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Amazon cloud soars far above Google and Microsoft

Bezos & Co's feature-rich cloud casts long shadow

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Analysis With last week's gale of Google cloud announcements, it'd be easy to think that the Chocolate Factory has a competitive offering compared with Amazon Web Services. But when you look at the number of services Google fields versus Amazon, that is simply not the case.

For all the announcements last week – and there were several – Google's cloud still comes up short in terms of features when set against Amazon Web Services. So does Windows Azure. Though the cloud industry is often portrayed as a race between this trio of massive multinational tech companies, it is still very much a case of Amazon and the also-rans.

Why? An overview of the services offered by these two vendors compared with Amazon highlights the feature disparity between Amazon's platform and Microsoft and Google's.

Here's what Google announced at I/O: General availability of IaaS Google Compute Engine which supports Linux VMs, a NoSQL Cloud Datastore, fine-grained networking for GCE, plans to deliver Elastic Load Balancers, and the possibility of Spanner being exposed as a cloud service as well. These features stack on top of a preexisting platform-as-a-service (GAE), a SQL database (Cloud SQL), and an analytics-as-a-service (AaaS) tool named BigQuery.

What about Microsoft? Redmond has a just-gone-GA infrastructure-as-a-service named Windows Azure that supports Windows and Linux VMs, platform-as-a-service components (Web Sites, general Azure), video transcoding (Media Services), a SQL database, a NoSQL database (Tables), an unstructured datastore (Blob), identity management, Hadoop-as-a-service (AaaS), a dedicated media services suite, and an integrated CDN.

How do these compare with Amazon? Amazon has equivalent products to all of the above, plus DNS services (Route53), hardware-based key storage (CloudHSM), application management (OpsWorks), detailed templating (CloudFormation), orchestration (Data Pipeline), performance monitoring (App Monitoring), API-based payment service (FPS), managed search (Amazon CloudSearch), data warehouse (Redshift), in-memory caching (ElasticCache), long-term cold storage (Glacier), domain name system (Route 53), direct connection to AWS edge network (Direct Connect), and cloud cost analysis (Trusted Advisor).

It bears mentioning that both Google and Microsoft have some third-party companies providing additional services on top of their cloud, such as Newvem doing advanced analytics for Azure, or Bime which simplifies analytics atop BigQuery.

But for any one Bime, Amazon can typically field a spread of third-party companies working on its technology via its expansive third-party ecosystem.

We would also note that Amazon, Google, and Microsoft have some slight differences in terms of basic capability. Google's cloud, for example, has excellent networking due to the company's near-planet-spanning "dark fibre". Similarly, Azure has thoroughly good SSD-backed storage compared to Amazon and Google, according to Nasuni.

However, that doesn't deal with the large difference in available features. Though the vast majority of cash flowing through Amazon is expected to occur on its basic compute and storage services, many enterprises place a premium on being able to source as much tech as possible from a single supplier, and in this area Amazon trounces its rivals.

This year will likely see frenetic development on Microsoft and Google's part, along with further consolidation in the industry that could see other also-rans take the Dell route and shut down their clouds. ®

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