So many choices, so little time. Is that not the truth. If you know anything about the cloud, there is a good chance you have heard of these 3 giants. Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. Shortly known as AWS, Azure, and Gcloud respectively. And in this blog, we get in-depth into the various solutions and what it does for you. When should you use it and how to best utilize it for your business. Everyone is on it this day, Netflix, Snapchat, Instagram and what have you. It takes so much time to buy servers, have them configured and installed. Testing and running them. Loading in the application and testing some more. Ain't nobody got time for that.
Today, there is not that much that separates these three platforms from each other. They are arguably the leaders in the market and are fairly powerful in their own right. But the clear leader here in our view is Amazon Web Services, which is younger than Azure and giving Microsoft a run for their money.
Going soon are the days when you had to pay for a server and have them installed in your office. The need to set a room aside as an official server room, installing the correct temperature regulator for this room to house a few racks mounted with servers and wires and switchers. All because you need somewhere to host either your ERP application or website or virtual machines etc. A fully functioning server room not only costs money to install but keeps on sucking money in terms of maintenance and electricity. For a small to medium-sized business, this is rarely a good option. In fact, many large companies are beginning to see the benefit of having a cloud-based platform to host their resources, allowing them to scale up and down as need be. Being able to pull analytics and figures from them and properly manage the resources and finance from there.
Let us first address what separates one platform from the rest. So we begin with AWS. In our opinion, S3 is one of the best cloud storage solutions in the market. S3 or Simple Storage Service is the oldest application provided by Amazon and can be argued to be the reason where it is today. For such a competitive price, you can store a large amount of data with 99.99999999% reliability. Understand how truly powerful this application is, this is what's powering dropbox. Yes, the dropbox that you use and love is no more than a very nicely packaged S3 storage application. You can even host a static page website from this storage platform. Many online video platforms like Ooyala use S3 to store their transcoded files and pull the videos that you push up to your S3 storage to convert the files for streaming. And many streaming services load their videos stored in S3. How amazing is that? We have even used S3 as a place daily backup important documents for our clients and have it automated. Imagine that? No more worrying about what would happen to your precious documents, most NAS devices and storage servers have the application to back up the files in S3 as often as you like. So how do they charge? They barely charge anything for storage, it is when your data is being pulled and pushed out is when the cost is incurred. And this can easily be calculated via their online calculator which is freely available for use.
Now let us move on to Azure. Microsoft Azure is the big daddy of all the cloud platform and has been around since it was ever possible to do so. They have more than twice the amount of regions as the next competitor AWS. So what is a region? Regions have availability zones within them but we are not here to talk about there. Think or regions as coverage. A region can be a city or a small country. What regions house is data centers within multiple locations normally categorized as availability zones. Let's say South East Asia is a region, it may have two or three availability zones within this region. But these regions could be separated by South East Asia region 1 and South East Asia region 2 for example. But what we are trying to say is, these regions are everywhere and Azure has the most out of any of them. This means that coverage is great and is almost not an issue for them. Azure is nonetheless the most expensive of the three and for good reason. It is a strong platform and is known for an unparalleled level of reliability and performance. So if you do have the cash to spare and the money to hire experts familiar with Azure, there is very little reason to convince you otherwise. Azure is more commonly used in conjunction with local servers in companies, large companies that is. Let's say you work for a large company and need access to your own virtual machine anywhere and everywhere you go. You could have your virtual machine housed on Azure and simply use your laptop or any laptop to gain access to your system. Very nifty.
Not the least of the three is google cloud platform. Google has always prided itself on not only treating its staff with respect but its users too. They are not all about profit and we think this model will bring them to the number one spot in no time at all. So why should you really consider G Cloud. 2 things, security and the environment. Google has the best security standard bar none out there. And what they provide as part of the google cloud package is the same set level of security it uses for its search engine, google drive and google mail. As opposed to Amazon and Microsoft, Google is dealing with thousands of attempts to hijack and manipulate their resources. And through trial and error, they have made sure to keep almost every attack at bay and recover from them at record speed. I am sure Azure knows what is doing and so does Amazon, but they do not go through what Google has to go through on a daily basis. On top of indexing and crawling the web, they have to ensure no one is able to go into their system and manipulate their search algorithm or learn from it. Now that is a daunting task considering you have to open up your system for all to see and navigate the google search engine. And from an environmental perspective, google take their motto of 'don't be evil' seriously. Their server farms are known to consume less than half the energy as others. They are constantly trying to find ways to consume in a sustainable way, they are not about the profit but about what is good for the planet and for people. That is a good enough reason for anyone to get behind them no?
