Google showed up a little late to the public cloud party but is slowly clawing its way into relevance with the acquisition of big customers like Snapchat. Unfortunately, cloud platform giants like Amazon Web Services (AWS) have had years to expand their data center presence all over the world and gain incredible market share by the time Google Cloud got its humble start. However, with nearly unlimited financial and technical resources, Google is making big strides to win customers over with unique features and services (and competitive pricing). Being the first cloud provider to give customers access to an AI neural network is just one way they are stepping up their game in an effort to catch up to the seemingly unstoppable behemonth that is Amazon Web Services.
Today there is little information available on how Google Cloud stacks up overall in comparison to Amazon Web Services in 2017. While plenty of statistical data and reviews comparing UIs and feature sets are abound, there doesn’t seem to be any definitive articles that lay out all the key points vital to deciding which cloud network provider will best fit an individual or organization’s needs. Here’s the breakdown on what you need to know about these two competing cloud providers.
Google Cloud vs Amazon Web Services Features
Google Cloud and AWS are comparable in their platform feature sets. While at one time Google Cloud could claim to be the only cloud platform provider that offered access to an AI neural networking engine and its accompanying API, this is no longer true. Both Google Cloud and AWS offer the following features:
- Full featured UI & SDK with most of the same functions
- Complete support knowledge base to help users navigate and use platform and services
- Full featured monitoring and reporting systems
- Real time reporting on zone’s status, along with maintenance window and downtime alerts
- Ability to create snapshots and custom images from self-configured VMs
- Free trial periods
- Load balancing
- Encrypted key secured logins for SSH & other enhanced security features
- IoT management platform
- CDNs available
- Docker management, storage, and support
- AI engine access & APIs
Google Cloud and AWS contrast as cloud platform providers in how they approach these features. Amazon Web Services appears to target a “swiss army knife” type functionality in its platform – allowing it to be used in general for a multitude of different purposes, lending to a very complex UI and overall environment. Google Cloud however has chosen a more minimalistic approach, centering its focus on standalone services that are specially tailored for specific purposes and utilizing a clean UI with cleverly nested menus and minimal fuss. Google Cloud also has automated many of its functions to better simplify the user experience. Something budget conscious individuals and organizations may appreciate most about Google Cloud is that it attempts to take the guesswork out of estimating operation costs by providing a monthly price estimate on each virtual machine before the user creates the image and boots up.
Google Cloud vs Amazon Web Services Performance
Uptime is the most important performance metric in cloud platform service, since any amount of downtime can result in huge amounts of financial loss. According to an article by NetworkWorld, Google Cloud blew all the competition away in 2014, with an uptime metric performance of 99.9996%. That means Google Cloud only had an astounding 14 minutes of downtime last year alone! Of course, Amazon Web Services did not fare very poorly itself, either. AWS also led the top of the list in uptime performance for 2014, with 99.9974% of uptime and only 2.41 hours of downtime.
CloudHarmony recorded 56 major outages at Amazon Web Services last year, with a total downtime of two hours and 30 minutes. Google Cloud fared much poorly, however, with CloudHarmony recording 167 outages, totaling 11 hours and 34 minutes. AWS had the most notable outage last year out of all the cloud platform providers though when its DynamoDB NoSQL database went down for several hours.
Latency is the second most important performance metric in cloud platform service, as it determines how quickly web pages and web services will load. Of course, speedier load times will result in happier visitors as well as improved performance overall in handling large loads in web traffic at peak hours. While no CDN has an overall lowest latency in every region, one can easily figure out whether AWS or Google Cloud will provide the lowest latency by examining which of these cloud network providers has data network centers closest to their audience’s region, as well as having the highest number of data network centers available in that region. Amazon Web Services does appear to have the lowest latencies overall in the United States though when compared to Google Cloud in a region test ran by Network World, as seen below.
This is probably mostly due to Google Cloud’s low number of regions and zones in comparison to Amazon Web Services. AWS sports 16 regions and 18 availability zones, with plans to expand in to another 3 regions and and 7 availability zones in China, India, and the United Kingdom by 2017 according to their website. Amazon Web Services also features 54 points of presence known as Edge locations. By comparison, Google Cloud seems a little weak with its 6 regions and 18 zones, but continues to expand with plans for 8 more regions coming next year according to its documentation website.
