Comparing Virtual Machine Services in the Cloud: Azure

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines, and Google Compute Engine (GCE) are cloud computing services allowing users to rent virtual computing resources on demand. 

  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers. EC2 allows users to rent virtual computers to run their own applications. Depending on the user's needs, virtual machines can be configured with different amounts of CPU, memory, storage, and networking capacity.
  • Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines is a cloud computing service that provides scalable computing resources in virtual machines (VMs) hosted on Microsoft's global network of data centers. Like Amazon EC2, Azure Virtual Machines allows users to create and run VMs in the cloud, with a wide range of operating systems and software configurations available.
  • Google Compute Engine is a service offered by Google Cloud Platform (GCP) that allows users to launch virtual machines (VMs) on Google's infrastructure. It provides the ability to create, configure, and manage VMs in the cloud. Compute Engine offers various machine types with customizable CPU, memory, and storage options. It also offers a range of operating systems, including Windows and various Linux distributions.


  • All three services provide scalable compute capacity in the cloud, allowing users to launch virtual machines on demand.
  • They all offer a wide variety of machine types, configurations, and operating systems.
  • Each service allows for the customization of virtual machines, including CPU, memory, storage, and networking options.
  • They all provide options for both Linux and Windows operating systems.
  • All three services provide flexible pricing options, including on-demand, reserved, and spot instances.


  • Google Compute Engine uses custom-designed hardware optimized for its cloud environment, while Azure and EC2 use off-the-shelf hardware.
  • Azure can create virtual machines with pre-configured applications and services using Azure Marketplace images, which are not available in EC2 or Compute Engine.
  • EC2 provides the widest variety of instance types and sizes, including GPU instances for high-performance computing workloads.
  • Google Compute Engine has a unique pricing model that charges users for the number of seconds they use an instance, with a 1-minute minimum charge, while Azure and EC2 charge by the hour.
  • Azure provides a feature called Azure Availability Sets which can distribute VMs across multiple physical servers. At the same time, EC2 has a similar feature called EC2 Placement Groups that enable instances in a group to have a lower network latency and higher throughput.
  • Google Compute Engine provides live migration of virtual machines, allowing them to be moved between physical hosts without downtime, while Azure and EC2 do not have this capability.

Some companies using these cloud services are as follows: 

  1. Netflix uses Amazon EC2 to stream video content to millions of users worldwide.
  2. Coca-Cola uses Azure Virtual Machines to support its enterprise resource planning (ERP) and financial systems.
  3. Snapchat uses Google Compute Engine to power its messaging and multimedia-sharing platform.