Public cloud providers overview: AWS, Azure and Google

Public cloud providers overview: AWS, Azure and Google

Cloud computing is one of the key technologies that drive digital transformation. Public cloud providers do not only offer convenient solutions for data infrastructure, storage and compute power with pay-as-you-go pricing models, but also a wide range of services from basic data warehouse applications to advanced machine learning tools. At enterprise level, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) are the main providers. Gartner rates all three as clearly ahead of the rest. We took a look at the details of Gartner’s report.

In their recently published report “Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide”, the analysts at Gartner see Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, followed by Google Cloud Platform in the “Leader” group. Gartner classifies no other provider as “Visionary” or “Challenger”. Probably not least because the inclusion and selection criteria have been stricter than in the 2017 report. At present, Gartner only includes global vendors that provide or are developing hyper-scalable integrated IaaS and PaaS offerings.

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide

When it comes to comprehensive public cloud services, decision makers should therefore first and foremost take a look at Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. Gartner gives a detailed list of the respective strengths and which provider is suitable for which application. Here is our summary.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

AWS has been the dominant market leader and an IT thought leader for more than 10 years, not only in IaaS, but also in integrated IaaS and PaaS, with an end-of-2017 revenue run rate of more than 20 billion dollars. According to Gartner, it continues to aggressively expand into new IT markets via new services as well as acquisitions, adding to an already rich portfolio of services. It also continues to enhance existing services with new capabilities, with a particular emphasis on management and integration.

AWS is the provider most commonly chosen for strategic adoption and also the most mature, enterprise-ready provider, with the strongest track record of customer success and the most useful partner ecosystem. Thus, it is the provider not only chosen by customers that value innovation and are implementing digital business projects, but also preferred by customers that are migrating traditional data centers to cloud IaaS, Gartner says. It can readily support mission-critical production applications, as well as the implementation of highly secure and compliant solutions.

Implementation, migration and management are significantly eased by AWS’s ecosystem of more than 2,000 consulting partners that offer managed and professional services, among them Basefarm and The unbelievable Machine Company.
AWS has the broadest cloud IaaS provider ecosystem of ISVs, which ensures that customers are able to obtain support and licenses for most commercial software, as well as obtain software and SaaS solutions that are pre-integrated with AWS.

Microsoft Azure

As a large and broadly diversified technology vendor, Microsoft is increasingly focused on delivering its software capabilities via cloud services. Its Azure business was initially strictly PaaS, but Microsoft entered the cloud IaaS market with the launch of Azure Virtual Machines in June 2012 (with general availability in April 2013).

Microsoft Azure’s core strength is its Microsoft heritage — its integrations (both current and future) with other Microsoft products and services such as Office 365, its leverage of the existing Microsoft ISV ecosystem, and its overall strategic importance to Microsoft’s future, Gartner explains. 
Azure has a very broad range of services, and Microsoft has steadily executed on an ambitious roadmap. Customers that are strategically committed to Microsoft technology generally choose Azure as their primary cloud provider.

The analysts point out the increasingly innovative and open capabilities of Microsoft Azure as well as the improved support of the Azure platform for Linux and open-source application stacks. Furthermore, they say, many customers that are pursuing a multi cloud strategy will use Azure for some of their workloads, and Microsoft’s on-premises Azure Stack software may potentially attract customers seeking hybrid combinations of on-premises and off-premises systems.

Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

Google, the internet-centric provider of technology and services, has had an aPaaS offering since 2008, but did not enter the cloud IaaS market until Google Compute Engine was launched in June 2012 (generally available in December 2013). Since then, the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) as an integrated IaaS/PaaS offering has become a firm fixture in the market.

Google’s strategy for GCP centers on commercializing the internal innovative technology capabilities that it has developed to run its consumer business at scale, and making them available as services that other companies can purchase. According to Gartner, Google’s roadmap of capabilities increasingly targets customers with traditional workloads and IT processes, as well as with cloud-native applications. Google has positioned itself as an “open” provider, with a portability emphasis that is centered on open-source ecosystems. Like its competitors, though, Google delivers value through operations automation at scale, and it does not open-source these proprietary advantages.

GCP has a well-implemented, reliable and performant core of fundamental IaaS and PaaS capabilities — including an increasing number of unique and innovative capabilities — even though its scope of services is not as broad as that of the other market leaders, Gartner explains. Google has been most differentiated on the forward edge of IT, with deep investments in analytics and machine learning, and many customers who choose Google for strategic adoption have applications that are anchored by Big Query.

Which cloud provider for which type of company?

The analysis shows clear differences and individual strengths. Therefore, companies rarely choose a single cloud provider in practice. As Gartner also states, most enterprise customers pursue a hybrid or multi-cloud strategy and use the services of at least two, often all three leading providers.

Thus, it makes sense for companies to develop their own evaluation criteria based on their own application scenarios — and to choose the public cloud provider that best fits their needs. Especially if a hybrid or multi-cloud variant is planned, it is advisable to consult external consulting and expertise. “Transformation efforts are best carried out in conjunction with a service partner,” as Gartner also recommends.

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