- AWS vs Google Cloud vs Microsoft Azure: Which...
Table of Contents
Cloud computing is a booming industry that offers many benefits for enterprises, such as efficiency, scalability, flexibility, mobility, disaster recovery, and security. However, choosing a cloud provider also involves evaluating their privacy and security features, which can vary depending on their architecture, services, tools, and policies.
At the end of the day, business leaders and IT decision-makers have to choose between the three major cloud providers: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Microsoft Azure.
In this article, we compare the main features of cloud services of AWS vs Google Cloud vs Microsoft Azure and discuss why Azure is the clear winner out of the three providers.
AWS vs. Google Cloud vs. Microsoft Azure: Feature Comparison
The different cloud providers offer different approaches to data security. It’s important to understand these differences to understand how each provider works to protect your data when it’s at rest and in transit.
The different pillars of cloud security involve physical, infrastructure, and data and access.
In terms of cloud computing, physical security is defined as the security measures in place to keep non-employees of the cloud provider from ever touching the servers.
When comparing Microsoft Azure vs Google Cloud vs AWS, all three cloud providers have highly secure data centers that protect their physical assets from unauthorized access, intrusion, theft, fire, flood, and other threats. At these often massive data center facilities, all three companies deploy multiple layers of security measures, such as:
- Fences, gates, and doors requiring access cards
- High-definition video cameras
- Armed guards
- Biometric scanners
- Sophisticated alarm systems
Because of the sensitive nature of data center facilities, many corporate-owned cloud data centers run by Amazon, Google, and Microsoft contain no signage visible from the street.
Cloud data center facilities used for AWS, Azure, and GCP servers also comply with various standards and certifications for physical security related to data protection, such as the International Standardization Organization's ISO 27001, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)-developed Systems and Organization Controls standards (achieving SOC 1/2/3 certification), and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
When comparing AWS vs Google Cloud vs Microsoft Azure, you’ll find that all three have robust infrastructure security. Infrastructure security means all the measures a cloud provider uses to protect their network, compute, and storage resources from cyberattacks, malware, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, and data breaches.
Encryption, firewalls, virtual private networks (VPNs), load balancers, identity and access management (IAM), and various monitoring and logging tools are used to secure infrastructure.
Microsoft, Google, and AWS also offer various cyber security services and products that customers can use to enhance their own security posture in the cloud. Some examples are listed in the table below.
Data and Access Security
The third aspect of cloud security is data and access security, which is primarily the responsibility of each provider’s customers. Basic cloud security involves encrypting data at rest and in transit, controlling user privileges and roles, enforcing policies and compliance requirements, and auditing and reporting activities and incidents. All three cloud providers offer tools and features to help customers secure their data and access the cloud.
Examples of the data access and security approaches for AWS vs Microsoft Azure vs Google Cloud are listed in the table below:
Data and Access Security Features
As we can see from the above comparison, AWS, GCP, and Azure offer similar basic capabilities around privacy and security in the cloud. However, they differ in some aspects of their implementation details, features, services, and policies.
Customers should evaluate their security needs and preferences before choosing a cloud provider.
They should also follow the best practices for cloud security, such as encrypting data, limiting access rights, applying patches, scanning for vulnerabilities, monitoring for threats, and complying with regulations.
Cloud Storage Features: Microsoft Azure vs AWS vs Google
Cloud storage is one of the core services offered by cloud providers, allowing customers to store, access, and manage their data in the cloud. Cloud storage can provide many benefits for data management, such as scalability, durability, availability, security, and cost-effectiveness.
However, not all cloud storage services are created equal. By comparing the cloud storage features of AWS vs Google Cloud vs Microsoft Azure, an IT decision-maker can determine which of the three major cloud providers offers the best solution for their desired business outcomes.
Types of Cloud Storage
Cloud storage can be classified into four main types: block storage, file storage, object storage, and archive storage. Each type has its business IT use cases, advantages, and disadvantages.
