Updated March 8, 2021
This set of articles helps professionals familiar with Microsoft Azure to familiarize themselves with the key concepts required in order to get started with Google Cloud. The guide compares Google Cloud with Azure and highlights the similarities and differences between the two. In addition, the guide provides quick-reference mappings of Azure concepts, and terminology to the corresponding products, concepts, and terminology on Google Cloud.
This document doesn't attempt to compare the syntax and semantics of the SDK, APIs, or command-line tools provided by Azure and Google Cloud.
This set of articles compares Google Cloud services to Azure services as they are used in the Resource Manager deployment model. The articles do not discuss Azure's deprecated classic deployment model. Additionally, this guide doesn’t attempt to compare the syntax and semantics of the SDK, APIs, or command-line tools provided by Azure and Google Cloud.
For a mapping of all GCP services to equivalents in Azure, see our service comparison.
Why Google Cloud?
For over 20 years, Google has been building one of the fastest, most powerful, and highest-quality cloud infrastructures on the planet. Internally, Google uses this infrastructure for several high-traffic and global-scale services, including Gmail, Maps, YouTube, and Search. Because of the size and scale of these services, Google has put a lot of work into optimizing its infrastructure and creating a suite of tools and services to manage it effectively. Google Cloud puts this infrastructure and these management resources at your fingertips.
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Regions and zones
As with Azure, Google Cloud products are deployed within regions located around the world. Each region consists of one or more data centers that are in geographical proximity to each other. Both Azure and Google Cloud further divide availability into zones, which are isolated locations within a region.
In addition, some Google Cloud services, such as App Engine and Cloud Storage Multi-Regional Storage, replicate and serve data at a multi-regional level rather than at the more granular region or zone levels. Google Cloud also provides a dual-region replication model for Cloud Storage and Compute Engine. As of April 2019, this feature is in beta.
For more details on zonal, regional, and multi-regional services, see Geography and regions.
Isolation and availability
By design, Azure pairs regions that are in the same continent and that are physically isolated from each other by at least 300 miles into availability zones. Azure encourages users to architect their systems and applications around these pairs, creating an active-active recovery setup for availability and isolation purposes. In addition, some Azure services, such as Blob Storage, have replication options that automatically replicate data across paired regions.
Google Cloud employs a similar strategy for isolation and availability, isolating regions from each other for availability reasons. Google Cloud does not prescribe specific regional pairings. However, as with Azure, you must architect your application across multiple regions if you want to achieve high availability. Also as with Azure, some Google Cloud services such as Cloud Storage Multi-Regional Storage and Cloud Storage dual-regional storage classes have built-in multi-region synchronization.
Accounts and quotas
To use an Azure service, you must either sign up for an Azure account or add Azure to your existing Microsoft Account. After you set up your Azure account, you can create a subscription within the account, and then launch services within that subscription. Each Azure account can support multiple subscriptions, and each subscription can use its own billing account if needed.
The Google Cloud model is similar to that of Azure. You get access to Google Cloud services by setting up a Google Account. An account is part of an organization, which is similar to a tenant in Azure.
You deploy resources that share the same management lifecycle within projects, which are functionally similar to resource groups in Azure. Projects often contain core common network or storage resources shared across the organization, or used to group resources for a set of common services or applications.
Azure and Google Cloud both have default soft limits on their services for new accounts. These soft limits are not tied to technical limitations for a given service. Instead, they help prevent fraudulent accounts from using excessive resources. These soft limits also help limit risk for new users, keeping them from spending more than intended as they explore the platform. If you find that your application has outgrown these limits, Azure and Google Cloud provide ways to get in touch with the appropriate teams to raise the limits on their services.
Because pricing tends to change more often than core features or services, this set of articles avoids pricing specifics where possible. However, each article discusses the pricing model behind each service wherever that's helpful. For up-to-date price comparisons for your solution, use the Azure pricing calculator and Google Cloud price calculator to see which configuration provides the best value in terms of flexibility, scalability, and cost.
Both Azure and Google Cloud provide discounts for a subset of their respective services, but through different mechanisms.
You can get discounts on some Azure services through your Microsoft Enterprise Agreement by committing to a base-wide installation of one or more Microsoft Server or Cloud components with full Software Assurance coverage. If you don't have a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement, you might also be able to get discounted rates through a reseller.
Google Cloud provides sustained-use discounts on a per-service basis based on your monthly usage. For example, Google Compute Engine offers sustained-use discounts based on the cumulative number of hours that a given virtual machine runs in a given month. If your resource usage is steady and predictable, you can also get heavily discounted rates through committed-use discounts. Committed-use discounts allow you to purchase a specific number of virtual CPUs (vCPUs) and a specific amount of memory at a discount over full prices, depending on the duration you commit to.
Azure and Google Cloud approach their support plans in different ways. Azure bundles their support levels into subscription tiers. For more information on the available Azure support plans, see Azure Support Plans. As with Azure, Google Cloud provides basic account support and online help resources free of charge. Additionally, you can purchase Google Cloud paid support services. For more information on available support plans, see Google Cloud support plans.
Resource management interfaces
Azure and Google Cloud each provide command-line interfaces (CLIs) for interacting with services and resources. Azure provides both the Azure CLI, which is a cross-platform tool, and a set of Azure PowerShell cmdlets that you can install and use through Windows PowerShell or PowerShell Core. Google Cloud provides a set of command-line tools and PowerShell cmdlets through the Cloud SDK, a cross-platform toolkit.
Azure and Google Cloud also provide web-based consoles. Each console allows users to create, manage, and monitor their resources. The console for Google Cloud is located at https://console.cloud.google.com/. You can also use the Cloud SDK in your web browser by using Google Cloud Shell.
Check out the Google Cloud for Azure Professionals articles for each service type: