The cloud helps with many of the challenges posed by an increasingly complex and advanced business environment. It relieves the pressure on companies to deliver results faster, more efficiently, economically, collaboratively and more dynamically. Cloud offer endless benefits and new ways of working. However, choosing the right service is extremely difficult because of the wide variety and the fact that services are not directly comparable. I wrote the same kind of comparison 3 years ago and thought that it would be time to make an update. Back then I compared only AWS and Azure, now I added also GCP because it has grown hugely during this time and has well deserved its place in here.

So, again to make it easier for you to compare different cloud service providers, I will compare providers who are at the moment the most popular ones in the market. Below I have listed information collected from different sources about these three obvious options: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

Let's first look at this from the market share perspective.

AWS remains the market leader for the 9 years in a row. Microsoft has narrowed this gap, but no reliable data on its IaaS / PaaS turnover can be found, although Forbes claims otherwise. (Not the first time I have read the same predictions from there) Google Cloud is also coming behind strong... IBM and Oracle have... well they haven't been a real threat to anyone, but Alibaba Cloud is a black sheep that might do some magic in the market. You can read more about this topic from Synergy Research Groups post here.

Seems that it's very hard to get reliable figures of the real cloud spend ( and here I mean, real from my perspective, so no email or office services included), but we shall belive those at hand :)

The Race between the biggest providers has been the same at least for the past 4 years.

If you compare these two Gartners magic quandrants from 2016 and 2019

2016 this was the latest MQ when I made my first cloud service comparison. AWS was in clear lead with Azure haunting as an only competitor in the leaders quadrant corner. And all the rest far behind... Well Google was in visionaries quadrant

So, what have we on 2019 MQ? AWS has drobbed a bit from the right upper corner, but the gap to Azure is still the same. Now you can also find Google in the same quadrant with them. You can also see that most of the niche players have gone... like Rackspace, which is now a passioned AWS support company.

You can find more past MQ's here and make your own interpretations of the subject.

So, which one to choose?

With these things in mind, I can say with good conscience that AWS is always a good choice. However, for those who have used to Windows type of user interfaces, it may not be that easy to use and operate. It requires a skilled partner or own expertise.

Microsoft has invested millions in developing more and more services, and even though the results are starting to show, sadly it has also meant lots of unstable poorly documented services. Among those customers who have used Microsoft products for ages, Azure seems like a logical route out of own data center. However, Azure is still partly undeveloped compared with AWS. Microsoft's legacy in selling licenses still shows in most of its actions and it still has some miles to catch up AWS. Google has followed its own path and as the latest arrival, it has been able to learn from mistakes others have done.

Let's dig in deeper

IaaS – Infrastructure as a service

All three are offering quite similar services from the IaaS perspective. I made a quick and dirty pricing calculation which shows that AWS has the lowest price... for on-demand pricing, but Azure has the lower price when committed for a longer period. Google's on-demand pricing is in the middle and both 1 and 3 years reserved are the highest in this comparison.

Prices were dugged on January from pricing calculators of GCP, AWS, and Azure

There are as many ways to calculate the usage pricing as there are solutions to be fitted into the cloud. You can check out this and notice that when using GPU optimized reserved instances AWS might be cheapest and when using compute-optimized capacity Google could have the lowest price. So as we say often in the IT industry "It depends" and this will not be a crucial factor when making a selection between providers.

PaaS – Platform as a service

However, there are differences when comparing the features and prices of PaaS components. AWS, Azure, and Google all focus on developing new services and improving existing ones. especially when we talk about services related to machine learning, analytics or database services.

PaaS components are ideal when developing in an agile way without the need to build everything by scratch. With serverless architecture, you are able to fail fast and build modular, cost-efficient and scalable systems in a pace like never before

Attention should be paid to supplier independence when using PaaS / FaaS components. It may not matter to your business, but it is always good, at least on paper, to plan how you can successfully switch platform from cloud to cloud if the need someday arises. Just that you have something to show for your compliance :)

Hybrid Cloud for those in need

Hybrid cloud offering has evolved hugely in the past few years. Now all of the three have an offering how to handle hybrid needs. But the sad thing is that none of them are feasible others than fortune 500 companies.

Azure Stack

The Azure Stack is a portfolio of products that extend Azure services and capabilities to your environment of choice—from the datacenter to edge locations and remote offices. The portfolio enables hybrid and edge computing applications to be built, deployed, and run consistently across location boundaries, providing choice and flexibility to address your diverse workloads.

Tried to dig some info about the pricing, but it was to fu...n complicated

Check here if you what more info.

AWS Outpost

AWS Outposts is a fully managed service that extends AWS infrastructure, AWS services, APIs, and tools to virtually any datacenter, co-location space, or on-premises facility for a truly consistent hybrid experience. AWS Outposts is ideal for workloads that require low latency access to on-premises systems, local data processing, or local data storage.

General purpose unit for development and testing with the smallest capacity footprint is about 8500€/month

4 m5.12xlarge, 2.7 TB (not scalable)

You can find more info from here

Google Anthos

Anthos is an open hybrid and multi-cloud application platform that enables you to modernize your existing applications, build new ones, and run them anywhere in a secure manner. Built on open source technologies pioneered by Google—including Kubernetes, Istio, and Knative—Anthos enables consistency between on-premises and cloud environments and helps accelerate application development.

The list price for Anthos is $10,000 per month, per 100 virtual CPUs (vCPU), with a minimum one-year commitment. That monthly fee only pays for the software layer, not the underlying infrastructure on Google's cloud. It's also sold by 100-vCPU blocks -- that means, for example, a company that needs only 125 vCPUs to run its jobs will pay for 75 idle vCPUs.

More about Anthos from here

VMware on Cloud

There is also an offering for running VMware on Cloud. AWS released VMware on AWS with VMware in re:Invent 2016 and now there is also Azure VMware - and Google VMware solution by CloudSimple which was acquired by Google in last November. So it is interesting to see what happens to Azure offering.

All of these VMware Solution enables customers running on-premises VMware workloads to seamlessly migrate to Cloud without having to re-architect or refactor their applications. Leverage the value of your existing VMware investments while maintaining operational continuity and avoiding data center management, hardware refreshes, and procurement cycles. These also extends customers capabilities to use native cloud services and enables to leverage those as an integrated part of their VMware environments.

Should I choose all of them or what?

Well, you could do a political decision and choose Azure like Pentagon did with JEDI or you could try to base your decision on some real facts.

Here are some points to be considered:

  • All of these three are good!
  • If you've heard something more than a month ago, please go and check it again. Cloud services are evolving with the pace you cannot keep up...
  • You can use multiple clouds.
  • The use of Office 365 is not the right reason to select Azure.
  • Consider the risks and costs (PaaS vs. IaaS).
  • Select a good cloud partner or hire experts or both.
  • Experts I have worked with have said:
    • "AWS is the most mature Cloud"
    • "Google might just remove some services and replace it with a new one"
    • "Azure has some capacity and reliability issues"
    • "Google is more developer-friendly"
    • "Azure is easier to understand"
    • "AWS has created cloud governance and adaption models and all the others have copied it"

So, go figure...