Comparing Cloud Storage – How Do AWS, Azure And Google Stack-Up? – Forbes blog by John Webster

By John Webster, Thursday, October 24th 2019

Analyst Blogs

There is a perception among enterprise IT cloud storage users that, while cloud storage generally costs more than on-premises data center storage, the premium is worth the cost in terms of agility gained and on-premises staff responsibilities avoided. Therefore, it is not surprising that they plan to increase spending on cloud storage by at least 20% over the next two years.

However, cloud presents a new and different storage environment to users familiar with managing enterprise IT storage infrastructure. On the positive side, there are ways to tune for performance, optimize cost efficiency, and automate processes that are likely not available in on-premises storage environments. Getting to know them can be difficult at first but well worth the effort. On the negative side, they face uncertainties connected with storage security, performance and application interoperability issues.

Directed by senior executive to exploit cloud computing, enterprise IT organizations are commonly given mandates that direct them to host a greater percentage of their entire application portfolio in the cloud by some pre-defined deadline. The year 2022 is now the common deadline (it used to be 2020). Facing these deadlines, both developers and IT operations administrators typically want to get their applications and data into the cloud first to satisfy their quotas while figuring out how best to manage it all later. But doing it this way can lead to wasted spending and unnecessary risk-taking.

A better way is to understand as much about the cloud storage road ahead before commitments are made that will be difficult to reverse or modify later on. For that reason, a guide that compares that AWS, Azure and Google Cloud storage services, presented in the form of comparison matrices, is now available here. Researchers who did the comparative analysis found that:

  • All three Public Cloud providers calculate their monthly bills differently. Detail-oriented differences increase in importance as users become more advanced with their use of public cloud storage, for instance by starting to use snapshots or need to architect for differing I/O profiles for example. AWS charges separately for all incremental services while Azure is more likely to bundle them in with the basic cost. As a result, Azure will likely cost less overall for cloud storage services as users become more advanced.
  • AWS and Azure are more or less evenly matched when it comes to block storage services. Azure recently announced Ultra SSD which now in preview status, while AWS offers more block storage options for example. However, for file storage, there are bigger difference in the offerings from AWS, Azure and Google with AWS leading in offering the most options.
  • Object storage—AWS S3, Azure Blob and Google Cloud Storage—are the most well-developed of the cloud storage services. And because data security in the cloud is critical, all three now offer robust levels of security. Shared security features for object include object locking, access control lists, audit/access logs, key management and encryption for data at-rest and in-transit. This breadth of security functionality is important because more raw data is stored in object form than for any other service.
  • AWS and Azure are good when it comes to arming prospective users with an understanding of what to expect from their storage services. Users may find Google Cloud to be less forth-coming with answers to queries.

Because storage in the cloud is delivered as a service as opposed to a storage device, it is critical to understand the ins and outs of this new acquisition model from a cost and budgetary perspective. Cloud Service Providers can be selective with regard to what information they present to prospective storage services buyers. For that reason alone, its is important for users to have outside information sources that distill a mass of information down to a clearer and more concise presentation of the cloud storage services now available.

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