With the surge of cloud computing, the market for Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) solutions have become a red sea of big techs fighting for a piece of the market. It’s so cluttered that newcomers have a hard time navigating the multiple services that each solution offers.
To be fair, there is no wrong answer here, at least concerning big tech. Microsoft’s Azure, Amazon Web Services, Oracle’s Cloud, and even Google Cloud are great solutions with a plethora of options, pricing schemes, good IT support, and continuous development.
While you can expect a good and safe experience with any of these solutions, that doesn’t imply that they are all the same. As the saying goes “the devil is in the details”. When we dig deeper we find that each has their strong points, and that’s what we are here to talk about today.
What is Cloud Computing?
To paraphrase Amazon, cloud computing is the delivery of IT resources, usually scalable, over the Internet with flexible pricing schemes (Pay-as-you-go-pricing being the most common). To put it in the simplest of terms, cloud computing is renting resources from a provider for your own projects, be them memory, processing power, storage, traffic, or whatever service they might offer.
With cloud computing, clients don’t have to bother with the hassle of having to buy, install and maintain servers and data centers. Having your resources on a cloud means that location isn’t an issue. Small scale businesses and startups can have complex and powerful architectures at their disposal without having to worry about the hardware side of things, and bigger companies get the benefits of accessing their resources from anywhere on the planet.
The case for AWS: The juggernaut of cloud computing
Amazon Web Services has the biggest market share by a wide margin. The company started offering IaaS back in 2008 and it has grown to become the most profitable branch of the Amazon family.
AWS has a global infrastructure that’s hard to rival with over 1.5 million servers scattered all across the world. If a client is interested in servers outside the U.S or Europe, odds are that they will find a good business partner with Amazon.
As of 2020, AWS offers over 200 services, from their flagship product EC2 (elastic computing) to the rather obscure RoboMaker, their cloud robotics service. The downside is that AWS is an intimidating beast to tame. It’s a power user’s dream, but for a novice, it can’t be confusing and frustrating.
The case for Azure: The business-oriented solution
Microsoft’s cloud computing service might be a latecomer, but there are very good reasons why it has grown to take second place in the market and why it keeps shortening the gap with AWS with every passing year.
Compared to AWS, Azure has one of the most lenient and gentle learning curves on the market, the service is easy to use, and the wizards are nothing short of fantastic. This, in turn, means that it’s easier to build a project from the ground up for people who have no previous knowledge of cloud computing.
On the other hand, Microsoft’s bet is towards hybrid cloud solutions and, in fact, is a better and faster option than AWS for clients that are looking for a mix of private and public clouds.
Clients with a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement can look forward to additional deals and discounts for Azure, which makes it the obvious choice for companies that are already using other Microsoft services like Teams or Microsoft Office. And, as you can expect, there is integration between all these services.
The case for Google Cloud: The growing challenger
Out of all the other options out there, Google Cloud is an interesting case. Holding 6% of the market share, it’s miles ahead of other cloud services like Alibaba or Oracle. The tech giant has been investing heavily in the cloud business, and has become one of the fastest-growing services in the market.
Even if Google holds a distant third place, Google Cloud’s AI tools are well known and well regarded. App developers, data scientists, and analysts alike have a lot to gain from working with the Google platform.
On the other hand, Google’s services tend to be cheaper and more accessible, which makes it the obvious choice for startups and small companies. Additionally, Google’s customer support has been top-notch and their cost management tools are a great way to help businesses manage their expenses.
Single or multi-cloud environments?
In the end, if every provider has something to offer, why not work with all of them? That’s actually a great question. The debate between single-cloud (working with one provider) or multi-cloud environments (acquiring services from different providers) is complicated and divisive. It’s a business decision that requires analysis and forethought on the client’s part.
The main argument for staying with a single provider is that services that share an ecosystem tend to be well integrated, so linking between them can be as easy as flipping a switch on a dashboard.
From a business perspective, single-cloud environments are also easier to handle. The IT department might have a clear grasp of who is providing which services, but keeping checks and balances on what service goes where can be a headache for accountants and middle management.
Multi-cloud environments trade comfort for flexibility, and it’s by far the most popular approach with over 93% of the market employing multi-cloud solutions. Having different services with different providers gives clients the competitive edge to search for innovation, as they open the possibility of adopting new technologies as providers make them available on the market.
When a client multi-clouds they can play to each provider’s strengths and have the best of each world. And if one of there is a problem with one provider, it’s easier to migrate those services to a different cloud that is already up and running.
It used to be that providers tried to wall-off their clients and keep all services in-house, but with the growing trend of multi-cloud computing, most of them have chosen the path of least resistance, upgrading their tools to make the process of working with different service providers less cumbersome.
In the end, small-scale businesses will find most of their needs covered with a single-cloud solution, while major projects will almost surely rely on multi-cloud solutions. The beautiful thing about cloud computing is that you can have one environment and migrate to a different one with ease if the need arises.