The best cloud computing services offer the opportunity for businesses to undergo digital transformation in order to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Cloud services have revolutionized computing, not least through IaaS, PaaS, and especially SaaS, which have allowed businesses to develop virtualized IT infrastructure and deliver software through the cloud, independent of a user's operating system. Even better still, businesses can also mix and match cloud services from different providers through cloud brokers in order to ensure these services work to maximum efficiency and cost effectiveness, but also to reduce the chances of vendor lock-in while also improving redundancy. This may require additional cloud management software, but for larger businesses the economic benefits can be significant.
Because cloud services are run through software platforms and virtualized networks, it means that it's easy to access and analyze data for the purposes of analytics as well as for business intelligence purposes. It also makes it easier to simplify all aspects of monitoring through cloud orchestration and the easy processing of log files through cloud logging services. The result is IT infrastructure that allows for better maintenance and patching, while providing for insights that would have previously been much more difficult to access. Cloud computing services also offer the advantage of being scalable, which means not only can you access additional resources exactly as you need them, but you are also charged only for the services you use so there's no need to buy in extra hardware for additional redundancy.
This especially applies to when storing data, as online cloud storage can be treated as effectively limitless. Even though you might be using cloud databases for your structured data, you can also archive everything else into massive data lakes for additional processing using AI and machine learning for greater insights. Altogether, cloud services offer unparalleled potential for improving business performance and increasing profits, and here we'll look at the best cloud computing service provider.
A list of my top cloud service providers:
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Microsoft Azure
- Google Cloud
- Alibaba Cloud
- IBM Cloud
Table summarizes the top 3 key players and their offerings in the cloud computing:
Compute, storage, database, analytics, networking, machine learning, and AI, mobile, developer tools, IoT, security, enterprise applications, blockchain.
Compute, storage, mobile, data management, messaging, media services, CDN, machine learning and AI, developer tools, security, blockchain, functions, IoT.
Compute, storage, databases, networking, big data, cloud AI, management tools, Identity and security, IoT, API platform
Top Cloud Service Providers: LEADERS
1. Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a cloud-based platform for building business solutions using integrated web services. AWS offers an extensive range of IaaS and PaaS services. These include Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2), Elastic Beanstalk, Simple Storage Service (S3) and Relational Database Service (RDS)
AWS offers extensive admin controls available via their secure Web client. Users can access a number of features from here including encryption key creation and auditing.
Aws lets you customize infrastructure requirements. This costs far less than if you were set up in your own premises. Users can also access EC2 we services. This permits you to run and acquire servers as necessary.
AWS has three different pricing models; ‘Pay as you Go’, ‘Save when you reserve’ and ‘Pay less using more’. For more information about these, users must contact sale directly.
AWS also offers a free 12-month tier. Once your trial period has expired, you must either choose a paid plan or cancel your AWS subscription.
Widely considered the top cloud company – truly the company that pulled the world into the cloud – AWS continues to grow and innovate at a pace that shows no sign of complacency.
In Q4 2020, AWS reported that it expected revenue at an annualized rate of $45.3 billion – and that it enjoyed a 28% growth rate over that quarter – a stunningly high figure given the already massive size of its cloud business. This is the third quarter in a row with a slight decline in percent growth rate, with all previous quarters hitting 30% or higher growth rates since the cloud pioneer began breaking out figures. (Indeed, a hefty chunk of Amazon’s profit flows from AWS.)
The challenge for AWS in its rivalry with the other top cloud vendor, Microsoft Azure, is that Microsoft has historically had a closer relationship with the enterprise. Yet AWS has largely overcome this advantage by the sheer depth and quality of its cloud-based toolset.
VMware Cloud on AWS is a virtualization technology that allows companies (especially larger, slower-moving companies) to build a bridge from the traditional data center to the public cloud, which is an AWS specialty.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is an Amazon company that was launched in the year 2002. AWS is the most popular cloud service provider in the world. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform, offering over 165 fully-featured services from data centers globally. This service is used by millions of customers. AWS’s revenue in the year 2018 was $25.6 billion with a profit of $7.2 billion. The revenue is expected to grow to $33 billion in 2019.
