this regard, Google leads over Microsoft and Amazon. Google integrates products like Kubernetes, Apache Beam, and TensorFlow into Google Cloud Platform and offers them as managed services operated by its partners.

A great range of solutions for big data, machine learning, and analytics

GCP also pulls ahead in analytics and machine learning. Google’s BigQuery and Dataflow offer powerful analytics and processing capabilities for businesses that operate huge amounts of data, while Google’s Kubernetes container technology ensures effective container cluster management and simplifies container deployment. With the help of Google’s Cloud Machine Learning Engine and various machine-learning APIs, businesses can easily leverage AI in the cloud.

The most cost-efficient option

GCP’s pricing is its biggest strength. It charges per minute (10 minutes minimum), and you only pay for the compute time you use. Moreover, GCP gives discounted prices for long-running workloads with no up-front commitment required. AWS, by contrast, requires prepayment in the form of “reserved instances” to be eligible for the discounts. And Azure only offers a 5% discount on a 12-month prepayment.

Live migrations of Virtual Machines

One of GCP’s key differentiators is live migrations of virtual machines (VMs). Other cloud providers don’t provide such functionality. Compute Engine ensures live migration of your running instances to another host in the same zone without the need to reboot your VMs. All VM properties and attributes remain unchanged, including internal and external IP addresses, instance metadata, block storage data and volumes, OS and application state, network settings, network connections, and so on.

Why Choose AWS for Cloud Migration?

The most established cloud provider

Having been in the market for almost 15 years, AWS has accumulated the most operational experience. It is the most mature cloud provider and delivers cloud services to millions of customers around the world, running a wide variety of use cases. AWS is definitely a trendsetter for the industry. It has the power to influence the market. For example, with the release of Amazon’s Arm-powered AWS Graviton processors, it is likely that we will see an increased focus on open-source optimizations for server applications.

The largest community of customers and partners

As AWS has been on the market for a while now, it has the most dynamic community, with millions of active customers and tens of thousands of partners globally. Companies of any size across all industries take advantage of AWS cloud computing services.

Powerful deep-learning and machine-learning capabilities

AWS competes with GCP in cloud-based machine learning. In 2016, Amazon presented a long list of new AI-based services. It has extended its offerings to make AWS competitive with Google’s Cloud AI. Since then, Amazon has added services like SageMaker, which rapidly trains machine-learning models for faster deployment, and AWS DeepLens, a deep-learning-enabled video camera.

Great functionality

AWS offers a great variety of services, from infrastructure technologies like compute, storage, and databases, to emerging technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, data lakes and analytics, and IoT. Also, AWS has the deepest functionality within these services. For example, AWS offers the widest variety of databases that are purpose built for different types of applications so you can choose the right tool for the job to get the best cost and performance.

Further Steps

To help companies decide how to migrate to the cloud, we presented some specific data for the three biggest vendors. We at Plexteq possess the skills and experience to guide you towards successful cloud migration. Before starting the project, we provide free analysis and estimations of your current state and suggest the best and most painless cloud transition. Once we begin and throughout the implementation, our teams provide 24/7 support for all your questions and comments.

Plexteq teams possess technical know-how and are committed to providing a cloud solution that will best fit your needs. Overall, the change towards cloud transformation will enable higher security, efficiency, and reduced costs.

With our scalable architecture, businesses experience huge potential benefits that improve their intelligent decision-making and efficient management of their working processes.

Want to learn more about our cloud migration offering? Contact us today!


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