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cloud platforms black icons 300x330-300-58kb.jpg

This article compares the largest cloud services platforms: Amazon AWS vs. Google Cloud Platform vs. IBM Softlayer vs. Microsoft Azure vs. Alibaba Cloud vs. Rackspace.

Major multi-cloud vendors include Oracle, SalesForce Heroku, SkyTap.

Software for private clouds include Red Hat OpenStack and VMWare.

Software for hybrid private/public clouds include CloudFoundry, Hashicorp Terraform, and others. NetApp, or EMC

Advantages of Cloud

Evaluations can be based on the advantages of cloud:

  1. Trade capital expense for variable expense (conserve cash)
  2. Stop guessing about capacity (over-provisioning, which can be expensive)
  3. Benefit from economies of scale (tap into available capacity pooled among many customers)
  4. Expand and go global in minutes (make use of infrastructure established around the world, which is time consuming, expensive, and dangerous to do on your own) (leverage experts working within cloud vendors who can focus on facilities, security, and scalability capabilities)
  5. Stop spending money running and maintaining data centers “friends don’t let friends build data centers”
  6. Increase speed and agility (make use of innovations) PROTIP: Memorize the above list for exams.

Amazon’s “Well Architected” notes the constraints removed by being in the cloud:

  • Test production at scale
  • Make experimentation easier (overcome fear of change)
  • Allow architecture to evolve (rather than being frozen in time)

TL;DR - The biggest differences

The perspective of an individual is not to select a cloud vendor, but to select the cloud vendor which provides the best career prospects. Here’s my logic:

  • If you write in C# on .NET (and want to continue leveraging that experience), Azure is the natural choice. (But other clouds are trying to support Windows.)
  • If you’re looking to get a job in cloud, go for AWS because of its current market share and pace of innovation. AWS has the most sophisticated authentication and database services.
  • Due to competitive reasons, Target, Best Buy, eBay, and Sony Music use Google. WalMart uses Azure.
  • If you’re running really large loads on each server, Google offers fast fiber networks that don’t limit what large machines can achieve. Plus Google is ahead in Machine Learning with its popular Tensorflow in Python.
  • Google’s SSD drives are expensive, though needed for speed.

  • IBM has bare-metal machines, if that’s your thing. But since 2017 AWS provides them as well.
  • Increasingly, companies doing business in a particular country are required to keep data within a cloud data center within that country (such as Google in Belgium).

EDITOR’s NOTE: This is not a complete treatment. Additional information will be added over time.

cloud-compare-364x172 http://cloudcomparison.rightscale.com presents all the details well. DOCS So here I’m adding additional commentary here.


Factor AWS EC2 Azure
Initial appearance 2006 2010
Granularity of billing per hour per minute
Entrepreneurial Discount - BizSpark
# Data centers 24 100
# zones 33 100
Largest server x1.32xlarge G:
Largest # cores 128 32
Largest RAM GB 1,952 GB 448 GB

PROTIP: Moving up to double the RAM or cores usually does not yield a doubling of capacity due to overhead and limits in shared components such as networking.


Even though cloud vendors provide a great deal of transparency to how they price their services, there are so many variables to what affects the final bill that the only accurate way is to actually run services.

  • AWS has matched Azure pricing, and also per-minute billing.

Cowan analysis May 2016 (using 1.0 as average among vendors) rated Amazon 1.37 (above avarge) in prices (most expensive). Microsoft was rated the leader in price and APIs, but the lowest in support.

QUESTION: Is the comparison based on spot instances in AWS, which are of low cost because they can be taken away at any moment by someone who outbids.

Market share

Amazon had an early lead in 2006 and has maintaing its lead even though Microsoft and Google are growing fast as well with 50%+ annual growth* aws-onboarding-cloud-growth-441x272.jpg


Operating Systems in the cloud

As of May 2016, Microsoft Azure works with SUSE and Oracle Java, but not Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

Amazon provides software to host whatever OS is put into images. But its free server images are based on CentOS, derived from Red Hat as both use the yum package manager. Amazon is working on “Linux2” based on Red Hat.

Network speed

To compare network speeds:

  • http://cloudping.info measures current ping speed to various regions on Amazon’s EC2 cloud. Scroll down to click “HTTP Ping” to begin collection to a running line graph:


    https://ping.varunagw.com/aws.htm provides green, yellow, red colors with Mean, Median, Min, and Max statistics based several measures of the speed to each EC2 region.

    Amazon’s own EC2 Reachability Test does not provide ping speeds, only a green icon when it can be reached at any speed.

  • http://http://www.azurespeed.com measures current ping speed to various regions on Microsoft’s Azure cloud. To stop collection, click “uncheck all” or individual regions of interest:


  • http://www.gcping.com measures current ping speed to various regions on Google’s cloud. To stop collection, press the dot with the arrow.


Outage tracking

https://status.aws.amazon.com is Amazon’s AWS Service Health Dashboard applicable to all users. Under the tab for each continent is a list of each service plus region combination.

