By: David “Mac” McDaniel

If you’re shopping for a cloud service provider, you’re probably wondering about the differences between AWS vs. Google Cloud. Both offer a wealth of top-of-the-line cloud products and services with similar–if not the same–capabilities, making it all the more challenging to pick the one that’s right for your business needs. 

In this post, we’ll dive into the offerings between AWS vs. Google Cloud. When exploring the differences between AWS vs. Google Cloud, we’ll focus on:

  • Pricing 
  • Usability
  • Compute features
  • Security features
  • Storage features
  • Reach and availability

AWS vs. Google Cloud: Pricing

Comparing price points between cloud providers can be challenging. Pricing plans and subscription costs vary, and what you pay will depend on a few variables, from your deployment and infrastructure’s complexity to the support you need.

AWS and Google Cloud offer pay-as-you-go pricing models. Both offer hundreds of products and services, each with its own pricing and subscriptions, so we recommend evaluating your business needs and choosing the one that matches your specifications. Things to consider:

  • Number of virtual machines
  • Storage needed
  • Subscription model
  • Support 
  • Payment model
  • Data center locations

One other note is AWS bills to the account used to launch the service, while Google Cloud bills usage by Billing Account, so you can create different projects under the same account and have them billed separately. This is especially useful for testing and for larger companies with multiple teams working on separate projects. 

For a quick estimate, use the AWS Pricing Calculator or the Google Cloud Pricing Calculator.

You can also download our side-by-side cloud cost comparison packet to learn more.

AWS vs. Google Cloud: Usability 

Google Cloud holds an edge over AWS when it comes to its usability. There are significant differences in security control access between the two clouds. With the right permissions in Google Cloud, you can simultaneously access multiple windows or instances without leaving the interface, making it easier to test and deploy workloads. AWS currently does not allow for this. 

Another advantage of Google Cloud comes in simpler networking capabilities. While in AWS, you need to configure separate subnets for each availability zone, in Google Cloud, you need only a single subnet across all zones in one region.

One more big difference between the two clouds is their firewall services (Security Groups in AWS). In AWS, you have to assign each security group to each EC2 instance that you want to have those rules applied. In Google Cloud, you simply place a label on any GCE instance you want the rules of the matching firewall rule(s) to apply. As you add or remove GCE instances, as long as you label them correctly, nothing else needs to be done. 

AWS vs. Google Cloud: Features

Compute Features

AWS and Google Cloud approach virtual machines (VMs) similarly. Both services offer on-demand capabilities to launch and terminate instances as well as restriction-free management of your instances.

AWS has Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) for its VM offering. Google Cloud offers Compute Engine

  • Access: Amazon EC2 and Compute Engine allow you to create SSH keys to get terminal access to an instance, even if it is already running. 
  • Instance Types: Both providers offer predefined instances and hundreds of VM types depending on your business needs. However, Compute Engine does offer a bit more in terms of flexibility. If a compute engine configuration need doesn’t match up with a defined instance, you can create a custom VM to avoid paying more for more capacity. 
  • Scale: Both services allow for automatic scaling. AWS lets you scale manually, on a schedule, or dynamically, where you define a set of policies to scale your instances. Compute Engine allows for manual and dynamic scaling.

Security Features

When comparing cloud providers, security will be a big focus for most companies. Both AWS and Google Cloud offer top-of-the-line security programs and products. 

  • Compliance: When looking at data protection and compliance, it’s a tie. Both AWS and Google Cloud’s compliance programs check all of the boxes for CSA, HIPAA, GDPR, and other tough regulatory standards & requirements.
  • Firewall: AWS and Google Cloud offer a number of firewall protection products. AWS Network Firewall and Google Cloud Firewalls allow you to deploy network security access across your VPCs. AWS Shield or Google Cloud Armor protect against DDoS attacks. For firewall protection across cloud-hosted accounts and apps, Amazon offers AWS Firewall Manager, while Google includes this as part of its core Cloud Firewall service. 
  • Encryption: Both Google Cloud Key Management and AWS Key Management Service (KMS) offer encryption for data-at-rest and data-in-transit. Each gives you the capability to create and manage the keys used to encrypt and digitally sign data. Data is encrypted by default in Google Cloud. 

Storage Features

Cloud storage can directly impact performance, and it’s important to understand the different types. While AWS and Google Cloud’s storage services function similarly, there are specific benefits to each. 

Storage TypeAWSGoogle CloudMain Benefits
Object StorageAmazon S3Google Cloud Storage
  • Amazon S3 is designed for durability of 99.999999999% of objects 
  • Google Cloud Storage is also designed for 99.999999999% durability of objects and offers more granular notifications & optimizes for price/performance based on each group
Block StorageElastic Block StorePersistent Disk
  • Elastic Block Store offers automated snapshots 
  • Persistent Disk offers automated snapshots that are available globally and can be used without additional charges
Cold StorageAmazon GlacierNearline & Coldline
  • Amazon Glacier offers the same durability as S3
  • Access to Nearline and Coldline storage comes with sub-second latency
File StorageAmazon EFSGoogle Filestore
  • EFS offers high performance up to 10 GB/sec and 500,000 IOPS
  • Google Filestore offers up to 16GB/sec and 480,000 IOPS 

AWS vs. Google Cloud: Reach & Availability

While AWS and Google Cloud have data centers worldwide, AWS has a slightly broader reach, with Google Cloud not far behind. Google Cloud currently has 24 regions, 73 zones, and availability in over 200 countries and territories. In comparison, AWS has 24 regions, 77 zones, and availability in over 245 countries and territories.

To ensure one region’s availability doesn’t affect another, Amazon isolates each AWS region from other AWS regions. Google Cloud isolates regions from one another for the same reason, but regions can still synchronize data across other regions based on their service needs. 

AWS and Google Cloud have many points of presence, or POPs, worldwide to cache content closer to end-users. How they go about it and use these POPs is a bit different. AWS uses POPs to provide a content delivery network (CDN) service, Amazon CloudFront. Google Cloud CDN (Cloud CDN) delivers built-in edge caching for Google App Engine, Google Cloud Storage services, and other services.

AWS vs. Google Cloud: Which Cloud Service Provider Is Better?

Both AWS and Google Cloud are good options with shared capabilities. Although, in some cases, they have different strengths. AWS has the advantage of being first-to-market with a broader reach, and Google Cloud can offer more flexibility when it comes to taking a strategic approach to hybrid and multi-cloud management. 

The cloud service you ultimately pick will depend on your business needs. But, whichever provider you choose, you’ll unlock access to the best cloud products and services out there and improve your infrastructure’s scale, performance, and security while reducing costs.

Read next: Three Multi-cloud Management Challenges and Solutions