As businesses increasingly move their on-premises data centres away from physical locations, cloud computing has become an essential tool in boosting innovation, cutting costs, and increasing business agility. In fact, the prevalence of the technology means that it’s less a case of whether or not to adopt cloud computing, but rather, which is the best cloud solution for your business?
The three most common solutions – AWS, Azure and Google Cloud – may provide the same core capabilities, but each has differentiating factors that make the decision a little less straightforward. For the uninitiated, this article will delve into why businesses leverage cloud computing, and the key functionalities they offer, before we take a look at the three cloud computing heavy-hitters in more detail to see which is the right platform for your business.
Why do businesses use cloud computing?
Cloud computing saves businesses time and money by boosting productivity, improving collaboration, and increasing innovation. Additionally, cloud computing helps to reduce the costs of running a more traditional data centre, gives employees the flexibility to work from home, and allows you to scale as and when you need to.
And because data stored in the cloud is always available if there’s an internet connection, there’s no need to back things up as you would with a traditional computing system. That means, in the event of data loss, any data stored on the cloud will be safe and sound.
Perhaps most importantly, it offers greater security too. If there’s a security breach at your premises, it can lead to compromised data; sensitive data on the cloud can simply be deleted remotely or moved to a different location if necessary.
The different types of cloud services
Infrastructure as a service (IaaS): The most basic category of cloud computing services, IaaS allows you to rent IT infrastructure such as servers, virtual machines, storage, networks and operating systems from a cloud provider on a pay-as-you-go basis. Because of this, the business is not responsible for any servicing or maintenance.
Platform as a service (PaaS): This refers to cloud computing services that supply an on-demand environment for developing, testing, delivering, and managing software applications. This service is designed to help developers more readily create web or mobile apps, without the need to set up and manage the underlying infrastructures of servers, storage, network and databases needed for development.
Software as a service (SaaS): A method for delivering software applications over the internet, on demand, and usually on a subscription basis. With SaaS, cloud providers host and manage the software application and underlying infrastructure, as well as handling maintenance such as software upgrades and security patching.
Comparing the different cloud platforms
Amazon Web Services
The leading cloud provider, and for good reason; AWS comes with almost every feature in cloud computing, allowing quick access to computer power, data storage, and a host of other functionalities.
Users will also find developer tools, mobile services, management tools, and application services at their disposal too, providing critical components for businesses of all sizes to benefit from.
– Offers a complete toolset with a wide breadth of functions
– 14+ years of cloud computing services developed and perfected by leading IT professionals, setting the standard for reliability, security, configuration options and monitoring
– Five times more compute capacity than many of its competitors
– Services a number of high-profile, blue chip customers such as Netflix, AirBnb and the CIA
– Supports commonly-used development languages
– Well-suited to open source developers
– For those unfamiliar working with AWS, the learning is somewhat steep.
– Enterprise level support has to be purchased
– Lacks a strong hybrid cloud strategy for those businesses looking to keep sensitive data in a private cloud
– Its wide catalogue of tools can be overwhelming and tough to navigate for certain users
Launched after AWD, Azure is often seen as a strong no. 2 to Amazon’s offering. However, it still stands on its own as a cloud solution and certainly has its reputable features. Azure allows you to build websites using common programming languages, can be integrated with Windows Server and Windows Linux Machine, and has SQL database support to boot. It can also handle large scale parallel batch computing if your custom software needs to run it, which is a feature lacking in Google Cloud.
– Quick to deploy, operate and scale
– Has the bandwidth to take your business global
– Built-in Visual Studio development
– Supported by secure login thanks to its Azure Single Sign-On capability
– Microsoft’s experience with industry compliance standards stands you in good stead
– Can be deployed anywhere
– Highly cost effective compared to its competition
– Somewhat limited functions compared to AWS
– Requires enterprise management from customers
– Migrating from competitors to Azure can be difficult
– Speed can be an issue for businesses located in some of Azure’s more remote regions
Emerging onto the cloud solution scene around the same time as Azure, Google Cloud offers a plethora of features to businesses of all kinds, with its App Engine product being a particular hit with app developers. Elsewhere, its suite of features also includes common coding language support, open source functionalities, an emphasis on big data tool suites, and the ability for users to create single-purpose functions that decrease the need for management.
– Speedy deployment and access to updates and functionality
– Continuous improvement allows Google to make updates without disrupting users
– Flexible pricing model
– Strong reputation in the open-source community
– Greener than some of its competitors
– Optimal capabilities for building containers
– Lacks the large, enterprise project-level of support compared to companies like Microsoft
– Outages have cast doubts over its reliability
– Range of functions somewhat lack innovation
– Fairly expensive support fee
– Likewise, downloading data from Google Cloud storage is expensive
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