Moving to the cloud is a significant undertaking for an organization. As with any large- scale shift in the way your business runs, you need to do your due diligence if you want it to be successful. That means researching the available cloud providers (AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud), and we’re here to help.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that although they may seem vastly different, each provider mostly offers some version of the same products and services as the others. The differences that exist between products from each provider are mostly related to how the products are designed and how they work, but the end result of each is mostly the same.
However, just because the offerings are similar doesn’t mean it makes no difference which provider you choose. In order to pick the right provider for your business, you have to know the answers to the following questions.
1. What Do You Need?
Your needs may vary depending on your business and your industry, so the first step is to prioritize what you need from your cloud provider. Depending on how niche your needs are, it’s possible that one provider is better-equipped to meet that need than the others; in that case, the decision will be made for you.
In the majority of cases, however, each provider likely offers services that can help you meet your needs. That means you have to drill down a bit further and get more technical. Is there a particular configuration your IT team would prefer for your OS? Will one provider’s application make implementation easier for your team compared to offerings from the other two providers?
The biggest pitfalls are either 1) Choosing your provider based on price without considering functionality and ease of implementation, or 2) Picking the provider that has exactly what you’re looking for and overlooking another provider that can offer a virtually identical experience for less money. By pinning down your needs first, you can focus on the things that really matter to your business.
2. Is Flexibility Important?
If you’re in an industry that’s resistant to change, there’s a good chance that the applications and services you get from the cloud provider you choose will stay the same over time. But if your industry evolves with the changing tech landscape, what seems like a perfect fit today might not be the best solution in the future.
concerned about the adaptability of your business, you may want to pick the
provider that offers the greatest amount of flexibility in how their services
and applications are used. For example, if you want the option to play around
Memory/GPU combinations, AWS and Azure might be a better option; Google Compute allows for customizable instance types, but their configuration offerings are pre-defined, which could pose a challenge in the future. On the other hand, there’s no sense paying more for customizable configurations if you don’t plan on taking advantage of them.
3. Where Are You And Your Customers Located?
For enterprise organizations or businesses with a global customer base, this might be a key factor. Your cloud provider should have data centers in the areas where most of your offices and your customers are; without that local footprint, you may experience issues with performance and reliability.
Azure has more global regional data centers (44) than AWS (19) and Google Cloud (17); if your business operates globally, that’s worth taking into consideration. Then again, if your business and your customers are mostly local, there’s no sense paying for an expanded network if you’re not going to benefit from it.
4. Is Sustainability Important?
Because they require huge amounts of energy to run, data centers are unfortunately not particularly environmentally friendly. If you have a company-wide effort to commit to sustainability or if your company’s brand hinges on it, you’ll want to minimize the environmental impact wherever possible. In that case, Google Compute might be the best fit for you: they’ve committed to having the “most sustainable cloud,” and in 2017, the company’s renewable power purchase agreements covered 100% of its energy consumption.
5. What Contract Terms Are You Looking For?
In a perfect world, you’d pick the perfect cloud provider the first time around. For many companies, however, that’s not always going to be the case. Flexibility is important in terms of the products and services, but it can be just as vital when it comes to your contract. Of course, flexibility usually comes at a price: if a provider can’t count on you to remain a client for a certain period of time, they’ll probably look to maximize your monthly revenue while they have your business, which means higher monthly bills. On the flip side, locking in a 5-year agreement with one provider might save you some money on costs, but it also makes it more difficult to switch providers if the one you choose isn’t getting the job done.
For example, you
can purchase compute capacity in advance from each provider in exchange for a
discount on the cost of that capacity. But if it turns out you don’t need all
the capacity you paid for, depending on who your provider is, you might be
stuck with it. AWS allows you to resell any unused compute capacity on a
secondary market, which can help cover costs. With Azure, you can cancel any
unused capacity and pay a penalty, and you’ll have to calculate whether the
penalty is worth recovering the cost of the unused capacity. Google Cloud, on
the other hand, doesn’t allow users to cancel or
resell any compute capacity, which means you have to be more strategic about pre- purchasing compute capacity (or forego the discount and pay as you go).
On paper, there’s very little to separate the three major cloud providers. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide based on how well each provider can meet the needs of your business and the value they offer. If this seems overwhelming, don’t worry: CADA Connect can simplify this process and help guide you to the right provider for your situation. If you’re ready to choose a cloud provider, get in touch with us – we can help you find the perfect fit for your business.