AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud: How to choose the best cloud provider for a large-scale project

Back in 2016, Gartner forecast extinction of ‘no-cloud’ corporations, predicting that more than 30% of the world’s largest enterprises would stick to cloud-centric strategies. Now, in 2019, every third company considers investments into cloud services to be one of its three top business priorities.

Before long, it is likely that keeping all business processes off the public cloud will be as unconventional and unproductive as abandoning the benefits of the Internet and working offline only. A recent survey of organizations with more than 500 employees proves this statement showing that:

  • 67% of large companies are using cloud infrastructures today while 27% are planning to go to cloud in the near future.
  • 47% of organizations that have already adopted cloud technologies use them extensively in their production processes and 38% claim moderate production usage.
  • IaaS is the most popular cloud adoption model.

Another research study conducted in 2019 outlines the following cloud computing trends:

  • 84% of enterprises stick to a multi-cloud or hybrid strategy which means that they combine public and private clouds and mix the cloud services of different vendors.
  • 91% of respondents are now adopting the public cloud while 72% use a private cloud.
  • Companies are planning to spend 24% more on public cloud in 2019 than in 2018.

Enterprise cloud strategy


Top cloud providers in 2019

When speaking about cloud computing, most companies imply that they use services provided by the three major players: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and the Google Cloud Platform. These leaders are closely followed by IBM Cloud, which has a slightly different prime focus by being ahead of the pack in the hosted private cloud segment.

Cloud infrastructure Services - market share


What benefits Amazon, Microsoft and Google can offer to companies? All three of them provide:

  • a highly scalable environment to host a customer’s application.
  • a flexible payment system: clients pay only for what they really use.
  • proper security and data sovereignty.
  • machine learning tools.
  • features supporting IoT and serverless computing.
  • support for popular container services like Kubernetes and Docker.
  • a free introductory tier which enables you to use some services at no charge for 12 months, but in limited quantities only.
  • always free services providing that your usage of them doesn’t exceed a certain limit per month.
  • service credit at sign-up (except for AWS).

In addition to common benefits, each cloud service provider has its own advantages and peculiarities that you should consider when deciding to whom you will entrust your project. In this article, we’ll review top cloud computing vendors so that you can make the right choice.

AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud innovative services and tools

Experts predict that in the near future the main battle among top cloud vendors will revolve around innovative technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and serverless computing. As we mentioned above, all three leaders are already offering corresponding services. Now, let’s observe them in more detail.

AVC vs Azure vs Google cloud


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AWS offerings

Amazon started providing machine learning services in 2015 to facilitate developing ML models. Currently, AWS offers the widest range of ML- and AI-oriented technologies including:

  • SageMaker, a machine learning service that allows engineers and data scientists to easily develop and train ML models, and then deploy them directly in production.
  • Rekognition, a facial recognition tool (which was criticized by Google, Facebook, and Microsoft for flaws and higher error rates for dark-skinned and female faces).
  • DeepLens, a video camera fueled by deep learning. It allows you to process visual surroundings and to detect and recognize objects, food, bird species and faces.
  • AWS Lex, an engine that fuels Alexa and enables building voice-enabled interfaces with deep learning and speech recognition capabilities. It is a popular option for creating serverless conversational chatbots.

Microsoft Azure offerings

Microsoft also spares no expanse on AI and ML technologies. It offers their clients so-called Cognitive Services, a set of 25 tools which enables engineers with zero expertise in machine learning to implement features like emotion detection and facial and speech recognition within their applications.

Google offerings

Google is a recognized leader in the area of machine learning and AI due to its open source machine learning library called TensorFlow. Choosing this vendor, you also get access to various off-the-shelf APIs for natural language processing, automated translation, and computer vision.

Azure vs AWS vs Google Cloud hybrid and multi-cloud solutions

As we said previously, when going cloud most enterprises follow the old rule: ‘Don’t store all your eggs in one basket’. They mix public and private clouds and combine services of different vendors. So what efforts have major vendors already made to meet these needs for diversity?

Microsoft was a public-only platform until 2017 when it finally released Azure Stack, the first hybrid cloud appliance which lets organizations run Azure services in their local data centers. Developers can build cloud applications on-premises and then deploy their code to public Azure without change.

AWS jumped on the bandwagon in 2018 having launched Outposts, an infrastructure for bringing AWS services and operating models to local data centers. Outposts enables companies to use the same APIs, tools, and functionality across the public cloud and on-premises facilities.

Google was the last vendor to join the hybrid club. In 2019, the tech giant finally released Anthos. This set of tools bridges on-premises and cloud environments and helps organizations adopt multi-cloud and hybrid models. Anthos includes

  • Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE)
  • Anthos Migrate, a cloud migration tool
  • Istio, an add-on for GKE to ensure security and connectivity for microservices.

Hybrid options of all three vendors are mostly duplicated, yet there is one important difference. While AWS Outposts and Azure Stack don’t support third-party cloud providers, Anthos lets you deploy, run, and manage applications not only on existing on-prem hardware and Google Cloud, but also on other clouds like AWS and Azure. This ‘write once, run anywhere’ principle sets Google apart from its rivals and paves the way to a true multi-cloud architecture, saving companies time needed to learn different environments.

AWS vs Azure vs Google cloud security

All three vendors leave no stone unturned in their efforts to ensure the security of cloud-based applications.

For example,Amazon supports hundreds of industry-leading solutions, enabling companies to seamlessly integrate security solutions into their workflow. With AWS, you can also use Amazon Inspector, an automated service to identify and eliminate security vulnerabilities of apps deployed within the AWS environment.

