If You’re Not In The Cloud, You’re Falling Behind
Have you stayed off the cloud bandwagon so far?
While it’s wise to be skeptical of new technology, it won’t be long until you’re all alone. The cloud is one of the biggest technological industries worldwide — public cloud adoption is at 91% and private cloud adoption is at 72% as of 2019.
Day by day, more and more business leaders are recognizing and harnessing the advantages offered by the cloud. If you don’t catch up soon, you’ll fall behind.
Hesitation is understandable, however, because the cloud can be extremely complicated. From the nature of the cloud to its many applications and features, you could spend weeks trying to evaluate options for your organization and still be lost.
That’s why we’ve developed this guide, to help you assess two major cloud players and whether they’re the right match for your organization’s needs.
Why Choose Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Or Any Cloud At All?
Just in case you’re unsure, let’s briefly explore the benefits offered by the cloud in general. There has to be a reason why public cloud spending is growing three times faster than private cloud spending, right?
It’s because the cloud is a cost-effective way to access additional IT resources and improve the user experience. Key benefits include:
- Outsourced Infrastructure: You get Microsoft or Google to handle the hardware component of your cloud, and all of the expensive maintenance that comes with it.
- Extended Support: Instead of having your in-house team or outsourced IT company take care of your infrastructure, the experts from Microsoft or Google handle it for you.
By working with a cloud provider like Microsoft or Google, you get increased flexibility, scalability, and availability, without having to maintain your own infrastructure.
In other words, there’s no point in building and managing a Tier-3 data center when you can pay someone else to do it for you.
That’s why millions of users worldwide have chosen to work with Microsoft or Google for their cloud needs — who will you choose?
Cloud Basics & Key Terms
In the course of this Buyer’s Guide, we will discuss a range of cloud-specific terminology:
- Virtual Machine (VM): In computing, a virtual machine is an emulation of a computer system. Virtual machines are based on computer architectures and provide the functionality of a physical computer. Their implementations may involve specialized hardware, software, or a combination.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): SaaS is a software licensing and delivery model. The software is centrally hosted, licensed, and offered on a monthly or annual basis. SaaS is the standard delivery model for most applications.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): PaaS provides a platform for users to develop, run, and manage applications. It eliminates the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure for the applications.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This model allows you to access an IT infrastructure on an outsourced basis and provides hardware, storage, servers, data center space, and software if needed. It’s used on-demand rather than requiring you to purchase equipment. That means you don’t have to expend the capital to invest in new hardware.
Cloud Leaders Head To Head
Microsoft Azure: The Basics
Azure is Microsoft’s enterprise-grade cloud computing platform. You and your team can rely on this solution to help you cut costs by hosting off-site, as well as benefit from a totally scalable configuration that fits your needs.
Google Cloud Platform: The Basics
Google Cloud Platform, the public cloud service offered by Google, is among the youngest of the cloud industry’s major players.
In 2019, they grew to offer service in 20 geographical regions. And while it may have limited reach and less experience than giants like Microsoft and Amazon, it compensates with undeniably impressive scale and advanced capabilities.
Google Cloud Platform takes advantage of Google’s private fiber optic network for speed, and offers highly competitive capabilities for deep learning, artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics.
Azure Vs. Google Cloud Platform: An Overview
Both Microsoft and Google entered the cloud market after their primary competitor, Amazon. This means they both share some key limitations, primarily in the depth of service that they offer.
In both cases, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform are particularly good at what they do, instead of trying to be good at absolutely everything. Azure is primed for Microsoft-based organizations, integrating seamlessly with existing Microsoft environments. Google Cloud Platform is extremely fast and highly capable as a base for big data purposes.
As with most technology-based decisions, determining which option is right for you comes down to your intended purposes and your organizational needs.
We’ll help you figure this out by examining both options in a side-by-side comparison in terms of five key categories, as well as the pros and cons of each.
Computing power is a basic consideration for evaluating one cloud option over another. The bottom line is that you need to know the choice you make will support your organization’s needs when they are at their highest.
- Microsoft Azure: As configured by the user, a third-party cloud service provider, or Microsoft itself, Azure creates a VM based on a selected VHD. This provides scalability (the access to additionally needed computing resources) through virtual sets. Azure VMs pair with other tools to help deploy applications on the cloud.
