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AWS, Azure Or Google Which Is The Right Choice For Your Business?

Trying to figure out which cloud solution is right for you? Before you sign up with a big provider like Microsoft, Amazon or Google, make sure you know how they measure up.

Have you stayed off the cloud bandwagon so far?

Day by day, more and more business leaders are recognizing and harnessing the advantages offered by the cloud. If you do not catch up soon, you will fall behind.

Hesitation is understandable, however, because the cloud can be extremely complicated. From the nature of the cloud to its many applications and features, you could spend weeks trying to evaluate options for your organization and still be lost.

You could also end up configuring a solution that may be too simple and not account for much-needed cybersecurity protection, exposing your business and your clients to a greater risk of breach and possible fines and penalties depending on your industry regulations, or specific state privacy standards.

That is why we have developed this simple guide, to help you assess the available solutions and whether they are the right match for your organization’s needs.

Why Move To The Cloud At All?

Just in case you are unsure, let us briefly explore the benefits offered by the cloud in general. The cloud is a cost-effective way to access additional IT resources and improve the user experience.

Key benefits include:

  • Outsourced Infrastructure: You get a third party to handle the hardware component of your cloud, and all the expensive maintenance that comes with it.
  • Extended Support: Instead of having your in-house team or outsourced IT company take care of your infrastructure, the experts from a third party handle it for you.

By working with a third party, you get increased flexibility, scalability, and availability, without having to maintain your own infrastructure. In other words, there is no point in building and managing a compliant data center when you can pay someone else to do it for you.

Microsoft, Amazon and Google — Head To Head

Azure is Microsoft’s enterprise-grade cloud computing platform. You and your team can rely on this solution to help you cut costs by hosting off-site, as well as benefit from a totally scalable configuration that fits your needs.

Google Cloud Platform, the public cloud service offered by Google, is among the youngest of the cloud industry’s major players. In 2019, they grew to offer service in 20 geographical regions. And while it may have limited reach and less experience than giants like Microsoft and Amazon, it compensates with undeniably impressive scale and advanced capabilities.

AWS offers one of the most expansive and popular cloud computing platforms in the world, delivering 175 fully-featured services to millions of customers. It offers an extensive toolset that continues to grow and innovate for the good of its users. This service offers PaaS, IaaS and SaaS.

Comparison #1: Computing Power

Computing power is a basic consideration for evaluating one cloud option over another. The bottom line is that you need to know the choice you make will support your organization’s needs when they are at their highest.

  • Microsoft Azure: As configured by the user, a third-party cloud service provider, or Microsoft itself, Azure creates a VM based on a selected VHD. This provides scalability (the access to additionally needed computing resources) through virtual sets. Azure VMs pair with other tools to help deploy applications on the cloud.
  • Google Cloud Platform: Google’s range of compute services is limited when compared to Microsoft’s.  It uses the Compute Engine, which offers both custom and predefined machine types, as well as Linux and Windows support, and even carbon-neutral infrastructure (notable for using half the energy of typical data centers).

Furthermore, Google also offers a Kubernetes Engine (they helped to develop it) which allows users to deploy containers. Containers are popular because they are more standardized than VMs, essentially, making it easier to run any given application, and simplifying management and discovery.

  • AWS: Based on EC2, AWS users have the ability to:
    • Configure their own VMs
    • Choose pre-configured machine images (MIs)
    • Or customize MIs

This provides users with the freedom to determine the size, power, memory capacity, and number of VMs they wish to use, based on their requirements, allowing for optimal compatibility with a range of options.

Comparison #2: Storage

In the cloud world, storage is a close second to computing when it comes to key considerations. How does each option organize storage and what limits does it have?

  • Microsoft Azure: Microsoft offers temporary, block and object storages, and virtual network capabilities to create isolation in the cloud. It’s important to understand the two classes of storage offered:
    • Hot Storage: Hot storage is more expensive, as the assumption is that users will access and use it more often. It’s ideal for data that you will actively access and update.
    • Cool Storage: Cool storage is less expensive, but users incur additional read and write costs. This is ideal for archived, long-term storage of records you may only need to access for audits or store for posterity.
  • Google Cloud Platform: Similar to their compute offering, Google’s storage options are limited as well. They offer unified object storage service (“Cloud Storage”), as well as a Persistent Disk alternative option. Google Cloud Platform can also provide Transfer Appliance and online transfer services.
  • AWS: This provider’s storage is based on Machine Instances (MI), which are VMs hosted in their infrastructure. AWS offers temporary, object and block storage (separate or attached to an instance), as well as virtual private clouds to create isolated networks.

