AWS vs Azure vs Google: Choose the Best Fit for Your Organization

The Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) marketplace has reached its tipping point in the wake of emerging realities such as remote working. Competition within the IaaS marketplace is now fierce, and it’s a three-way race: Amazon Web Services (AWS) vs. Azure vs. Google Cloud.

If you want to shift to the public cloud, it may be challenging to choose a provider that best suits your business requirements. Parallels® cuts through the complexities surrounding the IaaS marketplace and the debate about AWS vs. Azure vs. Google Cloud to help you make an informed choice.

First off, check out our comparison table for a quick overview.


In this article we compare the following features:


Market Share

The market share of public cloud services is projected to reach more than 362.3 billion US dollars by 2022. Three of the biggest providers who make up this market are AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. Mentioned below is the breakdown of the reports shared by these three providers in the year 2020.

AWS

Amazon Web Services (AWS) revenue grew by 29% from Q3 2019 to Q3 2020 ($8.9 billion to $11.6 billion). AWS holds 32% of the public cloud market share and generates more revenue than the combination of Azure and Google Cloud. AWS has had a jump start (released in 2006), which seems to have worked out well in its favor.

Azure

Microsoft Azure revenue grew 48% in the last quarter of 2020. Azure holds 19% of the market share. Having entered into the IaaS marketplace four years after AWS (2010), it has become second in line in the list of public cloud providers.

Google Cloud

Google Cloud generated $3.44 billion in revenue (45%) in 2020. Google Cloud holds 6% of the market share of the public cloud. Google Cloud was released well before Azure but has not managed to go beyond it when it comes to having a share in the Azure marketplace.


Free Tiers

If you’re just starting to explore the IaaS technologies or have a limited budget, a free tier is a great starting point. While the free tiers may not be sufficient for full production work, they can help organizations get started with some of the IaaS services. There are two types of free tiers for AWS, Azure and Google Cloud: “Limited-time for free” and Always Free.

With the “Limited-time for free” tier, you get specific IaaS products upon registration or first sign-up. However, you can only use these products in limited quantities for a duration of up to 12 months. When this time expires, you are charged for the IaaS products at standard rates. When it comes to the “Always free” tier, you have free access to IaaS products, but you cannot exceed a set threshold in one month.

Below is a detailed comparison of AWS vs. Azure vs. Google Cloud free tiers:

AWS

Amazon, unlike Azure and Google Cloud, doesn’t offer credits. Some of AWS’s “Always free” IaaS products include:

When it comes to the “Limited-time for free” tier, AWS has the following cloud services:

Azure

When you register or first sign up for an Azure account, you automatically get a US$200 credit to spend on Azure products within the first 30 days. Some of Azure IaaS “Always free” tier products include:

With the “Limited-time for free” tier, you get the following cloud services from Azure:

Google Cloud

Google Cloud offers US$300 to first-time account holders. However, while Azure requires users to spend their credit within the first 30 days, Google Cloud allows for a spend period of up to 12 months. Some notable examples of services under Google’s “Always free” tier include:


Security

When it comes to cloud security, cloud providers consider two factors: physical security, which involves protecting physical datacenters at geographic locations, and infrastructure security, which involves authentication and authorization, firewall security, data encryption, identity management, and cloud services protection. The table below highlights AWS vs. Azure vs. Google Cloud security aspects:

Security Service AWS Azure Google Cloud
Physical Security Amazon has many highly-diversified data centers spread across the globe to ensure redundancy, availability, and capacity planning. Azure uses 58 carefully-selected regions spread across the globe in 140 countries/regions to ensure sovereignty, data residency, resiliency and compliance. Google Cloud has many data centers spread across 22 carefully-selected regions and 61 zones to avoid single failures and achieve data residency.
Authentication and Authorization Identity and Access Management (IAM) protocol Active Directory (Azure AD) with Single Sign-On (SSO) support OAuth 2.0 protocol with SSO support
Firewall Security Web application firewall Application gateway Application gateway
Data Encryption Key Management Service (KMS) Storage Service Encryption (SSE) KMS
Identity Management Amazon Cognito Active Directory B2C (AD B2C) Unified Management Console (UMC)
Cloud Services Protection Shield Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) protection service DDoS protection service

Storage Comparison

The most common cloud storage technologies employed by AWS, Azure and Google Cloud include:

AWS, Azure and Google Cloud also employ various database services, including Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS), NoSQL Key-Values and NoSQL Indexes.

Here’s a summary of AWS vs. Azure vs. Google Cloud storage offerings:

Storage Service AWS Azure Google Cloud
Cloud Storage Technology
Block Storage Elastic Block Store (EBS). There are 3 forms:

  • Throughput Optimized or Cold HDD.
  • General Purpose SSD.
  • Provisioned Input/Output Operations Per Second (IOPS) SSD.
Managed Disks. There are 2 forms:

  • Standard (magnetic-based)
  • Premium (based on SSDs).
Persistent Disks (PDs). There are two forms:

  • Standard PDs
  • SSD-based PDs
Object Storage Simple Storage Service (S3). There are 2 forms of S3:

  • Standard-Infrequent Access (for cool storage)
  • Glacier (for cold storage)
Azure Blob storage. There are 3 categories:

  • Hot (for instantaneous storage access)
  • Cool (for infrequently accessed data)
  • Archive (for rarely accessed data)
Google Cloud Storage (GCS). There are 2 forms of GCS:

  • GCS Nearline (for cool storage)
  • GCS Coldline (for archival)
File Storage Elastic File System (EFS). Azure File Storage (AFS). Lacks a native file storage offering. Uses Filesystem in Userspace (FUSE).
Database
RDBMS Amazon RDS SQL Database Google Cloud SQL
NoSQL Key–Value Amazon DynamoDB Table Storage
  • Google Cloud Bigtable
  • Google Cloud Datastore
NoSQL Index Amazon SimpleDB Azure Cosmos DB Google Cloud Datastore

Processing Power

Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is AWS’s flagship infrastructure for scalable computing on demand, competing with Azure’s Virtual Machine Scale Sets and Google’s Compute Engine (GCE). The table below compares the host’s offers for EC2, Virtual Machine Sets, and GCE in terms of VMs and VM scalability:

Processing Feature AWS (EC2) Azure (Virtual Machine Set) Google Cloud (GCE)
Virtual Machines
Clock Speed 1.6 GHz to 3.3 GHz 2.7 GHz to 3.7 GHz 2.0 GHz to 4.0 GHz
Maximum vCPUs 128 128 224
GPU Acceleration Yes Yes Yes
Maximum vGPUs 4 4 4
Maximum Memory 244 GB 208 GB 448 GB
Temporary Storage Limits 48 TB 3 TB 4 TB
VM Scalability
Autoscale Yes (via clone building) Yes (via presetable group) Yes (via clone building)
Auto Resize Yes Yes Yes

Pricing

Pricing is tricky when contrasting AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. This is primarily because the costs adjust frequently, and the price models differ slightly. For a fair price comparison of the three, you need to understand their pricing schemes.

Also, you must familiarize yourself with how each provider defines its prices for on-demand VM instances, reserved VMs, and storage tiers. This table provides insights on essential price parameters that are directly comparable and those that are not when it comes to VMs:

Price Parameter AWS Azure Google Cloud Comparable?
Rating Frequency Pay-as-you-go and based on per-second billing, with a minimum of one minute Pay-as-you-go and based on per-second billing, with no up-front costs Pay-as-you-go and based on per-second billing, with a minimum of one minute Yes. The pay-as-you-go scheme is uniform across all cloud providers.
Instance Types/Machine Types General-purpose, Compute- Optimized, Memory-optimized General-purpose, Compute- Optimized, Memory-optimized. In addition, Azure provides Storage- optimized,

GPU-optimized and High-performance compute machine types.

General-purpose, Compute- Optimized, Memory-optimized Yes, AWS, Azure and Google Cloud have the same instance categories.
On-Demand VMs Price depends on the number of vCPUs and memory capacity Price depends on the number of vCPUs and memory capacity Price depends on the number of vCPUs and memory capacity No. Cloud providers use a different combination of vCPUs and memory capacities during pricing.
Reserved VMs Discount of up to 72% for a one-year or three-year commitment. Discount of up to 82% for a one-year or three-year commitment. Discount for a one-year or three-year commitment. No. Pricing is comparable only if you are paying monthly.

As an example, let’s contrast AWS vs. Azure vs. Google Cloud using on-demand instances as a pricing parameter.

Instance Parameter vCPUs RAM OS AWS (per-hour price)* Azure (per-hour price)* Google Cloud (per-hour price)*
General-purpose 2 8 GB for AWS, 8 GB for Azure and 7.5 GB for Google Cloud Linux (Ubuntu) US$0.100 US$0.117 US$0.107
Compute-optimized 2 3.75 GB for AWS, 2.0 GB for Azure and 1.8 GB for Google Cloud Linux (Ubuntu) US$0.100 US$0.117 US$0.813
Memory-optimized 2 15.25 GB for AWS, 15 GB for Azure and 13 GB for Google Cloud Linux (Ubuntu) US$0.133 US$0.0992 US$0.134

* Prices are based on the cloud provider’s current on-demand pricing structure and are amenable to changes.

Ultimately, AWS appears to have a price advantage over Azure and Google Cloud for both general-purpose and compute-optimized on-demand instances. However, Azure has an overall advantage when it comes to memory-optimized applications.

Parallels RAS Supports the Leading IaaS Providers

There is no perfect, one-size-fits-all cloud IaaS provider for migrating an organization’s IT infrastructure to the cloud. It would be better if organizations focused on selecting the best-suited provider in terms of their business needs. This demands an effective multi-cloud strategy.

One way to adopt the best multi-cloud strategy is to ensure you run your workloads where they fit best. If you find Google Cloud is better-suited for security-intensive applications, then continue running those applications there. If you find Azure is appropriate for compute-intensive applications, then run your workloads there. On the other hand, if AWS is cheaper for general-purpose applications, there is no need to switch to another provider.

Whichever cloud provider you choose, Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) can help you achieve your bottom line. Parallels RAS is a multi-cloud-based VDI solution that delivers Windows desktops, applications and data to a broad spectrum of platforms. These include macOS, Linux, Chrome OS, iOS, Android and any other HTML5-ready browser.

Parallels RAS supports on-premises private cloud deployments, hybrid cloud deployments and public cloud deployments. Examples of where public cloud deployments are possible include AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. With inbuilt security features like multi-factor authentication (MFA), granular filtering and client policies, among others, organizations can efficiently deliver virtualization to any device in any location.

Check what you can achieve with your favorite IaaS provider by downloading your FREE 30-day Parallels RAS trial!