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Amazon Web Services vs Google Cloud Platform

A defining comparison of the two biggest cloud hosting platforms around in 2018

Selecting a hosting platform can be hard, so we did the hard work and research for you. Here's how AWS and Google Cloud stack up together.

Words by
Product Architect
Published Apr 6, 2018

Cloud Market

The “move to the cloud” is popular as companies are able to strategize with compatible values that public cloud services offer which include scalability, flexibility, cost benefits, security, business growth and more. The cloud industry infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) is predicted to grow by nearly 40% by end of 2017, and will surpass software-as-a-service (SaaS) by 2021 if continued at this growth rate. With increasing market demand, the two largest competing providers, Amazon and Google, have come up with platforms possessing innovative services and benefits that differ from one another. Aside from complexity and performance, companies often look to the cost factor, what the platforms offer, and preemptively, resources that are provided, particularly for troubleshooting.

Comparing the Two Giants: Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform

Rumour has it, in simple terms: if you are testing the water with limited capital but higher autonomy, fewer regulations and advanced technologies, GCP is your guy; AWS, however, if you are working with the opposite: more regulations, more complex infrastructure.

While Amazon Web Services have been around for half a decade longer and therefore designed for a larger range of complexities and types of users, Google Cloud Platform has identified the pain points for newcomers to the public cloud: price point, security and less complication.

  1. Services and Scalability

The seniority of AWS means more mature and reliable products and options, but that also depends on whether or not your applications need the advancement. For example, AWS wins when it comes to large instances, but GCP more flexible with instance configuration. While GCP offers its largest instance at 96 CPUs/624 GB RAM, AWS offers up to 128 CPUs/2TB of RAM. On the other hand, AWS has set instance types, while GCP provides the option for customization of how many CPUs and how much RAM to use.

Another example is found in relation to SQL solutions. AWS offers a variety of SQL servers under its belt (Aurora, MariaDB, Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server), whereas GCP presents a fully-managed MySQL solution (with PostgreSQL in the beta phase). Some advantages of the Google Cloud SQL that speak to the problem of managing big databases distinctively surround the idea of protectiveness: a) ensure continuity by automatically switching over to the replica, b) adding disk space automatically when needed, and c) automatic data encryption. These are features that exist in Amazon’s Relational Database Service (RDS) too, but Google Cloud has made it more concern-free by calibrating these features to be automatic, therefore always a step ahead of you. In other words, increasing security yet effortless on the user’s part.

Nevertheless, Amazon undeniably has more “cool” compute products that Google is still playing catch-up with. The “serverless” AWS Lambda is exemplary in the longer-standing player’s game: AWS Lambda is designed to go for the coder’s heart, with a slogan that rolls off your tongue: “Run code without thinking about servers. Pay for only the compute time you consume.” It allows you to run code on-the-go like a free agent.

  1. Cost

Generally speaking, GCP is less expensive and operates on a pricing system called sustained-use discounts, which has a better appeal to new users without asking for a hesitant level of commitment. In comparison to AWS, which requires users to reserve instances for long periods of time, GCP automatically applies discounts as users go along with the instance, without reservations ahead of time. GCP applies a 30% discount after one month of use, whereas AWS applies the same discount only after one year of use. Additionally, it is required to have a chosen service and machine type when working with AWS, which means restriction and inflexibility on the possibility of change and experimentation with applications and products. Having said that, keep in mind that the appealing pricing offer aims towards attracting new users as much as it is a representation of the lower maturity and stability in GCP’s offered services.

  1. Market Share and Adoption Trend

Currently, AWS holds a 47.1% market share, dominating the public cloud market. According to Amazon’s most recent earnings statement for Q1 of 2017, a revenue of $3.66 billion was reported—an increase close to 50% from last year. While Microsoft Azure is at a 10.0% of the market share, its revenue grew at 90% over the year, according to the Q1 FY 2018 earnings report. GCP follows with a market share of 3.95% and IBC Softlayer with a 2.77%.

Companies and startups are increasingly diverting their time and energy into developing and polishing their applications, products and services, as cloud services eliminate the problem of the infrastructure.

There is also an upward trend of moving applications workloads from data centers to the public cloud. The CSA survey report predicts: fewer than half of the applications workloads will remain in data centers by the end of 2017.

  1. Privacy

While the migration of storage from data centers to the public cloud has proven to be favoured by companies and startups, it has inevitably sparked the question of privacy. The reservations around IaaS adoption returns to the primal instinct: security.

Amazon EC2 offers users an option of encrypting storage, however, the option doesn’t exist for all other services from AWS. Contrarily, encryption for data is standard in all services provided by GCP. To illustrate the integrated-ness of the feature in GCP services, users do not even have the option to manually disable data encryption. GCP goes as far as encrypting traffic between data centers, providing as much protection as possible, for the moment, in the case of inter-data center connections.

Overall, which of the two giants to deploy could be decided on the level of complexity you and your applications need: more complexity with AWS and less with GCP. While GCP has paved the ways to IaaS adoption for those who are new to the cloud and do not require numerous applications, AWS’s complexity yields a more sophisticated scalability for larger enterprises.

AWS for Skyrocket Digital

At Skyrocket Digital, it is important for us to keep the breadth of services and regions availability offered by AWS for having complete control over technology infrastructure customization and providing uninterrupted data in close proximity to the end users. 

GCP does offer some compelling services with a cost advantage over AWS, therefore it is in consideration for future projects at Skyrocket. However, as choosing between the two truly depends on the particular needs and requirements of the user, AWS is currently the best pick for us at Skyrocket for a number of reasons.

AWS has been well tested over time, is the market leader, and provides thorough developer-friendly documentation. It is the largest cloud platform with ample offerings of services that function with consistency, allowing agencies and companies to avoid any risks that may come with selecting any IaaS platform.

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