When looking for a cloud service provider, the choice for many often comes down to Google Cloud Platform vs Microsoft Azure. Both offer some of the best products and services available among today’s cloud service providers. However, they also share many similarities and capabilities, making your decision — and understanding the small but key differences — all the more important.
In this comparison, we’ll look at the biggest factors that’ll influence your decision:
Complexity is Microsoft’s middle name. Pricing is difficult, licensing is difficult, and the software is designed in a manner that makes it challenging to use. When comparing Google Cloud Platform vs. Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform is intuitive and simple without being simplistic.
Microsoft Azure has a tendency to productize every variation of a service. For example, if you need a load balancer, there are a number of different products that provide various load balancing services and each one has a separate SKU and is categorized as a completely different product. On Google Cloud Platform, you simply select ‘load balancer’ and walk through a series of steps to configure that load balancer using your preferred options and parameters.
By contrast, Google Cloud provides a single pane of glass for your projects. You can configure the dashboard and see all your infrastructure and services at a glance. Let’s say you want to add a new service or resource to your infrastructure. When you click the menu, the main screen darkens a bit, making it easy to keep your attention in the right place. It’s a very simple design, but it’s much more elegant and easy to use.
According to Doug Cutting, Founder of Hadoop, “Google is living a few years in the future and sends the rest of us messages.“
Google is one of the most prolific contributors to the open-source community. Take Google Kubernetes Engine, for instance. Kubernetes has become a buzzword in the industry. Google created this product as a way to manage and orchestrate containers. Since then, it has become a standard that both Microsoft and Amazon have implemented.
Another example is Google Cloud Spanner. (If you’re not familiar with the CAP Theorem in terms of database design and practice, take a look here.) Cloud Spanner is a unique offering in the marketplace with a horizontally scalable, strongly consistent, globally scoped relational database.
Google Cloud Platform’s AI features are years ahead of what others offer. Google created TensorFlow, another open-source project. TensorFlow is a core component of machine learning systems. Google also created TPUs to process tensors more efficiently and quickly. These are proprietary processing units that speed up your machine learning work significantly.
Krystallize Technologies has created a service capability measure that looks at performance, reliability, and cost. From the charts shown in the video, we notice that Google has the best service capability across the board. It also shows that Google’s performance and costs are the most predictable and the most reliable of all these platforms.
As we look at total reported downtime, we see Azure had (by far) the most reported downtime of all the three platforms. In the cloud, networking is a critical factor in terms of performance. Looking at more data, we notice that Google leads the way on maximum networking throughput. In addition, network latency is a measure of responsiveness. The minimum average latency of Azure exceeds that of Google Cloud by a long shot.
One Gartner Analyst said, “Enterprises frequently lament the quality of Microsoft technical support (along with the increasing cost of support) and field solution architects.” Another Gartner Analyst states that one of the downsides of Azure has been a series of outages over the years, including a major global outage in May of 2019.
Google Cloud has proved itself in a number of studies over the years. Of these are The Forrester Wave™: Data Security Portfolio Vendors, Q2 2019, Gartner’s ‘2019 Magic Quadrant for Full Life Cycle API Management,’ as well as Gartner’s ‘2020 Magic Quadrant for Cloud AI Developer Services,’ From a data security perspective, Google leads in terms of strong strategy and a strong ability to deliver. With their Apigee product, Google is by far and away the leader in Full Lifecycle API Management. In modern computing, APIs are often used as a way to integrate legacy systems and cloud systems or on-prem systems.
You probably want to skip to the bottom line — what does each cloud service provider cost? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t clear-cut. Many factors come into play, such as your infrastructure and your team’s deployment process. Pricing plans and subscription costs also vary. When choosing a provider, you’ll want to consider:
In addition, you should look at the cloud service provider’s subscription and payment model, and keep in mind that compute resources will be the biggest driver of your cloud costs.
Both Azure and Google Cloud offer pay-as-you-go models. Azure offers hourly flat-rate pricing for instances, while Google Compute Engine offers sustained use discounts for hourly instances. Each cloud service provider also offers yearly and long-term commitment discounts.
