GCP vs AWS

GCP vs AWS: Comparing the Top Cloud-Storage Service Providers

Mohan Sai Teki

Mohan Sai Teki

Associate Software Engineer

Published Jan 09 2020

Today, most organizations either want to move away from their infrastructure from on-premises to cloud or use a hybrid model. According to Gartner, by 2022, public cloud computing market value is expected to grow up to $331.2 billion. It’s no surprise that, in the future, every company will use one of the cloud-computing services for their applications at some point. However, if you are looking for the best cloud service provider for your application, here are some aspects that you must consider.

To run your cloud application smoothly, you will need different cloud services. As one of the most vital services, storage services will enable you to efficiently save your application data, logs, etc. Through this blog, you will get an overview of storage services being offered by top cloud service providers like Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Storage Services by GCP Storage Services by AWS
GCP Cloud Storage Regional and Multi-Regional Amazon S3
GCP Cloud Storage Nearline Amazon EBS
GCP Cloud Storage Cold lineAmazon EFS
GCP Persistent Disk Amazon Glacier
GCP Filestore Amazon FSx for Lustre
Amazon FSx for Windows File Server

Rather than understanding every service separately, let’s go through the situations where these services are best suited. Here are some general scenarios:

  1. Need storage service to save a large amount of data.
  2. Need storage service to attach to virtual machines.
  3. Need storage service to use as a standard file system.
  4. Need storage service for backups.
  5. Need storage service for archives.

1. Need storage service to save a large amount of data

Do you want to save a large amount of data that is highly available, scalable, and with low latency (in fetching the data) for your application? For such situations, you have Google Cloud storage (Regional and Multi-regional) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) services.

These storage services store data in the form of buckets and objects. These services treat the files stored in the system as atomic units. It means that you cannot overwrite a particular section of the file; you can only perform ‘create’ or ‘delete’ operations. Both these services support object versioning and lifecycle management. Another advantage of these services is that you can notify the other service when a file is uploaded or deleted.

Architecture of a Bucket

In terms of cost, both these services charge you for the amount of data stored every month by network egress for API requests made to the cloud storage based on the data storage region. These services give you the flexibility to store large amounts of data without worrying about the underlying infrastructure.

Here are the summarized features of Google Cloud Platform (Regional and Multi-regional) vs Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) services.

Features GCP Regional and Multi-regional Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) Services
Unit of Deployment Bucket Bucket
Deployment Identifier Globally Unique Key Globally Unique Key
File System Emulation Limited Limited
Object Metadata Yes Yes
Object Versioning Yes Yes
Object Lifecycle Management Yes Yes

2. Need storage service to attach to the virtual machines

Virtual machines (VM) are one of the key resources in cloud computing. VM uses internal memory to store the application data. You can use a storage service that is attached to a VM over a network or directly. In such cases, cloud providers may offer you block storage. GCP calls it a ‘Persistent Disk,’ and ‘AWS’ calls it an ‘Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS).’

You can use Persistent Disk to mount to a Compute Engine (GCP VMs) and Amazon EBS to mount to Amazon EC2 (AWS VMs). These block-storage services can scale up to 64 TB (for Persistent disk) and 16 TIB (for Amazon EBS). In both services, you can attach a block storage to a VM in two different ways: locally or over the network.

If your application needs high IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second), then it is better to use a locally-attached block storage. When your application can compromise on IOPS, then you can choose network-attached block storage. Another advantage of block storage is that you can attach multiple disks to a single VM. The maximum number of disks that can be attached to a single Compute Engine is 128 and to Amazon EC2 is 40. In both services, you can create a backup of disk volume by creating a snapshot to provision a new VM with the same data later.

Here are the summarized features of Google Cloud Platform Persistent Disk vs Amazon EBS.

Features GCP Persistent Disk Amazon EBS
Volume Types Zonal standard disks (HDD), regional disks, zonal SSD disks, regional SSD disks EBS General Purpose SSD, Cold HDD, EBS Provisioned IOPS SSD, Throughput Optimized HDD.
Attached Volumes Per Instance Maximum 128 Maximum 40
Volume Attachment Read-only volumes can be attached with multiple instances, while read-write volumes can be attached to only one instance at a time. It can be attached to only one instance.
Max Volume Size 64 TB 16 TIB
Snapshotting Yes Yes
Snapshot Locality Global Regional

Prices of both EBS and Persistent Disks are based on per-GB-per-month usage. In addition to this, EBS prices can vary depending on the region.

