A Brief Look at The Major Cloud Platforms: AWS, Azure & GCP


Despite the recent popularity of cloud computing, the technology has been available for quite some years now. Starting with VPN services in the early 90’s, cloud computing has broadened its horizon beyond data storage/ sharing and moved onto over one stop solutions for enterprises.


Leading this transition was Amazon, introducing their cloud service platform ‘Amazon Web Services (AWS)’ in 2006 by introducing their Elastic Compute Cloud that allows users to rent other computers to run applications. In April 2008, Google released the beta version of their web application engine named ‘Google App Engine’. The infrastructure component of the current Google Cloud Platform (GCP) was released in May 2012 as Google Compute Engine. Microsoft had declared their cloud platform Azure in October 2008. However, they released it in 2010. It was a comprehensive cloud platform that allowed building, testing, scaling and managing of web applications in data centers managed by Microsoft.


Access to Service

The services of the cloud platforms are not available worldwide due to factors starting from physical locations of data centres, ranging to compliance issues. A place where data centers are located and the cloud services originate and operate from, is known as an availability zone.


That being said, AWS being the first mover in the sector has a service availability in 80 zones across 25 geographical locations. Google Cloud Platform offers their service through 73 zones in 24 countries. Lastly, Microsoft Azure availability zones have a number of 54 in 140 countries.



Market Share

Cloud services infrastructure is one of the most growing IT sectors in the world right now. The number of firms stepping into the business are increasing every year. According to data published by statista.com in February 2021, 40% of the market share was now held by service providers other than the major three such as AWS, Azure & GCP. These ‘other firms’ include Alibaba Cloud, Oracle Cloud, Salesforce, IBM etc.


Among the major players however, AWS has retained the largest market base in the overall industry with a market share of 33%. Microsoft has gradually gained more market in the last 4 years, growing to 18% in 2020, from an 11% market share held back in 2017. Google Cloud Platform currently holds 9% of the market share in the industry.


Enterprise Client Base

AWS is dominating the public cloud space over Azure and GCP. In terms of enterprise solutions, AWS is trusted by organizations such as Netflix, Unilever, Airbnb, Samsung, BMW, Zynga etc. among other global enterprise clients. However, 80% of the fortune 500 companies have put their faith on Microsoft Azure. This includes Fujifilm, HP, Adobe, Johnson Controls, Honeywell etc. Google Cloud Platform also boasts a rich client base with firms such as HSBC, PayPal, Target, Domino’s, Bloomberg etc.


Service

A cloud computing service primarily includes services covered under the basic domains of computing, database, storage, troubleshooting and monitoring services. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is leading the service offerings with a portfolio of 200+ services. Microsoft Azure has an offering of 100+ services for its cloud solutions. Whereas Google Cloud Platform (GCP) offers 60+ services.



Late bloomer in terms of numbers, GCP offers the fastest computing services among the three, that allows you to launch an application in seconds. While AWS holds a computing system that can be tailored to a large number of options. AWS also offers the most versatile accessibility and compatibility in terms of database compared to the limited offerings by the other two.


Though all the three providers offer excellent networking capabilities, AWS offers multiple storage options which integrate with on-premise environments. It also has the most convenient troubleshooting and monitoring service offered for cloud computing service.


On the other hand, Microsoft’s Azure Stack has made it the service of choice in terms of hybrid deployments. This provides customers with the hardware and software required to deploy Azure public cloud services from a local data center with a shared management portal, code and APIs for simple interoperability.


One of the most important factors of measuring the performance of cloud platforms is downtime. The highest downtime faced by AWS was 2.69 hours in 2014. GCP is leading in this factor with the lowest downtime of 14 minutes in 2014. Microsoft Azure faced a downtime of 39.77 hours in the same year.



Pricing Flexibility


Although the price plans of all three providers are in significantly close range, AWS has introduced a pricing plan that charges the customer based on seconds instead of hours. This way, users will not be charged for an hour when they are just using the services for a short period of time.


Price plans might differ not only based on the provider but also based on individual sales as the enterprise solutions are mostly deployed upon negotiations during sales or volume discounts.


To sum up the brief comparison between the three major cloud service providers, AWS offers the highest number of services as well as flexibility in terms of usage and pricing which makes it the most popular cloud service in the market. Google Cloud Platform offers the fastest deployment solution while all three of the cloud services offer excellent networking, monitoring and troubleshooting services.

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