Updated Dec 03, 2020
This set of articles is designed to help professionals who are familiar with Microsoft Azure 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 products, 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.
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.
Try it for yourself
If you're new to Google Cloud, create an account to evaluate how our products perform in real-world scenarios. New customers also get $300 in free credits to run, test, and deploy workloads.Get started for free
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.
Cloud platforms provide a set of core services such as compute, storage, networking, and database services. Some core services include the following examples:
|Compute||Azure virtual machines, Azure App Service, Azure Kubernetes Service||Compute Engine, App Engine, Google Kubernetes Engine|
|Storage||Azure Blob Storage, Azure Managed Disks||Cloud Storage, Persistent Disk|
|Networking||Azure Virtual Network (VNet)||Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)|
|Databases||Azure SQL Database, Azure Synapse Analytics, CosmosDB||Cloud SQL, Firestore, Cloud Bigtable, Cloud Spanner|
Each platform then builds other offerings on top of these services. Typically, the higher-level services can be categorized as one of the following types:
|Category||Azure example||Google Cloud example|
|Application services to help optimize applications in the cloud||Azure Service Bus||Pub/Sub|
|Big data and analytics, AI, and IoT services to help process, interpret, and derive insights from large amounts of data||Azure HDInsight||Dataflow|
|Management services to help you manage your application and track its performance||Azure Application Insights||Cloud Monitoring|
The following tables provide a side-by-side comparison of the services available on Azure and Google Cloud.
For a detailed listing of Google Cloud products, visit Products and services.
AI and Machine Learning
|Application integration||Azure Cognitive Services||AI building blocks|
|Auto-generated models||Azure Machine Learning||AI Platform|
|Notebooks||Azure Notebooks||AI Platform Notebooks|
|Vision||Computer Vision||AutoML Vision|
|VMs||Data Science Virtual Machines||AI Platform Deep Learning VM Image|
|GPUs||GPU support on Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)||AI Platform Deep Learning Containers|
|Natural language processing||Language Understanding (LUIS)||Cloud Natural Language API|
|Bots||Microsoft Bot Service||Dialogflow|
|Speech||Speech to Text||Speech-to-Text|
|Text||Text to Speech||Text-to-Speech|
|Video intelligence||Video Indexer||Video Intelligence API|
|PaaS||App Service, Cloud Services||App Engine|
|IaaS||Azure Dedicated Host||Sole-Tenant Nodes|
|IaaS||Azure GPU optimized VMs||Cloud GPUs|
|Containers||Azure Container Instances||Cloud Run|
|Serverless functions||Azure Functions||Cloud Functions|
|IaaS||Virtual Machines||Compute Engine|
|IaaS||Virtual Machines Scale Sets||Instance groups|
|IaaS||Azure Migrate||Migrate for Compute Engine|
|IaaS||Azure Batch, Azure Spot VMs||Preemptible VMs|
|PaaS||Azure SQL||Cloud SQL for SQL Server|
|IaaS||Azure VMware Solution||Google Cloud VMware Engine|
|Registry||Azure Container Registry||Artifact Registry, Container Registry|
|Builds||Azure Container Registry Tasks - build||Cloud Build|
|Instances||Azure Container Instances||Cloud Run|
|Orchestration||Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)||Google Kubernetes Engine|
|Stream and batch processing||Azure Databricks||Dataflow|
|Discovery and metadata management||Azure Datacatalog||Data Catalog|
|Data integration||Azure Data Factory||Cloud Data Fusion|
|Stream data ingestion||Event Hubs, Service Bus||Pub/Sub|
|Batch data processing||HDInsight, Batch||Dataproc, Dataflow|
|Analytics||Power BI||Looker, Google Data Studio|
|Stream data processing||Stream Analytics||Dataflow|
|Analytics||Synapse Analytics, Data Lake Store||BigQuery|
|Cache||Azure Cache for Redis||Memorystore|
|NoSQL: indexed||Cosmos DB||Firestore|
|RDBMS||SQL Database||Cloud SQL, Cloud Spanner|
|NoSQL: key-value||Table Storage||Firestore, Cloud Bigtable|
|Automated tasks||Azure Automation||Cloud Scheduler|
|SDK||Azure SDK||Cloud SDK|
|IDE||Visual Studio Codespaces||Cloud Code|
Hybrid and Multi-Cloud
|API management||API Management||Apigee, Cloud Endpoints|
|Management and orchestration||Azure ARC||Anthos|
|Connectivity||Azure ExpressRoute||Cloud Interconnect|
Internet of Things (IoT)
|IoT on Edge||Azure IoT Edge||Cloud IoT Edge TPU|
|Managed IoT||Azure IoT Hub||IoT Core|
|Billing||Azure Billing API||Cost Management|
|Shell||Azure Cloud Shell||Cloud Shell|
|Mobile management||Azure mobile app||Cloud Mobile App|
|Web management||Azure Portal||Google Cloud Console|
|Resource deployment||Azure Resource Manager||Cloud Deployment Manager|
Media and Gaming
|Encoding||Azure Encoding||Transcoder API|
|Gaming||Azure PlayFab||Game Servers|
|Data migration||Azure Data Box||Storage Transfer Service, Transfer Appliance|
|Database migration||Azure Database Migration Service||Database Migration Service|
|IaaS migration||Azure Migrate||Migrate for Compute Engine|
|CDN||Azure CDN||Cloud CDN|
|DDoS protection||Azure DDoS Protection||Google Cloud Armor|
|DNS||Azure DNS||Cloud DNS|
|Dedicated Interconnect||ExpressRoute||Cloud Interconnect|
|Load balancer||Azure Load Balancer, Application Gateway||Cloud Load Balancing|
|Traffic rules||Azure Firewall, Network Security Groups||Firewall Rules|
|Traffic management||Azure Front Door, Azure Traffic Manager||Traffic Director|
|Secure connectivity||Azure Virtual Network Gateway||Cloud VPN|
|NAT||Azure Virtual Network NAT||Cloud NAT|
|Traffic analysis||Network Watcher||Network Telemetry|
|Network security||Web Application Firewall||Google Cloud Armor|
|Virtual networks||Azure Virtual Networks (VNets)||Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)|
|Container monitoring||Azure Monitor for containers||Kubernetes Engine Monitoring|
|Monitoring||Application Insights||Cloud Monitoring|
|Logging||Log Analytics||Cloud Logging|
|Deployment||Azure Resource Manager||Cloud Deployment Manager|
Security and Identity
|Data protection||Azure Information Protection||Cloud Data Loss Prevention|
|Secret management||Azure Key Vault||Secret Manager|
|Key encryption||Azure Key Vault||Cloud Key Management Service|
|Security management||Azure Security Center||Security Command Center|
|Security insights||Azure Sentinel||Chronicle|
|App verification||Microsoft Azure Attestation||Binary Authorization|
|Threat detection||Microsoft Defender for Identity||Event Threat Detection|
Identity and Access
|IAM||Azure Active Directory, Azure AD B2C, Azure AD Domain Services||Identity and Access Management (IAM), Managed Service for Microsoft Active Directory|
|App access||Azure AD Application Proxy||Identity-Aware Proxy|
|MFA||Azure Multi-Factor Authentication||Titan Security Key|
|Policy||Azure Policy||Organization Policy Service, Policy Intelligence|
|Access control||Azure Role-Based Access Control||Identity and Access Management (IAM), Context-Aware Access|
|PaaS||Azure App Service||App Engine|
|Containers||Azure Container Instances||Cloud Run|
|Functions||Azure Functions||Cloud Functions|
|Workflows||Azure Logic Apps||Cloud Composer, Workflows|
|Archival storage||Azure Archive Storage||Cloud Storage Archive|
|Object storage||Azure Blob Storage||Cloud Storage|
|Reduced-availability storage||Azure Cool Blob Storage||Cloud Storage Nearline and Cloud Storage Coldline|
|Data transfer||Azure Data Box||Transfer Appliance|
|File storage||Azure Files||Filestore|
|Block storage||Azure Managed Disks||Persistent Disk, Local SSD|
Check out the Google Cloud for Azure Professionals articles for each service type: