The market for cloud computing is continuously expanding and is projected to reach a whopping $2432.87 billion by 2030. Within this growing market, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Microsoft Azure collectively hold a 64% share. While selecting a cloud provider for hosting their website or application, users often find themselves choosing among these three major providers.
Although these providers may appear the same initially, each of them has its own strengths and challenges that can significantly impact factors such as cloud costs, user-friendliness, and overall experience.
In this blog post, we shall take a detailed look at the basics of cloud computing and the differences between AWS, GCP, and Microsoft Azure. With a clear understanding of their distinctive features, you can make more informed decisions regarding the choice of a cloud provider.
Table of Contents:
1. Cloud Computing – The Basics
With a marked shift towards cloud application development in recent years, certified specialists of the popular cloud platforms are in high demand. If you are stuck between AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure and wondering which one is ideal for you to learn for your career or use for your business, we suggest that you grasp the basics of cloud computing and its different aspects before making your choice.
1.1 What is Cloud Computing?
The term “cloud computing” refers to the availability and functioning of computing services over the internet, commonly known as “the cloud.” This process involves delivering a range of services such as servers, databases, storage devices, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence.
The primary aim of cloud computing is to facilitate innovation, offer adaptable resources, and achieve economies of scale. Users adopt a pay-as-you-go model, helping them reduce operating expenses, manage infrastructure efficiently, and scale resources in response to changing business requirements.
1.2 Advantages of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing offers a wide range of options for storing, serving, and processing data. Today, the technology supports various leading applications from streaming services like Netflix and Major League Baseball to Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and machine learning applications. The key benefits of cloud application development and website hosting include:
Decreased Capital Expenditure (CapEx)
Cloud computing replaces the usually hefty upfront capital expenses related to infrastructure with flexible, scalable costs that align with your organization’s unique needs. This does away with the need to plan and purchase servers and IT equipment well in advance. Instead, you can rapidly deploy hundreds or thousands of servers in minutes, resulting in quicker outcomes.
Reduced Infrastructure Maintenance
Cloud computing eliminates the necessity for physical storage and maintenance, enabling IT professionals to concentrate on more crucial business objectives. Resources are pooled to serve multiple users at a time, crossing the boundaries of time and location.
Increased Availability of Resources
The on-demand availability of computing resources significantly reduces the time developers need to access them, shortening the process from weeks to minutes.
When you use cloud platforms, data backups are stored centrally in the data centers of the service provider (like Azure or AWS). This removes the need for users or members of your team to manage their own backups onsite or offsite. Cloud platforms also offer data encryption and two-factor authentication (2FA), making it ideal for cyber security services and applications. Cloud providers can also lower the risk of data loss by restoring data from other copies in their storage which are updated continuously.
Another notable advantage of cloud computing services is their elastic scalability. Organizations can efficiently scale their resources, such as bandwidth, storage, and computing power, based on their specific requirements.
2. An Overview of AWS, Azure, and GCP
Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure are undoubtedly the most dominant players in the cloud computing market but each has its respective nuances and distinctive functionalities. Let’s get a brief idea about each provider before we compare them in detail.
2.1 AWS (Amazon Web Services)
Initially operating as a private cloud service for Amazon’s workforce, AWS has evolved significantly since its inception in 2006. It has evolved into a publicly accessible cloud platform for businesses, equipped with capabilities such as Amazon S3 cloud storage and elastic computing cloud (EC2). At present, AWS provides over 200 fully operational services, ensuring the fulfillment of a variety of needs and serving millions of users.
Notable clients of AWS include Netflix, Coinbase, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), Formula, Airbnb, Coca-Cola, Expedia, Coursera, and Lyft.
2.2 Microsoft Azure
As the second-largest cloud management platform, Microsoft Azure has experienced steady growth since its establishment in 2010. Currently offering over 200 products and services, Azure has rapidly evolved into one of the most expansively growing cloud platforms.
It is important to note here that Azure is not confined to Windows-based services alone. It also accommodates open-source programming, platforms, and technologies, providing a versatile environment for anyone to create and maintain a variety of programs.
Prominent users of Microsoft Azure include Starbucks, DAIMLER AG, HSBC, Walgreens, Asos, HP, Renault, and 3M.
2.3 GCP (Google Cloud Platform)
In comparison to its counterparts AWS and Azure, GCP is the most recent entrant among the prominent cloud service providers. A component of the broader Google Cloud, the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) has expanded significantly since its introduction in 2010.