- Google Cloud Platform: Google’s range of compute services is limited when compared to Microsoft’s. It uses the Compute Engine, which offers both custom and predefined machine types, as well as Linux and Windows support, and even carbon-neutral infrastructure (notable for using half the energy of typical data centers).
Furthermore, Google also offers a Kubernetes Engine (they helped to develop it) which allows users to deploy containers. Containers are popular because they are more standardized than VMs, essentially, making it easier to run any given application, and simplifying management and discovery.
In the cloud world, storage is a close second to computing when it comes to key considerations. How does one option organize storage and what limits does it have?
Microsoft offers temporary, block and object storages, and virtual network capabilities to create isolation in the cloud. It’s important to understand the two classes of storage offered:
- Hot Storage: Hot storage is more expensive, as the assumption is that users will access and use it more often. It’s ideal for data that you will actively access and update.
- Cool Storage: Cool storage is less expensive, but users incur additional read and write costs. This is ideal for archived, long-term storage of records you may only need to access for audits or store for posterity.
Google Cloud Platform
Similar to their compute offering, Google’s storage options are limited as well. They offer unified object storage service (“Cloud Storage”), as well as a Persistent Disk alternative option. Google Cloud Platform can also provide Transfer Appliance and online transfer services.
Whereas both options offer as much storage as you need (of course, at a higher and higher cost), each has a specific limit on the size of stored objects: 4.75TB for Azure, and 5TB for Google Cloud Platform.
Both Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform can integrate directly with NoSQL and relational databases, delivering high availability and durability.
Azure offers additional database capabilities, including:
- SQL-based options including SQL Database, Database for MySQL and Database for PostgreSQL.
- Data Warehouse service
- Cosmos DB and Table Storage for NoSQL
- Redis Cache for in-memory service
- Server Stretch Database for hybrid storage service designed specifically for organizations that use Microsoft SQL Server in their own data centers.
On the other hand, Google Cloud Platform has a more limited offering. It has the SQL-based Cloud SQL and a relational database called Cloud Spanner, which is designed for mission-critical workloads.
For NoSQL, Google Cloud Platform has two options: Cloud Bigtable and Cloud Datastore.
Whereas Microsoft does offer an actual Backup service, as well as Site Recovery service and Archive Storage, Google Cloud Platform does not provide backup and archive services. That means you would have to invest in additional third-party service to meet those needs.
Security should always be top of mind whenever you’re considering a change in your IT, especially one as fundamental as the cloud. Using a public cloud service, even when creating private clouds, assumes a certain degree of risk.
That’s why you need to ensure that the necessary security standards are in place with your choice of cloud.
Designed around the principals of the Security Development Lifecycle, Microsoft has made embedding best-practice security requirements in everything they create a mandatory part of their software development process.
Based on a virtual network, users have the ability to create isolated networks, in addition to subnets, private IP ranges, route tables, and network gateways. Cross-network connectivity is granted via a VPN gateway.
Azure Active Directory has built-in security features including authentication tools, access control, and identity management in addition to their own top-notch network and system security.
Certifications include ITAR, DISA, HIPAA, CJIS, FIPS, and more. Security is provided so that only screened persons can access the cloud.
Google Cloud Platform
Google Cloud Platform provides security via a number of different services, including:
- Security Command Center: This security management and compliance monitoring solution helps users address data risks, vulnerabilities, and threats.
- Cloud Data Loss Prevention: This managed service allows users to discover, classify, and protect their most sensitive data.
Google Cloud Platform is compliant with some certifications including HIPAA and PCI, but not others such as ITAR and DISA.
Determining the actual cost of one cloud platform or another is notoriously difficult.
Depending on what storage you need, what type of storage you need, how much storage you need, what software licenses you have, how many users (concurrent or otherwise) you have, what discounts you qualify for, and whether the rates have changed since you last checked, there’s no catch all rate that’s worth quoting.
You can take a look at the Microsoft or Google pricing calculators for an idea of how complicated the process can be.
Instead, we can explore how Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform price their services, specifically in pay-as-you-go models:
- Microsoft Azure: Service is charged by the minute. You can choose between monthly or prepaid charges, with longer commitments allowing for greater discounts. If you are an existing Microsoft customer, you may even qualify for additional discounts.
