Comparing Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon for Nonprofits



Comparing prices among the major IaaS cloud vendors is not as easy as simply checking the cost of one virtual machine versus another. There are a multitude of factors influence price: The number of software users, the type of software and the contract length, to name a few.

Original article from Right Scale

So how are you supposed to know which vendor offers the best deal? The key is to understand the different offers from Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform and then determine which is best for your nonprofit. 

Azure Pricing

The primary approach to getting discounts on Azure is your Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA). EAs offer discounts from 15-45 percent depending on the level of usage you commit to. Announced at Microsoft Ignite 2016 as part of its larger $1 Billion “Public Cloud for the Public Good” commitment, Microsoft will offer a recurring $5,000  credit to qualified nonprofit organizations and users as it strives to bring 70,000 nonprofits to the cloud over the next three years.

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AWS Pricing

The primary discounting method for compute resources on AWS is Reserved Instances (RIs). RIs are not actual instances, but rather should be thought of as discount coupons that can be applied to instances that meet certain criteria (region availability zone, instance family, and operating system). You get the discount in exchange for making a one-year or three-year commitment with the longer commitment giving a higher discount. If you also pay for some or all of that committed usage upfront, the discount gets larger. Convertible RIs are a new type of 3-Year RI that give you a smaller discount, but give you the flexibility to move the discount between different instance families during the term of the RI. 

Read: Amazon Web Services for Nonprofits 

Discounts range from 24 to 75 percent depending on the RI term, the instance type, and the region. Often 1-Year No Upfront RIs are a good starting point, and we used those in our comparisons among clouds. We recommend caution in purchasing 3-Year RIs, since your usage may change drastically over 3 years. Although Convertible RIs allow you to adapt to new instance types, you can see in the chart below that Convertible RIs offer only a 5-6 percent extra discount as compared to 1-Year Standard RIs while locking you in for 3 years instead of 1.


Google Cloud Pricing

Google Cloud for nonprofits provides the simplest approach to saving money on compute resources through the Sustained Usage Discount (SUD). The SUD, which happens automatically and requires no upfront commitment, gives you a discount on each monthly bill based on the percentage of time that instances in a certain family were running during the month. Once instances have been running for 25 percent of the month, the price goes down to 80 percent of on-demand (a 20 percent discount), and when you hit 50 percent and 75 percent of the month, the discount goes up another 20 percent. As a result, instances running 100 percent of the time during the month will earn a maximum 30 percent discount.


Comparing AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud Pricing

Your prices on compute are going to depend on your particular use case and your discounting approach with AWS and Azure, since Google Sustained Usage Discounts are automatically applied.

  • If you are not using AWS Reserved Instances and don’t have a Microsoft EA discount for Azure, Google Cloud is going to be cheaper in most scenarios. 
  • If you commonly need the performance requirements of local SSD (vs attached storage like Persistent Disk), you’re going to pay a premium for it on Google Cloud.
  • Azure consistently matches or beats AWS on price for on-demand.
  • AWS is likely not going to be the cheapest in most of these scenarios but it is often in the middle. 



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