The following table summarizes the types of cloud storage and their definitions:
Cloud Storage Type
Stores data in fixed-sized blocks attached to virtual machines (VMs) as disks. Provides low-latency and high-performance access to data. Suitable for applications that require frequent read/write operations, such as databases and transactional systems.
Stores data in hierarchical folders and files that multiple VMs or users can access over a network protocol. Provides shared access and simple management of data. Suitable for applications that require file-level access, such as web servers and content management systems.
Stores data as objects that consist of data, metadata, and a unique identifier. Provides scalable, durable, and cost-effective access to data over HTTP(S). Suitable for applications that require storing and retrieving large amounts of unstructured data, such as images, videos, online backups, and archives.
Stores data that is rarely accessed or modified for long-term retention. Provides low-cost and secure access to data with high durability and compliance. Suitable for applications that require storing data for legal or regulatory purposes, such as audit logs, historical records, and media archives.
Cloud Storage Services
Each cloud provider offers a wide array of services for each type of cloud storage.
The following table compares the cloud storage services offered by AWS vs Google Cloud vs Microsoft Azure:
Type of Storage
AWS Elastic Block Store (EBS):
Provides persistent block storage volumes for use with Amazon EC2 instances. Supports various volume types with different performance and price characteristics.
Azure Disk Storage:
Provides persistent block storage volumes for use with Azure VMs. Supports standard HDDs, premium SSDs, ultra disks, and disk encryption sets with different performance and price characteristics.
Google Compute Engine Persistent Disk:
Provides persistent block storage volumes for use with Google Compute Engine instances. Supports standard hard disk drives (HDD) and solid state drives (SSD) with different performance and price characteristics.
AWS Elastic File System (EFS):
Provides scalable file storage for use with both cloud-based and on-premises resources. Supports the Network File System (NFS) protocol and integrates with AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM).
Provides fully managed file shares in the cloud that are accessible via the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. Supports Azure Active Directory Domain Services authentication and Azure Backup integration.
Google Cloud Filestore:
Provides managed application file storage for applications. Supports the NFS protocol and offers high-performance SSD and standard HDD tiers.
AWS Simple Storage Service (S3):
Provides scalable cloud storage for any size and type of data. Supports various storage classes with different durability, availability, performance, and price characteristics. Offers features such as versioning, encryption, lifecycle management, replication, analytics, and access policies.
Azure Blob Storage:
Provides scalable cloud storage for unstructured data. Supports various access tiers with different performance and price characteristics. Offers features such as versioning, encryption, lifecycle management, replication, analytics, and access policies.
Google Cloud Storage:
Provides unified cloud storage for developers and enterprises. Supports various storage classes with different durability, availability, performance, and price characteristics. Offers features such as versioning, encryption, lifecycle management, replication, analytics, and access policies.
Provides secure and durable storage for data archiving and long-term backup. Supports various retrieval options with different speed and price characteristics. Offers features such as encryption, audit logging, compliance controls, and query-in-place capabilities.
Azure Archive Storage:
Provides low-cost archival storage for rarely accessed data with flexible latency requirements. Offers features such as encryption, geo-replication, lifecycle management, access tiers, and immutable blobs.
Google Cloud Archive Storage:
Provides low-cost archival storage for data accessed less than once a year. Offers features such as encryption at rest by default, geo-redundancy, lifecycle management, retention policies, object holds, customer-managed encryption keys, audit logging, Pub/Sub notifications, uniform bucket-level access, requester pays, custom metadata, and object versioning.
It should be noted that comparing cloud storage options often comes down to choosing Amazon S3 vs Microsoft Azure Blob. The term "Amazon S3" is practically synonymous online with "cloud storage" due to the popularity of the AWS cloud.
Global Availability of Cloud Storage by Region
One of the factors that customers need to consider when choosing a cloud storage provider is the availability of their data across different regions. A region is a geographical area where a cloud provider operates its data centers. Each region may consist of multiple zones, which are isolated locations within a region. By storing data in multiple regions and zones, customers can achieve higher availability, durability, performance, and compliance for their data.
- AWS operates in 25 regions and 81 availability zones around the world.
- GCP operates in 27 regions and 92 availability zones around the world.
