Tech Talk with Pablo: The battle for cloud supremacy

Clarency Masunda

Cloud computing refers to the on-demand delivery and availability of computer system resources and services through the Internet including data storage, servers, databases, networking and software without direct active management by the user.

With every year that passes, it becomes ever more apparent that migrating to the cloud is the only way for companies to truly compete and remain relevant in the long-term.

Nowadays, most enterprises are moving towards the cloud and even multi-cloud environments to harness the benefits offered by cloud computing

Cloud computing has revolutionized the way organizations work as well as advancing us to a new technology era that is the digital age. Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform are the top cloud service providers that dominate the worldwide cloud market.

The current cloud market leader of the cloud computing platforms is Amazon Web Services (AWS) which is a subsidiary of Amazon.com, Inc. AWS is the most mature cloud platform offering a wide range of services to practically everyone that is individual developers, large enterprises, and even governments.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Amazon Web Services was launched 16 years ago in March 2006 with their first amazon.com web services launched 4 years earlier in July 2002, started its life as an internal cloud offering. By year end 2006, AWS had evolved into a publicly available cloud platform with services like Amazon S3 cloud storage and elastic compute cloud (EC2). AWS now offers more than 200 fully featured services to cater to any demand and serve millions of users.

Prominent AWS customers include:

  • Expedia
  • Netflix
  • Coinbase
  • Formula 1
  • Coca Cola
  • Intuit
  • Airbnb
  • Lyft
  • Coursera
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure is the second-largest cloud platform. Debuting in 2010 on the 1st of February, Azure has evolved into a cloud platform with more than 200 products and services.

As Microsoft offers Azure for application management via Microsoft-managed data centers, it provides a wide array of services tailored particularly for Microsoft-centric enterprises—making the switch to a cloud or a hybrid-cloud environment smooth for many organizations. In use by more than 95% of Fortune 500 companies, Microsoft Azure has a proven track record in catering to enterprise users.

Importantly, Azure is not limited to Windows-based services. It also supports open-source languages, technologies, and platforms giving anyone the freedom to build and support any application.

Well-known Azure customers include:

  • DAIMLER AG
  • McKesson Group
  • Asos
  • Center of Disease Control (CDC) – US
  • National Health Service (NHS) – UK
  • HSBC
  • Starbucks
  • Walgreens
  • 3M
  • HP
  • Mitsubishi Electric
  • Renault

Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

Google Cloud Platform offered by Google is a suite of cloud computing services that runs on the same infrastructure that Google uses internally for its end-user products such as Google Search, Gmail, Google Drive and YouTube.

Google Cloud Platform became available to the general public 14 years ago on the 7th of April in 2008, GCP currently offers over 100 services spanning computing, networking, big data, and more. Today GCP consists of services including Google Workspace, enterprise Android, and Chrome operating system (OS).

Compared to AWS and Azure, GCP is the smallest of the Big 3 cloud providers. Yet it offers a robust set of cloud services to power and support any kind of application.

Notable GCP customers include:

  • Toyota
  • Unilever
  • Nintendo
  • Spotify
  • The Home Depot
  • Target
  • Twitter
  • Paypal
  • UPS

AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud: Security

AWS is hailed for its top-quality security, utilizing the services of cybersecurity giant Fortinet for its Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) across the majority of availability zones on an on-demand basis.

Azure also works with Fortinet to provide optimized security services across its data and applications, minimizing security costs when it comes to migration, while GCP uses FortiGate Next-Generation Firewall for advanced security and firewalling.

So, which cloud provider is right for me?

Every cloud migration project is as unique as your own fingerprint and depends on your company’s specific needs, goals, industry, and resources.

In 2018 alone, more than 80% of large businesses went for a multi-cloud approach; 51% opted for a hybrid solution (combining public and private clouds).

When looking for the right cloud vendor for your enterprise, be sure to consider your particular requirements and workload and remember that the answer could indeed lie in a combination of two or three cloud providers.

We’ve seen Google build some of the best products for developers in terms of automating micro services and container-orchestration with Kubernetes and also ASIC chips (TPUs) that compete with the likes of Nvidia. I’m not betting against Google’s talented engineers by any means, rather I’m simply observing that the infrastructure piece is leaning towards more of a duopoly at this time. Cloud is expensive on a capex level, so if Google doesn’t find its footing the margins driven by ads could take a hit in the near-term.

Who will lead software and Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications is impossible to predict (and when) as the main competitors will be hundreds (if not thousands) of start-ups. With that said, I personally own Amwell because Google is a backer and I think health care is an example of a vertical where Google’s experience with data can deliver a serious competitive edge. To be clear, Alphabet may have an advantage with Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning (AI/ML) software whereas this analysis is about the infrastructure. Perhaps there will be a catalyst in the future for Google Cloud to take more share but the strategy is not evident at this time

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