You can compare and estimate costs using Azure and Google Cloud’s pricing calculators.
Next, we’ll compare Google Cloud Platform vs. Microsoft Azure compute, security, and storage features.
For compute features, we’ll primarily focus on virtual machines. Azure offers Azure Virtual Machines, and Google Cloud offers Compute Engine. Azure and Google Cloud approach virtual machines (VMs) similarly, but with a few differences.
Compute Engine allows you to manage VM instances without restrictions and create SSH keys as needed, even if a VM instance is already running. With Azure, if you need SSH-based access, you must supply your own key.
Both Azure and Compute Engine support access to your VMs through standard channels, including Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and Windows Remote Management Service. Compute Engine also allows you to access instances via a web browser.
Both cloud service providers offer predefined instances and hundreds of VM types depending on your business needs. Compute Engine also allows you to create a custom VM type if a configuration doesn’t match up with a defined instance so that you don’t pay for more capacity.
Both cloud service providers allow for manual and automatic scaling. They also provide auto-healing and built-in load balancing.
When comparing Google Cloud Platform vs. Microsoft Azure, security will be a big focus for most companies. Both Azure and Google Cloud offer top-of-the-line security programs and products.
Both Azure and Google Cloud’s security programs have strict security policies and practices in place to ensure that they comply with some of the most stringent compliance regulations, including CSA STAR, GDPR, HIPPA, PCI-DSS, and a variety of ISO standards.
Firewalls are the first line of defense for any infrastructure. When comparing Google Cloud Platform vs. Microsoft Azure it is important to note that they both offer a line of firewall protection products that provide advanced firewalls configurable options through firewall rules, allowing you to manage who has access to your network.
By default, Azure and Google Cloud use 256-bit AES encryption. They also provide you control over your encryption keys and the ability to encrypt data at rest and in transit. Google offers Cloud Key Management Version, and Azure’s service offering is Key Vault.
Cloud storage can directly impact performance. While Azure and Google Cloud’s storage services are pretty similar in functionality, each offers specific benefits. A huge advantage to Google Cloud Storage is that it automatically transitions your data lower-cost storage classes depending on age and frequency of use, while Azure offers a well-rounded set of features and services.
It’s also worth noting that Google Cloud Storage runs on Colossus, a single internal file system that reduces latency and provides efficient, reliable access to data.
Let’s unpack further by storage type.
|Storage Type||Azure||Google Cloud||Comparison|
|Object Storage||Azure Blob Storage||Cloud Storage||
Azure Blob Storage is designed for durability of 99.999999999% of objects with geo-replication and flexibility to scale. Google Cloud Storage is also designed for 99.999999999% durability of objects and optimizes for price/performance with Object Lifecycle Management.
|Block Storage||Managed Disks & Page Blobs||Persistent Disk||
Both Managed Disks & Page Blobs and Persistent Disk offer network-attached disk volumes and the ability to attach local disks. Persistent Disk also offers SSD and HDD storage, which can attach to instances running on Compute Engine or GKE.
|Cold Storage||Cool Blob Storage||Nearline & Coldline||
Azure offers Hot and Cool Blob Storage. Google Cloud offers Nearline for cold storage and Coldine for archival storage and sub-second response times.
|File Storage||Azure Files||Google Filestore||
Azure Files provides access to files via standard SMB protocol but requires manual scaling. Google Filestore offers NAS access that automatically scales up and down based on demand.
Google may very well be the most innovative cloud company on the planet. Big data is in its DNA. The history of Google as a company began with a mission to organize the world’s data and make it available to everyone. Google has been dealing with big data challenges since the day it was born.
Google Cloud Platform is also the most reliable cloud platform with the most consistent service capability, and the most predictable cost model. Google also has one of the largest private global networks on the planet with the best performance and throughput and the lowest latency.
At the end of the day, whichever cloud service provider you choose, you’ll gain the ability to improve your infrastructure’s scale, performance, and security while reducing costs.
Talk to one of our cloud experts to see if Google Cloud is right for your team.