Today, it encompasses an inventory of over 100 services spanning software architecture consulting, big data, networking, computing, and various other domains. GCP has incorporated additional services, including Google Workspace, corporate Android, and Chrome OS, aimed to broaden its range of solutions and offerings.
Popular clients of Google Cloud include Twitter (now ‘X’), Nintendo, Toyota, Spotify, Unilever, PayPal, and Target.
3. Comparing the Top 3 Cloud Platforms – AWS vs Azure vs GCP
Before choosing a particular business cloud platform, it is vital to research and assess each platform to understand its capabilities and benefits. For certain services, a quick glance at in-depth cloud platform comparisons and reviews might suggest that AWS holds an unmatched advantage over Azure. However, a more thorough analysis may show that the decision is not as straightforward.
We have discussed some of the most important metrics to consider when selecting the ideal cloud platform or technology to learn or use for your business.
3.1 Availability of Services
Starting operations in 2006, Amazon Web Services was the first provider of cloud computing services, granting it almost a decade’s advantage to set up its networks worldwide. Today, AWS is the leading cloud platform in the world with a market share of 33%, with Microsoft Azure following at 22% and 9% respectively.
As a result, AWS possesses a considerably larger number of availability zones compared to others. Presently, Amazon Web Services offers over 84 availability zones globally. This figure surpasses Google Cloud’s 24 availability regions, which include a total of 73 zones. For those in search of readily available options, Microsoft Azure is a compelling alternative. They provide over 60 regions accessible in more than 140 countries across the globe.
3.2 Tools at Your Disposal
Cloud application development servers offer a range of tools and resources for businesses, and in this section, we will discuss the tools provided by AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud.
AWS has been a forerunner in introducing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to enterprises. It enables the use of SageMaker for employee training and executing machine learning functions.
It lets users access the Lambda serverless computing environment that can deploy applications directly from the serverless repository. For further personalization, AWS supports the integration of various IoT enterprise solutions.
Microsoft Azure Tools
The most prominent Microsoft Azure Tools include Cognitive Services and Artificial Intelligence Enhancement. Cognitive Services consists of API-based tools that facilitate on-premises integration of Microsoft software and business applications. The serverless solution in Azure is Functions, which manages and streamlines complex workloads driven by events.
Google Cloud Platform Tools
Google’s cloud-based tools include natural language translation and voice services, enabling a quick transition from global collaboration to machine learning application development. TensorFlow, an extensive open-source library, is also part of Google’s toolkit. While its Internet of Things and serverless systems are still in the early development stages, they contribute to Google’s evolving array of tools.
3.3 Services Offered
Amazon Web Services, being the global pioneer of cloud computing solutions, has the widest array of infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) offerings including storage, database, networking, and content delivery.
AWS’ most prominent compute or IaaS service is its Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) instances. These instances can be customized by users with a wide range of features. Additional options such as AWS Lambda, EC2 Container Service, Elastic Beanstalk for application deployment, ECS for Kubernetes (EKS), and Autoscaling are also at users’ disposal.
For Microsoft Azure, the primary computing service is based on Virtual Machines (VMs). It is accompanied by various tools like Cloud Services and Resource Manager, enabling cloud application deployment along with the Azure Autoscaling service.
Google offers its customizable Compute Engine, delivering virtual machines (VMs) within its data centers. These VMs feature swift boot times, increased disk storage, and high performance, and they can be configured easily according to the client’s needs.
When it comes to cloud storage services, AWS provides a line-up of services, the most popular ones being Elastic Block Storage (EBS), Simple Storage (S3), Elastic File System (EFS), Glacier archive backup, Import/Export for significant data transfers, and Storage Gateway.
Microsoft’s Azure Storage service includes Azure Blob storage, along with options for Queue, File, and Table storage. Additional features like Import-Export, Site Recovery, and Azure Backup are also available. Filestore is GCP’s main offering when it comes to cloud storage services.
3.4 AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud Comparison Table
All three platforms have first-rate networking capabilities, featuring connectivity with on-premise systems and automated server load balancing. Let’s take a look at the different solutions and services offered by AWS, Azure, and GCP below.
