Public Cloud War: AWS vs Azure vs Google

AWS vs Azure vs Google

The competition is heating up in the public cloud space as vendors regularly drop prices and offer new features. In this article, we will shine a light on the competition between the three giants of the cloud: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Microsoft’s Azure.  While AWS has a significant head start on the others, Google and Microsoft are far from out of the race. As of today, March 23rd, 2016  Google is planning 12 new cloud data centers in the next 18 months. They’ve both got the power, money, technology, and marketing to attract individual and enterprise customers. Let’s compare these three big players by service category: compute, storage, networking, and pricing structure.

AWS vs Azure vs Google: Compute

AWS’s EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) provides Amazon’s core compute service, allowing users to configure virtual machines using either pre-configured or custom AMIs (machine images). You select the size, power, memory capacity, and number of VMs and choose from among different regions and availability zones within which to launch. EC2 also allows load balancing (ELB) and auto-scaling. ELB distributes loads across instances for better performance, and auto-scaling allow users to automatically scale available EC2 capacity up or down.

In 2012, Google introduced its computing cloud service: Google Compute Engine (GCE). Google Compute Engine lets users launch virtual machines, much like AWS, into regions and availability groups. However, GCE didn’t become available for everyone until 2013. Since then Google has added its own enhancements, like load balancing, extended support for Operating Systems, live migration of VMs, faster persistent disks, and instances with more cores.

Also in 2012, Microsoft introduced their compute service as a preview, but didn’t make it generally available until May 2013.  Azure users choose a VHD (Virtual Hard Disk), which is equivalent to Amazon’s AMI, to create a VM. A VHD can be either predefined by Microsoft, by third parties, or be user-defined. With each VM, you need to specify the number of cores and amount of memory.

Table1 shows Big Three compute options:

Instance Families Instances types Regions Zones
AWS 7 38 Yes Yes
GCE 4 18 Yes Yes
Azure 4 33 Yes

Table1: AWS vs Azure vs Google: Compute

AWS vs Azure vs Google: Storage and databases

AWS provides ephemeral (temporary) storage that is allocated once an instance is started and is destroyed when the instance is terminated. It provides Block Storage that is equivalent to hard disks, in that it can either be attached to any instance or kept separate. AWS also offers object storage with their S3 Service, and archiving services with Glacier. AWS fully supports relational and NoSQL databases and Big Data.

Google’s Cloud Platform similarly provides both temporary storage and persistent disks. For Object storage, GCP has Google Cloud Storage. GCP supports relational DBs through Google Cloud SQL. Technologies pioneered by Google, like Big Query, Big Table, and Hadoop, are naturally fully supported. Google’s Nearline offers to archive as cheap as Glacier, but with virtually no latency on recovery.

Azure uses temporary storage (D drive) and Page Blobs (Microsoft’s Block Storage option) for VM-based volumes. Block Blobs and Files serve for Object Storage. Azure supports both relational and NoSQL databases, and Big Data, through Windows Azure Table and HDInsight.

Table2 shows a comparison of the three clouds in storage and DBs. 

Ephemeral (Temporary) Block Storage Object Storage Relational DB Archiving NoSQL and Big Data
AWS Yes EBS S3 RDS Glacier DynamoDB, EMR, Kinesis, Redshift
GCP Yes Persistent disks Google Cloud Storage Google Cloud SQL  Nearline Cloud Datastore, Big Query, Hadoop
Azure Temporary Storage – D Drive Page Blobs Block Blobs and Files Relational DBs Windows Azure Table, HDInsight

Table 2: AWS vs Azure vs Google: Storage and databases

AWS vs Azure vs Google: Networking

Amazon’s Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs) and Azure’s Virtual Network (VNET) allow users to group VMs into isolated networks in the cloud. Using VPCs and VNETs, users can define a  network topology, create subnets, route tables, private IP address ranges, and network gateways. There’s not much to choose between AWS vs Azure on this: they both have solutions to extend your on-premise data center into the public (or hybrid) cloud. Each Google Compute Engine instance belongs to a single network, which defines the address range and gateway address for all instances connected to it. Firewall rules can be applied to an instance, and they can receive a public IP address.

