Cloud adoption and investments have been growing at lightning speed. Almost every organization is preferring Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) or Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) for greater flexibility and ease of operations. The public cloud market is dominated by the Big 3 – Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and the Google Cloud Platform (GCP), providing the most secure, adaptable, and reliable cloud services for a while now.
Enterprises frequently seek to establish multi-cloud systems to minimize vendor lock-in, create competitive pricing, gain optimum agility, resilience and scalability. With utilization of diversified multi-cloud services across public, private and hybrid cloud providers, enterprises are shaping smart investment strategies to achieve efficient infra and drive innovation.
AWS, Azure, and GCP each provide a variety of storage, compute, and networking services capacitating instant provisioning, self-service, autoscaling, identity management, security, and compliance on cloud. Let us compare and analyse the alterations between AWS, Azure, and GCP to understand the cloud environment better.
Which cloud platform is best suited for you? Since every business has different needs, and every service provider responds differently to those needs, we do not have a defined answer to that question. For example, software enterprises, financial institutions, and e-commerce companies, all use cloud services distinctively and have individual regulatory compliance requirements to meet.
Considering this, all enterprises need to first understand the distinct ways of AWS, Azure, and GCP and map their best suited services that meet the enterprise’s business goals to achieve maximized outcomes. The overall integrated strategy of all three cloud providers emphasizes on:
- Reduction of Capex
- Lower infrastructure maintenance
- Increase availability
- Enable scalability
Introducing the “Big 3”
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
AWS are the current market leaders in cloud computing offering a wide range of services in computing, storage solutions, cloud app integrations, analytics and ML, developer and management tools, among others. AWS began as a private cloud service and has matured over the years to become a public cloud platform, with over 18000+ services to meet all kinds of needs and serve millions of users.
For instance, using fully managed serverless services like Amazon Kinesis Streams, Amazon SQS Queues, and AWS Lambda Functions, allows AWS to process streamed data in real-time on a large scale, store messages transmitted between distributed application components in queue and configure a queue as an event source respectively. AWS CloudTrail enables governance, compliance and operational audits to keep a log of all activities inside the AWS environment whereas Amazon CloudWatch accounts for the AWS health and performance based on the activity of AWS services and resources. AWS Config helps evaluate and audit the AWS resource configurations as well as track and monitor changes to the configurations.
The second-largest cloud platform is Microsoft Azure. Since its inception in 2010, Azure is known to be growing rapidly with over 200 products and services as of today. Azure offers a wide range of services customised specifically for Microsoft-centric businesses, making the transition to a cloud or hybrid-cloud environment simple yet effective. Azure caters to windows-based services, supports open-source languages, technologies, and platforms that enables building and supporting any application.
Azure Site Recovery is used to run business apps and workloads during outages. It automates and replicates workloads on VMs from a primary to secondary location. It enables fail over to secondary location in case of outage in primary site and the fail back on primary site is done once it is up and running again. Azure ExpressRoute, over a private link, allows Microsoft data centres to connect to Microsoft infra for increased security, dependability, and reduced latency. The Azure Machine Learning Studio allows expert developers to write, test, and deploy algorithms while Azure also features comprehensive networking capabilities, like the ability to connect virtual networks across different regions and support numerous site-to-site connections to virtual networks. It offers the most cost-effective on-demand on-the-spot options.
GCP is building up to be a compelling alternative to both AWS and Azure, because of its user-friendly interface, lower rates, preemptible instances, and configurable compute options. All data and communication connections, including traffic between data centres, are fully encrypted on Google. Instant payment configurability, privacy and security, cost-efficiency, and machine learning are a few Google cloud services contending with AWS. For example, Google uses computer vision, machine learning and knowledge graph to recognize objects and highlight, copy-paste or translate text from images or documents.
While all three cloud providers offer discounts of up to 75% for one to three years of commitment, Google additionally offers a sustained usage discount of up to 30% on each instance type that is used for more than 25% of the times each month. GCP’s credit of USD 300 for 12 months, as well as a free tier that isn’t time-limited, has equalled AWS’ 1-year free trial. GCP’s credits mechanism is better suited for businesses who are just getting started with cloud services.
Comparing the “Big 3”
To understand the specific differences in the three major cloud providers, it is necessary to take a closer look at all of them with respect to the services they offer.
Computing: AWS offers Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). It handles all computing services by managing virtual machines that have preconfigured settings and can be configured by users as needed. Azure, on the other hand, provides a network of virtual machines based on open-source cloud platforms. GCP provides Google Compute Engine (GCE), which provides the same services but is functionally less capable than the other two.
Storage: Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) is the best storage option with extensive documentation, proven technology, and appropriate community support. Microsoft Azure Storage and Google Cloud Storage also provide reliable storage services.
Development tools: AWS offers over 20 AI / ML and IoT tools, 2 serverless tools, Lambda that is a serverless computing environment and AWS Fargate that deploys cloud apps with ease. Azure offerings are comparatively less AI-driven and have services like the cognitive services suite, IoT edge & hub, Computer vision, stream analytics and so on. GCP algorithms offer cloud text-to-speech and translation features as well as cloud app development since long. However, its IoT and serverless services are limited. GCP offerings include Cloud natural language, Dialogflow, Cloud Machine Learning Engine and so on.
Network: Amazon’s Direct connect provides continuous and reliable services offering accelerated deployment models, fast delivery and responses along with its industry specific 802.1q VLANs service that enables a dedicated connection between private networks and AWS across multiple direct connect locations. Azure virtual network provides flexible, rapid and secure network solutions that are superior to AWS network offerings’ reach. Though not as mature as AWS and Azure, GCP’s hybrid network connectivity offerings like Cloud interconnect and Cloud VPN allows connectivity through enterprise-grade direct connections or via IPsec VPN.
Cloud security & compliance: AWS Inspector, API activity monitoring, threat intelligence via Guard duty offer isolation via security groups, granular IAM and vulnerability assessment for strengthened security on cloud. Azure security is within its central security system that can be controlled from a single directory. However, Azure security is considered to have lesser isolation and controls that monitor console and API activities along with less secure configurations. GCP security is a fairly successful service when compared to AWS and Azure. Its cloud security command centre, with a centralized access, enables isolation of projects and defaults to robust security configurations.
Database: Several database-related tools and service options are provided by all major service providers. Amazon’s Relational Database Service (RDS) supports large databases such as Oracle and PostgreSQL and manages everything from updates to patches. Azure SQL Database provides SQL database processing capabilities for Azure and Cloud SQL is for GCP.
Despite the fact that Amazon Web Services (AWS) is currently the industry leader in terms of capacity and service, Microsoft and Google are fast expanding to be at par with AWS. With multi-cloud adoptions, AWS may transfer more space to Azure in the near future while GCP is fast emerging as a strong competitor in single as well as multi-cloud scenarios with advanced data management and security services.