- Microsoft operates 69 regions with over 200 global edge locations.
Differing Approaches to Delivering Cloud Services
Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Microsoft Azure are the three most popular cloud platforms. Each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses. AWS is the oldest and most established cloud platform, with a wide range of services and a large customer base. Azure is a well-established platform with a strong enterprise focus and excellent hybrid cloud solutions. GCP is the newest of the three platforms and has fewer services compared to Microsoft Azure versus AWS but is growing rapidly.
A CIO often chooses one platform over another based on their specific needs. For example, if they need many services and have an established relationship with AWS, they may choose AWS. If they need strong hybrid cloud solutions and have an established relationship with Microsoft, they may choose Azure. If they are looking for cutting-edge technology and are willing to take some risks, they may choose GCP.
At a high level, there are three key differences to note when comparing Microsoft Azure vs AWS vs Google:
- Amazon AWS has the largest catalog of services, and Microsoft Azure is a close second with an impressive set of AI, ML, and analytics services. Google Cloud Platform offers very few services when compared with others.
- AWS, Azure, and GCP differ from each other regarding their native AI-assisted coding tools, platform as a service (PaaS) options, and cloud data leak prevention solutions.
- All three cloud services offer hybrid cloud solutions, but the AWS and Azure solutions are focused on delivering migration tools needed to ease enterprise IT into the cloud. In contrast, GCP concentrates on creating "cloud native" architectures for SMBs but with relatively fewer tools for mid-to-large enterprise IT organizations.
Microsoft Azure vs. AWS vs. Google Cloud: Pricing
The pricing of AWS, GCP, and Azure depends on the type and region of the cloud instances and the billing models they offer.
- AWS and Azure have similar pricing for compute-optimized instances, while GCP is the highest priced.
- GCP and AWS have similar pricing for memory-optimized instances, while GCP provides superior memory.
- For accelerated computing instances, GCP is the highest priced, as it provides more vCPUs than AWS and Azure.
Pricing Models Comparison
AWS provides three pricing models:
With Microsoft Azure, consumers can choose between monthly and prepaid subscriptions. Although we previously mentioned GCP has higher pricing for compute and memory, Google is making an effort to be the most affordable cloud platform option out of the three. That’s why Google often will offer sustained usage discounts to provide customers with the lowest-cost deals.
Microsoft Azure has a more robust lineup of compute products to choose from, while Google markets its platform as having a simpler lineup of compute products. AWS, GCP, and Azure all have pricing calculators to help customers estimate their costs.
Here are some pros and cons regarding pricing for each platform:
- Amazon Web Services offers a wide range of services with flexible pricing options. However, customers report that AWS has too many options and therefore can be complex to navigate.
- Microsoft Azure has a strong enterprise focus with excellent hybrid cloud solutions. However, compared to AWS and GCP, customers report that Azure can be more expensive than other platforms.
- Google Cloud Platform prides itself on delivering truly cutting-edge cloud technology with affordable pricing options. However, IT professionals report that GCP has fewer options for cloud-to-cloud migration and other hybrid cloud services than the other two cloud platforms.
Need Help with Microsoft Licensing?Leave your Microsoft licensing, security, and software solutions to us so you can concentrate on moving your business forward.
Drop Us a Line
Why You Should Choose Microsoft Azure
If you are a CIO looking for a cloud platform that offers superior security features, global storage availability, and overall total cost of ownership, you should consider Microsoft Azure.
Here is why Azure stands out in these key areas.
Security is a top priority for any cloud platform, as it protects your data, applications, and infrastructure from cyberattacks, breaches, and compliance violations. All three cloud providers offer a range of security features, such as firewalls, encryption, identity and access management, compliance tools, and DDoS protection. However, Azure has some unique advantages that make it more secure than AWS and GCP.
- Azure has the most comprehensive set of compliance certifications among the cloud providers, covering over 90 standards and regulations across 50 regions. This includes industry-specific certifications such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, FedRAMP, and NIST. Azure also offers dedicated cloud services for government, healthcare, education, and financial sectors that meet their specific security and compliance requirements.