You have a website or application. And you are just starting out. You must prepare to scale and cloud platforms such as these do just that. Your product is a good product and more and more users are signing on and using it. You have mobile applications running that need more and more resources to process requests. And if you are stuck with a server in your office that is not able to keep up with these requests, your application will crash. Cloud platforms have measures in place that can automatically scale your resources based on usage. Say you have a special event or promotion or your application has gone viral. Going from a thousand users to a million is dangerous because you might actually lose customers if they cannot use your application. And yes many think they will never be big enough, however that is an odd thing to not have confidence in your own product. You need to future proof your application and this is the best way to make it happen.
Netflix used to have their own private servers and still do technically. But it was expensive and time-consuming to keep expanding them. It would take them months to a year if they just stuck to that model. Just to expand from the US to Asia would have been very time consuming and expensive. So what did they do? They called Amazon Web Services and right now most of the movies and TV shows you're watching are running out of AWS. So even a large company like Netflix sees the benefit in the cloud and it allowed them to expand internationally at a phenomenal speed.
So you have a website that is running ours from your local server, what happens when your server crashes? Or if the power goes down? Or let's say you are expanding to another country, will you purchase another server in that country just to make this happen? Alternatively, if your website was on a cloud, you could simply expand it to another region with a few clicks and easily serve the information locally at a much faster speed via a cloud CDN. You can host multiple websites, resources, and instances fairly easily. In fact, most web developers use cloud platforms for their production sites before they launch it. This allows them to easily show their clients what their website will look like. It might even make things easier for them if you have your very own cloud platform for them to work off of.
All these three platforms have a very high standard of security. In fact, if there is any penetration that occurs, it occurs from the application itself and never from the cloud environment. There are also many add on services you can procure within this platform that can add layers of security and monitoring. The encryption levels some of these cloud platforms use are almost impossible to penetrate.
Ease of use
We have used these platforms before and it is surprisingly easy to use and navigate. You can see how much time was spent on not only making things work but on the user interface. Many of the interfaces are so straightforward and easy to learn. Any IT personnel with a few hours on their hands can read through the readily available documentation and become a pro in no time. We think you don't really need to even go for the accreditation to prove that you know what you are doing. Almost all the resources you need can be googled or found in their documentation. Step by step guides on how to SSH and install apache and what have you. Things have never been this simple before.
We are not going to lie, as things move along and the more you use the cloud platforms, the cost will increase. But this normally happens when it is left in the hands of inexperienced administrators. Cloud platforms can be cheap and affordable if done right. After all, if you have a lot of traffic to your application, naturally you will have a lot of clients or users. This means more cash for you. So the increase in cost is always relatively proportional and the startup costs are almost nothing, to begin with. So for small organizations, they are the best platform to hosts your things on. No excuse. No capital. Simply pay as you go.
They are highly reliable. Even if an availability zone were to fail, the application is still available in another, so in the eyes of the user, there is almost no difference in response. That is what you want. Information can easily be cached throughout the regions and be made readily available anywhere. It is highly unlikely that the entire system will fail unless there is a massive attack on every single region. Most of all, you know all of their server farms are manned and secured around the clock. Unless you are willing to hire around the clock security guard and enough staff to man your servers around the clock and work out their shift cycle. So as opposed to all the cost and headache of managing such a large staff over one server in your office, this is a no brainer.
UPDATES AND SUPPORT
Now here is another great advantage to having your things up on the cloud. You do not need to think or worry about those pesky security or firmware upgrades. Of course, this does not apply to your application of course. But at least you know the foundation is well looked after. Their security protocols and patching is always done automatically. All of these platforms provide reasonable support and also have paid tiers for support as well. So you don't even need to really know what to do and get them to do all the work for you. Sounds good right?
To conclude, we can go on all day. It is comparable to a public transport system. It is just a convenient and economical solution. It is not just about cost but it is about time. Once you are on the cloud, you will indeed find very little reason not to remain there. This we can promise you. Most of these platforms provide great resources, courses, and accreditation. So getting yourself familiar with these platforms is relatively easy. And they all have a free tier to start from so why not register? We probably should have mentioned the free tier much sooner, we know how you guys are. Also, the thing about this blog post was about which to choose from right? I guess we should pick a winner. But we feel that using logic to choose our favorite makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. So we will go with Google Cloud Platform. That is the winner. Why? Because why not. It has google in its name, the logo looks like a rip off their logo, then again it is their logo so it is not technically a rip-off. There is really no winner here, but it is Google. Because someone has to win and if we were to pit them against each other with logic, this would become a five thousand long worded essay, not a blog. We do understand that you have a server sitting there and you might as well use it, but think of it from an environmental perspective as well. Not only are you wasting money but also energy. So if you do care about the planet, I think it is best to switch to the cloud. So what are you waiting for? Migrate to the cloud now? It makes way more sense this way.