Sustainability in the Cloud: Who Makes the Most Use of Renewable Energy?
Both Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud have made commitments to achieving 100% sustainability in their data centers by utilizing renewable energy sources. AWS collaborated with Pattern Development to build and operate a wind farm in 2015, and Community Energy of Virginia in 2016 to support the US East region with a solar farm. It has made similar efforts to get the other U.S. regions running on renewable energy sources, and is also working with Tesla Motors to utilize battery storage technology for the US West region. Amazon Web Services keeps an updated page about their sustainability efforts on their main site to keep the public informed of their ongoing efforts.
Not to be outdone, Google Cloud has announced on their own dedicated environmental project page that in 2017, they will have reached 100% sustainability in not only all of their data centers, but their offices as well – meaning that their entire global operations will be running on 100% renewable energy. This makes Google Cloud the winner in making the most use of renewable energy in their operations. A comparison of global renewable energy purchasing can be seen below, in which Google has taken a major lead.
Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud: Who Has the Best CDN?
While Amazon Web Services certainly has the lead on Google Cloud in its number of availability regions, Google Cloud has ramped up their CDN offering at an incredible pace, already offering 80 POPs around the globe. They also offer simple, transparent pricing similar to Amazon Cloudfront.
In addition to their own CDN offering, Google Cloud has built up a strong CDN interconnect program with providers like Akamai, CloudFlare, and Verizon for those who want to use their own CDN with other Google Cloud services.
While the Google CDN is certainly large and growing fast, it is still relatively primitive in terms of features in comparison to other providers like Amazon. This will almost certainly change in the near future (and there are consistent acquisition rumors floating around) but if you’re looking for a more fully featured CDN at the current time then Amazon Cloudfront is likely still your best option.
CloudFront is a well established CDN with a large global presence and with all the additional performance and security features you’d expect from an industry veteran.
If you value the environment, forward thinking expansion, and best practices on minimal resources, Google Cloud is probably going to be the best CDN for you. If you most value a large feature set, a large and already well established network, and reliability, then Amazon Web Services will probably be the CDN you will be the happiest with. No matter which CDN you choose, both are rock solid companies that will continue to grow rapidly in the coming years.
Google Cloud vs Amazon Web Services Pricing
Google Cloud and AWS have been in a pricing war ever since the day Google Cloud opened its doors. Pricing is constantly changing with one trying to undercut the other, but RightScale has done a thorough comparison of the two using the latest pricing as of the end of 2016.
A summary of the above results:
- Google Cloud is the lowest price for 3 scenarios; highest price for 7.
- Google Cloud tends to be the lowest price when no SSD is needed and the highest when SSD is required.
- Google Cloud is higher priced on the “per GB RAM” cost for high cpu due to the fact that it includes less than half the memory of AWS and Azure.
- AWS is the lowest price for 3 scenarios; highest price for 1.
Comparing Discounted Compute Pricing
In comparing discounted prices, you’re looking at annual instead of hourly costs to give a better comparison. AWS RIs require a commit for at least a year, while Google Cloud is more flexible, requiring only a month of usage for its SUD.
Below for each of the six scenarios, you can see the discounted annual price for each cloud and then the discounted annual price per GB of RAM for each.
Cloud Pricing by Region
Different cloud regions have different pricing for each cloud provider:
- AWS and Azure have different prices on a region-by-region basis. The most expensive regions in Asia Pacific can be 50 percent more than the lowest-price regions in the U.S.
- Google Cloud has the same prices for all U.S. regions and an upcharge of 10 percent for all regions in Europe and Asia. As a result, Google Cloud may gain a further price advantage in Europe and Asia.
Google Cloud vs AWS CDN Pricing
This was covered briefly in the previous section, but both Google and Amazon offer simple CDN pricing on their website based on delivery region, data transfer volume, and transaction volume. You can compare the two below:
Both are relatively similar with a few exceptions:
- Google CDN offers delivery and pricing for mainland China
- Google rates are more competitive in certain regions, like Asia Pacific
- AWS pricing is slightly more complex, with more delivery regions and additional charges for HTTPS traffic (which is included on Google)