Whereas all options offer as much storage as you need (of course, at a higher and higher cost), each has a specific limit on the size of stored objects: 4.75TB for Azure, and 5TB for Google Cloud Platform and AWS.

Comparison #3: Security

Security should always be top of mind whenever you’re considering a change in your IT, especially one as fundamental as the cloud. Using a public cloud service assumes a certain degree of risk.

That’s why you need to ensure that the necessary security standards are in place with your choice of cloud.

  • Microsoft Azure: Designed around the principles of the Security Development Lifecycle, Microsoft has made embedding best-practice security requirements in everything they create a mandatory part of their software development process.

Based on a virtual network, users have the ability to create isolated networks, in addition to subnets, private IP ranges, route tables, and network gateways. Cross-network connectivity is granted via a VPN gateway.

Azure Active Directory has built-in security features including authentication tools, access control, and identity management in addition to their own top-notch network and system security.

Certifications include ITAR, DISA, HIPAA, CJIS, FIPS, and more. Security is provided so that only screened persons can access the cloud.

  • Google Cloud Platform: Google Cloud Platform provides security via a number of different services, including:
    • Security Command Center: This security management and compliance monitoring solution helps users address data risks, vulnerabilities, and threats.
    • Cloud Data Loss Prevention: This managed service allows users to discover, classify, and protect their most sensitive data.

Google Cloud Platform is compliant with some certifications including HIPAA and PCI, but not others such as ITAR and DISA.

  • AWS: AWS delivers both security and flexibility, meeting the high standards of military, international finance, and other highly regulated sectors that rely on AWS. This service keeps user data secure with 230 distinct security, compliance and governance systems. Using a virtual private cloud (VPC), AWS allows users to create isolated private networks. API gateways allow for cross-premises connectivity, and elastic load balancing during networking allows for seamless operation

Using a VPC allows users to create subnets, private IP ranges, route tables, and network gateways.

Certifications include ITAR, DISA, HIPAA, CJIS, FIPS, and more. Security is provided so that only screened persons can access the cloud.

Comparison #4: Pricing

Determining the actual cost of one cloud platform or another is notoriously difficult.

Depending on what storage you need, what type of storage you need, how much storage you need, what software licenses you have, how many users (concurrent or otherwise) you have, what discounts you qualify for, and whether the rates have changed since you last checked, there’s no catch all rate that’s worth quoting.

You can take a look at the Microsoft, Google or AWS pricing calculators for an idea of how complicated the process can be. Instead, we can explore how these cloud platforms price their services, specifically in pay-as-you-go models:

  • Microsoft Azure: Service is charged by the minute. You can choose between monthly or prepaid charges, with longer commitments allowing for greater discounts. If you are an existing Microsoft customer, you may even qualify for additional discounts.
  • Google Cloud Platform: Pricing is a differentiator for Google, in that they strive to offer “customer-friendly” rates. Service is charged by-the-second, providing even more accurate charges than Microsoft’s by-the-minute. Google Cloud Platform also provides automatic discounts.
  • AWS: Service is charged by the second, with instances purchasable:
    • On-demand (pay for what you use)
    • Spot (bid for extra available capacity)
    • Reserved (reserve an instance for 1-3 years with upfront costs based on use)

It’s also important to note that, as the apparent industry leader, AWS is generally the more expensive option. It’s been in the game longer than Azure and Google and offers more capabilities, and so, pound for pound, it often costs more.

All things equal (as, again, pricing is highly complicated and subjective to the user), Google Cloud Platform is almost always the cheapest. However, this is in line with their limited depth of service.

Which Is Right For You?

While we cannot decide which is best for your particular business model, we can certainly help you rationalize the options, considering variables which, in today’s climate, must include cybersecurity and data privacy.

If your organization already relies on similar solutions (Microsoft 365, the Google suite, etc.), and is looking for a simple, basic option, then a major cloud service may be the easiest choice for you. However, you will miss out on customizable services, and features that will better suit more complex needs in terms of configuration and security.

If you are still undecided or would like help in your evaluation, then reach out to our team for expert assistance.

In The Cloud Offers Expert Cloud Guidance

In The Cloud helps clients evaluate their options and determine which solution best meets their needs. Schedule a complimentary consultation with our team to determine which cloud solution is the right fit for you.