Why I think GCP is better than AWS

AWS is the best platform to showcase how great GCP is…

Ikea for Cars

If AWS (Amazon Web Services) and GCP (Google Cloud Platform) were both car companies and you wanted to purchase a car, AWS would give you the wheel, a chunky verbose manual and the keys and then tell you to go to twenty different shops they also own to get the rest of the components to put them together yourself the best you can. Sure, maybe you can hire a service and get tools to automate this part, but it still falls on you to assemble these components together and maintain the automation.

Accounts vs Projects

One of the first differences that strikes you when going from GCP to AWS is accounts vs projects. In GCP you have one master account/project that you can use to manage the rest of your projects, you log in with your company google account and then you can set permissions to any project however you want. So you can have a dev project, a production project, etc. All of this works out of the box and there is absolutely nothing additional for you to do.

Web User Interface

If using the CLI is too painful for you, you can always log in to the portal and use their user interface, although I don’t recommend you do this for everything, in fact I recommend you use it the least possible and only for reference and to check status of your services, always do infrastructure as code as much as you can

Jeff Bezos is an infamous micro-manager. He micro-manages every single pixel of Amazon’s retail site. He hired Larry Tesler, Apple’s Chief Scientist and probably the very most famous and respected human-computer interaction expert in the entire world, and then ignored every goddamn thing Larry said for three years until Larry finally — wisely — left the company. Larry would do these big usability studies and demonstrate beyond any shred of doubt that nobody can understand that frigging website, but Bezos just couldn’t let go of those pixels, all those millions of semantics-packed pixels on the landing page. They were like millions of his own precious children. So they’re all still there, and Larry is not.

GCP’s user interface is on the other hand very intuitive to use and whenever you want to provision anything you are given sane defaults so you can deploy anything in a couple of clicks, I have never gotten lost using GCP or needed to consult a million pages of documentation to find out what I needed to do.



If your intent is to use Kubernetes, don’t even bother with AWS, their implementation is so bad I can’t even comprehend how they have the gall to call it managed, especially when compared with GCP

Product Overload

At the time of writing this, there are 169 AWS products compared to 90 in GCP. AWS has been around for longer and therefore they have more offering, and in good Amazon spirits, they constantly and aggressively are expanding this offering to give you more of what you may need (and a lot of what you don’t need) at breakneck speed.

GCP has done well integrating their different services together. GCP provides a smaller set of core primitives that are global and work well for lots of use cases. Pub/Sub is probably the best example I have for this. In AWS you have SQS, SNS, Amazon MQ, Kinesis Data Streams, Kinesis Data Firehose, DynamoDB Streams, and maybe another queueing service by the time you read this post. 2019 Update: Amazon has now released another streaming service: Amazon Managed Streaming Kafka. GCP has Pub/Sub. Pub/Sub seems flexible enough to replace most (all?) of AWS’ various queues.

AWS product naming and packaging is also very confusing. For example AWS Control Tower, Landing Zone and AWS Organisations seem like they should be consolidated into one product, and it seems they name these products in parallel, without talking to each other; apparently Control Tower creates landing zones, but they are not the “Landing Zone”. I watched a couple of talks on this and I still don’t fully understand it, like this one, notice the speaker struggling to try to make sense of this mess in three different points. And then in another talk about AWS Organisations, a different speaker explaining what the difference is between Control Tower and AWS Organisations…

AWS is a lot more Expensive

AWS charges substantially more for their services than GCP does, but most people ignore the real high cost of using AWS, which is; expertise, time and manpower.


I am not going to do extensive testing in both platforms and post benchmarks for this article since it’s a lot more work than I want to spend on this but I’ll just say that in my experience I felt that performance was almost always better in GCP, for example copying from instances to buckets in GCP is INSANELY fast, I remember being shocked by this because in a previous job I had to do a lot of hourly backups to buckets of large chunks of data in AWS and I always felt the copying was very slow, but this was not the case at all for GCP.


Both AWS and GCP are very secure and you will be okay as long as are not careless in your design. However GCP for me has an edge in the sense that everything is encrypted by default. For example their buckets and their logs are encrypted in transit and at rest. For some bizarre reason AWS does not encrypt buckets or logs by default, you have to enable this. Who the hell would NOT want their data encrypted on AWS servers?

Google is a world leader of Scalable Infrastructure.

I would argue that there isn’t any other company on the planet that does scalability and global infrastructure better than Google (although CloudFlare definitely gives it a run for its money in some areas).

So what’s better about AWS? There has to be something!

As I mentioned I think that AWS certainly offers a lot more features, configuration options and products than GCP does, and you may benefit from some of them. Also AWS releases products at a much faster speed.

Typical Objections to using GCP

These are some of the objections I heard from people who pick AWS and are weary of choosing GCP as their provider.

But wait, there are lots of third party tools to automate AWS so it’s not a problem

Yes, like the aforementioned eksctl, some of them do an amazing job at this but they are still third party tools. I firmly believe AWS needs to work a lot on their abstraction of needless complexity so there is no need to have so many tools on top of it.

So if GCP is so much better, why so many more people use AWS?

I want to cover some of the reasons that hold back GCP from overtaking AWS, some of them are reasonable, other are pure myths or misperceptions.

Fear that you won’t be able to get another job if you chose GCP

It’s true that there are a lot more jobs that use AWS, but there are also very, very few engineers with extensive experience in GCP compared to AWS. Taking a GCP job or getting a GCP certification will not make you disposable any time soon. Also, many employers are smart enough to recognise that a tool alone is not enough to define the quality of an engineer. I made a transition into another AWS role after having more experience with GCP fine, and even if some employers won’t like this, many others won’t mind.


Fear that GCP may be abandoned by Google

Google will very often release products to see how the market reacts to them and if they don’t work well, they will abandon them. This is deliberate and a strategy that revolves around trying new things as a source of innovation and also not wasting resources on products that don’t work, which makes sense. Now that the company has started to release paid products like Stadia or GCP there is a perception that they will soon be abandoned.

Google doesn’t “eat their own dog food” with GCP

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.

Amazon also uses AWS to power itself internally but this is not always the case.

“You can’t get fired for choosing AWS”

Meaning that AWS is such a safe bet as a platform provider that you could not get fired as a result of choosing it. This is what some people say in the industry to justify picking AWS as the default.

Disdain for Google

For some reason, some people really seem to hate Google. I can completely understand that Google sometimes will do things that are objectionable (and occasionally toying with the very objectionable), but I would argue that Google is not the worst of the lot by a long shot, they are in many ways more ethical than Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook. Some people may disagree with me, but I would argue that Google has not abused its monopoly nearly as much as Microsoft did back in the day (like for example hustling PC vendors to only accept MS Office Suite or withdraw Windows from their machines), and their monopoly has been earned by genuinely being the very best at what they do, which is architecture of scale and search, rather than by locking you down in their ecosystem.

But this AWS complexity is creating so many jobs for us!

Yes, and it does sound like I am shooting myself on the foot by posting this because this is my job. AWS definitely creates a lot more jobs for DevOps, SRE, Sysadmin, Platform Engineers etc. than GCP due to this extra complexity and the lack of desire for the developers themselves wanting to tackle this complexity.

So will GCP ever catchup to AWS on market share?

It’s hard to tell. One thing that AWS has going for it is that it churns out products like churros, and while I don’t think this is necessarily that great of a thing, it does meet the needs of most businesses, even if fragmented and tedious to work with. Also migrating from one platform to another is such an onerous task that many companies will never bother to do so. That being said, the increasing market share and profits coming from GCP look promising and this ex-googler author of this article, seem very confident that GCP will eventually reign:

My friends ask me if I think Google Cloud will catch up to its rivals. Not only do I think so — I’m positive five years down the road it will surpass them. Because today, Cloud is about helping other companies build software like Google does. All those great things about working at Google? Making them available to other companies — that’s the product market fit.

While I am not so sure if I am as confident as he is that it will just take five years to get there. I believe that down the road people who chose to specialise in GCP today won’t regret it.


So I should always pick GCP then?

No, you should pick whatever fits your needs. If you are a very small company or an independent developer you may even want to give these two a miss and go with DigitalOcean or Linode or some of the smaller companies which are even easier to use and will cover your most basic needs for less money.

Okay then, GCP is perfect, let’s go for it!

Nothing is perfect. You will surely come across things in GCP that you will hate, as I have in the past, but for most people the amount of headaches will be fewer and farther in between than with AWS, and that alone is a good reason to pick it.

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