If you’re like many businesses, you’ve decided that you need to move to the cloud and with good reason. More and more businesses use the cloud because it makes their lives easier in so many different ways.

80% of Businesses Will Expand Their Use of Cloud-Managed ServicesStats show that many organizations are already using cloud computing and those already on the cloud will increase their use of it. According to Forbes, by summer of 2018, 80% of all IT budgets are going to be dedicated to cloud solutions. According to IBM, 80% of US businesses will expand their use of cloud-managed services.

With so much interest in the benefits of the cloud, it pays to understand which cloud service will give you the best bang for your buck.

Here’s a look at how you can separate the wheat from the chaff.

Google Cloud vs. Microsoft Azure vs. Amazon Web Services

Any serious discussion comparing cloud services will include comparisons between Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Web Services. These are the three biggest and most widely used cloud solutions.

Google Cloud

Google Cloud Platform LogoGoogle Cloud’s specialty is in things like Big Data, machine learning, and analytics. As an expert in fast response times and data centers, Google is familiar with load balancing and offering customers significant scale.

Curiously, in spite of Google’s leading status in other products and services, Google Cloud trails both Azure and AWS in market share, according to AWS Insider. Whereas AWS is pushing nearly 40% market share, Google Cloud trails Azure.

One reason behind this lag in popularity is its lack of features and services compared to AWS and Azure. Its insufficiency of global data centers is also another negative.

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure LogoAzure is faring better than Google Cloud in terms of users due to enterprises legacy use of Windows and additional Microsoft software. Since Azure is closely integrated with these other offerings, enterprises that already rely heavily on Microsoft software feel using Azure is the logical, next step for their cloud needs. Plus, Microsoft incentivizes Azure adoption with discounts to existing Microsoft customers.

Azure’s cons are quite surprising when you consider that Azure is billed as an enterprise-ready solution together with Microsoft’s history as an enterprise vendor. Common problems affecting Azure include issues with documentation, tech support, training and overall scope of the ISV partner environment.

Amazon Web Services

The undisputed leader in cloud offerings, AWS has been leading the pack for a decade. You can thank the huge array of its operations for this dominance.

Amazon Web Services LogoNot only does it have a plethora of services, but it also features the most thorough network of global data centers. As a result, it’s the most mature and enterprise-ready solution that features deep capacity for handling many resources and users.

You can argue that you get what you pay for, and AWS’ worst feature is probably its cost. Although AWS lowers prices from time to time, it’s not unusual for enterprises to struggle to comprehend AWS’ cost structure and also handle said costs properly when running a large quantity of workloads on AWS’ services.

Factors To Consider

See if They Really Understand Your Business

Your ideal cloud service should understand your business objectives and what you want to accomplish on the cloud. After all, their service is integral to the wellbeing of your business operations.

This means they have to go beyond merely assuring you consistent uptime and just the technological benefits. You should get on a call with the provider you’re considering and ask their representative if they can touch on numerous, important business goals that you’d like to gain by going with their service. This should include anything from greater customer retention to more efficient product delivery.

Consider the Architecture You’re Already Using

The architecture of the service provider you’ll choose needs to be integrated into your business’ workflows in the present and future. That’s why it makes sense to think about compatibility and harmony.

For example, if your organization already significantly uses the Microsoft platform, then it’s probably a no-brainer to go with Azure. The same can be said with Amazon and Google, respectively. At the end of the day, you want your choice of service provider to integrate with what you’re already doing as seamlessly as possible.

Where Are the Data Centers Located?

This is another crucial factor in your determination. Here’s the rule of thumb: If your app (or product offering, etc.) is extremely sensitive, in the context of data centers and their location, you want said app to be relatively close to your customers. Since your business and bottom line will do better if your customers enjoy a superior user experience on the cloud, you should think hard about the geographical location of your app’s hosting.

This becomes a much bigger issue if your business stretches across the entire globe, but even smaller businesses should pay mind to this crucial factor.

Ideally, you’ll want to select a service provider with its data centers in various locations, just from a resiliency viewpoint alone. These data centers should also be, at the very least, far away enough from each other so that they’re not occupying the same electrical grid.

Ask Yourself If They’re Trustworthy

Trust is one of the most important factors in any purchase decision, with Inc. declaring that customers don’t buy from those they don’t trust. This age-old rule should also apply to your selection of the best cloud service for your needs. Don’t consider any candidate unless you can trust the service provider 100%.

The first criteria is you ought to like the cloud service as well as its values. They should be in line with your own business’ philosophy.

Then, do your own investigative work: Check out the service provider’s partners, with whom it does business and its overall reputation. A quick Google search can usually help in this mission pretty quickly.

Let’s look at specific categories and how the three compare.

Compute Considerations

Google Cloud

Google Cloud’s range of compute services trails behind both AWS and Azure. Compute Engine is its main service; with that, you get Windows and Linux support, per-second billing, and predefined and custom machine types. One advantage here is Google’s involvement in the Kubernetes project, providing an edge over its competitors when it comes to deploying containers.

Azure

Azure’s main services is Virtual Machines. It offers:

  • High-quality security
  • Hybrid cloud abilities
  • Support for Windows Server, Linux, SAP, IBM, Oracle and SQL Server.

It features a huge offering of available instances, including those optimized for machine learning and artificial intelligence.

AWS

AWS’ main service is Elastic Compute Cloud. Featuring a huge assortment of options, it offers:

  • Bare metal instances
  • Windows and Linux support
  • Auto-scaling
  • High-performance computing

Its container services, within Elastic, support Kubernetes, Docker, as well as its own Fargate service.

Storage Considerations

Google Cloud

Google Cloud comes with a smaller range of storage options. Its unified object service here is Cloud Storage, and Persist Disk is another service option. As for databases, Google features:

  • Cloud Spanner (meant for mission-critical issues)
  • Cloud SQL
  • Cloud Datastore and Cloud Bigtable (on the non-SQL side), but there are no backup or archive services

Azure

Azure has a good range of basic service options

  • Queue Storage (bigger workloads)
  • Blob Storage (unstructured-data storage)
  • Disk and File storage

Where Azure stands out is its offering of databases, which is quite extensive. It features:

  • Three SQL choices (Database for Postgre SQL, Database for MySQL, SQL Database)
  • A data warehouse service
  • Table Storage for NoSQL
  • A memory service called Redis Cache

Unfortunately, in stark contrast with AWS, Azure fails to offer an official backup, site-recovery or archive service.

AWS

Here again, AWS is in the unquestionable lead. With a huge list of storage options, it features:

  • Simple Storage Service for object storage
  • Elastic Block Storage intended for persistent block storage
  • Elastic File System to help with file storage
  • Storage Gateway for hybrid storage
  • Snowball, a tangible hardware tool

As for databases, AWS has an enviable choice there, too. It features:

  • Aurora (compatible with SQL)
  • DynamoDB NoSQL
  • Relational Database Service
  • Redshift data warehouse
  • ElastiCache in-memory data storage
  • Neptune graph database
  • Database migration offering

Note: Though AWS has no official backup service, it provides Glacier, which is meant for longer-term archival use.

Important Cloud Tools

Google Cloud

Significant areas of focus include machine learning and artificial intelligence. Google may have the advantage here since it developed TensorFlow, an open-source library to create machine-learning applications. Additional strengths for Google include:

  • Natural-language APIs
  • Speech APIs
  • Translation APIs
  • Internet of Things and serverless services (beta)

Azure

Microsoft’s made a big investment in AI; it therefore provides a machine-learning and bot service on Azure. It also offers cognitive services, which include:

  • Text analytics API
  • Bing web search API
  • Computer vision API
  • Face API
  • Custom vision API

As far as IoT is concerned, Microsoft has various analytics and management services, along with a serverless service called Functions.

AWS

AWS again dominates in these services:

  • Lex conversational interface for Alexa
  • SageMaker service for machine learning
  • Greengrass IoT messaging service
  • Lambda serverless computing

In AI and machine learning areas specifically, Amazon has already revealed a few AI-related services like DeepLens (an AI-enabled camera) and Gluon (a deep-learning and open-source library for both developers and non-developers).

How to Make Your Decision

Here’s what to consider in decision-making.

Google Cloud

Google has a lot of catching up to do in this industry. Mediocre service offerings are a big part of the problem, but things likely will improve soon. Google has partnered with Cisco, pumping billions into its cloud-computing services, and concentrating on its strengths of machine learning and sheer scale.

Azure

Azure is your choice if you’re already on an existing Microsoft platform, due to the ease and convenience such a pairing provides. For instance, .NET code works easily on Azure, as does your Server ecosystem. Still, if you need Linux, bare metal, or DevOps, Azure wouldn’t be your top choice since its focus on Windows relegates Linux to backseat status.

AWS

The strongest choice here, AWS impresses with its gargantuan scale and wide array of services and tools. The only drawback with Amazon is if you’re really looking for a more personal relationship with your cloud provider: Amazon’s huge size makes such an attentive service offering nearly impossible, so a smaller boutique cloud shop may be worth exploring, too.


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