As an ever-increasing number of businesses from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies move to the cloud, CIOs and owners come face to face with the amount of provider options, products and services available for them to choose from. According to Gartner, the market for worldwide public cloud services is predicted to grow from $153 billion in 2017 to around $186.4 billion in 2018—an increase of 21.4%.

When it comes to the type of services you need to effectively migrate to and work in the cloud, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Every organisation has its own unique set of requirements, and the perfect solution to suit your business may in fact lie in combining products and services from a few different providers.

The Big Three at a glance

While other strong competitors such as Alibaba Cloud and Oracle Cloud have emerged in recent years, Amazon Web Services remains a strong frontrunner in the cloud computing sphere, with competitors Azure and Google Cloud eking out their own respectable share of the market. For the purposes of this article, we will be looking at the ‘big three’ providers dominating the cloud computing industry Cloud security | Data protection is essential in 2018.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

AWS was the first major provider in the cloud market and has been in operation for approximately 12 years, carving out a whopping 33% of market share and generating $1.4bn for Amazon in Q1 2018 alone. The biggest strength AWS possesses is undoubtedly its dominance in the public cloud market, with its success and popularity linked to the sheer scale of its operation. AWS boasts a huge, ever-growing range of products and services, and arguably the most comprehensive network of data centres the market currently has to offer. According to Gartner’s 2017 Magic Quadrant for IaaS, “AWS is the most mature, enterprise-ready provider, with the deepest capabilities for governing a large number of users and resources.”

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft was late to the cloud-game but made up for the delay by taking its existing on-premises products (Windows Server, Office, SQL Server, SharePoint, Dynamics, etc.) and rejigging them for the cloud. Fast forward to today, and Azure has been around for approximately seven years, providing companies with a broad set of features, open source support, and easy integration with other Microsoft tools. A key factor in Azure’s success is user familiarity with the brand, which creates a preference for Azure among loyal Microsoft customers.

While Azure is indeed classed as an enterprise-ready platform, in its aforementioned Magic Quadrant report Gartner noted that many users feel that “the service experience feels less enterprise-ready than they expected, given Microsoft’s long history as an enterprise vendor”. Users also cited issues with technical support, training, and DevOps support as some primary pain-points when using the provider.

Google Cloud Platform

While it lacks the range of services and scale of global data centres offered by its competitors, Google Cloud provides a specialised service when it comes to Big Data, machine learning and analytics, with formidable scale and load balancing, robust data centres, and very low response times. A key advantages lies in Google’s containers offering, having developed the Kubernetes standard now offered by both AWS and Azure. According to Gartner, organisations “typically choose GCP as a secondary provider rather than a strategic provider, though GCP is increasingly chosen as a strategic alternative to AWS by customers whose businesses compete with Amazon, and that are more open-source-centric or DevOps-centric, and thus are less well-aligned to Microsoft Azure.”

Choosing the right provider

When it comes to cloud migration, every project is unique and dependent on the particular needs, goals, and resources of the company in question. This year, over 80% of enterprises have opted for a multi-cloud strategy, with 51% of enterprises selecting a hybrid solution (i.e. combining public and private clouds.) The best public cloud provider for your business depends on your particular requirements and workload, and the most efficient and cost-effective solution could lie in combining the services of different vendors.

If you’re going for AWS: AWS is a strong choice because of its robust range of tools, products and services as well as the sheer size of the provider. The main downside to Amazon’s offering is that it does not provide the more personal relationship offered by smaller operations. Due to its massive size and global spread, it can be difficult for Amazon to maintain close relationships with each customer, but this is remedied by recognised partners and consultants who can offer that level of customer service.

If you’re going for Azure: Azure’s biggest selling point is, of course, its existing Microsoft products and loyal customer base. Any existing .Net code works on Azure, your organisation’s server environment will connect to Azure with minimal to no issues, and you should find it easy to migrate on-premises apps. If you want Linux, DevOps, or bare metal, however, Microsoft would not be the ideal choice. Azure offers Linux but it takes a back seat in priority to Windows. DevOps is primarily a Linux/open source play, again, something Microsoft does not specialise in.

If you’re going for Google: Google is growing rapidly, however its cloud offering remains a work in progress. Without an established background in working with businesses, the vendor has some catching up to do in terms of its service and range of products on offer, but is clearly focused on investing in and building its presence in the cloud market. Google cloud is also partnered with Cisco, which does know the world of enterprise, and its strong reputation for scale and machine learning working in its favour.