Azure vs. Amazon vs. Google Cloud: Which Provider Is Right for You?

Liz Alton
Liz Alton

Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud are locked in a battle for the title of Leading Cloud Provider. AWS currently holds about 33% of market share at present, followed by Azure at 18% and Google Cloud at 9%, according to the latest analysis by Statista. 

Yet the rapid adoption of cloud over the next 12 months promises to shift the landscape—and the large cloud providers are fighting hard to win customers and influence the business world. For business and IT leaders, there’s a critical question to consider: Which solution is right for your unique needs? Here’s a closer look at what factors you should consider when determining the right cloud service for your organization.

What Factors Should You Consider When Choosing Cloud?

With the explosive adoption of cloud over the past year, companies are focusing on finding technologies that enable agility, resiliency, and the ability to deliver winning digital-first experiences. Computer World notes, “Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) is a model where a third-party provider hosts and maintains core infrastructure, including hardware, software, servers and storage on behalf of a customer. This typically includes the hosting of applications in a highly scalable environment, where customers are only charged for the infrastructure they use.” With companies focused on getting more done with lean IT teams and reducing costs, partnering with IaaS cloud providers is a key strategic priority in 2021.

Aligning Your Cloud Strategy to Your Business Objectives

Finding the right cloud partner requires an in-depth understanding of your business objectives. Each of the major cloud providers can often provide what you’re looking for; the key is to define whether Azure, AWS, or Google Cloud represents the best partner. Questions to consider include:

  • What’s your current technology stack comprised of? Do you have existing partnerships (e.g., Windows and Microsoft) that make a provider a natural choice?
  • What features are you leveraging? For example, do you plan to implement Kubernetes or other features to support any area of your business?
  • How will your data be stored? Do you have special security requirements?
  • Does your cloud partner need to support open source solutions?
  • What pricing models are you looking for? What’s your budget?
  • Do you need support for specific end cases, such as edge computer, IoT, or serverless solutions? 
  • What are you considering in terms of hybrid cloud or multi-cloud solutions?
  • Does the partner have a software ecosystem that provides the integrations or third-party solutions you need?

By defining your requirements upfront, you’ll be able to better parse through the data to determine which cloud providers are the best fit for your needs both today and over the long-term.

AWS: A Look at the Pros and Cons

Overall, AWS has been recognized as a Leader in the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Services. They have a dominant position in the market, and Gartner notes: “AWS is a very strong performer in most Gartner use cases, and a strong candidate for hybrid cloud and edge use cases. AWS has a future focus on attempting to own increasingly larger portions of the value chain that delivers cloud services to customers.”

Pros:

  • They lead in market share and have a wide global distribution, while being backed by market giant Amazon.
  • Gartner reports that the financial health of AWS is strong and contributes significant profit to Amazon’s bottom line.
  • ComputerWorld reports that “the key strength for the market leader continues to be the breadth and depth of its services, with more than 175 across compute, storage, database, analytics, networking, mobile, developer tools, management tools, IoT, security and enterprise applications, at last count.”

Cons:

  • As Amazon faces increasing regulatory scrutiny, it’s important to evaluate whether that increases the risk for AWS customers.
  • AWS, notes Gartner, has experienced some negative interactions with the open source market.
  • Pricing can be a challenge, according to ComputerWorld, as some customers may not fully understand how specific architecture choices contribute to their bottom line.

Related: Connection is here to help: AWS Migration Services

Microsoft Azure: A Look at the Pros and Cons

Overall, notes Gartner, “Microsoft is strong in all use cases. This includes the extended cloud and edge computing use cases, where many of the other vendors struggle. Azure is particularly well-suited for Microsoft-centric organizations. Microsoft has an investment focus on making architectural improvements to the Azure platform and providing a broad range of enterprise-focused services.”

Pros:

  • Microsoft Azure provides an end-to-end set of solutions that often work well for established businesses. In particular, organizations that are already working with Windows and Microsoft have a comfortable advantage.
  • Partnerships with large enterprise providers, including Oracle and SAP, help ensure a seamless migration and ongoing operation for companies with those workloads.
  • Azure is strong on both containers and serverless compute, highlighting opportunities for agile architecture and DevOps support.
  • Azure has continued to expand its support for developers, with tools such as Visual Studio Codespaces, Azure DevOps, and integration with GitHub.

Cons

  • One area Gartner highlights in the 2020 Magic Quadrant is the lack of availability zones, noting, “As a result, Gartner continues to have concerns related to the overall architecture and implementation of Azure, despite resilience-focused engineering efforts and improved service availability metrics during the past year.”
  • The lack of capacity guarantees can be limiting for customers undergoing rapid digital transformation.

Related: Connection Makes Migration Easier: Microsoft Azure Services

Google Cloud: A Look at the Pros and Cons

Google Cloud lacks the distinctive footprint of AWS and Azure, but it’s growing quickly. It was also named a Leader in the most recent Magic Quadrant for Cloud Computing Infrastructure. Overall, Gartner notes, “Google has evolved by enhancing its strengths and attacking its limitations to providing a strong offering in every use case, other than the edge use case. Google has a future focus on building out hybrid capabilities and partnerships with telco providers.”

Pros:

  • Google has taken a leadership position in developing new solutions, including Kubernetes and TensorFlow.
  • With an innovative posture in the market, Google Cloud has strong positioning with the developer community and integrates with the open source world.
  • Differentiating points include Google’s ability to rapidly process data, and their offering of a variety of solutions that take aim at data, data analytics, and eliminating lag.

Cons:

  • While Google Cloud has made strides to close capability gaps, it’s still third in the market and lacks the established services and relationships of some of its competitors.
  • Gartner notes that Google Cloud is a smaller player within the company’s total revenue, raising the need to watch its long-term performance and health.
  • As part of its go-to-market strategy, Google Cloud has focused on smaller projects and hasn’t built as much of a reputation as an end-to-end platform partner. Closing that gap and shifting perceptions is a strategic priority in the next few years.

Pricing

The price of cloud computing varies significantly depending on the volume of usage as well as the specific use cases an organization requires.

  • AWS offers payment solutions including pay-as-you-go, pay for what you reserve, and the ability to spend less by using more. 
  • Azure’s payment options allow customers the opportunity to trial the solution for free and to get a customized quote. In addition, a number of free offers, enterprise-grade cost management tools, and price-math and pay-for-usage programs help keep pricing in check. 
  • Google Cloud’s pricing includes options for free trials, pay-as-you-go, and the ability to estimate costs based on usage.

Final Thoughts

There are different options on the market that can help you choose the right cloud provider for your needs. By understanding your business requirements and the strengths of each hyperscaler, it’s possible to choose a partner that can both support your immediate infrastructure needs and provide the platform to support your long-term innovation.

You don’t have to navigate the process alone. Connection’s cloud computing experts can help you define your cloud adoption road map and select the best solution for your company. Get in touch today to start the conversation. 

Liz Alton

Liz Alton is a B2B technology and digital marketing writer and content strategist. She has worked with a variety of brands including Google, Twitter, Adobe, Oracle, and HP, and written for publications including Forbes. She is a regular contributor to Connected, Connection’s official blog.

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