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THOUGHTS FROM INSIDE TRAGIC MINDS

There are hundreds of cloud hosting providers out there, but we are going to tell you a secret. Are you ready?

There are three companies that power most of the internet: Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. These cloud giants build, maintain, and update their own infrastructure. Most small cloud providers are simply reselling (and marking up!) services from these platforms.

We have worked with everyone from startups looking for their first cloud host to enterprises that need massive scalability and availability. In every case, we have seen a performance increase and cost reduction by going from a reseller to one of the main providers.

This post will walk through the offerings from Amazon (AWS), Google (GCP), and Microsoft (Azure). We will talk through their pros, their cons, and what they are known for so you can help identify which solution is right for your business.

Want a free consultation to reduce your cloud hosting bill? Contact the Tragic team today. We have 10+ years of experience designing, building, and scaling cloud apps and infrastructure.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

What is AWS?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the first and largest cloud hosting service. Launched in March 2006, AWS has grown to be 47% of the cloud infrastructure market, compared to 15.5% for Microsoft Azure and 4% for Google Cloud Platform (source).

Companies of all sizes, from startups to giant corporations, use AWS. Their client list includes Netflix, 21st Century Fox, McDonalds, Verizon, Shell, and thousands more.

What is AWS known for?

Amazon is known for being the biggest... In basically every way. They have the biggest pipeline, the largest customer set, and the most (to a nauseating point) tools and services. Their website boasts that AWS offers "over 175 fully featured services" across compute, storage, databases, analytics, machine learning, developer tools, and more (source).

Given their reputation with Fortune 50 companies and government agencies, AWS also has the highest availability of any cloud provider.
With their plethora of services and focus on high availability and redundancy, AWS is a natural choice for leading service providers and national brands.

How is AWS pricing?

AWS has a generous free tier and credits for startups. That said, you should be careful when it comes to building on AWS. Prices can quickly rise if you do not use their services correctly. Choose the incorrect availability or server type, and your bill can quickly increase 100x+ over.

While all 3 cloud giants have pay-as-you-go models, AWS prices per hour whereas Azure and Google price per minute.

Final thoughts on AWS

Amazon has a robust cloud offering. They have global scalability, availability, and redundancy, making them a solid choice for larger brands. That said, because they have hundreds of tools available, using AWS can be confusing and expensive for those who are not familiar with their services and best practices.

Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

What is GCP?

Google Cloud Platform (GCP), released in 2008, is the same technology that powers Google Search, Maps, Gmail, and YouTube. So it’s safe to say they can support you as your needs grow and change.

GCP has 100+ services across a wide variety. In addition, Google has created open source projects – including Angular, Kubernetes, Spinnaker, Flutter, WebRTC, Android, and many more. Since these projects were built by Google, they integrate well with their cloud offering.

Google supports its rich user interface with an advanced command line interface (CLI), providing DevOps engineers everything they need to quickly build and scale complex infrastructures.

What is GCP known for?

Google Cloud Platform is known for its power and simplicity. Google has a thoughtful user experience for cloud service administrators, from provisioning Kubernetes clusters to setting up a CI/CD pipeline Google makes it easy.

As mentioned, Google has made very significant contributions to the open source community and GCP fits like a glove with services like the container orchestration software Kubernetes.

Moreover, GCP makes it easy to get up and running. Bootstrapped startups can feel empowered to deploy their own solutions directly to a major cloud provider with managed solutions like Firebase.

How is GCP pricing?

Due to its size and growth goals, GCP consistently prices cheaper than its competitors. We find Google Cloud Platform to be an excellent choice for smaller businesses that need a reliable, tier one cloud host.

For example, we were able to save Balboa Park Online Collaborative thousands by consolidating their infrastructure on GCP. And, with My Italian Family, we were able to reduce their cloud hosting bill by 88%.

More generally, we have built multiple websites using GatsbyJS for the frontend, Contentful as a headless content management system, deployed to a serverless pipeline on GCP. The entire experience has been seamless and extremely cost effective for startups and small businesses.

Final thoughts on GCP

Google is our preferred cloud host at Tragic. We find their UX and integration with other tools to be the best. Their $300 credit for new users and $30/month basic server configuration is more than adequate to get your website, blog, or ecommerce store up and running. While their advanced tools like Kubernetes, Big Query, and Cloud AI empower any enterprise grow to new heights.

Microsoft Azure

What is Azure?

Microsoft Azure (Azure) was launched in February 2010. Azure has over 600 services, ranging from compute, storage, messaging, serverless functions, and more. Despite being originally tied to Windows, Azure has grown to be a leading cloud host with cutting edge services. At the time of this writing, Linux compute servers outnumber Windows on Azure.

What is Azure known for?

Unsurprisingly, Azure is well connected with the Microsoft family of products, services, and operating systems. Development teams looking for robust development operations (DevOps) and automation tools should definitely look at Azure.

Although launched last, Microsoft’s cloud is the second largest (behind AWS) and growing every quarter. Recently, they won a $10 billion dollar bid to provide a secure cloud for the US government.

How is Azure pricing?

Microsoft offers a free $200 credit to any new user trying out the Azure platform, and they tend to under price AWS on most services. As mentioned, both use pay-as-you-go models but AWS charges by the hour, while Azure and Google charge by the minute.

Again, Microsoft is looking at the strategic advantage of having people use Azure – especially after their massive $7.5 billion dollar acquisition of GitHub. If there’s one company that understands the value of platforms, it’s Microsoft.

Final thoughts on Azure

Azure is an often overlooked option. They fully support Linux servers, are the second largest cloud, and have leading devops tools (probably the best). Best of all, their documentation is comprehensive perhaps even better than Google’s. Microsoft is a developer-centric organization, and their interface and CLI can hold its own against Google Many businesses think Azure means Windows hosting, but that is selling this cloud giant short.

Enterprise & Nonprofit Considerations

Enterprise Multi-Cloud Environments

If you are a global enterprise, it is a good idea to have multi-cloud redundancy.

Leveraging tools like Anthos and Kubernetes can help to offset your risk of downtime through multi-vendor redundancy. But you still need to pick a main cloud host, and which will be your secondary fallback.

Cloud Hosting for Nonprofits

All 3 cloud providers offer special discount programs to qualified nonprofits, and they scale just the way you would expect.

Amazon provides a yearly $2,000 promotional credit to qualified NPOs to offset the cost of AWS services. Microsoft offers a $3,500 yearly credit to qualified NPOs on Azure.

Surprisingly, Google does not offer additional cloud credits for NPOs, but they do have a strong offering for nonprofits including free Google Workspace apps, $10,000 in Google ad credits, free Maps, and more.

Whether you are a for-profit or nonprofit company, we highly recommend looking for credits and discounts. The cloud giants are always competing and making their offerings more attractive.

Conclusion

As we recently wrapped up our talk for San Diego Startup Month 2020, we thought it was important to follow up with some more details about the 3 cloud giants and help to differentiate between their strengths and offerings.

Like we mentioned at the beginning, we put Google, Microsoft, and Amazon far ahead of all other resellers. People think because these three are out in front that their costs must be higher, but, in our experiences, they are actually significantly cheaper.

There are subtle differences between these clouds and we suggest looking at Google as the most cost effective solution, Amazon for the highest availability and largest scale, and Microsoft for a great developer ecosystem surrounding Windows and Linux.

Want a free consultation to reduce your cloud hosting bill? Contact the Tragic team today. We have 10+ years of experience designing, building, and scaling cloud apps and infrastructure.

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