This blog is a revised version of an article first published in 2019.
Cloud technologies have become an essential element of the business world. Over the past decade, many business enterprises have turned to cloud providers to host their IT infrastructure rather than utilize on-premise data centers. This is because cloud computing space has become more cost-efficient, secure, and reliable. However, choosing which public cloud services to host with is no small decision, as it has major ramifications for all subsequent development, support, and maintenance needs. Businesses need to choose wisely, as migrating their infrastructure elsewhere is no easy task.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) are two major contenders in the cloud service market. In this post, we’ll examine key aspects of each service highlighting strengths and weaknesses, and unique features that can help you determine whether they might be the right cloud hosting partner for your enterprise.
Amazon Web Services offers an incredibly wide range of products for computing and storing data. Created in 2006, AWS was the pioneer cloud computing platform and conquered a considerable market. With continuous improvements over the years, AWS has introduced more than 200 services with worldwide coverage. Their vast network of servers is available in 25 geographical regions with 81 availability zones, making their compute service an effective option anywhere on the globe.
GCP began life as Google App Engine in 2008 providing a platform for developers to build and host apps on Google’s infrastructure. It soon developed into an Infrastructure-as-a- Service provider which supported the use of virtual machines. It adopted the name Google Cloud Platform and began offering a variety of tools and products– including its data storage layer, a load balancer, DNS, monitoring tools, and data analysis services– bringing it into competition with its rivals like AWS and Microsoft Azure. GCP gives all the benefits of Google’s well-established infrastructure, providing smart, secure, and flexible services.
The cloud market is bigger than it’s ever been, helped in part by the ongoing digitalization of the business world and fallout of Covid-19. According to one study, worldwide public cloud expenditure grew by 33% to $36.5 billion in Q3 2021. This figure was $2 billion higher than the previous quarter and $9 billion more than Q3 2019.
To estimate the AWS vs GCP market share, let’s take a look at each provider’s report reflecting the state of the global market.
Amazon reported AWS sales of $13.5 billion for Q1 2021, compared to $10.33 billion in 2020. Across the business, Amazon’s earnings are increasing in the wake of COVID-19, and they steadily hold the lion’s share of the market with 32%.
In 2021 GCP was a top earner for their parent company Alphabet, with their CFO praising “the ongoing momentum in Google Cloud” revenues. They announced a 2021 Q1 revenue of $4.047 billion, up 46 percent from the previous year. This growth is meaningful, even in the booming overall market, yet Google Cloud holds only 7% of the total market share.
When trying to differentiate between AWS and GCP it’s helpful to compare the essential features of each service that influence the performance of their infrastructure.
“Scalable, pay-as-you-go computational power in the cloud,” according to developers, Amazon Elastic Computation Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a cloud computing service that offers resizable compute power. It’s intended to make web-scale computing more accessible to programmers.
Google Compute Engine, on the other hand, is described as “a service that allows you to run large-scale workloads on virtual machines hosted on Google’s infrastructure.” Google Compute Engine allows users to create virtual computers that are hosted on Google’s servers. This enables you to effortlessly create massive clusters on Google’s infrastructure thanks to its scalability, performance, and value.
They both offer a wide range of predefined instance configurations with a certain amount of compute resources, RAM, network, and storage. You also have the option to customize your own virtual machine type.
EC2 operates with Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) to provide excellent security and boost network functionality for your computing needs. With an Amazon VPC, it’s simple to automate continuous cloud security.
Google Compute Engine provides Compute Engine virtual machine instances with many similar features as EC2: scalable and predefined VMs, Windows and Linux support, and custom VMs. Yet, Google Cloud Platform leads the way with management resources such as global load balancing, batch processing, and faster persistent disks.
When choosing based on storage, size isn’t the only factor to consider. The speed of reading and writing activities, as well as the capacity to analyze large amounts of data is also essential. While Google Cloud Platform knows big data better than anyone and offers a major edge in analytics, it’s important to mention that they offer no disaster recovery or out-of-the-box backup solutions.
