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AWS vs. GCP Head-to-Head Comparison

As a Google Cloud Platform Sales Engineer at Cloudbakers, I spend a lot of time working with business leaders comparing and strategizing the best cloud solutions. Today I want to spend a few minutes comparing Amazon Web Services (AWS) to Google Cloud Platform (GCP), covering the following topics:

  1. What is an “Elastic Beanstalk”?
  2. Innovation (discuss how Google is one of the most innovative, if not the most innovative companies on the planet)
  3. Cost & Customization (comparing the 2 cloud platforms from the perspective of flexibility in both of those areas)
  4. What are the experts saying?
  5. And finally, why GCP is the best overall cloud platform for your business

Let’s get started!

AWS provides hundreds of cloud services, and it can be difficult to keep up with all the offerings, many of which overlap and duplicate other offerings. To add to the complexity, Amazon uses fun and creative names for their products, but when you’re looking to implement infrastructure or data pipelines in your cloud environment, it only makes things more confusing when product names are completely unintuitive.

Complexity vs. Simplicity

According to many commentators, AWS has “the most services of any cloud provider.” But in reality, more services and cute, creative names just means more complexity for users. So is bigger really better? According to an article in Computerworld, this complexity is not an advantage. In fact, the article states that though “having these options to pick from is attractive, it can also be difficult to navigate the large numbers of features that are on offer, and some see AWS as being a complex vendor to manage.”

So now, to add confusion to complexity, let’s go back to the original question. In addition to Elastic Beanstalks, AWS offers services such as Athena, Aurora, Snow, Glacier, and Honeycode. What are all these things? None of these names provide the slightest indication what the product is used for. You have to dig through the massive number of service offerings and all the documentation just to determine whether a particular service will meet your requirements. 

Maybe Google can help us here. If you look at the comparable product offerings on GCP, you’ll find that the names are clear and descriptive. App Engine is a platform for running your applications, Cloud Functions are serverless functions, Dataflow helps you build your data pipelines. Google Cloud Platform is purposefully designed to be clear, crisp, and intuitive. When you go to the GCP console, you can easily find and navigate to the services you need to build out the projects you want to create.

And speaking of navigation, is a management console really a management console if you can’t manage anything from it? Visiting the AWS console is more like a visit to Amazon’s retail website. You are presented with all the great services you can buy, and you can see services you’ve previously visited, but you don’t get visibility into your infrastructure, nor do you have clear, direct access to your services. By contrast, the GCP console is designed to provide you with single pane of glass visibility into your deployments, and the ability to dive right in to the services you want to manage. The menus are clear and intuitive and the console makes it easy to see the status of your cloud infrastructure at a glance.

The choice is obvious: you can either have clear and intuitive services that make it easy to get from point A to point B, or you can have unmanageable complexity and overwhelming choice, making it far more difficult than necessary to accomplish your goals in the cloud.

Innovation

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. Consider Kubernetes. Kubernetes has become a buzzword in the industry. Google created this product as a way to manage and orchestrate containers in their own environment, and it has since become a standard that both Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS Cloud Platforms utilize.

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. Google continues to drive innovation in the cloud and leads the way with powerful, yet easy to use services and products.

Cost & customization

Constellation Research, a technology research and advisory firm, states that pricing is a challenge on AWS, and “many companies don’t fully understand the metrics and the impact on architectural decisions and the costs to support certain services.” In the spirit of complexity that seems to drive the design and development of AWS, billing and cost management are confusing and customers frequently experience higher than expected costs while struggling to gain visibility into what is driving those costs. Google’s pricing model and commitment to transparency make it easy to manage your costs and keep your spend under control.

Krystallize Technologies has created a service capability measure that looks at performance, reliability, and cost. As you can see on this slide, Google’s performance and costs are the most predictable and the most reliable of all these platforms with the smallest range between the best and worst case scenarios for service delivery and performance. The Service Capability Measure also highlights GCP’s consistency and reliability over time, giving you the most predictable and reliable cloud platform. A large part of this performance and reliability comes from the fact that Google has one of the the largest and most secure network backbones of any cloud provider. Gartner has said that Google tends “to have the most capacity of any of the providers worldwide” from a networking perspective, and these service capability measures reflect the strength of GCP’s global service offerings.

What about customization? As you’d expect, AWS offers a huge number of options. If you want to spin up a virtual machine, for example, Amazon offers many different types of VMs across dozens of “families.” Again, to find exactly what you need, you have to explore multiple types and sub-types and predefined configurations. But wouldn’t it be nice to be able to create your own machine type?

Google Cloud is the only major cloud provider to offer fully customizable virtual machines. Do you need 22 VCPUs and a lot of memory? Only GCP allows you to specify a custom, non-standard machine type that you can build out by adding GPUs and as much memory as you need. With Google Cloud, you are only limited by your imagination, and you have the flexibility to spin up exactly what you need for your specific use cases.

What are the pundits saying?

Business Insider warns customers about three significant potential risks on AWS. By rushing to market with new offerings, Amazon often ends up releasing capabilities that aren’t quite ready for prime-time. In addition, pricing gotchas are part of life with AWS, and finally, Amazon has a reputation for entering new markets, potentially putting your business at risk.

Google Cloud has proven itself in a number of studies over the years. Forrester has named GCP a leader for Data Management and Analytics. From a data security perspective, Google leads in terms of strong strategy and an ability to deliver services reliably. With Apigee, Google is by far and away the leader in Full Lifecycle API Management, a key component of application integration and service deployment. Google continues to innovate and win kudos from the experts across all areas of cloud computing.

Why should you choose Google Cloud Platform?

Google may very well be the most innovative cloud company on the planet. Big Data is in its blood; the history of Google 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. GCP is also the most reliable cloud platform with the most consistent service capability, and the most predictable cost model. Google has one of the largest private global networks on the planet with the best performance and throughput and the lowest latency. Finally, Google offers the best cost model all up, with tremendous predictability, and many ways to optimize your spend and save money while maximizing the value you get from your cloud investments.

Last but not least, before committing to AWS, you need to ask yourself a very important question: Is Amazon my competition? Many companies across many industries are seeing Amazon encroach on their business, and the idea of running your business on your competitor’s platform is simply not acceptable to many customers. 

At the end of the day, not all cloud platforms are created equal, so make your choice wisely, and go with Google Cloud!

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Originally published on September 08, 2020

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