There are few technological services growing at the rate of cloud services. The cloud services sector has grown at such a pace that it threatens to redefine networking as we’ve come to know it. Cloud services are seeing widespread adoption with 73% of organizations planning to move to a software-defined data center by 2019. Today, it’s AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud at the top of the cloud services game.
When looking for a cloud storage solution it is difficult to tell which of these three providers offers the best service, and which should be an enterprise’s first choice. As is the case with most technology, the best product depends upon your needs.
Each provider has its own strengths and weaknesses to offer you. In this article, we’re going to look at how these cloud solution providers stack up against each other. This will be a discussion of the following factors:
- Block Storage
- Object Storage
- File Storage
- Cloud Computing Services
- Which is Biggest?
- Pros and Cons of AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud
|Name of Service||General Purpose and PIOPs|
(Provisioned IOs/sec) SSD
|Volume Size||1GB to 16TB |
4GB to 16TB for PIOPs
|1GB to 1TB||1GB to 64TB|
|Max IOPs per volume ||10,000 (or 20,000 for PIOPs)||5000||40,000 read, 30,000|
|Max Throughput per volume (MB/s) ||160 (320 for PIOPs)||200||800 read, 400 write
Block storage is a form of data storage where data is stored in individual blocks. Block storage is based on the idea of accessibility and blocks allow users to access their data with minimal resistance. While block storage isn’t a scalable storage solution it does allow users to edit individual pieces of data without adversely affecting the integrity of the entire block. AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud offer block storage products in the form of magnetic spinning hard-drive disks and Solid State Disks (SSD).
Elastic Block Store (EBS) is AWS’s answer to block storage. EBS blocks are automatically replicated in order to prevent component failure. Automatic replication keeps your service available and resistant to data loss. The block storage offered by AWS acts as a hard disk which can be attached to any instance or kept segregated individually. The Elastic Book Store also provides you with additional protection by backing up your data to Amazon S3.
Managed Disks is Azure’s block storage solution. This is available as a standard or premium version. The Standard HDD is designed for non-critical workloads with limited performance requirements. The Premium SSD offers higher performance and low latency. The SSD is particularly useful for low-IOP workloads with high-performance demands. With Microsoft Azure managed disks you can back up to a specific point in time. These help to keep your data secure from accidental loss or damage.
Google Cloud uses Persistent Disks for its block storage solution. These are available as an SSD or HDD option. Google Persistent Disk can be attached to instances within Google Kubernetes Engine or Google Compute Engine. Google Cloud is good for workloads for which you want to minimize latency. Each type offers up to 64TB. You can also take snapshots of your data in minutes to keep your data up-to-date.
In terms of pricing, these three providers can be compared below:
|Service Name ||EBS||Managed Disk||Persistent Disk|
|$0.45||$0.040 to $0.048||$0.040|
|SSD||$0.100||$0.11 to $0.15||$0.170|
|PIOPs SSD |
|Service name||S3||Azure Storage ||Google Cloud Storage
|Availability SLA||99.95% ||99.9%||99.95%|
|Hot||S3 Standard||Hot Blob Storage||GCS|
|Cool||S3 Standard - Infrequent Access||Cool Blob Storage||GCS Nearline|
|Cold||Glacier||Cool Blob Storage||GCS Coldline|
|Capacity||5 TB per object||500 TB per account||5tb per object|
If you need to place files in the cloud then object storage is a service you will undoubtedly be interested in. However, there are a variety of different types of object storage offered by Google, Azure, and AWS. There are three types of storage classified as hot, cool and cold.
Hot storage is data that you need to access on demand. In contrast, cool storage can be accessed less frequently and cold storage is archived. Having the resources necessary to have hot storage on demand is more expensive than its cold counterpart. AWS’s main object storage product is called S3, with S3 supporting hot data storage and Glacier for cold archival storage.
Similarly, Azure uses Hot Blob Storage for hot data and Cool Blob Storage for cold. By comparison, Google Cloud Storage uses GCS for hot data and GCS Coldline for cold archival data. Azure has the largest capacity limit per account at 500 TB. AWS and Google have limited storage at 5TB per object.
