GCP vs Azure: Difference You Should Know

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By Susith Nonis

Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are among the biggest players in the tech space, and these three have dominated the cloud landscape since they have developed their own cloud platforms. All three of them provide the safest, flexible, and reliable cloud services to their customers. The GCP stands for Google Cloud Platform, whereas Azure is the cloud computing platform developed by Microsoft.

Today, we are going to talk about these two leading cloud computing platforms and help you figure out which one is the best for you. We will be highlighting both the good and the bad points of GCP as well as Microsoft Azure. Also, we will look if their disadvantages can be ruled out by their benefits or not.

Google Cloud Platform

What is Google Cloud Platform?

The Google Cloud Platform is a suite of different public cloud computing services which are developed and offered by Google. GCP comes with a wide range of hosted services such as compute engine services which allow users to create and run virtual machines on Google’s reliable infrastructure, cloud storage, API management services that can run on Google’s hardware. The services provided by GCP can be used by software developers, cloud administrators, and other IT professionals over the public internet. Or, if a user wants to have a higher network speed, they can go with a dedicated network connection.

Google Cloud Platform History

Google was second in getting into the cloud business after Amazon started in 2006. In 2008 Google announced its very own cloud service and released its app engine, which is a developer tool that makes it possible for the users to run their web applications on Google’s infrastructure.

The core concept of the GCP is to provide developers a platform where they can quickly start creating applications and don’t have to worry about scaling up an app as its audience grows. To get an honest review of the developers, a GCP preview was distributed to 10,000 developers. Google allotted each developer a cloud space of up to 500 MB along with CPU usage up to 200 million megacycles each day, and 10GB of bandwidth.

After that, in 2011, Google pulled out the plug of its GCP preview and came out with the official release, which supports all the Google products which have been released in the last decade. In addition to this, Google has also included tons of new features and tools in their GCP umbrella, which eventually helped Google to become one of the top cloud vendors around the globe. A number of reputed companies like Snapchat, Airbnb, Bloomberg, and PayPal started using GCP in 2011 and are using its services even now.

Services Offered by GCP

As we have said earlier, GCP provides services for storage, computing, networking, big data, and machine learning, in addition to IoT technology. There are tons of tools that a developer can use, but given below are the core cloud computing services which GCP has to offer:

  • Google Cloud Computing

This is a service that can be helpful in case a user is looking for virtual machine instances for workload hosting. It works on the concept of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).

  • Google App Engine

This is the service that is used by app developers to create new applications for both Android and for the web. Google provides developers with a Software Development Kit (SDK) so that they can make their applications using GCP services. The Google app engine runs via the concept of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS).

  • Google Cloud Storage

It is used to store large unstructured datasets on cloud storage. Google also provides a number of database storage options which include Cloud Datastore for NoSQL, cloud SQL for MySQL, and Google’s own native cloud BigTable database.

  • Google Container Engine

It is a management tool and works as an orchestration system for Docker containers which runs within Google’s public cloud. The container engine is based on Google Kubernetes.

Along with the primary core services mentioned above, GCP is also famous for providing application development and integration services. One of the great examples of this integration service is Google Cloud Pub/Sub. This is a management and real-time messaging service which allows messages to be exchanged between different applications.

Other than these services, it also includes anycast DNS servers, direct network connections, load balancing, monitoring, and logging services.

Advantages of GCP

Now that we know the core offerings of GCP, let’s move further to discuss the advantages that users get when they integrate their applications with GCP.

1. Better Pricing than its Competitors

Starting with one of the most essential aspects of any service, i.e. pricing, GCP bills in minute-level increments. The minimum charge is for 10 minutes. As a result, you only get to pay for the computer time on which your application is active. On the other hand, if there’s a long-running workload, you will get a bonus discount which comes with no upfront commitment.

Thus, you can use GCP’s virtual machines for your computational work for a month, and you get a discount on that. This makes GCP a perfect preference for startups. If we compare the cost of a GCP computational unit with that of Azure, we find out that GCP costs only one-third of the price charged by Azure.

