Main Cloud Market Players

Public Cloud Providing is a global business, and it is only possible to compete in this market if you have presence in multiple regions and locations. Not many companies in the world are able to build such global infrastructure of Data Centers and high-speed interconnections between them. As a result, the market is divided between a few global Cloud Service Providers and almost all of them were not built from scratch – they were created as a new line of business of huge multinational corporations.

As per Gartner’s prediction – the value of primary Public Cloud services such as IaaS and PaaS will grow from $257,867 billion in 2020 to $306,948 billion in 20201 which is almost 16% growth per year, it is still very fast-growing market, but is it highly competitive? In fact – not really. There are only a few significant players out there and their place on the winners podium is pretty much stable over the last few years – we can compare this order with a march of planets, where all the planets follow their own place, their orbits are stable and the distance between them change not that significantly over the years. 

Gartner Magic Quadrant for IaaS and PaaS

Fig. 1. Gartner Magic Quadrant for IaaS and PaaS
(Source: AWS)

Clearly, we have 3 leaders which dominate the market, leaving their closest competitors far behind. That is why we would like to focus on the comparison between those three giant Cloud Service Providers: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

You might be wondering, how about private clouds? Do benefits of the public cloud service outmatch those of a private cloud?

Private cloud consists of hardware dedicated only to your organization, thus it is way more costly to build and maintain. Unless you are running a multi-million dollar enterprise that handles sensitive data, it is more practical to rely on a public cloud provider. Public cloud computing providers have the capacity to manage virtual machines and cloud resources hassle-free for clients. Another alternative is a hybrid cloud setup, but this still requires in-house specialists for managing the cloud environment. With all these in mind, it’s a more sound investment to rely on the advantages of public cloud providers.

Public Cloud market leaders

Fig. 2. Public Cloud market leaders

These 3 colossi control most of the market and, if you do not have any specific reasons that force you to use some alternative to them, you might be wondering how to make the right choice between the leaders. Let us see what the main difference is between them, the advantages of public cloud service that they provide, and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

AWS – the pioneer of Cloud Computing, grew up from an internal IT service of its mothership e-commerce company, Amazon. AWS started to offer their EC2 publicly back in 2006 and since then has evolved into a giant ecosystem of more than 175 products & services in their portfolio. They keep introducing new services regularly, every couple of months, which shows that AWS has a vision as a leader and, basically, makes their competitors try to keep up and replicate some of their innovations.

AWS offers their services from 77 Availability Zones (AZs) presented in 24 geographic regions in all parts of the world which makes them truly global.

Amazon Web Service global infrastructure

From variety of products and services perspective – AWS offers almost everything that you can imagine from their Cloud, including: Compute, Storage, Database, Containers, Network, DevOps tools, Media and Content, AI/ML, Cloud Migration & Integration tools, Blockchain, Desktop-as-a-Service and much more.

Unlike its closest competitor, Microsoft Azure, AWS was built not from a software vendor and that is why they heavily rely on Open-Source products and have adopted many of them to offer them from the cloud as fully managed by AWS services.

Another one of the public cloud benefits that AWS has that other two competitors do not – an Exabyte-scale Data Transfer solution, Snowmobile – a fleet of real trucks with 45-foot shipping containers to migrate 100s PB of data from your Data Center to AWS Cloud.

Another big advantage nowadays, as a byproduct of AWS’s successful expansion – is wide availability of professionals that know the AWS ecosystem and can build IT infrastructure and help to deploy applications of any scale.

At the same time, there is still high demand for AWS professionals on the market – Glassdoor returns over 53,000 results of “AWS jobs” search worldwide.

There are few downsides to consider when choosing AWS:

  • It has one of the highers prices including high technical support fees
  • Their presence in some of the regions is still not that great, specifically: Middle East, Latin America, Africa
  • Rare but impactful Cloud Computing issues (the most recent one)

Microsoft Azure

From the leader in desktop Operating Systems (OS), Microsoft, Azure – a Cloud Service Provider introduced 10 years ago, in 2010 – the youngest among our three champions. Software development was always Microsoft’s bread and butter long before the “Dotcom” era. They realized the importance of the Internet slightly later than they should have, although it is better late than never – and after all Microsoft managed to build a very impressive portfolio of 600 Cloud services, among which you can also find pretty much the same categories of services as the previously mentioned AWS.

What differentiates Azure from others – native compatibility of their cloud offerings such as Office 365, Azure Active Directory, and Azure SQL with their traditional proprietary software products – MS Office, Active Directory, MS SQL and of course their own Server and Desktop Operating systems of Windows family.

Microsoft also offers their services globally – in 54 geographically distributed regions and 3 undisclosed Azure Government regions.

Azure regions geography

Traditionally, Microsoft is a strong player in the Government sector due to the popularity of their legacy software which needs to be fully supported even when migrating to the Cloud.
Apparently, Microsoft is not a company which is perceived as a strong supporter of Open Source and the choice of Azure as a Cloud Service Provider might look like another step into vendor lock. Although over the last few years, Microsoft has adopted some Open-Source technologies, introduced Linux support in Windows (WSL), became a member and contributor of several Open-Source communities, and also acquired a leading source code repository, GitHub.

Companies that use Azure and Microsoft itself have also high demand for professionals – over 32,000 job postings for Azure on Glassdoor.

Since Azure provides native integration and migration from traditional Microsoft products, it makes sense to consider migrating to this Cloud Service Provider if your IT landscape has heavy Microsoft footprint, for example if you are heavily dependent on following software: IIS, MS SQL, Windows Server OS, SharePoint, Active Directory, Power BI, Microsoft Office, etc.

Using Azure in most cases means using their own proprietary technologies and it might not be easy to switch to another Cloud if you go with Azure, so this choice can be considered as making vendor lock even stronger.

Google Cloud Platform

It all started from the World Wide Web search engine in late 90s and eventually, in 2008 Google – the biggest Internet company introduced their IaaS and, some time later, PaaS offers under the name of Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

GCP has presence in 24 geographical regions and is absolutely not present on the African continent and in the Middle East (except only one new region that has been recently announced to be established in Doha).

Map of Google Cloud Platform regions

Google is well-known for contributing a lot to Open-source communities, creating and maintaining such popular projects as Android, Kubernetes, TensorFlow, V8 JavaScript framework and many more. It makes GCP a first choice if you are looking for a maximal support of open-source technologies and projects in opposition to Microsoft’s proprietary technology stack.

Google’s SaaS offerings, such as Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Maps are also very extensively used by millions of users and comprise a very handy suite of business applications under the name of Google Workspace (formerly known as G suite)

GCP offers over 90 different Cloud products, some of which are based on technologies created by Google, but open and available to be used by other players, such as Kubernetes and TensorFlow.

Since Google is initially a company which works with massive amounts of data – parallel computation and containerization is their strong area. So, if you are looking for a reliable solution for Big Data and hosting of heavy containerized applications, GCP might be the right partner to consider.

Also, Google has multiple transport network projects, has a strong cloud infrastructure management, and has its own fiber links all over the world, thus, from a connectivity perspective it must be a leader among all.

Despite the numerous advantages of its public cloud service, Google is notorious for closing some of their services without providing an alternative, it happened many times in the past and probably will happen again in future.

Compared to the competitors, GCP’s documentation sometimes is not as full and up to date.

The interest in Google Cloud Platform professionals is also much lower compared to the first two leaders – less than 600 openings for professionals with GCP skills on Glassdoor.

Conclusion

All three Cloud Service Providers discussed above are the heavy lifters that can satisfy almost any IaaS and PaaS demand, you can build very sophisticated IT infrastructures and establish a process of development and deployment of web applications of any scale using almost any modern technology and runtimes.
Almost any kind of modern Operating Systems, Container Management & Orchestration tools are available in all three Public Clouds: different distributions of Linux, Windows family Operating Systems, Docker and Kubernetes. Variety of pre-built, pre-configured solutions and business applications are available from a respective Marketplace of each Cloud Provider: AWS Marketplace, Azure Marketplace, Google Cloud Platform Marketplace.
If you are still deciding which Cloud Service Provider to choose for your company or project – you can always check in their respective service catalogs if they support a specific technology you need and calculate prices for most of the services using price calculators: AWS price calculator, Azure price calculator, GCP price calculator.
Of course, before making such an important decision, you might want to try all of the options – and it is possible by utilizing free tier subscription that allows to use almost all major products and services to get to know their capabilities and learn how to configure and use them: AWS free tier, Azure free tier, GCP free tier. And you do not have to stick to only one option, it makes sense not to rely only on one Service Provider and use a combination of them – for some services use one and for other purposes – another.
If you want to learn how to configure and use different Public Cloud Providers’ products and services – join our project-based courses where you will be able to implement real life scenarios using DevOps tools in Cloud environments.
Stay tuned for future posts in our blog.

written by
Dare Olufunmilayo

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