If you’re considering an Internet of Things (IoT) deployment, chances are you’re likely planning on building it out in the cloud. Features like elastic compute and advanced analytics make a cloud environment well-suited to enterprise IoT.

Nowadays, the big three cloud providers of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud have many of the same features and capabilities when it comes to building a foundation for your IoT project. The real question is which cloud provider offers the best bang for your IoT buck.

According to a recent report from 451 Research, the answer isn’t simple–it depends on a variety of factors. Google Cloud IoT Core was never the least expensive option, according to the research, but Microsoft Azure IoT Hub and AWS IoT Core each took the top spot for cost savings depending on the metric being measured.

SEE: Internet of Things policy (Tech Pro Research)

Because of the differences in how the services are implemented, at least nine pricing parameters had to be considered for each IoT service, the report said. Using machine learning, 451 Research analysts looked at cost comparisons across 10 million IoT scenarios, according to a press release.

When considering IoT deployment scale, Microsoft Azure wins handily. For example, when the deployment has between zero and 20,000 devices, Azure was the least expensive in 78% of the simulations run by the analysts. Azure was less expensive in the remaining 22%.

For message size, the two were neck and neck. Deployments with messages that were between zero and 60KB were cheaper on Azure 51% of the time, and on AWS 49% of the time.

Message frequency was also analyzed. When the number of messages was between zero and 7,000 per day, AWS was the less expensive option 76% of the time. Azure, on the other hand, was less expensive 24% of the time in this simulation.

In addition to AWS and Microsoft being the cheapest options, they are also the most preferred IoT cloud platforms by developers. According to a developer survey by the Eclipse Foundation, 51.8% of developers picked AWS as their preferred IoT cloud platform, 31.2% chose Microsoft Azure, and 18.79% selected Google Cloud Platform.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • When it comes to IoT deployments in the cloud, AWS and Microsoft Azure are the two least expensive options, depending on the scale of the deployment and message frequency.
  • Microsoft Azure and AWS are the top two IoT cloud platforms preferred by developers.