Back in June 2015, Google commissioned a whitepaper discussing AWS vs. Google Cloud pricing. As you might imagine, the authors of the whitepaper answered the question is Google Cloud cheaper than AWS with a resounding “yes.” However, a lot has changed since June 2015.
Whereas Amazon has pursued a policy of regular price cuts, Google snatched the carpet from under the market leader´s feet with the launch of custom instances in November 2015. The AWS vs. GCP pricing wars continued in 2016 with AWS launching Reserved Instances, and Google releasing Committed Use and Sustained Use Discounts.
Then, in September 2017, Amazon announced it will offer per-second billing for EC2 instances, EBS volumes, and several other services. Within two weeks, Google responded by extending its existing per-second billing program to Compute Engine instances running on both Linux and Windows servers. The back-and-forth exchanges continued in the following years, with GCP extending Committed Use Discounts beyond CPUs in June 2019, and AWS responding with the launch of AWS Savings Plans five months later.
So, is Google Cloud cheaper than AWS?
Because of factors such as custom GCP instances, AWS Savings Plans and ongoing service improvements, it's difficult to conduct a meaningful AWS vs. Google Cloud pricing comparison. Where similarities can be found, AWS tends to be less expensive on a CPU/hour basis for most workloads, while GCP is the cheaper option for compute-intensive workloads, most storage options, and some database services.
This might surprise a few people—particularly the authors of the 2015 whitepaper—however, the comparison was conducted on an hour-by-hour comparison, ignoring GCP´s Sustained Use Discounts and Inferred Instances. Once these factors are taken into account, Google Cloud is cheaper than AWS in most use cases—it just takes a lot of working out.
It's not only about AWS vs. GCP cost
Naturally, businesses will be concerned about obtaining the best value for money when comparing AWS vs. Google Cloud pricing, but decisions should not be made on AWS vs. GCP cost comparisons alone. Factors such as flexibility, ease of use, reliability and performance should also enter calculations, in which case Google Cloud Platform wins hands down.
However, AWS has an advantage in cloud features and points of presence around the globe. AWS offers many more regions and availability zones than GCP, which can affect the speed at which it's possible to access and use resources deployed in the cloud. This might be an important consideration for organizations with multinational operations—particularly outside the U.S. and Europe.
One important point about AWS vs. GCP pricing
Returning to AWS vs. GCP pricing, one important point to be aware of is vendor lock-in. In cloud computing terms, this is the scenario where a business commits to a level of service in order to receive a discount. With AWS, businesses can increase Reserved Instance and Savings Plans discounts by paying upfront for one or three years, or by partially paying upfront and paying the remainder monthly. GCP doesn't offer an advanced payment option, but will contract you to a certain payment every month.
While Reserved Instances have become more flexible in recent years, you're still not able to get out of AWS Savings Plans and GCP's Committed Use Discounts until they expire. If a business commits to one service provider, and another introduces features that would substantially benefit its operations, there's no way to change without experiencing a financial loss. This is one of the reasons why businesses consider hybrid and multicloud options.
Is a Google Cloud vs. AWS price comparison still relevant?
With an increasing number of businesses moving towards hybrid and multicloud environments (which also have the advantage of improved disaster recovery planning), one has to ask whether a Google Cloud vs. AWS price comparison is still relevant. Certainly, with the challenges involved in creating a like-for-like AWS vs. GCP cost comparison, many compute, memory, storage, and network types fall outside comparison parameters—creating a false indication of AWS vs. Google Cloud pricing.
Therefore, with the advantages of hybrid and multicloud environments, and with negligible price differences between deployments, a Google Cloud vs. AWS price comparison isn't an effective way of calculating which the better option is—if the objective is to use one option exclusively. Instead, businesses should look at optimizing cloud costs by implementing software suitable for multicloud monitoring and cost optimization at every level.