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How new players in the cloud space challenge AWS

Learn about the new options in the cloud space and whether they challenge AWS.

With the entrance of so many new players in the cloud space (Google, Microsoft, IBM), will AWS remain the majo...

rity?

Amazon is still the most popular player in the cloud space for three main reasons:

1. They were the first, so they have the most trust with existing clients.

2. They have more cloud services than any other provider.

3. They have the most regional support and location-based control of any player.

Amazon was the first, so those companies who started off at the early stages of cloud computing (such as Newstex, where I work) are most familiar with Amazon. Amazon has built up a large portfolio of companies who rely on AWS, and because of it, there is a large amount of trust. They have had the most experience with these types of services, and as a result have had more failures that they have learned from. You are unlikely to find another cloud provider with better uptime and reliability than AWS.

Amazon has more cloud services than any other provider. Amazon is the python of cloud providers; anything you can think of is in the “standard library” that AWS provides. Just about every service that you could want is either currently in production or being developed by Amazon. They listen to their customers, and every product they release comes out of direct communication with those customers. Anything they design is centered around a need that a customer had.

Amazon has more regional support than any other cloud provider. Currently, AWS has support for cloud services (including S3 and EC2) in nine public regions (with another specifically for government usage). There is no doubt that Amazon will continue to expand their regional footprint. Amazon also has edge points (where Route53 and CloudFront locations exist) in over 50 locations. You can provision servers, databases, queues and even search instances in any of the nine public regions you need to be in, and even route traffic based on Route53 Geographic, Latency or health-based rules. This means you can position your services as close to your consumers as you need to. It's easy to go global and control where your services are with AWS. Amazon lets you position yourself to be as robust as you want.

However, Amazon is not indestructible, and if they want to continue to be the best, they need to make a few major changes. Google's cloud offering appears to be the closest to being in competition with AWS. They still offer only a small fraction of the amount of services, but the services they are offering are proving to be easier to use, and in many cases, cheaper. Take, for example, Amazon's Reserved Instances vs. Google's Sustained Use Pricing. (While it is still possible to get EC2 instances for cheaper than Google's pricing, it takes more work to do so. Google App Engine also includes more fully-featured functionality (including a Log Management solution) than Amazon's Elastic Beanstalk. Many of the services Google is beginning to offer are much simpler, and easier to use, than AWS. For new and upcoming startups, they are a much more attractive cloud provider.

Amazon is still winning with the enterprise market. Google's recent cloud conference was a huge disappointment when they couldn't get the live streaming to work properly. This didn't bode very well for the platform, suggesting that they might not be ready for prime time. (After all, if they can't keep their own service up and running properly, why should you trust them for your own services?) However, the vast amount of features that Google has been adding for the simple services they do offer show a much higher level of thought and may eventually prove more useful in the long run. If you can't be the first, be the best.

This was last published in April 2014

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