Cloud Providers

Everything you need to know about
cloud service providers in 2024

With so many cloud providers in the market, it’s not easy to know where to start. Let Vertice demystify things with our guide to cloud providers, including what they are, what they offer, and which vendors to look out for.

What is a cloud service provider?

Put simply, a cloud service provider (CSP) is a vendor that provides cloud computing services made available to customers via the internet. This encompasses apps and software to computing and networking hardware, and everything in between. 

With traditional on-premise solutions, companies are responsible for maintaining the underlying infrastructure on which their IT solutions run. By opting to use managed services that run in the cloud, ownership of the infrastructure is shifted from the organization to the CSP. 

There are many benefits to this model. On-demand scalability and flexibility are significant advantages, particularly to startups and fast-growing SMBs. Cloud solutions are often more cost-effective than on-prem as well, operating on a pay-as-you-go pricing model and eliminating expensive overheads associated with infrastructure maintenance.

Cloud service providers operate in a broad range of industries, including healthcare, e-commerce, entertainment, manufacturing, and education. Their solutions underpin a vast degree of technologies used today, from streaming services to national defense.

Types of cloud service providers

There are four primary types of cloud service provider which roughly align with how responsibilities are shared between the CSP and the end customer. 

  • Infrastructure as a service

IaaS is effectively one step away from an on-premises solution. The CSP owns and maintains the hardware, which is essentially ‘rented out’ by the end customer who is responsible for all other aspects like operating systems, load balancing, scaling, and any software or data.

  • Platform as a service

With PaaS, the CSP manages the infrastructure and hardware, but also the operating system and runtime — essentially delivering a ‘platform’ on which you can run your code. The customer is responsible for the applications and data, as well as the scaling.

  • Function as a service

FaaS is much like PaaS, but the CSP is responsible for scaling. All the customer needs to worry about is their application code, and the cloud service provider takes care of provisioning resources according to usage. 

  • Software as a service

In the SaaS model, customers pay for access to a full-stack application. Maintenance and management of the solution is handled by the CSP, from the underlying infrastructure to the software and code itself.

Cloud deployment models

There are multiple deployment models within cloud computing, including:

  • Private cloud environments, also known as single-tenant environments. These are dedicated to a single organization, and are typically hosted in on-premise or third-party data centers. They allow a greater degree of configuration and optimization to meet business requirements, but with less on-demand scalability. Private cloud is sometimes used for use cases where security is especially critical. 
  • Public cloud or multi-tenant environments are where cloud resources in CSP data centers are shared among multiple organizations. They’re highly scalable and cost efficient. 
  • Hybrid cloud environments combine elements of private and public cloud services. Benefits include the security of private cloud, the scalability of public cloud, and enhanced disaster recovery through system redundancy.
  • Multi-cloud is where a business leverages multiple CSPs for different things, such as AWS for infrastructure, GCP for machine learning and data management, and Azure for enterprise apps. Additional benefits include mitigation of service disruptions, reduced risk of vendor lock-in, and data center location diversity.

Top 10 cloud providers in 2024

Despite the myriad cloud service providers in existence, the market is dominated by just three CPSs — Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. These behemoths account for more than half of the total market share between them, and provide an extensive range of cloud offerings. 

Cost structures across the three providers vary in complexity, but are typically based on pay-as-you-go models and usage-based pricing. Here’s a look at each of the top 3 CSPs in more detail.

Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services, more commonly known as AWS, was the first major player in the cloud computing market. It holds roughly a third of CSP market share.

Its service offerings are the broadest of the three top cloud providers, with over 300 available solutions. AWS can solve for a wide variety of cloud use cases through services like computing power, virtual machines, cloud storage, networking, machine learning, automation, containerization, data analytics, and IoT. The full range of products is incredibly diverse, including more niche services in areas like blockchain, robotics, satellite, and even nascent fields such as quantum computing. 

Thanks to its maturity, AWS supports a vast ecosystem of third-party integrations. It offers many developer tools like AWS Lambda, AWS CloudFormation, and AWS CodePipeline. On top, AWS is the undisputed leader when it comes to physical cloud infrastructure. It has the most data centers of all CSPs with strong global coverage — ideal if your business requires data residency or low latency in specific geographies. 

Alongside pay-as-you-go pricing, AWS also offers Reserved Instances (RIs) which, in simple terms, offer a set amount of usage at a discounted price. For larger customers, particularly those with a history of AWS usage, Enterprise Discount Programs (EDPs) are also offered. These are essentially RIs but on a grander scale, with larger commitments and more opportunities to negotiate discounts.

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure holds around 20–25% of global market share, making it the second largest CSP. It’s closely integrated with Microsoft’s software ecosystem, including products like Windows Server, Active Directory, and Office 365 — so if your business uses these tools already, Azure could be an attractive option. 

Much like AWS, Azure provides a vast range of products within areas like compute, analytics, content delivery network (CDN), containers, database services, DevOps, and cloud security. It also offers a number of mixed reality and computer vision solutions, previously leveraging the now-discontinued Kinect device that was originally developed for gaming. 

As for infrastructure, Azure’s global presence is significant, albeit not quite as extensive as that of AWS. On the other hand, it excels when it comes to hybrid cloud deployments, allowing organizations to integrate their on-prem infrastructure with cloud services.

Google Cloud

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) holds roughly a tenth of global CSP market share. While its platform is perfectly capable of handling the bread and butter of cloud use cases, GCP is better known for its strengths in big data and artificial intelligence. 

Available products include BigQuery for data warehousing and analysis, TensorFlow for machine learning, and Cloud Deployment Manager for infrastructure as code. Many of the technologies behind GCP’s solutions are open-source as well, such as Kubernetes for container orchestration.

In terms of infrastructure footprint, Google Cloud is the smallest of the three major CSPs. That said, it still maintains many strategically placed data centers and edge locations around the globe in order to provide low-latency services.

Alibaba Cloud 

The undisputed cloud leader in China and a growing global heavyweight, Alibaba Cloud was initially built for the company’s extensive e-commerce operations, pivoting to offer a public service in 2012. Alibaba Cloud generated almost $15 billion during FY24, with organizations valuing its robust infrastructure and competitive pricing. 

While Alibaba Cloud doesn’t tread any particularly innovative ground, the platform is still one of the best cloud providers on the market. This rings especially true for Asia-Pacific enterprises, where the cloud hosting platform has the most data centers. 

As the world’s fourth-largest cloud service provider, Alibaba Cloud operates in 30 regions with 89 availability zones. These extend across the US, Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and the Middle East. Notable omissions currently include Africa, Australia, and South America. 

Alibaba Cloud is one of the best cloud service providers for several reasons. The platform is often more cost-effective than AWS, Google Cloud, or Azure — a major advantage for cost-conscious businesses. Additionally, the company’s e-commerce expertise provides unique features and integrations with Tmall, Taobao, Cainiao, and other Alibaba services. Alibaba Cloud is also the de facto Asian cloud industry leader, so it particularly suits businesses in this region. 

These can be game-changing advantages, although Alibaba Cloud also has a few potential drawbacks. Its global reach lags behind the big three above, while the APIs are more restrictive and the primary interface and documentation are in Mandarin — a potential stumbling block for predominantly English-speaking organizations.  

IBM Cloud 

IBM is a longstanding cloud technology pioneer — its IBM Cloud offering, formerly known as Bluemix, has roots in the early 2000s. The platform predates AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, creating the foundations for the modern business world’s embrace of cloud hosting and architecture. IBM Cloud covers infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and software-as-a-service (SaaS), providing an extremely well-rounded service offering. 

The focus on hybrid cloud solutions is a trademark IBM Cloud characteristic, making the platform one of the best cloud computing providers for cloud migration. Organizations can leverage on-premise legacy infrastructure alongside cloud hosting and storage services, enabling seamless and fully integrated hybrid cloud environments. 

IBM Cloud cannot match AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud for market share, but the platform is widely regarded as the leading option for organizations prioritizing security and compliance certifications. The cloud provider offers robust security features and top-spec compliance protocols backed by over half a century’s experience providing computing technology. 

