- Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the world’s leading cloud computing provider, with a 32% share of the global market.
- Microsoft and Google constantly improve their platforms, Azure and Google Cloud, but still can’t compete for the number one spot.
- While AWS is the most comprehensive cloud platform in the world right now, Azure, Google Cloud, and more niche solutions, such as Heroku and DigitalOcean, can offer some unique features and competitive prices.
Today, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the world’s largest cloud computing service provider, servicing 32% of the global cloud infrastructure market. The nearest competitor is Microsoft Azure, with around 22%, followed by Google Cloud. With the rising popularity of a SaaS business model, the importance and market share of cloud services will continue to grow.
What’s the secret to AWS’s popularity? Why is this service so far ahead of its competition? Why have the world’s fastest growing SaaS companies chosen Amazon Web Services to host their websites and applications? Are the alternatives comparable?
Below, we will introduce to you the leader of cloud computing and compare it to other currently available products.
What is Amazon Web Services?
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a subsidiary of Amazon and mainly focuses on providing infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS). The technology behind AWS provides users with a virtual cluster of computers that can be accessed from anywhere at any time.
AWS Products and AWS Solutions. What’s the difference?
When visiting the Amazon Web Services website, you’ll definitely notice that there are two sections: products and solutions. Although you might be confused at first, there is a significant difference between the two types of services.
AWS Products is a list of different services provided by Amazon. They are divided into several domains, including Compute, Storage, Database, Networking & Content Delivery, Developer Tools, Management Tools, etc. Each domain includes multiple products. For example, among Databases, you will find RDS, Aurora, DynamoDB, Redshift, ElastiCache, and AWS Database Migration Service. These are all designed to solve different problems, so finding the best match for your particular need won’t be an issue.
AWS Solutions are more complex. These are actually sets of products gathered under a single classification to best fit certain types of projects. Big Data, Internet of Things, Scientific Computing, E-Commerce, and other types of applications can use these ready-customized bundles created with the needs of a certain type of app in mind. Industry sectors like Government, Gaming, Healthcare, and Science could also benefit from product bundles.
Amazon Web Services pricing
Amazon Web Services has competitive pricing that makes it extremely attractive for individuals and businesses. The company offers a one-year free tier that includes a certain number of services. Some AWS products are free forever. The world’s best cloud services provider offers 25 GB of storage in DynamoDB, 1 million requests per month in AWS Lambda, 100 million events per month in Amazon Mobile Analytics, and some other resources at no extra cost forever. You can check out all the free Amazon Web Services products here.
12 months after sign-up or after exceeding the predefined amount of services, Amazon Web Services require payment. The prices are highly customizable and remain some of the lowest in the cloud computing market.
AWS follows the “pay-as-you-go” model. This means that you pay only for the actual amount of services you use. There are no subscriptions, no packages, no fees, and no long-term contracts.
One of AWS’s most popular services, EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud), offers highly flexible pricing. By selecting on-demand instances, you will pay only for the instances that you actually use. The cost of each instance varies from $0.0059 per hour, with the lowest CPU and memory, up to $3.2 per hour with 64 CPU and 256 GB of memory. You can select a plan that best matches your needs and stays within your budget.
Why choose AWS over competitors? Advantages of the service
Cloud technologies are on the rise, and the number of cloud service providers continues to grow. Today, you need a cloud computing services provider for almost any product you want to develop, from a mobile app or online gaming platform to a SaaS CRM system or blockchain solution. But with so many cloud service providers on the market, why do companies choose Amazon Web Services to host the infrastructure for their websites and apps? There are several compelling reasons for this:
- Easy to start working with
Even a beginner developer is able to implement Amazon Web Services infrastructure within a project. Short, 10-minutes tutorials provide a great introduction to the cloud service, and the simple step-by-step guides prepared by Amazon are useful for those building their first app with AWS.
Amazon Web Services are highly customizable, allowing you to choose an operating system (Linux or Windows), a programming language (literally any), a database, and a web application platform. Due to this flexibility, migrating from other cloud services to AWS is simple, and building a new app using AWS does not limit the developer.
- Focus on innovation
Amazon Web Services always implement cutting-edge technologies to provide better user experience and increase capabilities. AWS provides several artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) services, enabling businesses to improve operations. It makes AWS the best option to create AI SaaS product.
Thousands of businesses trust AWS due to its high reliability. The company operates 105 availability zones in 33 regions. When one availability zone fails, others within the same region take over so that the web app users never notice the breakdown. This developed infrastructure allows Amazon Web Services to be the most reliable provider of cloud computing services worldwide.
Is your business growing rapidly? The capability of your Amazon cloud services can be expanded in minutes with just a few clicks. Has your business experienced a temporary slowdown? You don’t have to pay for resources you aren’t currently using. Amazon Web Services offer scalable cloud solutions and are customizable to the actual needs of the business.
- Reasonable pricing
Amazon Web Services offer the first year of using their products free of charge. Some products remain free forever. Even more, the costs of paid AWS products are among the lowest on the market. You are charged only for the services you have actually used, and there are no subscriptions, extra charges, or termination fees. However, such a billing model requires good planning and managing skills. As a result, this is a better choice for big businesses and enterprise projects.
Data security is one of AWS’s priorities. All of their data is stored in extremely secure data centers. You can also add an extra cloud security layer by implementing data encryption.
- Customer Service
AWS offers several customer support plans. Basic 24/7 support is included free of charge. The advanced plans start at $29 per month or 3% of monthly charges and can reach up to $15000. For this solid sum of money, you can count on an assigned support concierge and a technical account manager, who will assist you in building professional architecture and answer any of your questions. Additionally, there is a community Amazon re:Post where users can ask questions, share their opinions, and exchange experiences.
AWS Alternatives for Startups
Amazon Web Services offers diverse solutions under one roof. Yes, it is currently number one. However, the market is full of new cloud computing products that have the potential to become (and some of them have already become) a powerful alternative to AWS.
In Clockwise Software, we provide IT outsourcing services and work on many cloud-based applications of different sizes and industries. While AWS remains our preferred cloud provider, we have experience with all the main alternatives as well.
Google Cloud vs. AWS
Google Cloud Platform (GCP) enables everyone to use the same infrastructure Google uses for its most popular products (Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive). Providing a wide audience with access to this service, the company is trying to compete with AWS. Similarly, Google Cloud consists of a variety of services, such as Google Compute Engine, Google App Engine, Google Storage, Google Cloud CDN, Google Cloud DNS, and many more.
What is Google Cloud Platform used for?
Let’s take a look at where it can currently beat Amazon:
- Lower cost
When you compare similar offers from the two cloud service providers, Google Cloud Platform is often cheaper than its rival. But if we talk about long-term upfront payments, AWS offers much bigger discounts than Google Cloud.
- Massive free trial
AWS offers a 1-year free trial. Google Cloud doesn’t have a time limit, allowing you to use 0.25 CPU/1GB RAM with 30GB disk storage and 5GB cloud storage free forever, which is enough for a simple product. In addition, you will receive a $300 trial credit that you can spend on any GCP service.
- Better UX
We all know that Amazon Web Services isn’t the most user-friendly provider. Google Cloud Platform managed to outperform AWS by offering a better experience. It is important to remember that if you have troubles navigating and configuring AWS, you can always outsource web development to experts in this platform.
But there are still points where Amazon Web Services performs better:
- AWS has more to offer
GCP offers around 90 services, Amazon has 200+. This means that AWS users have a better selection of services and are able to adjust the platform to their needs. For example, both providers offer a cloud solution for MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQL Server, but Amazon also has Aurora, MariaDB, and Oracle. So, if you are looking for an SQL cloud solution, you’ll be able to find a better fit with AWS.
Even though Google Cloud Platform solutions aren't as popular as Amazon Web Services, they will continue to develop and grow.
Azure vs. AWS
Microsoft’s Azure promotes itself as a cheaper alternative to Amazon Web Services. Indeed, both companies follow a similar approach - offering a variety of cloud-based services under one hood.
What is Microsoft Azure used for?
Currently, it is hard for Azure to compete with AWS: the cloud computing market share is 22% against 32%. However, their general offer is more attractive:
- When moving to Azure, you can keep your existing Windows Server and SQL server licenses, which makes the migration less painful.
- Three years of security updates are offered for free for Windows Server or SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2.
- 12 months of free usage, with 25+ services free to use forever. Also, Azure offers $200 in credits to new customers.
- Some Azure services, such as SQL Database Managed Instance are 85% cheaper when compared to AWS.
With comparable service quality and lower costs, Azure hopes to win a part of the AWS audience.
DigitalOcean vs. AWS
DigitalOcean (DO) is a cloud service platform primarily competing with Amazon’s EC2. Currently, they also have an analog to Load Balancer, S3, and a few other services.
What is DigitalOcean used for?
First of all, it is a powerful tool for startups for several reasons:
- Developer friendly
Its simple interface allows developers to quickly set up Linux instances (also called droplets). Due to this friendly interface, it takes around two minutes to set up a DO instance.
