Would you replace your Google Drive account or Dropbox for a Pendrive? Probably not – with Google Drive, you have access to your files whenever you need them, and you can share them in seconds as well. Cloud computing brought a revolution both to regular users as well to businesses.
41 % of EU enterprises used cloud computing in 2021, mostly for e-mail and the storage of files. And at the end of the previous year, 67% of all enterprise infrastructure was cloud-based.
Fintech brands are no exception here. Companies in the industry have benefited from cloud-based tools on several fronts, ranging from improved security and flexibility to increased innovation and scalability. The only problem might be which of the many cloud services a company should pick. Among hundreds of less-known platforms (such as Alibaba or Oracle), there are also three tried-and-tested platforms by companies from multiple industries – AWS, Google, and Azure.
What makes them so special, and which would be the best fit for your company?
What are cloud-computing services?
Before we compare all three platforms, let’s take a moment to go back to the basics and explain what even are cloud computing and cloud computing services.
Cloud services are those that run on the internet rather than on a specific device or place. Companies that offer cloud services enable users to store files and use applications or hardware working from remote servers and then access the data over the internet. That way, the user can access the data from anywhere, regardless of where they are or what device they use – all they need is an internet connection.
In earlier years, companies simply ran applications or programs installed on their computers or server in their building. It worked pretty well…for a while. Lockdowns following the pandemic revealed that the traditional on-premise installation model is actually rather limited:
- The data or application can be accessed only on the device it is installed
- Sharing data between team members is complicated
- Security, upgrades, and maintenance were on the company’s side
- Users need to keep an eye on how much available storage they have and add more if necessary (which might be costly)
- Adding new features or customizing the platform in any way is difficult (if not impossible) as well
By allowing people to access data or applications over the internet, cloud computing solved all of those problems. Cloud technology transformed the internet into an endless cloud, and voilà – your data, work, and applications are accessible from any device connected to the internet, anywhere in the world.
Your business can take advantage of the cloud in three ways:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): cloud-based services, pay-as-you-go for services such as storage, networking, and virtualization.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): hardware and software tools available over the internet.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): software available via a third party over the internet.
Most businesses use a combination of SaaS and IaaS cloud computing services, they are also often using PaaS to build applications.
What are the benefits of cloud computing?
A Gartner study revealed that the public cloud sector is expected to soar to $331 billion by 2022. Well, with all the benefits cloud computing brought to all businesses (including FinTech), that shouldn’t be much of a surprise. With cloud-powered platforms, companies have access to their databases and all necessary tools for their work wherever they are at the moment – and whichever device they are using.
Plus, they don’t need to worry anymore about buying and maintaining business servers, hosting, or any hardware they would need for running their on-premise platforms. On top of that, cloud platforms are packed with valuable features that conventional platforms lacked. And since those platforms typically use a “pay-as-you-use” subscription model rather than forcing companies to make large up-front investments, they are much easier on the companies’ budgets as well.
What other benefits are there?
- Cloud service providers handle updates, maintenance, and regular bug fixing
- Businesses can easily integrate their cloud system with any tools they are using (like CRM).
- No need to build a data center in the office or clutter the company with hardware, equipment, or wires
- Numerous available services, features, and applications
- Cloud storage offers unlimited storage capabilities
Fintech companies were initially hesitant to begin using cloud services. Still, once they learned about the many benefits of cloud platforms, such as secure storage, incredible flexibility and scalability, and 24/7 uptime, they were more than happy to begin using cloud services. Right now, a total of 22% of all applications within fintech are currently running on the cloud. By using these applications, the financial sector can become more competitive and efficient – and that directly benefits customers as well, as they have access to better and faster financial services.
What are the three most popular cloud-service providers?
Once you start researching what options you have for a business cloud service provider online, you will surely come across those three names: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. These three platforms dominate the cloud service industry, thanks to the vast number of services they can offer.
Based on Statista’s report, Amazon Web Services (AWS), the largest vendor in the cloud infrastructure services market, controlled 33% of the market in the fourth quarter of 2021. The second place goes to Microsoft Azure with a 22% market share, followed by Google Cloud with 9%. These three cloud vendors accounted for 64% of total spending in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Let’s have a closer look at what those three vendors can offer.
#1. Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers over 200 fully-featured services from data centers worldwide, making it the world’s most comprehensive and widely used cloud platform. It combines Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and packaged Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings to fit the needs of a wide range of industries.
The wide range of tools and services provided by AWS, combined with its ease of use, placed it as a top leader in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Services.
What can it offer?
Available services: Amazon Web Services can handle almost every business need, including computing, databases, infrastructure management, application development, and security. Among hundreds of services available inside AWS, you can find tools such as Virtual Private Cloud, AWS Data Transfer, Simple Storage Service, Elastic Compute Cloud, or AWS Key Management Service.
Locations: Currently, AWS spans 26 regions and 84 availability zones and works in over 245 countries.
