Trying to decide between Google Cloud vs AWS as your cloud platform of choice?
In this post, we’re going to compare how these two platforms stack up so that you can pick the right option for your situation. It’s not about picking a single “winner,” it’s just about trying to highlight how they’re alike and how they’re different to help you make an informed choice.
These are two mammoth cloud infrastructure platforms, so it’s impossible to compare every single aspect of both platforms in a single post. However, we will try to hit the key high points by focusing on the following areas:
Let’s dig in!
Google Cloud vs AWS: Introduction
To kick off our Google Cloud vs AWS comparison, let’s go over some quick introduction of both platforms.
Both Google Cloud and AWS are suites of services that can handle a lot more than just basic web hosting.
Currently, AWS offers over 200+ different products and services across a range of areas, including compute (“hosting”), storage, networking, and lots more.
With Google Cloud, you don’t have quite as much variety, but Google Cloud still offers over 100 different products and services covering many of the same areas.
In the next section of this post, we’ll compare some of the most relevant features of each.
Google Cloud vs AWS market share
A common question that a lot of people have about AWS vs Google Cloud is which service is more popular.
When it comes to cloud offerings, AWS is the giant in the space.
According to Canalys’s Q4 2020 global cloud infrastructure report, AWS receives about 31% of all the revenue in the global cloud infrastructure market, which makes it by far the most popular option on the market.
Google Cloud isn’t quite as popular. Google Cloud had just 7% of cloud revenues in Q4 2020, which is well below AWS’s 31% share and good for third place overall. Microsoft Azure holds second place at 20%, if you’re wondering. By the way, if you’re interested in how AWS stacks up against Azure, we have a whole resource about that.
With that being said, this number is up from Google Cloud’s 2019 numbers, where Google Cloud only had 6% of the market, so it’s moving in the right direction.
Google Cloud vs AWS: Features and services
As we’ve mentioned above, at the time that we’re writing this post, AWS offers over 200+ different products/services, while Google Cloud offers ~100:
That’s far too many services to compare in detail, so we’re certainly not going to talk about every feature. But we will cover the most relevant aspects for someone interested in creating a website.
Here’s how we’ll break this down:
- Compute – in layperson’s terms, you could call this “hosting”
- Storage – options for storing files/data
- Networking – includes content delivery networks (CDN) and DNS
If you want to host a website or app with Google Cloud and AWS, you’ll be primarily interested in the compute products. More specifically, virtual machines.
Both services let you choose the specific resources that you want for your virtual machine. For short-term resource needs, you can pay per second (with a one-minute minimum at each). Or, if you need regular usage (e.g. hosting a website), you can pay for longer-term plans.
Writing a comparison of Compute Engine vs EC2 would require a whole post of its own. But here are some general conclusions about them:
- Google Cloud Compute Engine is about 15% cheaper than AWS EC2 on average – more on pricing in the upcoming sections.
- VPSBenchmarks rates EC2 a little higher in general when it comes to performance, though it depends on the plan – full benchmarks here.
It’s one of the cheaper cloud VPS options, starting at just $3.50 per month. However, Lightsail doesn’t have a great reputation for performance, and most people seem to prefer EC2 for hosting websites (though EC2 is a bit more complicated to use).
Google Cloud doesn’t currently offer a simple VPS like Lightsail (or those other providers). You’ll need to use the Compute Engine product that we mentioned above, which is a bit more complicated.
Both Google Cloud and AWS also offer affordable object storage services that you can use to store media, backups, or any other files.
If you’re using WordPress, those are the two major use cases:
- You can offload your WordPress Media Library to cloud storage. We have a tutorial on how to set this up using AWS.
- You can offload your backups to those services, which keeps them safe and secure. You can easily set this up with popular backup plugins, like UpdraftPlus.
For storage, Google Cloud offers its Cloud Storage product, which is an object storage solution with bucket locations available all around the world. You can also choose from different storage classes depending on how often you need to access the data in your storage (which will affect the price).
The comparable product at AWS is S3, short for Simple Storage Service. As with Google Cloud, S3 offers storage buckets around the world, and you can choose from different classes of storage, depending on how often you need to access data.
We’ll talk about pricing next. But, in general, Google Cloud Storage is a little bit cheaper than AWS S3, which continues the trend that you saw with the compute services.
Networking (CDN and DNS)
In terms of networking, both Google Cloud and AWS offer products for premium DNS and a content delivery network (CDN).
At Google Cloud, you have:
At AWS, you have:
- Amazon Route 53 for premium DNS.
- Amazon CloudFront for a CDN, which we wrote about in our CloudFront vs Cloudflare vs Stackpath comparison.
Google Cloud vs AWS: Region and zone locations
Next, let’s take a look at the global reach of both Google Cloud and AWS. There are three key terms here:
- Region – a geographic location that contains cloud data centers.
- Zone – a specific data center within that region. So each region might have multiple zones.
- Edge locations – a physical location where the service has servers that are used for CDN caching.
|Announced upcoming regions||7||7|
|Newtwork edge locations||146||215|
Overall, there’s a lot of overlap between the two, so you won’t see huge differences either way. However, Google Cloud does have a slight edge with an additional two regions, though AWS has a larger network of edge locations for its CDN.
Here’s a map of Google Cloud’s current and upcoming regions:
And here’s a map of AWS’s current and upcoming regions:
You can click below to see more details:
Google Cloud vs AWS: Pricing
Next, let’s take a look at Google Cloud vs AWS pricing for two key areas – compute and storage.
First, we’ll talk about compute pricing, starting with Google Cloud Compute Engine vs AWS EC2. If you want to host a website, this is what you’ll be paying.
As we mentioned earlier, Google’s Compute Engine is generally a bit cheaper than the equivalent resources from EC2.
For example, let’s look at a medium plan from each – e2-medium for Compute Engine and t4g.medium for EC2. Both plans offer:
- 2 CPU cores.
- 4 GB memory.
- 40 GB storage.
For Compute Engine, the monthly price would be $24.46, while it’s $28.20 for EC2, which is a difference of about 15%.
Let’s look at another instance with:
- 2 CPU cores.
- 8 GB memory.
- 40 GB storage.
For Compute Engine, the monthly price is $56.14, while it’s $65.90 for EC2, which is again a difference of ~15%.
The exact difference will depend on the specific plan that you choose. But, in general, you’ll notice that Compute Engine is normally more or less 15% cheaper than EC2.
To see full pricing details, click here:
Pricing is simpler on Amazon Lightsail (the VPS offering). It starts at just $3.50 per month for:
- 512 MB memory.
- 1 core processor.
- 20 GB SSD disk.
- 1 TB transfer.
Google Cloud doesn’t offer a comparable service, so there’s no price comparison here.
As we mentioned above, Google Cloud Storage is generally a bit cheaper than Amazon’s S3 service.
There are three main variables that affect your price:
- Bucket location – in general, North America is the cheapest, while Asia is the most expensive, though it varies on the specific city. Even within the USA, different regions have different prices.
- Access frequency – if you need to access your data more frequently/quickly, you’ll pay a higher price.
- Volume – S3 gives you discounts for higher volumes of storage.
There are too many variables to do a full Google Cloud vs AWS pricing comparison here, so we’re just going to focus on one specific example for US East bucket locations.
These prices are per GB per month:
|Type of storage||Google Cloud Storage||Amazon S3|
|Frequent access||$0.020||$0.023 – $0.021|
|Really deep archive||$0.0012||$0.00099|
In addition to the price for storage itself, you also might be charged for network usage if you exceed the limit on the free tier.
As you saw with the compute pricing comparison above, Google Cloud is again about ~15% cheaper when it comes to storage prices, especially for more frequent access.
Google Cloud vs AWS: Free tiers
If you’re on a budget, you’ll be happy to know that both Google Cloud and AWS offer free tiers.
There are two types of free products that you might encounter:
- Products that are free for a limited time. Typically, this is 12 months at AWS, but only 90 days at Google Cloud. AWS does have some products that only offer 90-day trials.
- Forever free. These are services that you can use for free forever (up to the monthly limit on the free plan).