Let’s compare GCP storage options with those of AWS.
|Object storage||Amazon Simple Storage Services (Amazon S3): The very first AWS public service||Google Cloud Storage|
|VM disk storage||Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS)||Persistent Disk (both HDD and SSD)|
|File storage||Amazon Elastic File System (Amazon EFS)||Cloud Filestore|
|Disaster recovery||Provides a set of cloud-based disaster recovery services||Does not provide out-of-the-box DR or backup services|
|Backup||Amazon S3 is often used for secondary backup storage||Does not provide out-of-the-box DR or backup services|
S3 One Zone-Infrequent Access (introduced April 2018)
Amazon Glacier, with data querying capabilities
Archival Cloud Storage:
Nearline (low frequency)
Coldline (lowest frequency)
|Bulk data transfer||
AWS Import/Export Disk: Shipping disk drives
AWS Snowball (device-based)
AWS SnowMobile: Exabyte-scale data transfer via ruggedized shipping container
|Storage Transfer Service|
|Hybrid support||AWS Storage Gateway: Provides a managed virtual tape infrastructure across hybrid environments||Relies on partners such as Egnyte|
Network function and performance comparison is an important aspect. Creating an isolated cloud requires not only computing resources but also a separate VPN access and network address.
AWS allows using Virtual Private Cloud to create a VPN with subnet settings, routing tables, private IPs, and network gateways. Also, they provide Amazon Route 53 for implementing the DNS web service.
Google Cloud Platform offers top-notch services with high performance. Google has a global low latency resource access network. Even from the client’s perspective, the VPC network covers all their regions. Other providers restrict VPC networks in particular regions. This allows Google Cloud customers to create applications that serve customers around the world, without creating complex inter-regional infrastructure and data replication mechanisms.
AWS uses several payment models:
Google Cloud offers more affordable options, including monthly and hourly rates, and employing more innovative cost optimization techniques. GCP bills customers based on the total processor time and memory used, rather than on separate virtual machines. This reduces the loss of money for unused capacity. Google provides automatic discounts for sustained use, which reduce the price if the virtual machine runs more than a certain number of hours per month. Google also pioneered per-second pricing, a competitive advantage that forced other computing service providers (CSPs) to follow suit.
The breadth of services offered by Google Cloud might not quite match up to those of AWS but it has several unique products in its portfolio, and it is an attractive option as a market leader in prices.
Discover the Cloud Pricing post in the Google Cloud blog for a cost comparison based on an example workload.
To estimate how much your specific workload will cost, try the Google Cloud pricing calculator or AWS simple monthly calculator.
When you’re deploying a new cloud service, you’ll run across situations when you don’t have the necessary knowledge or skills to complete a task. In these instances, you’ll need a cloud provider who can give you the extra assistance and help you need to overcome the challenges.
Both Google Cloud and AWS have free extensive documentation and community forums where you’ll find answers to many of your questions. Both providers also offer comprehensive support plans. Most anecdotal evidence across the web suggests that Google Cloud support services provide a much better user interface and experience, but the plans for both GCP and AWS support are quite comparable.
Find a breakdown of Google Cloud’s support options here.
The comparable options from AWS can be viewed here.
Security is always critical, and in this matter, both cloud platforms match each other stride for stride. Both AWS and GCP use proper protection mechanisms that can secure the users’ data and ensure compliance requirements:
Cloud services are now vital in structuring modern businesses. But before deciding on which cloud computing service you should go with, it’s critical to consider your specific technical needs, security requirements, payment preferences, geolocation of user base, and level of support you need. Both AWS and GCP provide excellent speed and appropriate security, and a host of features that make them ideal platforms for hosting your servers.
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From my perspective when comparing AWS and GCP for your backend needs, it is important to evaluate the specific requirements of your project and the services offered by each provider. Both AWS and GCP are well-established cloud service providers with a wide range of services and features, but they may not all be the best fit for your specific use case.
AWS is considered to be the market leader in cloud services, offering a wide range of services such as compute, storage, databases, analytics and more, with a broad customer base that ranges from small to enterprise-level businesses. GCP, on the other hand, is considered to be more focused on big data, analytics and machine learning, and offers a wide range of services for these use cases.
In terms of pricing, both providers offer pay-as-you-go pricing models and offer free tiers to get started, but the exact pricing can vary depending on the service and usage, so it’s important to compare the pricing plans of each provider to see which one best fits your budget.
In terms of security, both providers are compliant with various industry standards and regulations and offer various security features such as encryption, access control, and network isolation.
In terms of customer support, both providers offer various support options such as documentation, community support, and paid support plans.
Overall, I would recommend thoroughly evaluating your specific needs and requirements before making a decision on which provider to use for your backend needs. Both AWS and GCP offer a wide range of services and features, but it is important to find the one that best fits your project’s specific requirements. Additionally, it’s a good idea to test out the services of both providers using their free tiers or trial plans before committing to a long-term contract to ensure that the chosen provider is a good fit for your needs.
Thank you Erica for your input!