2. GCP Has its Own Private Global Fiber + Tiered Network

The power of cloud storage lies within its network. The faster the network is, the more effective the cloud storage system will be. This is what Google has been trying to achieve since the very beginning of its cloud service. Google, as we already know, is one of the biggest tech companies in the world, and its network is huge and blazing fast.

In 2016, Google invested in a Faster cable system which allows it to enjoy a data transmission speed of up to 10 Tbps between the US and Japan. This network is being used by Google to handle the traffic of Google cloud and Google apps. In addition to this, the company has laid a 9,000 km long trans-pacific cable which is the highest capacity undersea cable ever built.

3. Easy Migration to Virtual Machines

One thing which both Azure and AWS were not able to provide is the migration of the virtual machines. This is one specific feature that no other cloud service offers except for GCP. A WordPress hosting site using the VMs of GCP will notice no degradation in their performance no matter how long they have been using the service.

With the live migration being in place, the engineers at Google were able to fix the issues like patching, repairing, and updating a software’s backend and hardware without taking down the working of the software. Moreover, a user can resize the live disk without having to worry about the reboot of the virtual machine. The resizing of the disk can be done via a portal offered by Google or directly through the command line.

4. Better Performance with a Wide Variety of Tools

Google is constantly upgrading its cloud services and making sure that users get the best of the technology when they sign up for Google’s services. The company is giving so many tools to users that it might look a little intimidating when it comes to selection. Besides, one thing a user needs to remember is that no matter how fast the network is, there is going to be some delay due to the physical limitations. Google uses fiber connection networking to reduce the delay and allow users to customize their core count usage depending on the workload that their application requires.

There is no restriction on the number of virtual CPUs that you can connect with your application. As a result, you can choose the networking throughput that you want, and GCP will provide you without raising any questions.

5. Security

When you choose GCP, you are trusting the security model that has been in use for more than 15 years and is constantly being updated. The security which you get with the cloud storage is just the same which Google uses in their Gmail, search, Google Wallet, etc. Google right now has a team of more than 500 full-time security professionals who constantly test and improve the security layers employed by Google products.

The data which is stored in the GCP uses the 256-bit AES, and along with that, each encryption key is encrypted with a set of constantly upgrading master keys. On the other hand, Google has a tie-up with some of the biggest ISPs in the world, which results in fewer hops across the public internet. Lastly, there are regular audits for SSAE16, ISO 27001, ISO 27017, ISO 27018, PCI, FedRAMP, and HIPAA compliance.

Microsoft Azure

What is Microsoft Azure?

If we talk about the core concept of Azure, it is still to this day a cloud computing platform offering solutions that work on the principles of Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). This allows Azure to perform analytics, virtual computing, storage, networking, and many more other functions. Moreover, one can also use it as a replacement for their on-site server.

Microsoft Azure History

Microsoft began working on Azure somewhere between 2005 to 2008 under the name of “red dog.” Before the official launch of Azure, its competitor Amazon had already launched a cloud computing service by the name AWS, and it was time for Microsoft to catch up. In 2008, Ray Ozzie, the chief software architect of the company, took the stage and announced that they are working on launching their own cloud computing service, which will have five crucial functionalities.

The first one being Windows Azure for computing, networking, and storage. The second will be Microsoft SQL services for databases. Along with this, Microsoft .NET will be launched as a developer tool, live services for sharing the files over the internet, and Sharepoint services in addition to Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM services.

The earlier reviews were mixed, and a lot of people thought that Azure wouldn’t stand a chance against the likes of GCP and AWS. But Microsoft was able to improve Azure dramatically over time. Furthermore, the company extended Azure’s support for a wide variety of programming languages, frameworks, and OS. These upgrades were never thought to be ever included in the Microsoft product. In April of 2014, Microsoft changed the name of Windows Azure to Microsoft Azure due to software being moved to the far beyond Windows ecosystem.

