Top cloud infrastructure providers overview for 2023
Spending on cloud infrastructure (including IaaS, PaaS, and Hosted Private Cloud) worldwide exceeded USD 57 billion in Q3 2022. Although the contenders - Alibaba, IBM, and Oracle - are doing their best to catch up, the 3 biggest providers owned 66% of this market, up from 61% a year before. According to a report by the Synergy Research Group, the largest player is still Amazon Web Services, with a massive 34% market share. It is followed by the 21% share Microsoft Azure has and the 11% share that Google Cloud Platform enjoys.
Taking a closer look at what these companies offer and comparing their strong and weak points is a necessary step before migrating to the cloud or expanding your company’s cloud footprint in 2023. Read further to learn noteworthy facts and statistics about these cloud providers and discover the most common issues companies have with their services.
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Amazon, owning more than ⅓ of the public cloud market, is a clear leader in this area. Partly because of its early start and in huge part because AWS’s size and global presence guarantee enough redundancy to consistently provide customers with high-quality service. As a result, only in Q3 2022, AWS earned USD 20.5 billion for Amazon and contributed an astounding 16% of Amazon’s total revenue. It should come as no surprise that the company recently announced a further expansion of its data centers in the USA, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, and Thailand.
Amazon Cloud overview
Amazon Web Services comprise 31 Regions, the physical locations where the cluster data centers are, which in turn are composed of 99 Availability Zones, the isolated and physically separate logical data centers. Currently, there are AWS Regions in the Americas, Europe, China, Asia-Pacific, South Africa, and the Middle East geographical regions. In total, AWS services are available in 245 countries and territories.
Cloud-based products offered by Amazon include computing power, storage, database and analytics solutions, networking, ML/AI products, and security solutions. Leading companies utilizing AWS include BMW, Goldman Sachs, Here Technologies, McDonald’s, Moderna, Netflix, and PayU.
AWS pros and cons
Pro #1: Easy to learn
AWS has a user-friendly interface, is relatively easy to use, and offers free online training for developers, data scientists, and solutions architects interested in improving their cloud skills. With courses, challenges, and certification exams, becoming proficient in Amazon cloud services is both achievable and verifiable.
Pro #2: Cost-effectiveness
Similarly to other cloud solutions, AWS offers a pay-as-you-go approach for most of its services. Paying only for the services you really use, and only for as long as you really use them, is vastly cheaper than building and maintaining an on-premise infrastructure capable of supporting your IT needs during their peak. On top of that, Amazon proposes savings plans and volume-based discounts that make their cloud service very cost-effective when adequately optimized.
Pro #3: Good performance
AWS infrastructure is designed for reliability, and its server capacity surpasses all competition. Data centers all over the world ensure rapid scalability, dependable access, and data security in case of any mechanical failures.
Pro #4: Data security
To satisfy the cybersecurity needs of their clients, which include global banks and the US military, AWS data centers are designed to meet rigid security requirements. Amazon Web Services security experts monitor the infrastructure 24/7 to ensure data confidentiality, integrity, and availability. AWS also provides a wide variety of services that allow automating tasks more easily, which reduces the risk of human error and quickens data protection discovery and classification.
Con #1: Shortage of experts
Organizations that choose AWS as their cloud solution often assume that many engineers with relevant expertise must be available. While they may be right in the first part of this assumption (there are many AWS experts), they need to recognize that the popularity of Amazon cloud also means the demand for these IT experts is immense. In 2023, companies have to compete for the best ones.
Con #2: Complicated pricing
Even though it’s entirely possible to reduce your infrastructure costs with Amazon Web Services, many first-time users reported experiencing a “bill shock.” It happens because the exact way the pricing works can be confusing at first, and optimizing the AWS cloud requires at least some level of expertise.
How to reduce AWS costs?
As seen above, cost optimization is the most prominent issue for most companies that choose Amazon as their cloud provider. Fortunately, Maxima’s low-touch cloud platform AppZ can easily mitigate these concerns. AppZ is a software solution that simplifies cloud migration, deployment, and post-deployment tasks by letting your existing IT teams easily automate infrastructure and security with pre-configured templates. This out-of-the-box solution makes leveraging cloud advantages easy while simultaneously reducing the total cost of ownership by up to 30%.
