AWS vs GCP vs Azure vs Alibaba Cloud – Overview of the Cloud Services Market

Anton Dyachenko
6 Jul 2019
Cloud Services Archives • Quickblox Blog

Cloud services are an important component of our work, and QuickBlox always follows the evolution of this sector closely. We use clouds to host our backend infrastructure, and we are focused on using the best options available on the market. We have already shared with you our comparison of Microsoft Azure vs Alibaba Cloud. In the research, we mostly dealt with the technical aspects of different cloud providers highlighting their strongest suites. Today, we would like to review the general trends in the cloud services market to see what the main players are going to offer in 2019.

Cloud services market overview

Even a casual glance at the current market situation shows that AWS has been holding the lead and is not likely to yield to the competitors in the immediate future. As Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said, this lead is largely due to the fact that AWS started out way ahead of the rest of the popular cloud providers: “AWS had the unusual advantage of a seven-year head start before facing like-minded competition, and the team has never slowed down. As a result, the AWS services are by far the most evolved and most functionality-rich.”

Microsoft Azure is a steady runner-up with GCP holding the bronze until just recently when Alibaba Cloud pushed it one step down. All four providers together are forecast to take over a stunning 84% of the entire cloud services market and thus can be rightfully considered the most preferred choices of a cloud platform for the majority of users.

Cloud providers at a glance

Since this post is an overview, we prefer not to overwhelm you with too many technical details (for technical details, refer to our blog where you can find a deeper analysis of all four clouds). Let’s just single out the most prominent features of each of the four clouds that may tip the scales in their favor.

Before we go on, we should note that all four are effective and secure, have the applicable certificates by global, national and industry institutions, and are rather customer-friendly in the pricing area. All cloud providers have free trial options with varying conditions for you to judge their performance before you actually invest your first dollar.

Amazon Web Services

Great choice of cloud services

AWS offers 200+ cloud services. When you launch a cloud service, you are getting a complete infrastructure specifically set up for a particular purpose – a database, a message queue manager, a containerization service. From among the cloud providers currently on the market, AWS has the largest selection of services.

Flexible pricing

AWS has three payment models – pay-as-you-go (you are billed for the exact quantity of consumed resources), save when you reserve (you can reserve cloud instances with upfront payment at much lower rates) and pay less by using more (volume-based discounts).

High availability

AWS has 66 availability zones creating a global presence and ensuring 99.99% availability at any time in any place. The availability zones guarantee sufficient redundancy and resilience to withstand eventual outages and maintain uninterrupted service.

Google Cloud Platform

Focus on advanced technologies

GCP development is leaning towards hi-end technologies, such as AI and machine learning, data analytics and other advanced technology areas. GCP provides a complete environment for building AI, ML, and other similar products.

Low prices

GCP is rather user-friendly when it concerns pricing. The provider uses the pay-as-you-go model with no upfront fees. At the same time, GCP supports various discounts, cost-effective plans, and free services.

Live migration

Live migration makes GCP stand out, as other cloud providers offer no such feature. In GCP, you can migrate a virtual machine to a different host with no stopping and rebooting. This way, your service remains uninterrupted even when any updates are required.

Microsoft Azure

Cloud-based Windows tools

Since Microsoft Azure and other Microsoft products are under the same umbrella, it was only natural to bring the traditional Windows tools to the cloud. In Azure, you can launch a Windows desktop with the rest of your favorite Microsoft products – Windows Server, Office, and others.

Enterprise Agreements

Companies using Microsoft tools usually make Enterprise Agreements including a range of products at a volume-based discount. For companies wishing to use Azure as their cloud provider, there is an option to include Azure into their Enterprise Agreements and enjoy the cloud service at a discount.

Hybrid cloud opportunities

Microsoft Azure is very well suited to building scalable and secure hybrid clouds. A hybrid cloud combines the features of a public cloud and a private cloud easily integrating the internal infrastructure with public resources.

Alibaba Cloud

Top cloud provider for China

Alibaba Cloud’s footprint in China is way beyond the rest of the competition. The provider places a great focus on serving enterprises and small and medium businesses in China, thus becoming the cloud of choice for companies or branches located in China and the Asia region.

Discount plans

In addition to a rather flexible pricing system with both prepaid and pay-as-you-go models, Alibaba Cloud offers targeted discount plans – Student Discount Program, discounts for new US-based users, and other attractive programs.

Fast-growing service list

While the list of Alibaba Cloud services is nowhere near that of AWS, it is quickly gaining with dozens of available products and more to come. Moreover, Alibaba is actively investing in developing advanced cloud tools and platforms, such as AI, machine learning and big data.

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