PROTIP: Most new services begin in the N. Virginia region “US-EAST-1”, as do the most famous outages. So if you are running a production load, try to use a different region than that. Nevertheless, that’s where one must provision AWS Cloud Front CDN for worldwide distribution.

https://phd.aws.amazon.com is your Personal Health Dashboard for your account.

http://downdetector.com/status/aws-amazon-web-services provides 3rd-party crowd-source status.

https://istheservicedown.com/problems/amazon-web-services-aws/history is a private-party site reporting the history of downtimes on AWS. For example:


For a list of outages further back: https://outage.report/aws-amazon-web-services

Here are the names of brand names, some with links to marketing or documentation pages:

Microsoft AzureAmazon Web Services (AWS)Google
Data center geography Azure Regions global infrastructure -
Government ServicesAzure GovernmentGovCloud -
Billing? Billing -
Administration & SecurityAzure Active Directory DirectoryService
IAM (Identity and Access Management)
Multi-Factor Authentication
MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) -
Audit logs
Azure Operational Insights CloudTrail -
Who Did What WhenNone AWS Config -
Monitoring, Logging, AlertingAzure Application Insights CloudWatch -

Azure Event Hubs None
Compute ServicesVirtual Machines (VMs) EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) -

Cloud Services
Azure Websites and Apps
Elastic Beanstalk -
Dev. toolsAzure Visual Studio OnlineNone -
Container SupportDocker Virtual Machine Extension (how to)EC2 Container Service Kubernetes
Scaling OptionsAzure Autoscale (how to)AutoScaling -
Analytics/Hadoop OptionsHDInsight (Hadoop)Elastic MapReduce (EMR) -
App/Desktop ServicesAzure RemoteAppWorkSpaces
Amazon AppStream
Storage OptionsAzure Storage (Blobs, Tables, Queues, Files)S3 (SimpleStorage) -
Block StorageAzure Blob Storage (how to)Elastic Block Storage (EBS) -
Hybrid Cloud StorageStorSimpleNone -
Backup OptionsAzure BackupGlacier Coldline
Storage ServicesAzure Import Export (how to)ImportExport -

Azure File Storage (how to)StorageGateway -

Azure Site RecoveryNone -
Content Delivery Network (CDN )Azure CDNCloudFront -
Database OptionsAzure SQL Database RDS (Relational Database Service)
NoSQL Database OptionsAzure DocumentDB DynamoDB BigTable

Azure Managed Cache (Redis Cache) ElasticCache -
Data OrchestrationAzure Data Factory DataPipeline -
Networking OptionsAzure Virtual Network VPC -

Azure ExpressRouteAWS Direct Connect -

Azure Traffic ManagerAmazon Route 53 -
Load BalancingLoad Balancing for Azure (how to)ELB (Elastic Load Balancing) -
MessagingAzure Notification Hubs SNS (Simple Notification Service) -
Encryption Key Mgmt.Azure Key Vault KMS (Key Management Service) -
Hardware Security ModuleAzure Trust Center CloudHSM -
Management Services & OptionsAzure Resource Manager CloudFormation -
API ManagementAzure API Management None Apigee
AutomationAzure Automation OpsWorks -

CodeDeploy -

Azure Batch
Azure Service Bus
SQS (Simple Queue Service) -

Azure Scheduler SWF (Simple Workflow) -
SearchAzure Search CloudSearch -
AnalyticsAzure Stream Analytics Kinesis -
Email ServicesAzure BizTalk Services SES (Simple Email Services) -
Media ServicesAzure Media Services ElasticTranscoder
Machine Learning (ML)Azure Machine Learning Machine-Learning SageMaker Tensor Flow
Voice RecognitionAzure Machine Learning Machine-LearningSageMaker -
Translation? ? Google Translate
Text Analytics? ? -
Computer VisionComputer VisionFace Rekognition -
Video camera? $249 DeepLens -
Triggers Logic Apps AWS Lambda -

Credit: TomsITPro and Microsoft’s comparison


IBM Bluemix

“Understanding the Difference Between Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS” by veteran Pluralsight video presenter Elias Khanser, a Microsoft MVP


More on DevOps

This is one of a series on DevOps:

  1. DevOps_2.0
  2. ci-cd (Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery)
  3. User Stories for DevOps

  4. Git and GitHub vs File Archival
  5. Git Commands and Statuses
  6. Git Commit, Tag, Push
  7. Git Utilities
  8. Data Security GitHub
  9. GitHub API
  10. TFS vs. GitHub

  11. Choices for DevOps Technologies
  12. Java DevOps Workflow
  13. AWS DevOps (CodeCommit, CodePipeline, CodeDeploy)
  14. AWS server deployment options

  15. Cloud regions
  16. AWS Virtual Private Cloud
  17. Azure Cloud Onramp
  18. Azure Cloud
  19. Azure Cloud Powershell
  20. Bash Windows using Microsoft’s WSL (Windows Subystem for Linux)

  21. Digital Ocean
  22. Cloud Foundry

  23. Packer automation to build Vagrant images
  24. Terraform multi-cloud provisioning automation

  25. Powershell Ecosystem
  26. Powershell on MacOS
  27. Powershell Desired System Configuration

  28. Jenkins Server Setup
  29. Jenkins Plug-ins
  30. Jenkins Freestyle jobs
  31. Jenkins2 Pipeline jobs using Groovy code in Jenkinsfile

  32. Dockerize apps
  33. Docker Setup
  34. Docker Build

  35. Maven on MacOSX

  36. Ansible

  37. MySQL Setup

  38. SonarQube static code scan

  39. API Management Microsoft
  40. API Management Amazon

  41. Scenarios for load

More on cloud

This is one of a series on cloud computing: