Cloud News Product Updates

Top Cloud Service Provider Updates of 2020: AWS, Azure, and GCP

Keeping up with all the updates from cloud service providers can be overwhelming, so we wanted to help cut through the noise and highlight some of the most notable releases and product updates from the leading cloud service providers in 2020.

Around the world, businesses and individuals alike are increasingly reliant on technology for day-to-day needs, with many of these technologies built, run, and managed in the cloud. In turn, cloud providers are focused on ensuring the reliability and accessibility of their solutions, and introducing innovative new products and services to support the world’s new way of work. 

Keeping up with all the news can be overwhelming, so we wanted to help cut through the noise and highlight some of the most notable releases and product updates from the leading cloud service providers in 2020. 

Amazon Web Services

As the first entrant into the cloud service provider market, AWS offers leading products and services in terms of availability, breadth, and quality. During their annual AWS re:Invent conference, CEO Andy Jassy emphasized the importance of reinvention and listening to customer feedback, as they continue to offer new discounts, flexible payment options, and better price/performance offerings. Here are some of their most notable updates from 2020: 

Lower compute costs and better performance

AWS’ new custom silicon chip called Graviton2 powers a new generation of EC2 instances at a 40% lower cost than previous generations. Using new instance types with this CPU not only shaves costs directly off your EC2 bill, but this custom silicon also makes it much cheaper to use compute-heavy services from AWS—like those that leverage machine learning—saving you even more money on your total cloud bill.

Also announced for availability in 2021 are Habana Gaudi-based EC2 Instances, which will leverage up to 8 Gaudi accelerators to deliver up to 40% better price-performance than the current GPU-based EC2 instances for training deep learning models. 

Cheaper, more flexible block storage

Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) got an upgrade from gp2 to gp3, meaning 20% lower cost per gigabyte than gp2 storage. Previously, developers had to provision block storage volumes that met both the performance and storage needs of the workload, but EBS gp3 volumes now enable customers to provision IOPS and throughput independent of storage capacity.

Container services “anywhere?”

AWS announced two new services coming in 2021—Amazon ECS Anywhere and EKS Anywhere—which support customer workloads running on private data centers or other cloud service provider platforms. Whether or not AWS will market Amazon ECS Anywhere and EKS Anywhere as “multi-cloud” solutions remains to be seen, but the capability to run these container services on any infrastructure is there. 

Amazon also introduced AWS Proton, a new fully-managed deployment service for container and serverless applications. With AWS Proton, users can connect and coordinate all their tools for infrastructure provisioning, code deployments, monitoring, and updates from a single place. 

Additionally, Amazon made significant updates to its popular serverless compute service: AWS Lambda. Updates include: 

  • AWS Lambda support for container images as a packaging format​
  • Duration billing granularity change from 100ms down to 1ms​
  • AWS Compute Optimizer supports memory size recommendations for Lambda functions

aws re:Invent new product launches partner keynote

New regions and Availability Zones

To improve availability and reduce latency, AWS continues to invest in more regions and Availability Zones (AZs) around the globe. Italy and South Africa launched earlier in 2020, and Indonesia, Japan, Spain, India, Switzerland, and Melbourne are in the works. The Los Angeles Local Zone is also available, with Boston, Houston, and Miami available for preview, and 12 more in 2021

If you haven’t seen it already, I encourage you to explore AWS’ interactive global infrastructure site here, to see the various regions, AZs, local zones, and more around the world.

There were hundreds of updates and announcements from AWS this year, so we won’t be able to list them all here. To see more comprehensive lists, check out our re:Invent recap articles:

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure has experienced revenue growth consistently year-over-year, with a focus on meeting the real-world needs of customers. Especially in the wake of COVID-19, Microsoft delivered several new solutions in 2020 that emphasize security, reliability, and connectivity. Here are some of the biggest updates from Azure in 2020:

Communication services at scale

Microsoft launched Azure Communication Services in preview, which allows customers to develop and build rich communication APIs into their application platforms. The new set of features delivers video, voice, chat, and text messaging to use across apps, websites, and mobile apps, providing businesses with easier ways to communicate and connect. 

Support for multi-cloud

Microsoft announced public preview of Azure Arc, a new service that allows users to configure and manage containerized workloads and other services like Azure SQL Database and Azure Database for PostgreSQL across their data centers, edge locations, and public clouds (including AWS and Google Cloud).

Unlike AWS, Azure has always been more open to multi-cloud and hybrid cloud—offering solutions for customers who are using SaaS and PaaS solutions from any number of providers and running workloads across multiple providers’ infrastructures. 

