Monday, 26 September 2022

AWS, Azure or Google: Which cloud should you choose?

During the pandemic many organisations committed serious resources to the cloud for the first time. So which is the right cloud provider for your organisation?

Cloud computing thrived during the pandemic. Many organisations committed serious resources to the cloud for the first time. Now, as the dust settles, it’s time to ask: which is the right cloud provider for your organisation?

In 2021, the global cloud computing market was worth some $64.3 billion. That was up from $50.4 billion in 2020. This amazing growth has, in part, been accelerated by the pandemic and the rush to enable remote and hybrid working.

Many organisations around the world saw the benefits of cloud computing first-hand for the first time: the easier facilitation of remote working arrangements; the ability to provision devices and services remotely; the ease of maintenance and patching; the improved monitoring and logging.

Having proved the concept, these organisations are now looking to the cloud to help them to drive further digital transformation.

We’ve seen how digital early adopters were better placed to weather the pandemic. Now, many organisations want to push forward with further digital transformation to ready themselves for the next disruption and to drive greater competitiveness.

This cloudwards movement now raises the question: which cloud is right for your organisation?

AWS, Microsoft and Google: The big three cloud vendors

The three big US cloud providers are: AWS, Microsoft and Google.

According to recent Statista figures for Q1 2022(1), AWS continues to lead the market. It has done so since it first came on the scene in 2006. Currently, AWS accounts for 33 percent of the global cloud market.

Microsoft has been making steady gains in market share, especially since Satya Nadella took over with a “cloud first” approach. Microsoft’s Azure cloud now accounts for around 21 percent of the global cloud market. This is up from 13 percent in 2017 – which shows Microsoft’s successful growth in this space over the last five years.

Google’s cloud offering is very much the third-place player in terms of market share. It accounts for eight percent of the global cloud market.

All three vendors offer similar capabilities around compute, storage and networking. All offer self-service and instant provisioning, autoscaling, security and identity management features. However, there are some key differences between them.

Which cloud is right? About AWS

AWS has the advantage of being the first to market and its share of the market continues to reflect this. The breadth and depth of its offering is a key draw. It offers more than 175 cloud tools for its platform and services, including for compute, storage, database, analytics, networking, mobile, developer tools, management tools, IoT, security and enterprise applications. AWS Marketplace also has a large number of third-party software services.

However, this strength is also a drawback, especially for smaller firms and firms with less experience in the cloud. It can be difficult to navigate – both in terms of choosing from the large number of different features on offer and in terms of understanding the metrics around pricing to optimise spend. Building the specialist skills required in-house can be a challenge.

The other area in which AWS falls behind is in its hybrid offering. Although the company launched Outposts in 2018, it’s playing catch-up in this space and its hybrid offering doesn’t match up to the options for operating hybrid cloud deployments offered by Microsoft.

Which cloud is right? About Microsoft Azure

Understanding Microsoft’s share of the public cloud market is a little bit more complicated than the IaaS and PaaS offerings of AWS and Google. Since Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Teams all run in the Azure cloud, you don’t have to be consuming Azure as pure IaaS or PaaS to be an Azure customer.

In fact, most customers come to the Azure cloud via Teams, Microsoft 365 or Dynamics 365. But as well as muddying the waters in terms of sales comparisons, this route into the cloud might be one of Microsoft’s greatest strengths when it comes to cloud computing. Having established key office applications in Azure, moving additional workloads into the Azure cloud makes a lot of sense.

It offers easier management, with a single management portal through which to manage your Microsoft 365 and Teams deployments as well as your other cloud workloads. Plus, there’s the integration with other key Microsoft tools, such as Active Directory, System Centre and Windows Server.

Microsoft excels at hybrid deployments, with its Azure Stack being well-established and offering simple interoperability. This makes it a good choice for companies who want to take a phased approach to their cloud migration.

The other benefit for larger organisations, which have IT operatives onsite, is the transferable skills. Many organisations already have Microsoft engineers inhouse, who are familiar with the Microsoft toolsets, and this makes the learning pathways shorter. Microsoft’s extensive free online learning resources and accreditation schemes further aid this cloud skills development.

Which cloud is right? About Google cloud

Google cloud is significantly behind the other two large cloud vendors in terms of market share. However, it is a favourite amongst cloud developers and cloud-native companies, largely because of its expertise in key open-source tools and its perceived expertise in machine learning.

Google played a central role in the development of Kubernetes for orchestration and the Itsio service mesh. These are becoming industry-standard technologies, which adds to the attractiveness of Google as a vendor. That’s not to say you can’t use Kubernetes or service mesh with AWS or Microsoft – of course, you can.

Google’s go-to-market strategy has traditionally been focused on winning smaller projects at enterprises that already have cloud deployments – to develop a multi-cloud approach, rather than to be the single cloud-provider of choice. This approach had led some to argue that Google falls short in crafting appropriate solutions for enterprise requirements and engaging with solution architects. However, the appointment of Thomas Kurian as CEO in 2018 heralded a change to this approach. We await to see how successful this will be.

Google is behind the other two vendors in terms of supporting hybrid deployments, too. However, in 2019, it launched Anthos to address this gap.

AWS, Azure or Google: Which cloud is right for your organisation?

All three public clouds offer similar options in the key areas of compute, storage and networking. All three enable organisations to access the benefits of cloud computing easily.

Which cloud you choose will really come down to the specific tools you need, your organisational preferences and the skills you have – or want to develop – inhouse.

Given the similarities between the main vendors, we think that for most small and mid-size businesses – especially if you already have a Microsoft Dynamics 365 or Microsoft 365 deployment – the most straightforward and common-sense option is Microsoft Azure.

Many of your workloads are already running on Microsoft Azure. And the common tools and platform, the familiar technologies and the integration with the existing tools and software used in your organisation help to ease the transition and keep costs down.

What next?

For a tailored examination of which cloud is right for your organisation, speak with our team. We can offer health-checks of your existing environments and detailed advice about the best way forward to deliver on your organisational goals.

Reach out to our team today by calling: 0808 164 4142

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Further reading

Read some of the other articles on our blog about cloud computing:

The beginners guide to cloud security

What should a cloud migration strategy look like?

Read our essential security advice for small and mid-size businesses:

Essential security tips following the war in Ukraine

Overview of the changes to the Cyber Essentials scheme