Security: AWS also has multiple security services in-built, such as infrastructure security, DDoS mitigation, data encryption, inventory and configuration, monitoring and logging, or identity and access control. What’s more, it can boast of having 40+ compliance certifications – both global and country-specific.
Which companies use it: Instagram, Netflix, NASA, Sony, Airbnb, just to name a few.
Pros: AWS has the largest number of services available to businesses which are paid on a “pay as you use” basis, meaning you only pay for the services you really use. On their website, you can also find a “Free tier service” section where you can sign up either for a 12-month free offer or find services that AWS offers to their customers entirely for free.
Cons: What services are offered by AWS is determined by the customer’s location, so you first need to carefully check which exactly features are available in your region. The technical support fee is pretty hefty as well.
Pricing: AWS uses a “pay-as-you-use” model, meaning no long-term contracts or licenses are required. The monthly cost depends on how many services you use and for how many hours you used the services (since Amazon EC2 usage is calculated on an hourly basis). But with so many services offered by them and each having a different price, it might be difficult to get accurate estimates, so it’s a good idea to use their cost calculator or ask for a quote.
#2. Microsoft Azure
Microsoft Azure was launched in 2010, so years after the release of AWS and Google Cloud. However, because of its rapid growth, it has quickly become one of the top cloud providers. Microsoft Azure revenue grew 50% year over year during the first quarter of 2022, similar to the previous quarter’s 51% revenue growth.
What should you know about it?
Services: Azure has in-built over 200 products and services from multiple categories: from AI and Machine learning and Developer tools to Hybrid cloud, Internet of Things, Mixed Reality, and Networking. Azure also can be quickly integrated with all other Microsoft products, such as Office 365.
Locations: Azure is spread across 58 regions with dedicated infrastructure each and is available in 140 countries/regions. Every region has a minimum of three availability zones.
Security: Among the many features Azure provides its clients is a state-of-the-art security system that follows the ADADSC model: Detect, Assess, Diagnose, Stabilize, and Close. As a result of their high standards, they have received over 90 compliance certifications for IaaS security.
Which companies use it: Verizon, Adobe, HP, Marc Jacobs, and Symantec Corporation. Microsoft lists 1,239 case studies on their website, so their list of clients is pretty long.
Pros: Azure offers a service level agreement, or SLA, of 99.95% (approximately 4.38 hours of downtime per year), which makes it stand out from the competition. The largest number of security certifications from any other cloud platform is also a significant advantage.
Cons: Estimating the cost of the platform is tricky as each Azure service also has complementary services that are needed to run the services that you are after. What’s more, you should also watch out for hidden fees, such as transfer fees and backups. And as with AWS, their support service is pretty expensive as well.
Pricing: Microsoft Azure pricing is pretty complicated, both because of software licensing and because they charge by the minute, with prices given as hourly rates. That means that if the VM runs for less than 1 hour, you will be billed by the total number of minutes you used. In addition, you will have to pay for any underlying infrastructure resources consumed such as storage or networking. To know the approximate price of your service, It’s best to ask for a quote.
#3. Google Cloud
As the smallest of all three platforms, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) offers a more limited set of services and doesn’t have as large number of data centers as AWS and Azure. Where it shines though is providing customers with highly specialized services in three main areas: big data, machine learning, and analytics, as well as good scalability and load balancing.
Services: Google Cloud offers over 90 services to businesses, ranging from computing and storage tools to analytic and networking tools. Other Google products are also available in the cloud, including G Suite, Google Maps Platform, Google Hardware, Google Identity, and Chrome Enterprise.
Locations: Google Cloud Services are available in 29 regions, 88 zones, and 200+ countries.
Security: GCP includes a variety of built-in cloud security products, including Virtual Private Cloud, Data Encryption, Intrusion Detection System (IDS), Data Loss Prevention, and also Anti-DDoS, WAF, anti-bot, and API protection for web and API.
Which companies use it: Paypal, Goldman Sachs, UPS, Etsy, Twitter.
Pros: Excellent data analytics and storage capabilities, plus plenty of advanced machine learning services. The platform can also be seamlessly integrated with other Google services.
Cons: Since most applications are running on Google technology, that makes it quite problematic to move from Google Cloud Storage to any other platform.
Pricing: As with its major competitors, Google Cloud also offers a pay-per-use model, and the use cost is rounded up after every 10 minutes of use. You can pre-calculate the costs using the Calculator app, or you ask for a quote. New customers also get $300 in free credits to explore the Google Cloud Platform fully.
Choosing the right public cloud vendor will depend on your workload and needs. Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services are neck-and-neck in the race for cloud supremacy as both offer similar products, services, and pricing. Google and other cloud services like Alibaba and IBM, however, are improving daily.
Here, it is best to think about the tools you often use. For example, Azure is an excellent option for companies that use a lot of Microsoft software and Windows. In case your web-based startup needs to scale quickly, you might want to take a look at the Google Cloud Platform. And when you need a provider with a wide range of services and global reach, AWS might be the best choice. So, compare all three options, maybe ask for a quote and choose the one that fits your needs best.