As we expand our Azure hybrid capabilities, we give customers a holistic and seamless approach to run and manage their apps anywhere across on-premises, multi-cloud, and the edge.

Julia White

Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Azure

Next-generation Azure VMware Solution

Designed, built, and supported by Microsoft, Azure VMware Solution is cloud verified by VMware and enables customers to migrate VMware workloads to the cloud with minimal complexity. The Azure service includes the latest VMware Cloud Foundation components such as vSphere, NSX-T, HCX, and vSan, and integrates with a rich set of partner solutions, so customers can continue to use existing tools and skills.

Develop apps faster with enhancements to the Microsoft Power Platform

Microsoft introduced new capabilities for Microsoft Power Platform, enabling professional developers to build and deliver applications faster and more cost-effectively. One notable upgrade is that developers can now leverage Microsoft Azure API Management connectors to quickly publish APIs to the Power Platform for easy discovery and consumption, reducing the time it takes to create apps that connect to Azure services.

Modernizing security operations

Microsoft maintained their dedication to cloud security with new updates to several of their security solutions. Most notably, Microsoft unified all of their Extended Detection and Response (XDR) capabilities together and rebranded them as Microsoft Defender, inclusive of Microsoft 365 Defender and Azure Defender. Microsoft Defender protects multi-cloud and hybrid workloads, including virtual machines, databases, containers, IoT, email, docs, and more. New features were also added to identify and mitigate unprotected resources using AI and automation.

Powerful and responsible AI solutions

In artificial intelligence (AI), Microsoft updated Azure Cognitive Services with new capabilities to streamline business processes, enabling organizations to stay resilient and committed to economic recovery while deploying AI responsibly.

  • Spatial analysis is a new feature of Computer Vision that helps companies create and measure safe room layouts to support social distancing and other health measures. 
  • Metrics Advisor is a new service that makes it easier to proactively monitor the performance of an organization’s growth engines and diagnose issues.

Google Cloud Platform

Google has never been shy to innovation, with leading solutions in big data (BigQuery), workplace collaboration (Google Workspace), and container management (GKE, Kubernetes). 2020 was no exception, with Google announcing a number of updates to its cloud portfolio.

Even more in multi-cloud solutions

Anthos support for AWS was previously only available in preview, but it is now generally available for AWS and on-premises (with Azure still in preview for now). 

BigQuery Omni (powered by the Anthos hybrid-cloud platform), also allows developers to use the BigQuery engine to analyze data that sits in multiple clouds. Developers can analyze data locally, without having to move data sets between platforms and paying for those associated data transfer fees. 

Customers wanted to analyze their data no matter where the data sits, and they get it today with BigQuery Omni.

Debanjan Saha

GM and VP of Engineering for Data Analytics, Google Cloud

Holistic approach to cloud security

Confidential Virtual Machines (VMs) are Google Cloud’s first solution in its new Confidential Computing portfolio, aimed at giving users confidence over the confidentiality of their data. Confidential computing encrypts data at rest and in transit, and even while it is being processed, keeping data encrypted in memory and outside the central processing unit (CPU). We expect Google will be adding even more functionality and features to the portfolio this year.

Assured Workloads for Government

New Assured Workloads for Government empowers customers to automatically apply controls to their workloads, making it easier to meet security and compliance requirements for processing government data, including those for U.S. data locations and personnel access.

New community to support Google Cloud customers

Recognizing an even greater need for connection and support after the outbreak of COVID-19, Google launched Customer to Community (C2C)—a new, independent community for Google Cloud customers to learn, connect, and share knowledge from around the globe. With C2C, Google aims at “harnessing collective power to create an even better cloud to address customer needs.”

Empowering remote working with updates to G Suite

Google launched Google Workspace, which includes all their familiar productivity apps—Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more, but with a new brand identity, integrated user experience, and enhanced security features.

To empower remote workers and collaboration among distributed workforces, users can now join video meetings from their inbox, add shared files and tasks to Chat rooms and Gmail, and connect with third-party apps, including DocuSign, Salesforce, and Trello. See all the updates to Google Workspace here.

To stay in-the-know on all the latest product announcements from leading cloud service providers, keep an eye on the Cloud News section of the CloudHealth blog, where you can also see the most notable releases from CloudHealth in 2020

And if you’re interested in understanding how their services stack up, we recommend reading our guide that compares cloud services between AWS, Azure, and GCP.