Services Offered by Azure

Following are the key services offered by Microsoft Azure:

  • Azure Application Services

The application services allow users to maintain their developed software on the Azure platform, and there are three most notable application services which are used quite often in modern-day development, namely Azure AI, Azure Analytics, and Azure IoT.

  • Azure Data Service

This service allows users to store and manage their data on the Azure-based cloud. Microsoft provides a wide range of data services to its customers, including Azure Storage, Azure SQL Database, Azure DocumentDB, Azure StorSimple, and Azure Redis Cache.

  • Azure Development Services/ Azure DevOps

Azure DevOps automates the software delivery process and enhances the speed of the software development process as it provides developers with an alternative self-managed CI/CD server.

  • Azure Compute Services

Hosting and the running application’s workloads are taken care of by the Azure compute services. Azure has its own virtual machine services along with container services.

  • Azure Network Services

Azure Networking is used to perform the networking tasks within Azure and between Azure and its on-premise infrastructure. The most significant use case of Azure network services is the Azure content delivery network which gives power to the user for distributing large files by providing high bandwidth content and significantly cutting down the downloading time.

Advantages of Azure

Given below are the most popular advantages of Azure’s cloud platform:

1. Perfect for Small Business

Azure can be customized to the business model and according to the needs of the business. It doesn’t matter how big or small the company is, Azure can be implemented easily without any problem. The tools provided by Azure are easily scalable, and the pay-as-you-go pricing model ensures that even teams with low budgets can use Azure cloud services. Likewise, with the use of Azure’s cloud storage and VMs, a company can save a lot of IT infrastructure costs.

2. Complements the Already Deployed IT Infrastructure

If you already have an IT infrastructure deployed in your business, then also you can find tools offered by Azure that can help you enhance the working of your hardware and make it more efficient. Also, a business can deploy its applications on the Azure cloud in a much easier way and enjoy little to no downtime.

3. Disaster Recovery

One of the biggest fears of any company is losing all the data when a disaster strikes and causes damage to its IT infrastructure. In this case, Azure always stays ahead of its competitor as it works on compliance certifications, and we have seen many high-risk industries working with them to keep their data safe and protected. A lot of government projects and healthcare centers take the assistance of the Azure cloud platform in their day-to-day data transfer and storage tasks.

If something does happen to your data, the recovery rate is best in the industry, and within a few hours, the whole data is restored back to the server and ready for customers to use.

4. Industry-Specific Applications

Due to the nature of certain industries, Azure has come up with specific industry-based applications which can work hand in hand with the industry’s specific demands. Also, there’s an offline cloud service that allows users to queue up the data which needs to be loaded on the cloud, even in offline mode. So when the network gets back, the data backups are made automatically. In addition to this, Azure cloud services are available for Government institutions as well as other entities that belong to a wide range of industries such as health care, manufacturing, and finance.

5. Rapid Deployment of IaaS and PaaS

The hybrid environment, which is a speciality of Azure, gives users the ability to select whether they want to operate autonomously or utilize the tools which are provided in the cloud service. One can use the different Azure tools to meet all their IT demands without having to maintain the underlying structure based on hardware and networking.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, you have got a clear understanding of both Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure. Each one has its own set of benefits, but in a lot of cases, they are pretty similar to each other. In the end, it all comes down to choosing one that fits your business needs as well as your budget. If you are unable to use the full potential of the cloud services for which you are paying, then you are likely to suffer a bottleneck in your business’s operations.

If we have to choose between GCP and Azure, then we will go with GCP as GCP doesn’t have any bias for a particular operating system. While Azure does integrate with Linux as well as macOS, the level of freedom and customization offered by GCP is far better. Also, the data transfer speeds provided by GCP are the best in the business. So, if you are looking for a cloud platform that ensures high transfer speeds and with little to no downtime for applications, GCP can be the ideal choice for you.

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