Google Cloud Platform Vs. Microsoft Azure

The cloud services business is a trillion dollar market. There was a time when Amazon (AWS) was dominating this market. Google launched own cloud service in 2011, and Microsoft unveiled its Azure cloud platform around the same time. Although the top spot for the most used cloud platform belongs to Amazon, Google and Azure are not far behind. Check out our previous post on AWS and GCP comparison.

Google and Azure are in close competition not only by dropping price, but also by launching several useful features. However, sometimes the two cloud platforms seem to trail each other so closely that the overall value delivery becomes indistinguishable. If the size and price of Amazon cloud are not for you, the next best choices will be limited to Google and Azure. But how should a user choose between the two cloud offerings?

Google has better Compute Engine

Google offers a powerful Compute Engine that has been available to all the users since 2013. This Engine allows users to operate virtual CPUs and categorize those into groups and regions. It also comes with useful features like virtual machine live migration, load balancing, better core availability, speedy persistent disks, and extended OS support. Azure doesn’t really have a comparable system. Azure did debut a compute service of its own about a year before Google did, but it has not been improved or made available to all the users like the Google engine has been since inception. Users can assign virtual machines with Azure using a separate service that requires getting predefined by the user, Microsoft, or a third party. Azure allows users to assign memory capacity and number of cores to a virtual machine. However, features stop there and Google clearly has a superior product in this aspect.

Google has a slightly better pricing

Both Google and Azure have a minute-based on-demand pricing structure. Both are quite flexible when compared to an hour-based service like the one Amazon offers. On demand here means that customers don’t need to pay an upfront cost or reserve usage in advance. You pay as per your usage. Google has a minimum of 10 minutes of usage and rounds up the total usage time to the number of minutes. Azure does pretty much the same thing.

Google, however, has upgraded the pricing structure to calculate sustained use. It means that the longer someone uses the service, the cheaper it would be. Google offers discounts for prolonged use of its service. This structure allows Google to have an excellent price advantage over Amazon. But for Azure, the service offers discounts for some short-term commitments or reserved usage. So, that gives Google a slight advantage here when it comes to pricing.

Azure offers hybrid cloud networking

Azure offers a virtual network that is similar to the popular Virtual Private Clouds offered by Amazon. These virtual networks allow users to group or categorize virtual machines as isolated networks on the platform. Users can then go on to define network topology, create route tables, set subnets, assign private IP addresses, or make network gateways. Essentially, this allows services to extend beyond a single data center premise on the public cloud. Google’s networking service, in comparison, is available on a single network. Users can define gateway addresses and ranges for all instances on this network. Users can enhance security by receiving public IP addresses and applying firewall rules to an instance. But Google doesn’t offer hybrid cloud services like Azure does in this regard.

Google offers fully supported storage and archiving

Google offers users ephemeral storage in which storage starts and gets subsequently deleted with an instance. They also offer persistent disk storage to hold files longer and Cloud Storage for objects. And all stored files are supported with Google’s additional applications throughout. For example, Google supports stored relational databases via the Cloud SQL service. Google’s most popular services like Big Table, Big Query, and Hadoop are fully supported with storage. They also offer archiving with Nearline, which is relatively cheap but has no recovery latency.

Azure, in comparison, offers only a “D drive” for temporary storage. Microsoft’s block storage option called Page Blobs are available on the platform as well. Azure does support NoSQL and relational databases. A limited number of services, like HDInsight and Windows Azure Table are available for big data. However, there is no archiving support available.

Google offers perks to indie developers

Google has a brand new service called ‘Always Free’, which comes with usage tier available for many of its products at no additional cost. While it doesn’t make a big difference for heavy users, Always Free offers excellent advantages to indie developers and cash-strapped start-ups that might want to test prototypes or set up private beta testing. Azure doesn’t have a comparable service. But, they allow users to add virtual networks with no additional cost.

Takeaway

The primary advantage that Google offers is that the services are expanding and improving at a steady pace. Google Cloud has come a long way since its debut about 6 years ago. In comparison, Azure, which was launched around the same time lags behind in certain key service areas.


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Amazon Web Services (AWS) Vs. Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

Cloud platforms have mushroomed in recent times, but Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure are the most popular options for both SMEs & Large Enterprise. AWS has a very significant market share having cornered nearly half of the cloud service sector. AWS was also sort of the only cloud player in the market about 5 years ago. GCP arrived late to the show, but considering it’s a Google product, they are giving tough competition to AWS. It can be hard to decide between the two services, given that platforms have strong value propositions.

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Comparison: Amazon Web Services (AWS) Vs. Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

GCP is cheaper

If the price is the main factor for you when choosing a cloud platform, then GCP should be your choice. The service is considerably cheaper than AWS overall. For example, renting 8GB RAM for 2 CPUs for a month would cost only $52 with GCP, compared to $69 with AWS. GCP charges about 2 cents per gigabyte per month for cloud storage, while AWS charges 2.3 cents.

GCP also has a pay-per-minute cost model, while AWS uses a pay-per-hour fee model with minimum charges for 10 minutes of usage. AWS, therefore, rounds up costs by the hour, which ends up being higher when accumulated compared to the minute model. For example, if you use GCP for 2.1 hours, you will get charged for exactly that. On the other hand, AWS will round up the 2.1 to 3 hours, which obviously costs more.

GCP is advantageous especially for those who need cloud infrastructure for the long term. GCP offers discounts based on length of usage. The longer you use GCP, the more discounts you will get. AWS, in comparison, requires users to reserve long usage contracts without any cost relief.

AWS has more service offerings

It’s hard to dispute that AWS is the market leader when it comes to cloud infrastructure offerings. AWS offers many more services for customers compared to GCP. Not only are AWS services many in number, the quality is significantly better as well. For example, AWS offers users who require managed SQL solutions many options including Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL solution, Oracle, Aurora, and Maria DB. On the other hand, GCP only offers managed MySQL solution.

Some of the services on GCP, like PostgreSQL and Cloud Functions, are still in beta stages. AWS offers more fully functional and tested services like the immensely useful Lambda, which allows users to execute code without waiting around.

AWS services are very diverse and thus cater to all sorts of preferences and requirements. Only AWS offers specialized tools like the Streaming managed directory service, remote Windows desktops, media transcoding apps, and NoSQL databases. The sheer number of apps, development tools, analytic tools, databases, and networking services AWS offers is just comprehensive. And the cherry on top of all of this is integration. All AWS services are highly integrated, resulting in a remarkably comprehensive cloud platform. GCP has a long way to go before achieving this level of sophistication.

GCP is better for big data

GCP, understandably, comes out strong against AWS when it comes to Big Data. A cloud platform by the world’s biggest search engine clearly has no trouble allowing users to manage humungous amounts of data. Google offers BigQuery, which is a service to store, sort and analyze big data in a short amount of time. The service is rather complex, but still has perks like real time data set insights. AWS doesn’t have a comparable service.

AWS has better availability

AWS, as the biggest cloud service provider in the world, has more data centers around the globe than GCP. So users get more global accessibility with AWS. This is important for those who do business in big and censorship-loving countries like China. Higher number of data centers also offer the advantage of having access to files even if some centers are blocked. In China, notably, users are blocked from accessing hosted files on GCP. Google has limited number of data centers in the region, whereas AWS has plenty of offerings providing more advantages in this regard.

Google offers flexible instant configuration

Google allows flexibility for instant configuration that AWS disappointingly lacks. Users can customize the number of processors and RAM usage with GCP instant configuration, whereas AWS lacks a comparable service. GCP instant configuration is great when you need to allocate RAM between a number of machines. Custom machine type also makes the service less costly. Both AWS and GCP, however, offer quickie analyses for small chunks of data.

AWS has larger instances

AWS has better infrastructure than GCP, so this service offers larger instances than others on the market. The largest instance AWS offers is a jaw dropping 2 TB of RAM for 128 CPUs. In comparison, the maximum GCP can manage is 416 GB of RAM for 64 CPUs.

AWS has better documentation

Documentation plays a crucial role when it comes to choosing the cloud platform for your company. Ease of use and learning curve get impacted by the neat and holistic documentation. AWS offers the best documentation (mostly because of its age and community contribution) while GCP documentation has a long way to go to as of 2017.

Takeaway

Choosing between the two is really dependent on the particular needs and requirements of the user. If you are looking for a big cloud platform with plenty of services, then AWS is the best pick. If you are looking for an affordable service with big data perks, then GCP is better. GCP is also recommended for users who are new to the cloud and do not require numerous applications.


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