IBM continues to be a vital tech innovator. The company’s IBM Quantum service can provide organizations with quantum computing solutions via the IBM Cloud service — a cutting-edge resource with extremely exciting potential. The platform also notably offers advanced blockchain services alongside IBM Watson, the sophisticated AI assistant. 

While IBM Cloud can provide access to trailblazing functionality, the pricing structure is sometimes derided for being overly complex and outdated. The service also focuses on enterprises more than smaller businesses, with less flexible options than the big three. 

Oracle Cloud

Oracle Cloud is one of the most comprehensive cloud vendors, covering IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS possibilities. Launched in 2016, a focus on enterprise-grade solutions and integration with pre-existing Oracle-powered computing landscapes are two main Oracle Cloud hallmarks. This is particularly pertinent for large organizations leveraging on-premise Oracle deployments, creating cohesive and frictionless hybrid cloud environments. 

The service is available in 48 regions with 58 availability zones, offering truly worldwide reach on par with the big three. Oracle Cloud notably provides government cloud regions for the US and UK governments, also working closely with the EU. This speaks volumes regarding the cloud provider’s watertight security and compliance features, making it a standout option for enterprises in sensitive industries alongside IBM Cloud. 

Oracle Cloud’s Autonomous Database is another notable selling point, a self-driving and self-patching database providing end-to-end automation for security, updates, performance, and more. It outscored the competition in all Use Cases during Gartner’s 2024 Critical Capabilities for Cloud Database Management Systems for Operational Use Cases report — ample evidence of its superiority. 

The Oracle Roving Edge service is an additional highlight, allowing Oracle Cloud to deliver cloud services to remote locations with limited or unreliable internet connectivity. These ruggedized devices bring cloud computing and storage capabilities directly to the edge, allowing real-time data processing and analysis even in challenging environments. This Oracle Cloud edge computing feature makes the cloud vendor an optimal choice for applications like oil rig monitoring, remote healthcare services, and real-time traffic management. 

Despite the positives, Oracle Cloud can be cumbersome for organizations unfamiliar with the Oracle ecosystem, with a steeper learning curve than AWS or Google Cloud. Pricing is also more complex, leading to potentially more expensive and less efficient contracts.

Salesforce Cloud 

Salesforce Cloud lacks the big three’s comprehensive functionality, but the provider is a standout option for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions. It had a 3% market share in Q4 2023 — a sliver more than IBM Cloud and Oracle Cloud despite its more limited focus. 

Scalability and flexibility are two key Salesforce Cloud selling points, with this CSP catering to startups, large enterprises, and everything in between. The versatile pricing allows businesses to scale effortlessly while maintaining cost-effective operations, while transparent costs make forecasting spend much easier than cloud platforms with more obscured pricing information. 

Understanding how Salesforce Cloud works requires knowledge of its main components. These are split into Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Community Cloud, Analytics Cloud, and Heroku. 

Salesforce Cloud also provides an extensive library of cloud-native third-party applications via the Salesforce AppExchange. These options can enhance productivity with a range of tools, from communication apps to workflow optimization channels and advanced reporting functionality. Additional highlights include Salesforce Einstein, a generative and predictive tool for sales optimization. 

Customer-facing organizations can garner significant value from Salesforce Cloud, although the dominant focus on CRM can limit the cloud provider’s appeal for companies with broader cloud needs beyond customer management. Integrations with existing non-Salesforce systems can also require additional development effort, leading to increased costs. 

Tencent Cloud 

Tencent Cloud is the second-most popular cloud provider in China. The platform has expanded globally over the past decade, now serving 26 regions with 70 availability zones. These predominantly cover Asia, although Tencent Cloud also has presence in the US, UK, South America, Australia, and Europe. 

One of the best cloud computing providers for online gaming and media, Tencent Cloud boasts specialized solutions in these fields and is commonly regarded as one of the top options for content delivery networks (CDNs).

Elsewhere, Tencent Cloud’s messaging integration with WeChat, known as Weixin in China, is another highlight for organizations invested in Asian markets. With over 1.3 billion users, the multi-functional social media platform is a gold mine for marketing and engagement. Tencent Cloud can deliver unprecedented access — a key consideration for organizations targeting Chinese consumers. Unique features include mini-applications like loyalty programs or customer service chatbots, targeted marketing campaigns, and more. 

