AWS, GCP, Azure Consoles Graded

I work with all three major public cloud vendors for various clients.  I find it interesting to observe the differences in their approaches to the design (and subsequent usability) of their web consoles.

AWS

The AWS console reflects the state of their services (and their market share).  It is consistent, clean and very usable.  It loads very fast on browsers I use (Chrome mostly). This page show exactly the information I need (and no more). Interestingly, it does NOT show any of my security information by default on the main page.  Services are organized in a logical way, service icons ‘make sense’ in color, type and size. The ability to add service shortcuts at the top improves usability.  Also, surfacing resource groups on the first page is great, as this is a feature I use often.

I would like to see my total AWS spend per region per account on this page as well.

Grade A

AWS.png

GCP

The GCP console recently had a major overhaul and the results are very positive.  The amount of improvement from previous version is significant.  GCP uses the concept of one or more GCP projects as containers for billing and a set of GCP service instances.  I do find this convenient because I can easily see my total project costs.  I also like the ‘Billing’ widget on the first page.

Although the list of services available in GCP is easily findable by clicking the ‘hamburger’ (three white lines) menu in the upper left, I do find that this method of showing all possible services does confuse some customers (particularly those who are moving over or adding to AWS).

One feature I particularly like is the integrated command line tool (gcloud) console.  It’s fast, usable and works great!

Although I can’t think of how to do this (I am a UX consumer – rather than designer!), I’d like to see a more intuitive way to see all of the currently enabled GCP services (and all possible services) shown in the main console window.

Grade B+

GCP-1.png

Azure

Azure uses two consoles, both an a ‘classic’ and a ‘current’ console. For the purposes of this review, I am including the ‘current’ console only. As you can see by the image below, Not all of the tiles render in my browser (Chrome). I’ve tweeted about this bug a couple of times, but haven’t seen any improvement.

Azure uses the concept of subscriptions as containers for services and billing. I find the layout of this portal confusing and unintuitive. That coupled with the fact that the main page renders slowly and usually fails to render correctly is very frustrating to me.

Also the default listing of service types (which is some subset of the actual services available – some items are services, others are category names for groups of services) is once again, unintuitive and generally irritating to me.  What does ‘classic’ mean? Is it good, not good, should I use it, etc…?

Also the odd sizing of the tiles (too much blank space) is not helpful.

Generally, this ‘new’ Azure portal is not showing the increasingly more competitive set of Azure service in a positive way to me and my customers.

Grade D

Azure.png

I am interested in your opinion. Do you use any or all these cloud consoles?  If so, how do you find them?  What works well for you?  What doesn’t? What do you wish would be added and/or removed for improved usability?

Happy Programming (in the cloud)!

 

4 thoughts on “AWS, GCP, Azure Consoles Graded

  1. I don’t have much experience on GCP but I’m so agree with you regarding the different portails. AWS is so clear to use whereas Azure (even if it’s the must I use) has a confusing interface. The squares/tiles and so on are probably here to merge with Windows Phone and Windows 8+ styles but with poor readability when you use it everyday.

  2. Hey Lynn,

    I appreciate you authoring this article. It’s an important need for customers who are evaluating cloud platforms to run their applications and infrastructure on.

    Since your experience with these major cloud vendors is combined, I wonder how much depth you’ve gone into with Microsoft Azure. In my experiences, everyone has some level of bias, and since AWS got the best grade from you, I’m curious if you’ve invested the majority of your time in this space.

    Microsoft Azure’s Resource Manager (ARM) architecture is actually quite similar to AWS, in some ways, and is quite robust in its current state. Although you may not be familiar with me, I’ve actually been a huge critic of the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, because I’m invested in making it world-class. I’m also its biggest critic, because I have to work with it day-in and day-out. 🙂

    When you step back though, Microsoft has been aggressively improving the platform’s back end and front end, and have made dramatic changes that make the customer experience quite good.

    I’d be happy to have a conversation with you, and help reduce the amount of friction between your experience and the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

    Cheers,
    Trevor Sullivan
    Microsoft MVP: PowerShell
    https://trevorsullivan.net
    https://twitter.com/pcgeek86

    • Trevor

      Thanks for reaching out. I appreciate your offer, however I do have a pretty good level of expertise with Azure. My issue here is with the quality (or lack of) of the Azure portal.

      I have seen substantial improvement in the set of Azure services over time. I was, in fact, a full-time Microsoft employee when Azure was a launched, so I have a solid history with the services. To this day, I am a Microsoft MVP (Data Platform) and an Azure insider. I have regular contact with the teams that work on Azure.

      My point in this blog post was to point out, what I experience through the eyes of my customers when I take them various demos and POCs – something I do frequently in my work as an independent cloud and big data architect.

  3. Hi Lynn,

    I am a little late to read this post and I totally agree with you. I work with all three portals on a daily basis. GCP suprised me in a good way, since their new console I often prefer this console even over AWS when I want to test new frameworks. Even the micro virtual servers (around 5 dollar a month) perform surprisingly good and I love the way you can log into Linux server with SSH, it’s even better than AWS. GCP is centered around project approach which is convenient and original.

    The Azure console is very personal and customizable which sounds good, but the implementation is just bad. Besides it’s slow and some things I very much dislike about Azure is this:
    – Switching accounts (yes I know about consolidation, but that’s not possible in all scenario’s!)
    – Downloading and finding invoices (for 14 subscriptions!)
    – Very steep learning curve to get the portal just right
    – Hard to do IAM (in a way AWS does it)

    @Trevor : It was the Azure experience that drove me away from it. I was really putting my bets on Azure, but there were so many things wrong on Azure that I slowly started to adopt AWS. I ignored GCP for a long time, but they made so much good progress while Azure seems to get worse. Sorry.

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