AWS offers hundreds of services. Some of these include Virtual Private Cloud, EC2, AWS Data Transfer, Simple Storage Service, DynamoDB, Elastic Compute Cloud, AWS Key Management Service, AmazonCloudWatch, Simple Notification Service, Relational Database Service, Route 53, Simple Queue Service, CloudTrail, and Simple Email Service.
Cloud security is the highest priority for AWS. As a customer, you will benefit from a data center and network architecture built to meet the requirements of the most security-sensitive organizations. AWS security offers services such as infrastructure security, DDoS mitigation, data encryption, inventory and configuration, monitoring and logging, identity and access control, and penetration testing.
AWS provides 40+ compliance certifications for the global, US, and other countries.
AWS global availability
AWS offers the largest global footprint in the market. No other cloud provider offers as many regions or Availability Zones (AZs). This includes 78 AZs within 25 geographic regions around the world. Furthermore, AWS has announced plans for 9 more AZs and three more regions in Cape Town, Jakarta, and Milan.
AWS certifications are divided into four major categories – Foundational, Associate, Professional, and Specialty.
2. Microsoft Azure
Microsoft Azure was released nearly a decade ago, in 2010. Users can run any service on the cloud or combine it with any existing applications, data center or infrastructure. Microsoft Azure provides a wide array of solutions suitable for all types of industry. All your business needs will be taken into consideration. This results in a package better suited for needs. Azure means there is no need to have physical servers on site. This reduces the usual costs, such as an onsite server support team. The Azure Migration Center makes cloud transfers faster and easier. The solution is also compatible with Linux.
Microsoft Azure offers a free tier which includes access to all popular services, and over 25 ‘Always Free’ services. All of Microsoft Azure’s prices and plans are laid out in great detail on their site. The page includes a cost calculator and a ‘Pay as you go’ service. Each plan can be tailored to your specific needs. In terms of revenue, Microsoft’s Azure is number two, but Azure is essentially a head-to-head competitor with the big dog Amazon Web Services. Its greatest strength is its legacy strength in the enterprise; the long dominance of the Windows OS and the many Microsoft productivity applications mean that corporate clients were long married to Microsoft before cloud was even a factor.
In keeping with this close enterprise relationship, Azure is strong in hybrid cloud – a critically important offering for companies with a large data center investment, or an expensive facility they need to pair with a remote public cloud. Microsoft’s other key strength is in software as a service, SaaS. It offers a long menu of enterprise SaaS tools, most notably Office 365. Azure has a top-notch PaaS offering that integrates with its public cloud.
Azure is well-positioned to serve cloud customers as automation and AI become dominant. Azure Machine Learning is a full-featured production platform, enabling the creation of all manner of customized algorithms and ML solutions.
Microsoft Azure is one of the fastest-growing clouds among them all. Azure was launched years after the release of AWS and Google Cloud but is still knocking on the door to become the top cloud services provider. Microsoft Azure recently won a $10 billion US government contract. While Microsoft Azure revenue is difficult to predict, Microsoft broke down its revenue of the last quarter into three categories, Productivity and Business Processes, Intelligent Cloud, and Personal Computing. The respective revenue was $11.0 billion, $11.4 billion, and $11.3 billion. Microsoft’s Azure revenue is expected to grow between $33 billion to $35 billion. This makes Azure one of the most profitable cloud services in the world.
Azure offers hundreds of services within various categories including AI + Machine Learning, Analytics, Blockchain, Compute, Containers, Databases, Developer Tools, DevOps, Identity, Integration, Internet of Things, Management, Media, Microsoft Azure Stack, Migration, Mixed Reality, Mobile, Networking, Security, Storage, Web, and Windows Virtual Desktop.
Azure, the Intelligent Cloud
What makes Azure the most attractive and intelligent is its exclusive offering of Microsoft’s previous products and services in the cloud. Azure’s cloud supremacy revolves around its intelligence. Azure provides the most advanced and maximum number of intelligent products and services. Microsoft’s Windows operating system Windows and database SQL Server are now available in the cloud via Windows Virtual Desktop. Microsoft’s mixed reality technology (products for HoloLens) is also available in the Azure cloud. Microsoft’s TFS and VSTS are now available in azure via Azure DevOps. Microsoft’s popular Office suite, enterprise products such as Sharepoint, and Power BI are now available in the cloud as Office 365 and PowerXXX tools. Furthermore, some of the most popular and advanced developer tools and compilers are available in Azure via various UI, workflows, and interfaces. Microsoft is a leader in AI + Machine Learning and Microsoft Cognitive Services is one of the company’s most advanced offerings.
Azure offers the most advanced security products and services.
Azure offers 90 compliance certifications for global, US government, region-specific, and industry-specific.
Azure Stack is a service of Azure that allows enterprises to run apps in an on-premises environment and perform Azure services in your datacenter. Azure Stack syncs with global Azure and upgrades when new services and updates are available on Azure.
Azure for Government
Azure for Government is an exclusive cloud designed for US government agencies including federal, state, and local. Azure Government offers government exclusivity. Only US federal, state, local, and tribal governments and their partners have access to this dedicated instance with operations controlled by screened US citizens. Azure Government offers the broadest and most compliance certifications. It runs on six government-only datacenter regions, all granted an Impacted Level 5 Provisional Authorization.
Azure global availability
Azure offers more data centers around the world than any other cloud provider.
Here is a list of Microsoft Azure certifications.
- AZ-103: Microsoft Azure Administrator
- AZ-203: Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure
- AZ-300: Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies
- AZ-301: Microsoft Azure Architect Design
- AZ-400: Microsoft Azure DevOps Solutions
- AZ-500: Microsoft Azure Security Technologies
- AZ-900: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals
- 70-487: Developing Microsoft Azure and Web Services
- 70-537: Configuring and Operating a Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Azure Stack
3. IBM Cloud
IBM Cloud is a set of cloud computing services offered by the eponymous tech giant IBM. The solution offers platform as a service, software as a service and infrastructure as a service. IBM Cloud offers a wide range of services. Not all of them are cloud based: it covers both virtual and hardware –based servers, composed of public, private and management networks. As hardware and virtual-based servers are combined into one on demand cloud-platform, you have complete infrastructure control. IBM refer to their hardware servers as ‘bare metal’. These provide clients with sole access to their entire server. This reduces the ‘noisy neighbor’ effect and greatly improves performance.
IBM Cloud is integrated and managed by a single system that can be controlled via web portal, API (Application Programming Interface) or mobile apps. IBM Cloud’s Bluemix developing solution has a wide range of cloud SaaS management tools. IBM Cloud also offers full server customization. This means that everything that is included in the server is handpicked by you. This way you do not have to pay for features that you might never use. With one of the most in-depth and highly developed portfolios of enterprise solutions of any provider across the tech sector, the IBM cloud is one favored by the company’s base of mid and large enterprise clients. As a cloud provider, IBM has a global footprint, offering its IaaS and PaaS solutions from data centers from Brazil to India to Germany to Korea.
The company’s acquisition of Red Hat in 2019 confirms IBM’s deep commitment to building out its cloud infrastructure, with an open, hybrid approach. Indeed, IBM is well-positioned to be a player in the emerging multi-cloud landscape. Also highly significant is IBM’s focus on AI with its Watson initiative; while not strictly a cloud-based offering, today’s companies often buy (or at least shop for) their AI services from their cloud providers. Additionally, IBM offers major strength in data analytics and machine learning, which interoperates with its cloud platform. IBM Cloud developed by IBM is a set of cloud computing services for businesses. Similar to other cloud service providers, the IBM cloud includes IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS services via public, private, and hybrid cloud models. Compute, Network, Storage, Cloud Packs, Management, Security, Database, Analytics, AI, IoT, Mobile, Dev Tools, Blockchain, Integration, Migration, Private Cloud, and VMware. Annual revenue: $19.16 billion
4. Google Cloud
Google Cloud enables users to create business solutions using Google-provided, modular web services. It offers a wide array of services including IaaS and PaaS solutions.
