“Public cloud services, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and IBM Cloud, are innovation juggernauts that offer highly operating-cost-competitive alternatives to traditional, on-premises hosting environments.”- Gartner
Enterprises irrespective of small or large are moving their applications out of on-premise data centers to the cloud platform. Increased internet penetration, a low-interest-rate environment, and favorable government initiatives have opened opportunities for the cloud services market. New technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning also have welcomed different cloud services providers.
The global cloud services market reached a value of nearly $325.1 billion in 2018, having grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.7% since 2014, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.9% to nearly $528.4 billion by 2022 as reported by Marketwatch.com recently.
It has become extremely important for us to familiarize ourselves with various leading cloud service providers before deciding which cloud is best for doing the business.
Top Public Cloud Service Providers
Currently, there are three dominant players that take up the majority of market share in IaaS public cloud domain. They are Amazon Web Services (AWS) with 47.8%, Microsoft Azure with 15.5% and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) with 4.0%. While Azure and GCP are growing consistently, AWS remains the clear leader in the cloud computing market.
The fierce competition between these cloud platforms has led to cheap cloud computing prices and excellent services & features. This helps small businesses to grow easily and big businesses to capitalize and expand their growth.
Let’s dig deeper into the cloud and its major service providers!
A) Cloud Services Market Segmentation
By Service Model
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
- Platform as a Service (PaaS)
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
By Deployment Model
- Public Cloud
- Private Cloud
- Hybrid Cloud
- Academics and Education
- Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance
- Health Care
- Private organizations
- Retail & Supply chain management
- North America
- Asia Pacific
B) What is Public Cloud?
A public cloud is a multi-tenant service where a third-party service provider offers resources, like storage and applications to the businesses over a network (like the internet). These services are either free, low cost or are on a pay-per-usage model. This set-up is easy and almost inexpensive as the cost of applications, bandwidth and hardware are covered by the service provider.
Now companies like Netflix, Spotify, and Expedia don’t have to worry about the technicalities that go into maintaining a cloud. Also, they don’t have to worry about the infrastructure. Instead, they can concentrate on providing their services to the audience or developing their products. This even holds good for small enterprises and startups who want to scale their business using cloud computing.
Each of these cloud platforms has its own features and pricing models depending on business requirements. For example, if an organization is in need of a strong Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider or needs Windows integration then Azure would be the preferable choice. If an enterprise is looking for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or a diverse set of tools then AWS might be the best solution. Businesses are even considering how much built-in analytics tools are available on these platforms which help in releasing analytics projects faster.
C)Benefits of Public Cloud Service Providers
- Low Cost
By outsourcing your applications to the cloud, you control and reduce costly network maintenance costs. These cloud platforms offer low, pay-as-you-go pricing with no up-front expenses or long-term commitments.
- Agility and Instant Elasticity
Cloud infrastructures allow you to quickly innovate, experiment and iterate. You need not have to wait weeks or months for hardware. You can instantly deploy new applications, scale up as your workload grows, or scale down based on the business situation.
- Open and Flexible
Cloud service providers offer better service levels, performance, and maintenance. You can choose the development platform or programming model that works better for your business. You can select the best services, one or several, and decide how to use them. This flexibility permits you to focus more on innovation and not the infrastructure.
Cloud service providers offer converged solutions that include security protection, network monitoring, or the setup of a new service area. Their services and data centers have multiple layers of operational and physical security to ensure the integrity and safety of customers’ data.
D)Services Offered by These Cloud Platforms
These public cloud platforms offer a vast range of products and services to their customers in computing, storage, networking, identity & security management, configuration, big data, IoT, and so on. While AWS offers 165 services, Microsoft lists over 600 Azure services and Google claims over 90 products under the Google Cloud brand.
We shall delve into a few popular services here.
Compute is the processing power that the cloud services offer. In general, the more computing power, the better. So if you need more computing power, you need to allocate more resources to your current session. Startups are most benefited from this approach as they can order compute power anytime they want without worrying about installation, maintenance and hardware costs.
Let’s start with AWS. They offer EC2(Elastic Compute Cloud) which handles AWS’s compute service. It works by managing virtual machines which can even be configured by the owner himself. GCP offers GCE(Google Compute Engine) and Microsoft Azure provides Virtual Machines and Virtual Machine Scale Sets to do essentially the same thing.
All three players support containers. Amazon’s EC2 Container Service(ECS), Google’s Container Engine and Azure’s own Container Service enable you to handle your instances more swiftly. You can add more stats or move to new locations without much hassle.
Conceptually though they seem similar however the pricing and user experience differs.
Cloud storage works completely different from the normal HDD on our computers. These cloud platforms need to solve multiple problems and also make sure that no data is lost during the transfer.
AWS offers Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) which is considered to be the best but costly. It has extensive documentation, proper community support and longevity. Microsoft Azure Storage and Google Cloud Storage offer decent storage solutions.
When it comes to deploying your application hosting location is important. You must make sure to keep the latency as much low as possible and keeping it near the customer base is a good bet. Also, make sure that you spend less money as the prices differ across the globe.
These three cloud platforms offer great coverage all around the world and new regions are added on a regular basis. Amazon leads the pack with 66 availability zones. Azure consists of 54 regions with more than 100 data centers serving customers in over 140 countries. GCP has a presence across 20 regions.
It is advisable to read their software terms and conditions before you invest in any of the cloud platforms. It is also important to know how they manage data on their cloud.
AWS offers Amazon Aurora which is a MySQL and PostgreSQL-compatible relational database. It combines the performance and availability of traditional enterprise databases with the cost-effectiveness of open source databases. Amazon Aurora is five times faster than MySQL and three times faster than PostgreSQL. It provides security, availability, and reliability at 1/10th the cost compared to commercial databases. Amazon Aurora is fully managed by Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), which automates time-consuming administration tasks like hardware provisioning, database setup, patching, and backups.
Microsoft Azure SQL Database is a managed cloud database provided by Microsoft. It is different from AWS RDS which is a container service. It includes built-in intelligence to maximize performance, reliability, and data protection.
Cloud SQL is a fully-managed database service provided by Google Cloud Platform which is used along with MySQL or PostgreSQL. It is easy to set up, maintain, manage, and administer the relational databases with Cloud SQL.
E) Offerings and Advantages of Using These Public Cloud Platforms
Amazon Web Services
With 13 years in operation, AWS is one of the oldest players (started in 2006) in the cloud market. It offers 165 services – computing, storage, networking, database, analytics, application services, deployment, management, mobile, developer tools, Internet of Things, and many more. It also offers developers over 15 years of enterprise infrastructure.
Of course, you would want to choose a platform that has plenty of experience to build on. Right?
Azure cloud platform is the fastest cloud solutions available. It is the leader in speed when it comes to cloud computing solutions. You can process and compute at whatever capacity you need within just minutes. Azure was released in 2010 as “Windows Azure” and then got renamed as “Microsoft Azure” on March 25, 2014. It has shown great promise in the cloud market – building, testing, deploying, and managing applications and services through Microsoft-managed data centers. Azure can handle large-scale parallel batch computing.
Google Cloud Platform
GCP started its journey on October 6, 2011. With only 8 years in operation, it has created a good presence in the market. Initially, GCP was meant only for YouTube and Google. Later on, it’s enterprise services enabled anyone to host in the cloud. Developers can create applications without dealing with the server in an agile manner. GCP also empowers high-level computing, storage, networking and cloud databases. GCP offers enterprise-level security services – data encryption, multiple layers of authentication and third-party validations. Although Google has fewer services than competitors, it is emerging as one of the best cloud market players.
F)Pricing Offered by These Cloud Platforms
We are not going to discuss pricing in detail as prices fluctuate too much and depend on the current business situation. It’s always best to check their respective pricing page to know more. Here they are:
- GCP pricing page: https://cloud.google.com/pricing/
- Microsoft Azure pricing page: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/
- AWS pricing page: https://aws.amazon.com/ec2/pricing/
Comparing cloud services can be a daunting task but comparison done here only scratches the surface and is meant for people who are getting started with cloud computing. You can either go for a single cloud service provider or combine services from two or three of these providers. Since the pricing is relatively comparable, find the right mix of solutions to fit your enterprise development requirements. If not, you can always hire a cloud expert to decide which cloud platform best works for you.