AWS is unique in providing Route 53, a DNS web service.

Table 3 compares the three clouds from a networking point of view.

Virtual network Public IP Hybrid Cloud DNS Firewall/ACL
AWS VPC Yes Yes Route 53 Yes
GCP subnet Yes Yes
Azure VNet Yes Yes Yes

Table 3:  AWS vs Azure vs Google: Networking

AWS vs Azure vs Google: Pricing Structure

AWS charges customers by rounding up the number of hours used, so the minimum use is one hour. AWS instances can be purchased using any one of three models:

  • on demand – customers pay for what they use without any upfront cost
  • reserved – customers reserve instances for 1 or 3 years with an upfront cost that is based on the utilization
  • spot – customers bid for the extra capacity available

GCP charges for instances by rounding up the number of minutes used, with a minimum of 10 minutes. Google recently announced new sustained-use pricing for compute services that will offer a simpler and more flexible approach to AWS’s reserved instances. Sustained-use pricing will discount the on-demand baseline hourly rate automatically as a particular instance is used for a larger percentage of the month.

Azure charges customers by rounding up the number of minutes used for on demand. Azure also offers short-term commitments with discounts.

Table 4 shows the comparison in Pricing and Models between the three public clouds.

Pricing Models
AWS Per hour – rounded up On demand, reserved, spot
GCP Per minute – rounded up (minimum 10 minutes) On demand – sustained use
Azure Per minute – rounded up commitments (pre-paid or monthly) On demand – short term commitments (pre-paid or monthly)

Table 4: AWS vs Azure vs Google: Pricing and Models

All this isn’t to say that there aren’t many other ways to compare the three giants, like support levels, management, security, and access. However, this is a pretty good start. Cloud Academy remains vendor-neutral and offers learning paths, courses, and hands-on labs for these competing services.

Cloud Academy offers a free 7-day trial so you may evaluate the content and quality of their learning resources.

Feedback means everything to us. We listen and react to your comments in shaping our offerings. Fairly recently, we added Learning Paths to our professional educational offerings. Learning paths guide students through a personalized learning experience. Each path is constructed as a specific track that brings a student’s knowledge to the next level, step by step. Browse through the Cloud Academy’s Training Library for all the latest content we’ve published.

The public cloud war drags on.  As cloud computing is still in an early, maturing stage, no one can predict exactly how things will change in the near future. But what we can say, is that prices will continue dropping and attractive features will continue appearing. Cloud computing is here to stay and the way we all use computers will follow along with it.

Avatar

Written by

Motasem Aldiab

Motasem Aldiab is a professor, consultant, trainer, and developer. Dr. Aldiab has got his PhD in Computer Engineering from QUB in 2008. He is a certified trainer for the Cloud School and SOA School. He has been training and offering consultations for years in Java, SOA, and Cloud Computing, and leading workshops and training session (virtual or instructor led).


Related Posts

Amanda Cross
Amanda Cross
— January 7, 2021

New Content: AWS Terraform, Java Programming Lab Challenges, Azure DP-900 & DP-300 Certification Exam Prep, Plus Plenty More Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Big Data Courses

This month our Content Team continues building the catalog of courses for everyone learning about AWS, GCP, and Microsoft Azure. In addition, this month’s updates include several Java programming lab challenges and a couple of courses on big data. In total, we released five new learning...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Avatar
Stuart Scott
— December 17, 2020

Where Should You Be Focusing Your AWS Security Efforts?