With Google Cloud’s multi layered secure infrastructure, users can rest assured that anything you build, create, code or store will be protected. This is done through a commitment to transparency and a highly trained team of engineers.
Google Cloud has a variety of tools to ensure consistent performance and management. These include Compute Engine, App Engine, Container Engine, Cloud Storage and Big Query. Google also offers smooth migration to virtual machines with flexible pricing.
Google claims to be a leader when it comes to pricing by comparison to major revivals, and you can try the service out yourself for free.
Holding the number three spot behind AWS and Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) has a robust IaaS offering with a deep technical strength from its dominance in the search market. Starting with strength in networking and automation, GCP offers arguably the sector’s greatest strength in AI, machine learning, and – particularly – data analytics.
GCP is a top contender for applications and mix deployments that are cloud native, a growing sector and one that will surely be dominant at some point – probably sooner than it now appears. The cloud vendor is entrenched in open source and open systems.
Historically, GCP has not been closely aligned with enterprise customers, a situation the company is working to correct. As such, the move toward multi-cloud is good news for GCP; if it can’t be a company’s primary cloud platform, it will certainly be “one of” a company’s cloud providers. GCP can then use this foothold to gain greater market share.
Google cloud platform is Google’s cloud. Similar to AWS and Azure, Google Cloud also offers similar services in various categories, including compute, storage, identity, security, database, AI and machine learning, virtualization, DevOps and more. Here is a list of complete products and services categories Google Cloud Platform services:
AI and Machine Learning, API Management, Compute, Containers, Data Analytics, Databases, Developer Tools, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Hybrid and Multi-cloud, Internet of Things, Management Tools, Media and Gaming, Migration, Networking, Security and Identity, Serverless Computing, and Storage.
Google products are also offered in the cloud, including G Suite, Google Maps Platform, Google Hardware, Google Identity, Chrome Enterprise, Android Enterprise, Apigee, Firebase, and Orbitera.
Google Cloud Services are available in 20 regions, 61 zones, and 200+ countries. Google Cloud’s annual revenue is close to $8 billion.
Google Cloud Certifications
Here is a list of Google cloud certifications:
- Associate Cloud Engineer
- Professional Data Engineer
- Professional Cloud Architect
- Professional Cloud Developer
- Professional Cloud Network Engineer
- Professional Cloud Security Engineer
- G Suite
5. Oracle Cloud
Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is another cloud service from a computing behemoth, and as you'd expect it's both a powerful and feature-packed platform. A recent Forrester review noted that Oracle's services were especially strong at supporting different workloads, especially for IoT, OLTP, microservices, along with applications dependent on AI and machine learning. There are two main service provisions available: cloud architecture, and storage data.
Cloud architecture includes data management, databases, and applications, while the Oracle Data Cloud is primarily for driving big data analytics for business intelligence insights. Oracle also provides a range of SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms such as HCM, EPM, SCM, and social media tools. As expected, there are a vast range of potential involved in using Oracle's cloud services, but they are really designed to accommodate enterprise needs rather than small businesses or individuals. For those who do sign up, aside from a 30-day free trial, Oracle Cloud also offers a free service tier which includes unlimited access to two autonomous databases which comes with Oracle Application Express (APEX) and Oracle SQL . Developer, as well as two compute VMs, block, object, and archive storage, as well as load balancing, monitoring, and notifications. Entering the cloud market later than other competitors, Oracle launched Oracle Cloud Infrastructure in 2016. Despite its late start, Oracle has played catch-up aggressively and has gained credibility as a cloud platform.