Compute ServicesNetworking ServicesSpecialized Services
|Amazon Web Services
|Google Cloud Platform
|Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
|AWS Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
|Virtual Machines (VM)
|Google Compute Engines (GCE)
|Platform as a Service (PaaS)
|AWS Elastic Beanstalk
|App Service and Cloud Services
|Google App Engine
|Google Cloud Functions
|Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud Container Service
|Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)
|Google Kubernetes Engine
|Storage and Database Services
|RDBMS (Relational Database Management System)
|Amazon Database Management Service
|Google Cloud SQL
|DynamoDB, Simple DB
|Azure Cosmos DB, Table Storage
|Elastic File System
|Azure File Storage
|Azure Archive Storage
|Virtual Private Cloud (VPC))
|Virtual Networks (VNets)
|Virtual Private Cloud
|Elastic Load Balancer
|Azure Load Balancer
|Google Cloud Load Balancing
|AWS Firewall/ Web Application Firewall
|Google Cloud firewalls
|Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
|SageMaker, Lex, Comprehend, Polly
|Machine Learning, Cognitive Search, Bot Service, Databricks
|Vertex AI, Dataflow CX, AutoML, Virtual Agents, Cloud Vision
|CodePipeline, CodeBuild, CodeDeploy, and CodeStar
|Azure Pipelines, Boards, Repos, Test Plants, and Artifacts
|GCP DevOps. CloudBuild, and Artifact Registry
|The Internet of Things (IoT)
|IoTCore, FreeRTOS, IoT Analytics, SiteWise
|Azure IoT Hub/Central, Azure Sphere, IoT Edge, Azure RTOS
|Google Cloud IoT Core
|AR and VR (Augmented and Virtual Reality)
|Mixed Reality (Spatial Anchors/ Remote Rendering)
|Google AR Core
3.5 Pricing Options
The cost factor can be a significant motivator for those looking for a shift to the cloud, and with good reason. Prices have been consistently decreasing as major cloud providers compete.
Amazon Web Services
AWS provides a built-in price calculator to simplify the understanding of costs. However, due to the presence of various taxes and charges, we strongly recommend that you thoroughly verify the final cost before making a purchase.
In contrast, Microsoft Azure’s pricing is more straightforward. The dashboard includes a billing section that presents a detailed view of all costs. In addition, Azure offers a price calculator to estimate the expenses associated with its cloud-based services.
Google Cloud Platform
Google Cloud stands out for its transparent and customer-friendly pricing structure. With a commitment to undercutting the pricing of the other two major cloud providers, Google Cloud aims to attract a wider base of customers.
Here is a basic comparison between the price ranges of the three providers for both minimum and maximum instance services.
|2 virtual CPUs, 8 GB RAM
$69 per month
|2 virtual CPUs, 8 GB RAM
$70 per month
|2 virtual CPUs, 8 GB RAM
$ 52 per month
|3.84 TB RAM, 128 vCPUs
$3.97 per hour
|3.89 TB RAM, 128 vCPUs
$6.97 per hour
|3.75 TB RAM, 160 vCPUs
$5.32 per hour
Please note that these prices are indicative and the exact figures vary based on your location, tax rates, conversion rates, and several other factors.
3.6 User Friendliness
When it comes to ease of use, AWS takes the lead. For beginners or those unfamiliar with cloud platforms, AWS offers several advantages. The most important among them is its dashboard, which is both feature-rich and user-friendly.
Amazon Web Services provides in-depth documentation, making it easy to find instructions. Whether you navigate to the Instance segment or use the AWS search field to type your query, you can choose from video or textual instructions for hosting an instance via AWS EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud).
Azure streamlines all its features and functions in one place. However, one pain point with Azure is the lack of comprehensive documentation and guidance. On the other hand, Google Cloud stands out for its user-friendly approach. It offers elaborate guidance, insightful documentation, and a well-organized dashboard.
We cannot deny the obvious – AWS is the first major player in the market of cloud computing services and has the most comprehensive suite of solutions for clients. Yet, with the cloud application development scene growing in its capabilities and demand, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud are showing immense potential with their offerings as well.
Which one to choose among the three totally depends on your specific requirements. While you can literally close your eyes and pick AWS for any cloud computing needs, we advise that you also keep a close eye on Azure and GCP to identify areas where they have better solutions.
For result-driven software architecture consulting and tailor-made solutions, get on a call with our team at Webgen Technologies. With years of expertise in serving various industries, we provide first-rate cloud computing services that take your business to new heights.