Another day, another re:Invent session! This time I listened to Stephen Schmidt’s session, “AWS Security: Where we've been, where we're going.” Amongst covering the highlights of AWS security during 2020, a number of newly added AWS features/services were discussed, including: AWS Audit...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS re:Invent
  • cloud security
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— December 4, 2020

AWS re:Invent: 2020 Keynote Top Highlights and More

We’ve gotten through the first five days of the special all-virtual 2020 edition of AWS re:Invent. It’s always a really exciting time for practitioners in the field to see what features and services AWS has cooked up for the year ahead.  This year’s conference is a marathon and not a...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Glue Elastic Views
  • AWS re:Invent
Bryony Harrower
Bryony Harrower
— November 6, 2020

WARNING: Great Cloud Content Ahead

At Cloud Academy, content is at the heart of what we do. We work with the world’s leading cloud and operations teams to develop video courses and learning paths that accelerate teams and drive digital transformation. First and foremost, we listen to our customers’ needs and we stay ahea...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • content roadmap
  • GCP
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— October 25, 2020

Excelling in AWS, Azure, and Beyond – How Danut Prisacaru Prepares for the Future

Meet Danut Prisacaru. Danut has been a Software Architect for the past 10 years and has been involved in Software Engineering for 30 years. He’s passionate about software and learning, and jokes that coding is basically the only thing he can do well (!). We think his enthusiasm shines t...

Read more
  • AWS
  • careers
  • champions
  • upskilling
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— October 14, 2020

New Content: AWS Data Analytics – Specialty Certification, Azure AI-900 Certification, Plus New Learning Paths, Courses, Labs, and More

This month our Content Team released two big certification Learning Paths: the AWS Certified Data Analytics - Speciality, and the Azure AI Fundamentals AI-900. In total, we released four new Learning Paths, 16 courses, 24 assessments, and 11 labs.  New content on Cloud Academy At any ...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— September 15, 2020

New Content: Azure DP-100 Certification, Alibaba Cloud Certified Associate Prep, 13 Security Labs, and Much More

This past month our Content Team served up a heaping spoonful of new and updated content. Not only did our experts release the brand new Azure DP-100 Certification Learning Path, but they also created 18 new hands-on labs — and so much more! New content on Cloud Academy At any time, y...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Joe Nemer
Joe Nemer
— August 28, 2020

AWS Certification Practice Exam: What to Expect from Test Questions

If you’re building applications on the AWS cloud or looking to get started in cloud computing, certification is a way to build deep knowledge in key services unique to the AWS platform. AWS currently offers 12 certifications that cover major cloud roles including Solutions Architect, De...

Read more
  • AWS
  • AWS Certifications
Patrick Navarro
Patrick Navarro
— August 25, 2020

Overcoming Unprecedented Business Challenges with AWS

From auto-scaling applications with high availability to video conferencing that’s used by everyone, every day —  cloud technology has never been more popular or in-demand. But what does this mean for experienced cloud professionals and the challenges they face as they carve out a new p...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Cloud Adoption
  • digital transformation
Avatar
Andrew Larkin
— August 18, 2020

Constant Content: Cloud Academy’s Q3 2020 Roadmap

Hello —  Andy Larkin here, VP of Content at Cloud Academy. I am pleased to release our roadmap for the next three months of 2020 — August through October. Let me walk you through the content we have planned for you and how this content can help you gain skills, get certified, and...

Read more
  • alibaba
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • content roadmap
  • Content updates
  • DevOps
  • GCP
  • Google Cloud
  • New content
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— August 5, 2020

New Content: Alibaba, Azure AZ-303 and AZ-304, Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) Foundation, Python 3 Programming, 16 Hands-on Labs, and Much More

This month our Content Team did an amazing job at publishing and updating a ton of new content. Not only did our experts release the brand new AZ-303 and AZ-304 Certification Learning Paths, but they also created 16 new hands-on labs — and so much more! New content on Cloud Academy At...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • DevOps
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Machine Learning
  • programming
Alisha Reyes
Alisha Reyes
— July 16, 2020

Blog Digest: Which Certifications Should I Get?, The 12 Microsoft Azure Certifications, 6 Ways to Prevent a Data Breach, and More

This month, we were excited to announce that Cloud Academy was recognized in the G2 Summer 2020 reports! These reports highlight the top-rated solutions in the industry, as chosen by the source that matters most: customers. We're grateful to have been nominated as a High Performer in se...

Read more
  • AWS
  • Azure
  • blog digest
  • Certifications
  • Cloud Academy
  • OWASP
  • OWASP Top 10
  • Security
  • VPCs