- Google Cloud Platform: Pricing is a differentiator for Google, in that they strive to offer “customer-friendly” rates. Service is charged by-the-second, providing even more accurate charges than Microsoft’s by-the-minute. Google Cloud Platform also provides automatic discounts.
All things equal (as, again, pricing is highly complicated and subjective to the user), Google Cloud Platform is almost always the cheapest. However, this is in line with their limited depth of service.
Microsoft-based organizations looking to save money by using Google Cloud Platform would miss out on the seamless integration offered by using Azure.
Microsoft Azure: The Pros And Cons
Advantages Of Microsoft Azure
- Integration: The key benefit of Azure is that it is designed for Microsoft users. If you’re already a Microsoft-based organization, Azure will seamlessly integrate into your current environment, drastically lowering the complexity, cost and timeline of a migration. Your users will adapt to using it more quickly, as it is all in-line with the ubiquitous Microsoft experience.
- Capabilities: When compared to Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure has extensive capabilities in terms of services, databases, and especially, compliance certifications. Governmental organizations that need to be compliant with systems like ITAR would have to choose Microsoft Azure.
Disadvantages Of Microsoft Azure
- Pricing: It’s hard to beat Google Cloud Platform’s low rates. However, you get what you pay for — Azure has a lot more to offer, especially to Microsoft-based organizations.
- Enterprise Capability: Azure is not the perfect option for Enterprise environments. Larger, multi-location and multi-national businesses may not get the flexibility they’re looking for from Azure right now.
Google Cloud Platform: The Pros And Cons
Advantages Of Google Cloud Platform
- Powerful AI: Google’s most significant offering is without a doubt its Artificial Intelligence applications. It is a strong competitor, if not leader, in terms of deep learning, machine learning and data analytics capabilities. Specialized companies in need of extremely robust big data services may be best suited to operate on Google Cloud Platform.
- Low Price: In most general comparisons, Google Cloud Platform is the cheapest option. As a more recent entrant into the cloud market, it’s priced to compete.
Disadvantages Of Google Cloud Platform
- Limited Service: Google Cloud Platform offers fewer services and in fewer regions than its competitors. It simply has had the time to develop as ubiquitous a platform as Microsoft has.
- Limited Integration: If your organization isn’t already using Google services for other functions, it may be difficult to integrate Google Cloud Platform into your operations.
- Noncompliant: Google Cloud Platform is missing some key compliance certifications that its competitors offer — ITAR and DISA in particular.
Microsoft Azure vs. Google Cloud Platform: Which Is Right For You?
I’m sorry to break it to you, but we can’t make this call for you. Depending on the size and function of your organization, one may be the better choice for you, but we can’t say which.
However, in order to provide some direction, I’ve summarized the most general case for each option:
- Microsoft Azure: If your organization already relies on Microsoft solutions, and is looking for a cost-effective entry point into cloud computing, then Azure is almost certainly the better choice for you.
- Google Cloud Platform: If you’re already using Google services, and looking for either a low-cost option, or a powerful AI-based service for Big Data analysis, Google Cloud Platform would likely be a good fit for your organization.
If you’re still undecided or would like help in your evaluation, reach out to our team.
NST Will Guide You To The Right Cloud Platform
NST helps clients evaluate their options and determine which solution best meets their needs.
No matter where you are with the cloud, our team of IT specialists are able to provide troubleshooting assistance or strategic advice, helping you to leverage the power of these cloud technologies to their benefit.
- Migration Management: If you’re not sure which solution is right for you or how to migrate all of your workstations over, we’ll walk you through the entire migration process, handling each step of the way to make sure it goes smoothly.
- Comprehensive Support: We offer onsite and remote support to help you resolve any sort of configuration and/or troubleshooting issues right away. If we’re not able to remotely resolve the issue, we’ll come onsite to help you out
- Employee Training: A vital component of the success strategy of any software offering is the ability for a business’ employees to understand it well enough to utilize it to its fullest potential. We’re here to walk your staff through any new features or applications.
Schedule a complimentary consultation with NST to determine if Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform is the right fit for you.