1) AWS Pros and Cons
As mentioned before, the reasons for picking one vendor over another will differ for each customer. But there are aspects of the competing clouds that will offer benefits in certain circumstances.
The breadth and depth of the AWS offering is seen as a plus for AWS.AWS had a head start on the competition, building out its suite of cloud services since 2006. All of these are built to be enterprise-friendly so that they will appeal to CIOs as well as its core audience of developers.
The vendor ranks highly on platform configuration options, monitoring and policy features, security and reliability.
Its partner ecosystem and general product strategy are also seen as market leading, and its AWS Marketplace has a large number of third-party software services.
Another of the benefits of the AWS cloud is its openness and flexibility. For example, Transport for London – which also relies on Azure in other parts of its operations – has used AWS to meet spikes in demand for its online services such as its Journey Planner tool.
However, one area AWS falls short to some degree is with its hybrid cloud strategy. Unlike Microsoft, AWS has tended to be dismissive of the benefits of on-premise private clouds. Many organizations prefer to keep sensitive data within their own data centers – such as those in the financial sector – using public clouds for other purposes.
At the same time, this clearly has not deterred many customers from using AWS as part of their cloud strategy, regardless of whether they plan to move all systems to the cloud or not.
Another downside to AWS is the scale of its offering. While this is an attraction in many senses, it can be difficult at times to navigate the large numbers of features that are on offer, and some see AWS as being a complex vendor to manage.
2) Microsoft Azure Pros and Cons
The big pull for Azure is where Microsoft already has a strong footing within an organization and can easily play a role in helping those companies transition to the cloud. Azure naturally links well with key Microsoft on-premise systems such as Windows Server, System Center and Active Directory.
In addition, while both AWS and Azure have PaaS capabilities, this is a particular strength of Microsoft’s.One of the downsides, however, has been a series of outages over the years. Gartner analyst Lydia Leong has recommended considering disaster recovery capabilities away from Azure for critical applications hosted in the cloud. AWS isn’t immune to downtime, though, suffering a major S3 outage of its own in March 2017.
As part of its 2017 IaaS global Magic Quadrant, Gartner states that its clients have had issues with “technical support, documentation, training and breadth of the ISV partner ecosystem” – but the company has been steadily working on these areas.
Whereas AWS provides users with many options for supporting other platforms, Azure can be somewhat restrictive in comparison. If you want to run anything other than Windows Server then Azure might not be the best solution, but Microsoft has been willing to embrace open source platforms, if a little slowly. For example, the company has been busy extending its support for Linux operating systems in 2017.
3) Google Cloud Platform Pros and Cons
Google has a good track record with innovative cloud-native companies and has a good standing in the open source community, but has traditionally struggled to break into the enterprise market.
Its go-to-market strategy has been focused on proving itself on smaller, innovative projects at large organisations, rather than becoming a strategic cloud partner. Increasing the breadth of its partnerships and supporting pre-cloud businesses and IT processes will need to become focus areas if it wants to attract more traditional enterprises.
The company is certainly betting big on its machine learning tools, with the company’s internal AI expertise and popular Tensor Flow framework as selling points in what is set to become a key battleground.
It has also proved itself more than an AWS copycat, launching innovative features in the machine learning space as well as its Big Query analytics engine, and the Cloud Spanner distributed database.
It is also worth noting that Google has the smallest footprint of global instances of the big three.