Oracle is not seen as a full-featured public cloud provider as are, say AWS and Azure. This, despite the company’s clear commitment to building out IaaS and PaaS offerings. Yet its focus is on offering its legacy strength in database and other core enterprise offerings on a flexible, advanced cloud platform. In essence, it’s Oracle software on the Oracle cloud. Still, the company is growing its market share at a significant pace – and its cloud platform generally garners positive reviews. Oracle cloud platform is the cloud offering of Oracle corporation. Oracle cloud offers IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, and Data as a Service (DaaS). Oracle offerings include the following:
Oracle IaaS offerings are Compute, Storage, Networking, Governance, Database, Load Balancing, DNS Monitoring, Ravello, and FastConnect. Oracle PaaS offerings are Data Management, Application Development, Integration, Business Analytics, Security, Management, and Content and Enterprise. Oracle SaaS offerings are CX, HCM, ERP, SCM, EPM, IoT, Analytics, Data, and Blockchain Applications. Oracle DaaS is the Oracle Data Cloud.
6. Alibaba Cloud
A strong player in Asia, Singapore-based Alibaba is the cloud leader in China, and also is succeeding with its sales pitch to clients across the globe. To put it in perspective, Alibaba claims about $6 billion a year in cloud revenue (in contrast to AWS’s $40 billion yearly). The company does not have significant cloud market share in North America.
In 2020, Alibaba boldly announced that it will spend some $28 billion on its cloud infrastructure over the next three years, adding an array of server, networking, and operating system build-outs. This additional investment will bulk up what is already a robust platform of IaaS and PaaS, a container service, a private cloud offering that’s geared for enterprise customers, and a machine learning platform for AI.
In short, while Alibaba doesn’t have quite the full-featured offering to rival that of the US-based cloud leaders, it is the leader in China and could compete aggressively in many global markets in the years ahead.
Alibaba Cloud, founded in 2009, is registered and headquartered in Singapore. It was initially built to serve Alibaba’s own e-commerce ecosystem and is now offered to the public. Alibaba Cloud is the largest cloud provider in China. Alibaba offers various products and services in various categories, including Elastic Computing, Storage and CDN, Networking, Database Services, Security, Monitoring and Management, Domains and Websites, Analytics and Data Technology, Application Services, Media Services, Middleware, Cloud Communication, Apsara Stack, and Internet of Things. Alibaba Cloud is available in 19 regions and 56 availability zones around the globe. Alibaba Cloud revenue is $4.5 million annually.
CloudLinux isn't so much a cloud computing provider, but rather a cloud platform you can build across your own servers. This means that if you'd prefer to have tight control over your cloud network rather than going with third-parties, you can host it yourself. While this presents a different set of challenges, it also offers a range of benefits, especially for those companies already heavily invested in their own IT infrastructure.
CloudLinux is a distro of specifically built for virtualized cloud operations to power shared hosting services, by allocating and limiting server resources to each tenant. Additionally, each tenant is partition from each other, in other to create a more secure environment. The result is a hosting platform that has built in redundancy, stability, and security, in order to provide a better hosting environment.
All cloud services require a degree of technical knowledge to work with, so for those with extensive expertise CloudLinux offers the opportunity to be far more in control of your own services and how they are configured.
VMware’s first heyday was back before the cloud, back when the datacenter ruled IT. As the undisputed top provider of virtualization to the enterprise, VMware minted money and gained a foundational presence in corporate IT. As the data center began to migrate to the cloud, some industry observers wondered how VMware would fare in this new landscape.
Now in 2021, the answer is: quite well. VMware serves as an effective and much-needed “bridge” between the dinosaur datacenter and the many complications of the cloud. Given that there are so many companies (particularly large ones) that have invested so heavily in their on-premise, but now see a nonnegotiable need to migrate ever more workloads to the cloud, VMware is perfectly positioned.
In the VMware portfolio, the virtual machine now lives side by side with containers.