- Affordable price
The plans start at $4 per month or $0.006 per hour (compare it with the price of Amazon’s cheapest on-demand instances, which is $0.096 per hour). This is a good starting point for beginner businesses and startups.
- Better performance
DigitalOcean has a network speed of 2Gbps.
- Setup guides
Developers will benefit from comprehensive guides. Even when dealing with DO for the first time, setup won’t be an issue.
However, there are several points where AWS clearly beats DigitalOcean:
- Windows OS compatibility
DigitalOcean supports Linux-based servers only. If you work with Windows, go for Amazon EC2 or consider another service (Azure, Google Cloud, etc.).
- Server management
Being an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), DigitalOcean requires the user to manage the service on their own. AWS, on the contrary, is a Platform as a Service (PaaS), where everything is managed by the provider except for the application and data. As a result, managing a DigitalOcean server may require more effort and some prior experience.
So, what to choose, AWS or DigitalOcean? AWS is more of a corporate solution as it offers other services that can be installed in a bundle. DigitalOcean attracts clients with lower prices and user-friendliness - even a beginner developer can set up an instance.
Choosing the best cloud platform between these two can be hard. Both AWS and DigitalOcean have their advantages. Generally speaking, DO may fit a startup better than EC2. But the final choice depends on many factors that can be determined in a personal consultation with a professional.
Heroku vs. AWS
Heroku is another service typically compared with EC2. This is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) solution, making developers’ jobs easier. There’s no need to set up and maintain instances. Everything is available to the user right away.
Heroku is hosted on AWS. This means that you have the stability and reliability of Amazon servers but with the configuration already done for you.
Heroku is somewhat similar to another AWS tool called Elastic Beanstalk, which also offers a ready platform but enables infrastructure configuration if needed.
What is Heroku used for?
This is a typical choice for startups and small businesses when time-to-market and minimal budget are critical. Heroku allows you to save time and money while sacrificing flexibility.
When is Heroku not recommended?
This service isn’t an option for performance-heavy applications. When hosting a large app on Heroku, you will experience slow deployment. AWS is a better option for complex software.
In the battle of Elastic Beanstalk vs. Heroku, the win goes to the Amazon product.
Best cloud provider for SaaS products
Today, 99% of companies use at least one SaaS product in their operations. Software as a service applications are cloud-based, so cloud and SaaS industries are both striving, driving each other’s growth. But how to choose a cloud platform that will perfectly align with your business needs, strategic plans, and tech requirements?
As you can see in this SaaS platform development case, in Clockwise Software, we use AWS to create high-level architecture and ensure scalability for future growth. Well-known SaaS companies such as Netflix, Slack, Lyft, Airbnb, and Adobe also chose Amazon Web Services as their cloud services provider. The main reasons for the popularity of AWS with SaaS development services providers are scalability, robust security measures, and global infrastructure.
By the way, if you are interested in Software as a Service model and want to learn more about this industry, read our article about the main SaaS trends.
AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud vs Heroku vs DigitalOcean
Now, you know a lot about Amazon Web Services and its main competitors. Only you can decide which cloud platform is best suited for your needs and requirements. Let’s sum up quickly:
AWS is the one and only leader. If you are seeking quality, reliability, professional support, and community help, and if you are not ready to compromise for the sake of a few hundred dollars - Amazon Web Services is exactly what you need.
DigitalOcean is powerful but works for Linux apps only. It is easy and quick to set up, reducing the development time and costs. This is a good choice for startups.
Heroku is a low-cost solution usually chosen by startups and small businesses. When starting, the choice between Heroku and AWS is obvious, but as your app scales, you’ll have to migrate to a more powerful service provider.
Google Cloud offers a handful of various services. It is a proven provider since it offers the same infrastructure that Google uses for its projects. It’s cheaper than AWS, but also offers less - some services available on AWS can’t be found on GCP yet. In the next few years, we will likely see this competition: Amazon Web Services vs Azure vs Google Cloud
Azure has done its best to challenge Amazon for the title of the best cloud computing platform, offering comparable services for a lower price. Just like AWS and GCP, Azure is a good choice for big projects, since it enables you to configure the infrastructure completely according to the needs of the specific software.
If you are still not sure what cloud platform to choose, there are several ways to get assistance. In case you lack tech expertise in your team, try CTO consulting services or hire dedicated developers with proven experience working with cloud computing.
Choosing a cloud computing service provider is as important as choosing your product’s tech stack or software development partner. While many options are available, AWS remains number one. Azure and Google Cloud are serious contenders but still lack Amazon Web Services’ variety of services and extensive global infrastructure. Every cloud platform has its own advantages and limitations, so carefully consider them and consult with experts to make an informed decision and choose the right provider.