Microsoft, in its turn, has Azure Security Center, with its ability to detect threats and protect against them. It uses machine learning to monitor and analyze trillions of signals across services and systems, and it instantly reports on suspicious activity. The service also helps you reduce your potential attack surface.

As for Google Cloud, it applies several layers of encryption to protect user data at rest. All the content stored in the public cloud is encrypted automatically. It is worth noting that Google data centers are equipped with laser beam intrusion detectors and biometric verifications systems for employees.

biometric verification systems


Google Cloud vs Azure vs AWS pricing models

It’s not so easy to compare pricing models as each platform offers unique options and special discounts based on multiple factors. Besides that, price plans are changing all the time. Fortunately for clients, vendors mostly decrease charges in their attempts to compete with rivals. All three leaders have already moved at least some of their services from per-hour or per-minute to per-second billing, allowing customers to stop paying almost instantly, or within a minute.

Google and Microsoft emphasize that their services are cheaper than offerings from Amazon. Google claims you will save an average of 35% if you choose this vendor over AWS, while Microsoft advertises up to 85% savings compared to AWS. However, we recommend taking this information with a pinch of salt, as AWS provides lucrative long-term deals.

Of course, you can use AWS, Google, and Microsoft calculators to estimate the total cost of products you are going to use.

AWS vs Azure vs Google: Pros and Cons

Now it’s time to sum up some major advantages and disadvantages of each cloud provider.

Pros and Cons


AWS Pros and Cons

Amazon is unbeatable in regard to the quantity and diversity of services and tools they provide. The tech giant started building its cloud computing empire in 2006, before any other company, which gave AWS a huge competitive advantage. All its services are meant to be enterprise-friendly, secure, and reliable. Beyond maturity and wide range of products , AWS is highly praised for its openness and flexibility.

This may come as a surprise, but the major drawback of AWS results from its greatest advantage: its abundance of offerings. Some customers find it difficult to access numerous services and comprehend which ones they really need.

Another disadvantage is its lack of multi-cloud opportunities. While AWS supports a hybrid cloud approach (you can use AWS cloud services and products on your local data center) it doesn’t give you any centralized means to manage your app across multiple clouds.

Microsoft Azure Pros and Cons

Microsoft Azure is marketed as a cloud solution for enterprises. While losing ground to AWS in its number of services, it still can meet almost any need, offering cost-efficient solutions and mature hybrid options. To make sure of this, everyone can take a free course on the key concepts of Microsoft Azure. All-in-all, this provider is the best fit for companies who widely use Microsoft’s on-premise products and systems like Windows, Office and .Net.

Similar to AWS, Microsoft falls short when it comes to multi-cloud strategies.

Google Cloud Pros and Cons

The Google Cloud platform is renowned for its excellent open-source community, as well as having the lowest prices among all three major players, multi-layered security and best practices for building containers. Another great benefit is that - at least, for now - Google develops true multi-cloud strategies and thus compares favorably from competitors.

However, compared with AWS and Azure, Google has a limited array of services and features. Its main focus is on small innovative projects rather than major enterprises. Currently, large companies tend to choose this vendor as a secondary provider.

AWS vs Microsoft Azure vs Google Cloud Platform Comparison Table

 AWSMicrosoft AzureGCP
Launch year200620102008
Market share (2018)32,3%16,5%9,5%
Main strengths
  • Market dominance
  • The widest array of available services
  • Support for large organizations
  • Integration with other Microsoft products
  • Broad set of features
  • Enterprise-friendly environment
  • Commitment to open source
  • Multi-cloud solutions
  • Relatively low prices
Main weaknesses
  • Higher prices
  • No multi-cloud solutions
  • No multi-cloud solutions
  • Fewer services
  • No focus on enterprises
ML / AI tools and services
  • Amazon SageMaker
  • AWS Rekognition
  • DeepLens
  • AWS Lex
  • TensorFlow on AWS
  • Azure Machine Learning service
  • Cognitive Services (25 tools)
  • Cloud Machine Learning Engine
  • TensorFlow
Serverless computingLambdaFunctionsCloud Functions
IoTIoT Core
  • IoT Hub
  • IoT Edge
Cloud IoT Core
Hybrid / multi-cloud optionsAWS Outposts (hybrid cloud solution)Azure Stack (hybrid cloud solution)Anthos (hybrid and multi-cloud solution)
Five major customers
  • Airbnb
  • Netflix
  • Pinterest
  • Siemens
  • Vodafone
  • Adobe
  • AccuWeather
  • ASOS
  • HP
  • NBC News
  • 20th Century Fox
  • Bloomberg 
  • eBay
  • PayPal
  • The New York Times

So, how do you make the final choice?

Here are some thoughts to help you make the right decision.

  • As the clear market leader and the most mature cloud provider, AWS is the safe bet, no matter the size of your company.
  • If the IT infrastructure of your company is centered around Microsoft products, Microsoft Azure will be the best solution.
  • Google Cloud is the cheapest option, but this benefit comes with a cost: fewer services. The vendor can fully satisfy the needs of small projects, yet it often falls short of expectations when dealing with large companies.

Whichever provider you select, you will still need qualified engineers to deploy and manage your application in the cloud. Our experts can help you make the final choice, in addition to further web or mobile development, testing, deploying, and support. Contact us to discuss your cloud needs, and we will work out the best cloud strategy based on an in-depth analysis of your project.

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