3. Need storage service to use as a standard file system

If you want to use a traditional standard file system instead of a block and object storage, GCP offers Cloud Filestore, and AWS offers Amazon Elastic File System (EFS) and Amazon FSx.

With these services, you can mount the filesystem to the VMs through a network-attached storage (NAS). These services offer high throughput, low latency, and high IOPS. GCP offers two types of Cloud Filestores: standard and premium. Besides EFS, Amazon offers Amazon FSx Luster and Amazon FSx for Windows file servers. FSx Luster is used for performing heavy compute-intensive loads, such as machine-learning, heavy computing, etc., and FSx for Windows File server offers more advanced features to fit your windows application.

Here are the summarized features of GCP Cloud Filestore vs Amazon Elastic File System (EFS).

Features GCP Cloud Filestore Amazon Elastic File System (EFS)
Tiers/Modes Standard and premium modes General Purpose and Max I/O. Each mode supports either Bursting Throughput or Provisioned Throughput mode.
Deployment Locality Based on Zone Based on Region
Encryption Enabled at rest and in transit by default. At rest and in transit. Needs to be enabled.
Max File Size 16TB 47.9TB
Protocol NFSv3 NFSv4

For these services, GCP and AWS charges on the per-GB-per-month basis and the price may change depending on the region.

4. Need storage service for backups

To store your application data that is not being used cost-effectively, GCP offers Cloud Storage Nearline storage service and AWS offers Amazon S3 Standard-IA and One Zone-IA.

These services are enhanced versions of cloud storage in GCP and Amazon S3 in AWS that can help you in reducing the storage cost. These storage services make backups wherein you can access data once a month. GCP Cloud Storage Nearline can deploy data at a multi-regional and regional level, but AWS uses S3 Standard-IA for regional deployments and S3 One Zone-IA for zonal deployments.

Here are the summarized features of GCP’s Cloud Storage Nearline storage service vs Amazon S3 Standard-IA and One Zone-IA.

Features GCP Cloud Storage Nearline Storage Service Amazon S3 Standard-IA and One Zone-IA
First-byte Latency Milliseconds (identical to Cloud Storage Standard) Standard-IA: Milliseconds (identical to Amazon S3 standard)
One Zone-IA: Milliseconds (identical to Amazon S3 standard)
SLA Yes Standard-IA: Yes
One Zone-IA: Yes
Minimum Storage Period 30 days Standard-IA: 30 days
One Zone-IA: 30 days
Deployment Locality Multi-Regional or Regional Standard-IA: Regional
One Zone-IA: Zonal

Pricing follows the same pattern as the previous two types of storage services. However, a significant setback for AWS services is that you would need to store at least 128 KB data. If your storage is lower than 128 KB, AWS will still charge you for 128 KB. In AWS, If you delete your data before the minimum storage time, i.e., 30 days, you will be charged for 30 days, whereas GCP doesn’t charge you for the remaining days.

5. Need storage service for archives

When you want to store the files that are accessed once in three months, you can opt for GCP Cloud Storage Coldline and AWS Amazon Glacier.

These services are used to store log data of an application for future purposes. Data stored in these services are retrieved as quickly as possible. GCP and AWS will charge you to retrieve data per GB.

Here are the summarized features of GCP Cloud Storage Coldline vs Amazon Glacier.

Features GCP Cloud Storage Coldline Amazon Glacier
First-byte Latency Milliseconds (identical to Cloud Storage Standard) Minutes to hours
Deployment Locality Multi-Regional or Regional Regional
Minimum Storage Period 90 days 90 days
SLA Yes No

Both GCP and AWS will charge you based on the amount of data stored per month. For instance, in AWS, when you store data for five days, it will still charge you for 90 days (which is the minimum storage period), but Google Cloud Platform will charge you for 5 days only.

Every cloud provider offers different storage services that fit your cloud application requirements. Hence, you must choose the best storage service that will help your application to run smoothly and provide valuable services to the users. Your choice of storage service can significantly reduce your cloud spending since not all the data needs to be accessed frequently; hence it does not require high-speed data processing.