A lot has changed since 2010, when Microsoft’s cloud service, known back then as Windows Azure, first premiered. 2013 relaunch and 2014 change of name to Microsoft Azure brought much-needed amendments and positioned the solution as an enterprise-friendly cloud option. With 200+ physical data centers arranged into 60+ regions, Azure is available for customers in 140 countries. Microsoft offers reduced rates for existing clients and emphasizes Azure’s flexibility, its support for hybrid solutions, and its AI portfolio.
What is Microsoft Azure used for?
Microsoft put much effort into positioning its cloud service as secure and trustworthy - with a colossal cybersecurity budget, an expert security team on board, and extensive compliance offerings. And it works. Even if the service is less popular than AWS, 95% of Fortune 500 companies currently use Azure. Many well-established businesses around the world utilize it to enable various exciting technologies. For example, American Airlines’ intelligent gating program, Johnson & Johnson’s digital surgery ecosystem (in development), DHL smart supply chains, NBA App for basketball fans, and Żabka’s autonomous stores in Poland - all work with Azure.
Pros and cons of Microsoft Azure
Pro #1: High availability
A tremendous amount of data centers facilitates enough redundancy for Microsoft to guarantee an API Management Service response rate of at least 99.95% in most pricing options (which results in approximately 4.38 hours of downtime per year).
Pro #2: Security and compliance
Microsoft proves its strong focus on security by investing over a billion dollars annually into cybersecurity. The company also employs over 3,500 dedicated cybersecurity experts who follow standardized operational practices, including the Security Development Lifecycle (SDL), access restrictions, and a five-step DADSC (detect, assess, diagnose, stabilize, and close) incident response process.
Pro #3: Simple scalability
Although scalability is at the core of all public cloud solutions, the ease of scaling compute power up or down is often repeated in Azure customer reviews. Azure services enable vertical scaling (where a server’s resources are increased) and horizontal scaling (where the number of servers is increased), as well as customizable autoscaling.
Pro #4: Value for money
According to Microsoft, Azure is up to 5 times less expensive than AWS for Windows Server and SQL Server and matches AWS pricing for comparable services. The pricing calculator enables better estimates of monthly Azure costs, and a vast selection of cloud-related tools can be included in your bill.
Con #1: Complexity
Similarly to other cloud platforms, Azure can get complicated to use pretty fast, especially for large companies. Comprising many stand-alone and complimentary services, managing Azure usually requires at least some platform-specific knowledge, continuous management, and a sensible purchasing process. If you are wondering if your infrastructure team knows how to optimize the Azure cloud, we highly recommend consulting a cloud expert.
Con #2: Support issues
You’d probably expect better customer support for a company as famous and admired as Microsoft. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of customers reduces the company’s ability to solve issues efficiently, which prompts many companies to seek additional help from specialized third-party cloud consultants.
How does Azure work?
Similarly to other cloud platforms, Azure uses virtualization technology to emulate hardware in software. Physical servers are used to create this virtualized hardware for customers. These servers are connected to cloud management software known as the fabric controller, which allocates services according to the instruction it gets from the orchestration software (front end). As a result, users get access to the requested storage and computing power when needed and for as long as required.
Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
Owned by Alphabet Inc., Google Cloud Platform is the world’s third-largest public cloud provider. The platform generated USD 6.87 billion in sales in the 3rd quarter of 2022 and increased its year-to-year market share by 1% to a total of 11%. Its globally distributed 34 regions and 103 availability zones enable companies to build, test, and deploy applications while providing a variety of additional services, including security tools, data management solutions, analytics, and AI capabilities.
GCP in perspective
GCP is part of Google Cloud, which also consists of Google Workspace, Android and ChromeOS enterprise versions, and multiple machine learning and enterprise mapping APIs. Google presents its solutions as the best way to drive digital transformation in companies by highlighting its cybersecurity, data, and AI solutions, multicloud compatibility, and integrated collaboration tools. Historically, enterprises didn’t consider Alphabet’s services as the first choice. Today, an increasing number of industry leaders around the world adopt Google Cloud, including Goldman Sachs, Major League Baseball (MLB), Procter & Gamble (P&G), Twitter, and United Parcel Service (UPS).
Pros and cons of Google’s cloud solutions
Pro #1: Scalability and flexibility
Similarly to other cloud solutions, GPC gives any business more flexibility when it comes to IT operations. Scaling the resources, such as storage and computing power, up or down is easy and doesn’t require upfront investments in infrastructure. With the pay-as-you-go model and global network of data centers, organizations can reduce their operational costs and ensure the extremely high availability of their systems simultaneously.