- Azure has the most advanced threat detection and response capabilities among the cloud providers, thanks to its integration with Microsoft 365 Defender and Azure Sentinel. These tools leverage artificial intelligence, machine learning, and Microsoft’s global threat intelligence to provide proactive and unified protection across your cloud environment. They also enable you to automate incident response workflows and orchestrate actions across your security tools.
- Azure has the most robust identity and access management solution among the cloud providers, thanks to its integration with Azure Entra ID services. Formerly known as Azure Active Directory (AAD), Microsoft Entra ID is the leading identity provider in the market, with more than 425 million active users and more than 1.4 billion daily authentications. Entra ID enables you to manage and secure your users, devices, applications, and data across your hybrid and multi-cloud environment. It also supports single sign-on (SSO), multi-factor authentication (MFA), conditional access policies, privileged identity management (PIM), and identity governance.
Global Storage Availability
Storage availability refers to the ability of your cloud platform to store your data reliably and accessibly across different regions and zones. When comparing Microsoft Azure vs Amazon AWS vs Google Cloud, you’ll find that all three cloud providers offer various storage options for different use cases, such as block storage, object storage, file storage, archival storage, backup storage, and database storage. However, Azure has three unique advantages that make it more available than AWS and GCP.
- Azure has the most regions among the cloud providers, with 66 regions across 140 countries. This means you can store your data closer to your customers and users, reducing latency and improving performance. It also means that you can comply with local data sovereignty laws and regulations that may restrict where you can store your data.
- Azure has the most availability zones among the cloud providers, with 21 availability zones across 12 regions. Availability zones are physically-separate locations within a geographical region with independent (and often redundant) power sources, cooling, and networking. They provide high availability and fault tolerance for your critical applications and data by allowing you to replicate them across multiple zones within a region.
- Azure has the most resilient storage service among the cloud providers, with Azure Storage offering up to 16 nines (99.99999999999999%) of durability for its object storage service. This means you can store your data with confidence that it will not be lost or corrupted due to hardware failures or natural disasters. Azure Storage also offers various redundancy options for your data depending on your availability and performance needs.
Overall Total Cost of Ownership
Total cost of ownership (TCO) refers to the total cost of using a cloud platform over a period of time. It includes the direct costs of the cloud services you use and the indirect costs of managing, operating, securing, and optimizing your cloud environment. All three cloud providers offer competitive pricing for their cloud services based on various factors such as usage volume, performance level, and service level agreement (SLA). Compared to AWS and even the low-cost leader GCP, Microsoft Azure has three unique advantages to make it more cost-effective when it comes to TCO:
- Azure has the most flexible pricing model among the cloud providers, with per-second billing for most of its services. This means you only pay for what you use without wasting money on idle or underutilized resources. Azure also offers discounts and incentives for customers who commit to long-term usage or migrate from other platforms.
- Azure has the most transparent pricing tool among the cloud providers, with Azure Pricing Calculator allowing you to estimate your monthly costs for any combination of services you need. You can also compare different scenarios and options to optimize costs based on your requirements and budget. Azure Pricing Calculator also integrates with Azure Cost Management and Billing, which helps you monitor and control your spending across your cloud environment.
- Azure has the most comprehensive cost optimization service among the cloud providers, with Azure Advisor providing personalized and actionable recommendations to reduce your costs and improve your performance, security, and reliability. Azure Advisor analyzes your usage patterns and resource configurations and suggests ways to optimize them based on best practices and industry standards. You can also use Azure Advisor to implement the recommendations with a few clicks or automate them with scripts or policies.
When you compare AWS vs Google Cloud vs Microsoft Azure, it’s clear that Azure has many advantages over AWS and GCP regarding security features, global storage availability, and overall total cost of ownership. These advantages make Azure the best choice for CIOs who want to leverage the benefits of cloud computing while minimizing the risks and costs.
If you want to learn more about how Azure can help you achieve your business goals, contact Amaxra today for a free consultation.
Get Started Today
We'll build a secure and complete Microsoft software solution for your business while you concentrate on what's important.