Tencent Cloud can also be one of the most cost-effective cloud service providers, with a pay-as-you-go pricing structure particularly suiting organizations with irregular requirements. This also simplifies scaling, although you must ensure you keep tabs on rising costs to avoid surprises — pay-as-you-go pricing can also be harder to track if scaling quickly. 

Potential Tencent Cloud drawbacks are similar to Alibaba Cloud. The implementation period and learning curve can be difficult for non-Chinese companies, while data residency and privacy concerns may also be amplified. Tencent Cloud doesn’t have the same global reach as the big three either, so bear this in mind. 


DigitalOcean is a user-friendly and developer-centric cloud platform particularly popular among startups and forward-thinking digital businesses. The cloud provider launched in 2011, quickly gaining traction among smaller businesses with its simplified approach, cost-effective pricing plans, and developer-friendly functionality. 

The cloud vendor’s focus on developers is a core strength. DigitalOcean offers a straightforward web interface and a powerful command-line interface (CLI) for managing cloud resources. Developers can consequently deploy and manage applications without getting bogged down in complex configurations. Additionally, the cloud platform provides extensive documentation, tutorials, and a vibrant developer community for support and collaboration.  

DigitalOcean acquired Cloudways in 2022, leveraging the managed cloud hosting provider’s expertise to further benefit developers. This partnership enhances the user-friendly and flexible selling points, giving businesses broad options depending on their needs. Whether you need self-managed or managed cloud solutions, Digital Ocean has various options. 

Smaller businesses and startups also benefit from transparent and cost-effective pay-as-you-go pricing. This is especially useful for smaller projects with less guaranteed immediate profitability. Startups can focus on experimentation and innovation without worrying as much about large upfront costs or expensive contracts — a definite highlight compared to larger cloud providers.

Despite the positives, DigitalOcean probably isn’t suitable for larger organizations. The lack of advanced cloud security tools and compliance features is a problem at the enterprise level. DigitalOcean also has fewer services and managed solutions available. 


OVHcloud is a predominantly Europe-focused cloud service provider highly regarded for its commitment to open-source technologies and data sovereignty. The platform emphasizes pricing transparency and control, providing clear breakdowns and eschewing the opaque cost models favored by some of the larger cloud vendors. 

The platform is built on OpenStack, a widely adopted open-source cloud computing platform. This openness allows businesses to easily migrate existing workloads and leverage a wider range of tools and technologies. 

Additionally, OVHcloud offers a high degree of control over cloud resources, with features like bare metal servers and dedicated infrastructure options. Businesses can consequently tailor their cloud environments to their specific needs and security requirements. Speaking of which, OVHcloud is particularly suitable for organizations subject to GDPR compliance. 

However, this European focus can be a stumbling block for global businesses. The cloud provider doesn’t yet have as much of a presence elsewhere, although this is starting to change. OVHcloud also lacks some of the more advanced features found elsewhere. 

Other cloud providers to consider

Opting for one of the big three CSPs is often a safe bet for many businesses, but there are a multitude of alternative vendors worth considering. 

Here are some other top cloud service providers along with their respective areas of focus:

  • VMware – This vendor is primarily known for its virtualization products, with a range of solutions for data centers and enterprise environments. There’s a strong focus on hybrid cloud environments through VMware Cloud on AWS.
  • SAP – Like Oracle, SAP’s strengths lie in ERP and CRM. The SAP Cloud Platform is a PaaS solution that enables developers to create custom apps and extensions that work with SAP’s services. 

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Further reading

Vertice isn’t just a SaaS purchasing and cloud management platform. We also provide extensive resources to help our users better understand the cloud landscape. Here are some more of our expert guides: 

  • Cloud FinOps – Understand the Cloud FinOps philosophy and how it engenders cost optimization and informed decision-making for cloud resources;
  • Cloud asset management – Uncover the key benefits and considerations for managing cloud assets;
  • Cloud spend management – Ensure your organization is optimally managing cloud spend;
  • Cloud visibility – Learn how to gain maximum visibility across your cloud environment.