Pro #2: Teamwork facilitation
Organizations that opt for Google Cloud Platform also often implement Google Workspace - an in-cloud collaboration toolset. The versatile and flexible solution includes video calls, emails, and chats, as well as a complete office suite and cloud storage. Google made sure to combine making teamwork easy with advanced cybersecurity. Data stored in Workspace is protected and encrypted in accordance with the zero-trust approach.
Pro #3: State-of-the-art security tools
Google Cloud prides itself on providing secure-by-design infrastructure and pioneering the zero-trust security model. To further improve the security of its cloud, the company allocated USD 10 billion to be invested in cybersecurity measures over the next 5 years. On top of that, Google provides its clients with the Chronicle Security Operations suite that facilitates data collection, detection of threats, investigation of incidents, and automated response measures.
Pro #4: Reduced environmental impact
In the face of global climate change, more and more companies are looking for ways to reduce their negative impact on the environment. These businesses should take a closer look at Google, as it is the cleanest major cloud provider, as reported by Wired. The company is carbon neutral but aims to run only on carbon-free energy by 2030. Google also introduced the Carbon Sense suite that lets companies accurately report the carbon emissions from their cloud usage.
Con #1: Steep learning curve
Optimization possibilities come with knowledge, and according to many GCP users, learning about the platform is challenging. Although Google provides cloud training in the form of on-demand online courses and labs, many companies decide to consult platform-specific experts to ease the migration process. Fortunately, finding trusted advisors is easy, as Google Cloud certification exams demonstrate one’s level of expertise.
Con #2: Complex pricing
Choice of services switched on by default, complicated pricing plans, and lack of platform-specific optimization expertise regularly lead users to overpay for the Google Cloud Platform. The information needed for proper spending analysis is there, but newcomers often need help finding and understanding it.
Google Cloud and Site Reliability Engineering
Created at Google in 2003, SRE is an implementation of DevOps focused on applying a software engineering approach to IT infrastructure and operations. Site Reliability Engineers use software and automation tools to create and manage IT systems. Maxima Consulting’s subject experts advise companies in the SRE-as-a-service model.
The biggest contenders
What is Oracle Cloud Infrastructure?
Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is a growing contender in the public cloud market. Maxima’s consultants have hands-on experience with Oracle solutions and were quite happy to see that in Q2 2022, Oracle’s IaaS year-to-year sales rose 53%, faster than the industry’s average growth. Its reported market share of 2% may not sound as impressive as any of the big three’s numbers, but if TikTok chose the OCI service to run its app in the US, it is undoubtedly worthy of attention.
Oracle’s approach to cloud computing differs from mainstream providers in many ways. The company offers comparatively more straightforward migration, better support for cloud-native applications, and autonomous services for automated patching, securing, and scaling your software. And since Oracle Cloud needs more popularity to gain traction, the pricing is competitive.
What is IBM Cloud best for?
Despite its year-to-year sales growing by 11%, IBM’s 3% market share in Q3 2022 went down from the 4% a year before. Nonetheless, IBM Cloud is still the #5 biggest public cloud provider in the world, with overall cloud sales of about USD 5.2 billion. IBM presents its cloud solutions as enterprise-ready, citing customizable security and compliance controls, speed and agility, seamless scaling, and experience with the most highly regulated industries, including financial services, as its top advantages.
Is Alibaba Cloud good?
Alibaba Cloud, owned by China’s e-commerce giant, is reported to hold a cloud infrastructure market share of 5% worldwide and a massive 37% market share in China. With Huawei, China Telecom, and Tencent among its most famous clients, as well as 23 regions and 76 available zones in Asia - the reasons why Alibaba is #1 in cloud service market share on the continent are apparent. On top of that, the cloud service is cost-effective, supports hybrid and multicloud strategies, and offers guidance to clients trying to expand their businesses to China and Asia. Although the limited global presence may be a downside, Alibaba’s solution is worth considering for organizations interested in Asian markets.
Which cloud platform is the best?
There is no definite answer to this question, as it depends on your expectations, location, existing competencies within your IT teams, and exact technical requirements of your products. For the increasing number of companies, the answer is even more complicated, as hybrid and multicloud approaches are favorable to avoid vendor lock-in and further decrease the risk of outages.
The decision regarding a preferred cloud vendor should always be preceded by a detailed analysis of the organization’s distinctive requirements. Contact us today to receive thorough guidance from cloud experts experienced in designing and implementing tailor-made solutions based on such examinations.