The range in pricing options between these providers is as follows:
|Storage Type ||AWS||Azure||Google Cloud Storage|
|Cool||$0.0125 for Amazon S3 Standard||$0.0152 ||$0.01|
|Service name||EFS||Azure File Storage ||GCS + FUSE adapter
|Storage Size||Petabytes||5TB per file share, 500 TB per storage account||N/A
|Replication||Multiple AZs in the region||LRS or GRS||Built-in redundancy
|Throughput||50 MB/s (burst to 100) per TB of storage||60 MB/s per file share||180, MB/s read, 120 Mb/s write|
|Encryption||No (future) ||SSE in preview||Yes|
AWS’s cloud file storage solution is referred to as EFS or Elastic File System. With EFS you can create and configure a variety of scalable file systems to ensure that your applications are supported with all the resources that they need. Amazon EFS scalability makes it particularly well-suited to supporting enterprise applications, backups, and content management.
As a file storage solution, EFS is considered to be very high performance. It provides the throughput, low latency and IOPS to support a diverse range of services. This performance can grow in line with the user’s requirements as well. For instance, the throughput and IOPS upscale with your usage requirements. There is no limit on size, and customers can pay for up to 100 Mbps of throughput.
It is important to note that AWS EFS also offers a competitive price point as well. The price for AWS EFS starts at $0.30/GB per month. By comparison, Azure file storage clocks in at a price of $0.80/gb per month for 5TB per file and 500TB per account.
Unlike AWS EFS, Azure File Storage needs to be scaled manually as opposed to automatically. This is the same for Google Cloud Storage as well. Google offers the lowest price point of all three providers at $0.20 per GB. Google also offers the highest throughput at 180 Mbps for reads and 120 Mbps for writes.
AWS Vs Azure Vs Google Security Comparison
One of the key concerns most organizations have over cloud services is security. After all, if you’re storing data with the help of a third party service then you want to make sure that they have adequate defenses in place to keep your data secure. Below is a table of security features present offered by AWS, Azure, and Google:
|Security Type ||AWS||Azure|
|Identity and Access Management||(IAM) Active Directory||Cloud IAM, Cloud Identity-aware proxy
|Data Encryption||Key Management||Storage Encryption||x|
|Firewall||Web Application Firewall||Application ||x|
|Identity Management||Cognito||Active Directory B2C||x|
AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud Computing Services
Each cloud service provider also offers their own cloud computing service. AWS computing cloud is called the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). As mentioned above EC2 supports auto-scaling and operates well on Windows and Linux. AWS also offers containers that offer support for popular services like Docker and Kubernetes. The widespread support of AWS makes it an ideal computing solution for web applications.
Microsoft Azure also has its own computing services in the form of Microsoft Virtual Machines. It supports hybrid clouds, Windows Server, Linux, SQL Server, Oracle, and IBM. Virtual Machines are a high-performance solution that offers a large range of available instances. There is also an auto-scaling solution called Virtual Machine Scale Sets.
On the other hand, Google Cloud can seem a little limited in terms of computing services. The main service is Compute Engine which has support for Windows and Linux and is much more energy-efficient than most traditional data center environments. Google Cloud also allows you to deploy containers through the use of the Kubernetes engine.
Who is the Biggest Cloud Service Provider?
One of the key questions you might have about these three providers is which is the biggest? As of 2018, AWS is still firmly in the lead. AWS holds the largest market share due not just to the strength of its services but also the fact that it enjoyed a seven-year head start over the competition. At present, AWS holds around 33 percent of the cloud services market at the start of 2018, with Azure at 13 percent and Google hovering at around 6 percent.
Google Cloud appears to be stuck behind AWS and Azure because the other two have much closer ties to enterprise operations. In the future, it is likely that Google Cloud will further close the gap between itself and Azure. This year Azure grew by around 100% and Citi Research anticipates that by 2020 Azure will be holding $19 billion of the market, compared to $44 billion for AWS and $17 billion for Google.
At the moment it appears that AWS and Azure are the two key players in the game. If Citi Research’s predictions come to fruition, then Google will be a much more potent force to be reckoned with. While AWS doesn’t have a monopoly as such, it is certainly the most dominant of the three competitors with the largest share of the market.
AWS Pros and Cons
Now that we’ve looked at some of the basic cloud solutions that the companies have to offer, its time to look at the advantages and disadvantages of each product specifically. Naturally, AWS is one of the top performers, having been in production before these other competitors. AWS has become a great choice for organizations that want scalability, configuration, and security.
You can upscale the size of AWS with your service and configure as you see fit. The range of storage solutions and pricing structures available makes this accessible for organizations of all sizes looking for a reliable cloud storage solution. However, where AWS really drops the ball is its overlooking of the importance of hybrid clouds.
Whereas Microsoft Azure has been supportive of hybrid cloud deployments, AWS has moved away from on-premises clouds and instead opts to keep their cloud services within their own data centers. This isn’t the end of the world as many organizations are still using AWS but it cuts down on the level of control that can be had over your cloud storage environment.
Security wise AWS is, on the whole, a pretty safe bet. However, it should be noted that AWS certainly isn’t infallible. Back in 2017 AWS had a significant storage failure that affected users across the globe. This is something to keep in mind when choosing which cloud service to go with.
Microsoft Azure Pros and Cons
Azure cloud services have had to play catch up with AWS since it was released. However, the link between Azure and critical IT applications like Active Directory and Windows Server has given Microsoft Azure widespread utility. If you want to store data from a program like Active Directory then Azure is one of the most natural cloud storage products you can choose.
However, if you want to use something other than Active Directory or Windows Server then Azure isn’t the best solution. Microsoft doesn’t support the range of platforms and services that AWS does. This means that if you want to be able to support a diverse range of services then you’re better off using AWS.
Microsoft Azure isn’t immune to security blips either. The Microsoft Azure website provides a status history with a range of service failures and faults that have occurred in the past with this provider. While this isn’t a black mark on Azure’s record as such, it is important to be aware that there is the potential for service disruptions from time to time.
Google Cloud Pros and Cons
Google Cloud has developed a solid reputation as an alternative cloud solution provider that is friendly to the open source community. There is also lots of promise offered by Google’s insistence on developing machine learning tools to improve the user experience. Features like the BigQuery analytics engine make this a product that can hold its own against other leading alternatives.
However, Google Cloud hasn’t had the market penetration that AWS does, because it hasn’t captured the hearts and minds of most enterprise customers. At this point, the biggest advantage of Google Cloud is its investment in machine learning. Google Cloud has one of the largest bodies of data in the world at its disposal: Google Chrome searches. This data will provide a gateway to a range of services that will help to boost Google Cloud’s profile immeasurably.
Similarly, with regards to security, Google Cloud is a good choice. Google doesn’t just encrypt their data but also encrypts its communication channels as well. This means that whether your data is in storage or transit it is kept protected from malicious users.
Conclusion: AWS vs Azure Vs Google Cloud?
The AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud debate is a contentious topic. Ultimately the platform that is right for you depends on the needs of your enterprise. That being said the widespread support for third-party services and the performance abilities of AWS make it stand head and shoulders above the competition. Though Azure has been incorporating more third-party services it is still too closely tied to Microsoft services like Active Directory.
While Azure can be used on Linux, it doesn’t have the widespread support that AWS offers. Likewise, Google offers solid performance but isn’t mature enough to be able to compete with the service offered by AWS. Though the growth of machine learning in Google Cloud will help to develop this service further, this is going to take a substantial amount of time.
No matter what size of data or applications you want to run or store, AWS has you covered. As far as AWS is concerned there are no limits to your storage. The seven-year head start has had a remarkable impact on AWS’s performance in the cloud services industry. If you want to incorporate cloud services into your organization you’d be hard pressed to go wrong with AWS unless you wanted an on-premises cloud solution.