Choosing an integrated cloud services vendor for your business enterprise is not an easy decision, and the choice should not be made without first considering dozens of factors. However, the decision-making process can be assisted by knowing your business, including an overall strategy of what is to be accomplished and understanding the requirements that will get you there.

Oddly enough, because it is calculated based on usage and activity, the cost of using cloud services is often the last factor to be considered in the decision-making process. Until your business knows what it wants and how it’s going to use it, there is really no way to determine exact overall cost–an educated estimate is all you have to go on.

Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform are the three major operators in the full-service integrated cloud services market, and they are well aware of the lack of available concrete cost figures. This is why all three vendors offer a cost calculator system that can help you estimate costs for your business before you make a commitment to their respective services.

As an experiment to determine price differences, if any, we used each vendor’s calculator to estimate the cost of a basic set of features. Your results will vary depending on what services you choose to use, but the experiment can still inform your decision-making.

SEE: Quick glossary: Cloud platform services (Tech Pro Research)

Estimated cost comparison

For the purposes of this experiment, we calculated for three basic services:

  • A single virtual machine with two virtual CPUs and 8GB of RAM
  • 1TB of general storage
  • A basic identification and authentication service tying into Active Directory

Those services are about as basic as cloud services can get. Other services, especially niche services like artificial intelligence, IoT management, and distributed databases, are going to vary greatly depending on the vendor and, more important, usage.

Table A shows the monthly cost each vendor’s calculator estimated based on those services.

Table A

Although they reached similar overall estimated costs, AWS and Azure arrived at their total amounts in very different ways. Azure charges a premium for the virtual machine, while AWS puts a premium on storage. Google Cloud also places a premium on storage but minimizes the cost of Active Directory support, which only raises more questions that need to be answered before a final decision is reached.

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Making comparisons

If nothing else, the experiment shows that enterprise decision makers have their work cut out for them when it comes to choosing an integrated cloud vendor. AWS, Cloud, and Azure all offer a vast array of cloud-based services, and all three charge different fees for each service. Comparing the three services is going to require a systematic process.

Tech Pro Research, TechRepublic’s premium sister site, offers Vendor comparison: Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, and Google Cloud to help your decision-making process. This toolkit can help you focus on just the features and services your business needs and then compare how well each vendor can meet those particular needs.

SEE: AWS re:Invent 2018: A guide for tech and business pros (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Making a decision

By its nature, choosing an integrated cloud vendor is not a simple process. There are many factors to consider and many decisions to be made. Knowing your business backward and forward before you start the process is the first step. Sticking to a systematic process and applying a capable comparison tool will also save time and resources. Cost comes into play only once you know what services you want and determine how you will use them.

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Your thoughts

How did you choose your cloud provider? Did the estimated cost match the actual cost? Share your experiences and opinions with your peers at TechRepublic in the discussion thread below.