Compiling a cloud services comparison is challenging in the rapidly evolving cloud industry. There are thousands of cloud services, dozens of cloud service providers, and numerous Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) providers offerings pay-as-you-go pricing models—each frequently changing and upgrading their portfolios, and each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Organizations working to better manage their cloud environment understand that selecting some services from one provider and different services from another provider allows them to create a custom multi-cloud environment that ensures their unique performance and financial requirements are achieved.
Whether your organization is looking to adopt a multi-cloud model or working to perfect your existing multi-cloud strategy, understanding the range of services offered by the leading cloud providers, and how much they’ll ultimately cost, is a crucial step in determining how to best operate your cloud environment.
So who’s the cheapest?
Comparing costs between AWS, Azure, and GCP is difficult. Each provider updates their pricing model multiple times a year in response to both market trends and business strategy, and to ensure they are staying competitive with one another. As one provider decreases cost or offers new discounts, other providers are forced to respond to stay financially competitive.
Generally speaking, AWS tends to be the most competitive cloud service provider on a CPU/Hour basis for most workloads, whereas GCP is the less expensive option for compute-intensive workloads. Azure comes into the equation if your business uses a range of Microsoft products that would qualify for a discount under an Enterprise Agreement.
So if you’re currently using AWS and are looking to expand to a second cloud, Azure might end up being the most cost-effective option after qualifying discounts, even though GCP’s sticker price is lower. If you aren’t eligible for some of Microsoft’s enterprise discounts, GCP’s Sustained Use Discounts, which is a discount based on the time you are using the resources, could be a big financial advantage.
Not really the straightforward answer you were looking for, huh? To add further complication, frequently changing discount offerings between providers means comparing cost is like comparing apples to oranges.
What you should be comparing in cloud providers
It is, however, easier to compare compute and storage service offerings between the big three providers because differences in each provider’s platform maturity have created distinct product capabilities. Even for products or services that are very similar between providers, differences in fault-tolerance and geographic availability can mean one provider meets your cloud needs more than another.
Besides cost, what other things should you be comparing between the big three cloud providers? A good place to start is with Virtual Machines (Instances/VMs). These can be configured for General Purpose, Memory Optimization, Compute Optimization, and Storage Optimization. Depending on your cloud strategy, it might make sense for you to compare container services and serverless computing.
Looking for more guidance? Learn how the top three cloud providers differ in their product portfolios, pricing models, storage services, and more to make sure your cloud strategy makes sense for your organization with our eBook Comparing Services for the Big Three Cloud Providers.