Google Cloud free tier
With Google Cloud, you get a $300 credit that you can use in the first 90 days on any product. After that, you’ll need to start paying.
In addition to the $300 90-day free trial, Google Cloud also offers 24+ products that have free plans and that are not time-constrained. Here are some of the most notable free tier services:
- Compute Engine – 1 F1-micro instance per month.
- Cloud Storage – 5 GB-months of standard storage per month.
- App Engine – 28 instance hours per day.
- AutoML Translation – translate up to 500,000 characters per month.
AWS free tier
AWS uses a different model. Instead of offering a set free credit, you get monthly limits for a ton of products during your 12-month trial. Then, there are also some products that are free forever (up to the monthly limit). Finally, there are also some short-term trials for specific services.
You can browse and filter all of these free services by clicking here, but let’s look at the highlights.
Here are the most notable 12-month free trial services. Again, these are products that free up to their limits for the first year. After the first year, you need to start paying:
- EC2 – 750 hours per month (essentially, a full month’s worth of usage for a single VM).
- S3 standard storage – 5 GB of storage.
- CloudFront (CDN) – 50 GB of data transfer per month.
- Amazon Elasticsearch Service – 750 hours per month.
- Amazon Polly (text to speech) – 5 million characters per month.
In terms of the limited free trial, the most notable is Amazon Lightsail. With Lightsail, you can get a three-month trial of a VPS.
And here are some notable services that are free forever:
- SES (Simple Email Service) – send 62,000 emails per month for free (only if you’re hosting on EC2, though).
- S3 Glacier storage – 10 GB of storage.
Free tier conclusions
Overall, AWS has the more generous free tier when it comes to the free trial because you get 12 months for many services, while Google Cloud’s $300 credit is more limited and only lasts for 90 days.
However, Google Cloud is more generous in terms of its forever free products because it offers Compute Engine and standard storage for free. Once you exhaust the free trials, AWS doesn’t offer a forever free tier for EC2 or Lightsail and you only get free S3 storage for the Glacier deep archive level.
Google Cloud vs AWS: Interface
To finish things out, let’s take a quick look at the interfaces of Google Cloud and AWS. This probably isn’t a huge consideration, but it will give you some idea of what it’s like to work in the console at each service.
But first, a quick summary…
In terms of interfaces, most people will probably prefer Google Cloud for two reasons:
- Google Cloud’s interface just looks better and is more user-friendly. Design is certainly subjective, but most people will agree on that. AWS has improved a lot, though, so the difference isn’t as large as it once was.
- Google Cloud is more consistent in using the same interface structure for all of its products, while the AWS interface isn’t always consistent across different products.
Here’s the main Google Cloud dashboard:
And here’s what it looks like to create a bucket in Cloud Storage to give you an idea of the service experience:
Here’s the main AWS management console:
And here’s what it’s like to create a bucket in S3 to compare it to Google Cloud:
Final thoughts on Google Cloud vs AWS
Overall, there are far too many variables to declare a single definitive winner when it comes to Google Cloud vs AWS.
We can draw some general conclusions, though:
- AWS offers double the number of products and services that Google Cloud offers.
- Google Cloud is generally cheaper than AWS – around 15% for common products, though it depends on which product you’re looking at.
- Both have similar global networks, though Google Cloud has a slightly larger number of regions.
- AWS has a more generous free trial that lets you try many services free for up to a year.
- Google Cloud’s forever free plan is more generous for most users because it offers forever free options for Compute Engine and Cloud Storage.
- Google Cloud has a nicer and more user-friendly interface.
- AWS has a very beginner-friendly VPS offering in Lightsail, which isn’t something Google Cloud offers. However, I, personally, don’t find this to be a huge advantage, because I think DigitalOcean and Vultr are better options than Lightsail.
So – based on the differences listed above – you can pick the platform that’s right for you.
Personally, if I were a casual user looking to launch a website (maybe via a service like Cloudways), I would probably do it on Google Cloud because of its comparative affordability while still offering great performance.
If you want to see how the other popular cloud provider stacks up, you can also read our AWS vs Microsoft Azure comparison.
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Still have questions about Google Cloud vs AWS? Let us know in the comments section!
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