In keeping with the times, VM has alliances with AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. Owned by Dell, VMware has the deep-pocketed resources – and is so key to Dell’s cloud strategy – that it will likely be a hybrid cloud leader for years to come.
Sure, it’s the titan of software as a service, but SaaS format does not fully describe the Salesforce empire. From its early days as the top purveyor of CRM software, Salesforce has kept expanding, now with an essentially complete menu of cloud-based enterprise software, from marketing to commerce to integration.
It snapped up leading data analytics player Tableau in 2019, enabling it to offer in-depth metrics in a world that now depends on data mining. This was just a year after Salesforce bought Mulesoft, an IT integrator that connects applications, data, and devices.
To top it off, Salesforce continues to perfect its Einstein AI platform, which it touts as the “smart CRM assistant.” In sum, Salesforce is positioning itself at the very center of a hyper-connected, cloud-based world.
Top Cloud Service Providers: KEY PLAYERS
1. Hewlett Packard Enterprise
The concept of edge computing continues to fly under the radar; while cloud computing gets the headlines, edge computing remains nascent. Expect that to change. From IoT to computing everywhere to an entire universe of embedded real-time applications, edge computing is emerging rapidly in a growing 5G landscape. To take a leadership position in this emerging technology, HPE offers Aruba, a provider of network access technology; HPE in 2020 acquired SD-WAN vendor Silver Peak.
Think of HashiCorp as the toolbox for the cloud. The company provides a wide array of tools – many of them open-source, but plenty of proprietary tools – that allow developers and IT professionals to deploy cloud infrastructure. To make it simpler, some of the applications are plug-ins.
SAP is a good example of a legacy vendor that is now making a home for itself – and its customers – in the cloud. The company’s HANA is a high-powered in-memory database with a significant enterprise following, a following that pre-dates the cloud. To enable this migration, SAP offers the same reference architectures as used by the leading public cloud providers. This approach is working: SAP has seen major growth in cloud revenues.
4. Cisco Systems
The vast networking needs of cloud computing and the Internet already provided a fertile market for Cisco to address, given that the company is synonymous with networking. Now, as multi-cloud emerges as a dominant cloud model – probably the dominant cloud model – Cisco is likely to be not only a dominant player, but also to shape the development of both cloud and edge computing. Keep an eye on the company’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) offering, which helps monitor-manage applications in heterogeneous cloud environments.
Along with software-defined storage, Nutanix offers a cloud platform that clients use for computing and virtualization. It’s also a leading player in hyper-converged infrastructure, and it also has a DRaaS (disaster recovery as a service) offering. Founded in 2009, the company is a good example – among many – of firms that aren’t leading IaaS providers, but still find a useful and revenue-generating niche in the cloud sector.
Solidly aimed at the mid-to-large enterprise sector, ServiceNow provides a SaaS solution that facilitates – and automates – a wide array of technical management, including IT services management (ITSM) and IT operations and business management. To expand its reach, the ServiceNow platform allows clients to manage and monitor third-party applications. Based solidly in the cloud era, ServiceNow’s employee workflow management solutions are clearly on the rise.
Users weren’t thrilled when Adobe – the maker of leading creative software like Photoshop and Premiere Pro – adopted a SaaS model in 2013. Many users like the “one-time purchase” model. Yet in pushing its market to SaaS, Adobe could more carefully control the version of its users, not to mention boost its revenue. With its success, Adobe is expanding its cloud-based market considerably, to data, analytics, and commerce. It even has its own AI platform, Sensei, the goal of which is to help creators work faster and more efficiently.
Building on a well-regarded SaaS offering in human capital management – think HR, payroll, benefits – Workday is building out its cloud-based portfolio in a natural direction: cloud-based financial management software, along with planning and procurement. In short, Salesforce’s success is an inspiration for Workday. The company is growing rapidly: Workday has acquired more than a dozen companies in the last several years, greatly bulking up its SaaS management offerings.