AWS vs. Google Cloud: After a big 2019, what does 2020 hold?

In today’s world, cloud computing plays a vital role in shaping the entire IT landscape. According to a report from Canalys, the worldwide cloud infrastructure services market grew 37 percent in Q3 2019 to reach $27.5 billion. To grab a share of this growing cloud business and to lure customers, all small and large IT vendors are coming up with cloud-centric initiatives and competitive offerings. Among all the cloud platform that exists in the market at present, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) were two of the most prominent and active players in 2019 – and this is expected to continue in 2020. So, in an AWS-Google Cloud matchup, which delivers the most powerful bang-for-the-buck when it comes to customers?

According to the Canalys report, AWS is in the lead with a cloud market share of 32.6 percent, while Google Cloud is No. 3 with a 6.9 percent share. (Microsoft Azure remains a powerful No. 2 with a 16.9 percent share.) However, Google Cloud is making significant progress as it grew at a blistering pace of 69 percent in comparison to 35 percent for AWS and 59 percent for Azure in 2018. And Google’s innovative offerings (leveraging Kubernetes engine) and affordable pricing are helping it get a foothold among startups as well as established companies. So, considering Google Cloud’s big growth in 2019, here is a quick overview of AWS vs. Google Cloud and a look ahead to what we can expect this year.

AWS vs. Google Cloud: Geographical coverage

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Amazon Web Services serves more than a million active customers in more than 245 countries and operates in over 69 availability zones (consisting of one or more discrete datacenters) within over 22 geographic regions (wholly isolated from the other AWS Regions) around the world, with plans for more availability zones and regions across Cape Town, Spain, and Indonesia.

Google Cloud is slightly lagging AWS in terms of geographical coverage with 20 regions and 61 zones. But Google is working aggressively to catch up. Google Cloud Platform services are accessible in locations across South America, Europe, North America, Australia, and Asia. Recently, Google Cloud Platform announced upcoming locations including Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Jakarta, Warsaw, and Seoul.

Pricing comparison

In terms of cost-effectiveness, Google Cloud has the upper hand. A 2CPU 8GB RAM instance for GCP costs around $50 per month, while AWS charges $69 per month, which makes GCP more cost-effective. A user can save more as the billing for AWS is done on a per-hour basis; on the other hand, Google Cloud Platform provides billing on a per-second basis. Also, Google offers additional discounts for long-term usage, and there are no upfront costs. Beginning in the current quarter, AWS is going to offer its software vendors on its marketplace with reduced listing fees and a simplified fee structure through seller private offers (a feature that exists on AWS Marketplace to negotiate pricing, payment schedules, and end-user license terms).

Both AWS and Google Cloud Platform offer 12-month free trial periods. Amazon has different pricing for various product usage, but Google grants a $300 credit that can be used across all services. Google has a very attractive feature called “Free Tier,” which has no time limit. A user can run small instances that cost very little for more than a few years. Also, the pricing of their services is not the same across regions. A user can bring down their costs by choosing a region that is cheaper for that particular service.

Services, products, and customers

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Google Cloud Platform offers a variety of services and solutions that allow its users to use the same hardware and software infrastructure that Google uses for its own products (YouTube and Gmail). Google Cloud Platform offers App Engine, Cloud Bigtable, BigQuery, Cloud CDN/DNS, Google Storage, and many more (50+). Some of the biggest customers of their services are HSBC, Shopify, Spotify, PayPal, 20th Century Fox, and many more. In 2019, Google launched several new products, including Anthos (open application modernization platform), Cloud Run (a serverless managed compute platform), Cloud Security Command Center (security management and AI platform).

Amazon Web Services provides cloud computing services to businesses and individuals. Similar to Google Cloud Platform, they offer different types of services and solutions. A few of their cloud products are AWS Elastic Beanstalk, EC2 Container Service, DynamoDB, Redshift, Lambda, DynamoDB, and S3. Many big names including Netflix, Time, NASA, Expedia, Airbnb, and Lamborghini use AWS.

In 2019, AWS launched Amazon Backup (databases, file systems, and storage backup service), AWS Security Hub (data collation service), Amazon EventBridge (a serverless event bus that ingests data from your apps, SaaS apps, and AWS services), Cloud Development Kit (cloud infrastructure provisioning toolkit) and AWS Outposts (a fully managed service that extends AWS infrastructure, AWS services, APIs, and tools).

Strategic partnerships and acquisitions

In 2019, Google Cloud made huge investments acquiring startups to strengthen its enterprise offerings, which include the acquisition of Elastifile (enterprise file storage), Looker (data analytics provider), and Chronicle (security startup). Its acquisition of CloudSimple (a VMware workload migration service) is perceived as a visible step to gain an edge over AWS. Recently, Google also announced new strategic partnerships with McAfee, Palo Alto Networks, and Qualys to boost the security capabilities of the Google Cloud Platform.

AWS also made several acquisitions in 2019 to further enhance its capabilities, like TSO Logic (cloud spending analysis tools), Eero (WiFi mesh network startup), Canvas Technology (a warehouse robotics startup), Sizmek (ad server and dynamic creative optimization). In late-2019, Amazon Web Services and Salesforce disclosed expansion of their ongoing partnership to include data integration between the two companies. Salesforce is offering AWS call transcription and telephony services with Amazon Connect as part of its Service Cloud call center solution.

Latency and downtime

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According to network intelligence specialist ThousandEyes, AWS performs less efficiently in Asia, while GCP is almost three times slower than AWS to connect in India and Europe. In Asia, GCP demonstrated 35 percent better network performance stability in comparison to AWS. When connecting Singapore and South Asia, AWS and GCP were 1.5 times slower than other cloud providers.

Amazon Web Services has a lot of experience in cloud infrastructure because of its head start, and with time it made its product and services more stable and reliable than GCP. On the other hand, GCP is younger but has a robust public infrastructure that provides a lower latency rate than AWS. Also, the multicloud performance between these two cloud providers is reliable, stable, and consistent.

Security aspects

Google Cloud Platform’s security model has evolved over 15 years, and at present, it secures its own products and services like Gmail and YouTube. All data traveling between Google customer datacenters and cloud services is encrypted by default. The data saved on persistent disks are encrypted with 256-bit AES, and every encryption key is encrypted with a set of master keys (which are regularly changed).

AWS’s security model has also improved greatly over the past decade. Just like GCP, all data in transit between AWS, the customers, and datacenters are encrypted. The data is encrypted under 256-bit AES, and each encryption key is also encrypted with a set of master keys, which are regularly changing.

AWS vs. Google Cloud: Battlelines set for 2020

Both AWS and Google Cloud are capable platforms. Which you choose will depend on various factors like your geographic location and the latency in that region, which cloud services you require, and how much they cost on each platform. It is a nuanced decision, and whichever you choose, you can’t go too wrong. As the battle for cloud dominance continues into 2020, it’ll be interesting to see the moves these two leaders make this year.

Featured image: Shutterstock / TechGenix photo illustration

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