All of us recognize the biggest cloud brands such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. However, some of us who tried the cloud solutions also feel that the AWS console feels bloated and hard to understand, that Microsoft’s Azure offers eye candy over functionality, or that Google’s Developer Console is not doing anyone favor by being somewhere in between. To be honest, the cloud management consoles of the most deep-pocket cloud providers became too complicated and in the process of growth lost their user friendliness. Perhaps with the exception of Amazon LightSail (newly announced service), a straightforward deployment of a cloud-based distributed infrastructure is no longer a domain of the above mention cloud giants.
The Forbes magazine offers one of the best descriptions of the current complexity of large cloud deployment solutions: “The consoles of popular cloud providers, make you feel you are in a Boeing 747 cockpit. There are way too many knobs, dials, switches, and levers to deal with. “ (Forbes, 2017).
That said, the following post focuses on the three cloud vendors, namely DigitalOcean, Linode, and Vultr, that are generally recognized for their minimalistic & simple UI approach, through which they allow customers to create solid virtual cloud solutions.
DigitalOcean is an American cloud infrastructure provider, founded in 2011. According to Netcraft (2017), in less than six years of their existence (by June 2017), the company became the world’s third largest hosting provider with over 358 thousand web-facing computers.
The speed of VM Deployment – DigitalOcean states that client can deploy a new VM within 55 seconds.
Geographical Support – Customers can create VMs in one of eight locations: New York, Amsterdam, San Francisco, Singapore, London, Frankfurt, Toronto and Bangalore (DigitalOcean, 2017).
Price – VM with 512MB RAM, 1 CPU Core, 20 GB SSD, 1 TB data transfer – $0.007/hour. Server prices are calculated by the hour up to the monthly cap. You may cancel the service at any time.
SLA – 100% network uptime SLA and a 99.9% general cloud uptime SLA with the lost time refunded at the hourly rate.
Video in Figure 1 demonstrates the process of DigitalOcean VM deployment.
Figure 1 – DigitalOcean YouTube (2017) – https://youtu.be/gChdrxL5Ziw
I have tested the service, and a deployment of new VM is as easy as selecting the OS image, choose the desired VM size and then choose the region in which the server is deployed.
Additional features include programmatic control of most aspects of the VM deployment (resizing, rebooting, backups and more), all of which can be done by using DigitalOcean API that comes with support for OAuth.
Linode, LLC is a privately-owned cloud infrastructure provider based in the United States, founded in 2003. According to Upguard (2017), while their product line is not as robust as Microsoft Azure or Amazon AWS, it does have a breadth of services that DigitalOcean has not come close to matching.
The speed of VM Deployment – In my test, I could provision a new VM within 90 seconds.
Geographical Support – 9 Datacenters. 3 geographic areas: Asia (Singapore, Tokio), North America (US – West, Central, South, and East), Europe (Frankfurt, London)
Price – VM with 512MB RAM, 1 CPU Core, 20 GB SSD, 1 TB data transfer – $0.0075/hour.
SLA – 99.9% uptime guarantee on all hardware and network connectivity. In any given month, if the VM experiences a downtime of over 0.1%, client can request a pro-rated credit. Additionally, client cancel the service at any time.
Video in Figure 2 demonstrates the process of Linode VM deployment.
Figure 2 – DigitalOcean YouTube (2017) – https://youtu.be/CMEGih45sUQ
Vultr Holdings is a new company on the cloud block, based in the United States, founded in 2014. According to CrunchBase (2017), the company offers following features: dedicated cloud, datacenter locations, block storage, one-click apps and security protection, as well as enhanced peering services to end users.
The speed of VM Deployment – In my test, I could provision a new VM within 60 seconds.
Geographical Support – 15 datacenters tactically located around the globe close to major city centers (Seattle, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, New Jersey, Chicago, London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, Tokyo, Sydney, Singapore).
Price – VM with 512MB RAM, 1 CPU Core, 25 GB SSD, 1000 GB data transfer – $0.007/hour.
SLA – 100% VM uptime, 100% Network Uptime. No long term contracts. If availability falls below guarantees, client qualifies for SLA credit in the range between 12 – 672 hours of downtime credit.
Video in Figure 3 demonstrates the process of Vultr VM deployment.
Figure 3 – DigitalOcean YouTube (2017) – https://youtu.be/7JrFM5nLs_g
I want to conclude by saying, that the reason why I decided to provide the overview of these lesser known cloud providers is mainly that they were able to build very successful businesses in a short amount of time. Moreover, they did so by exploiting a niche world of a quick VM deployment.
In a world, where DigitalOcean boasts a revenue of nearly 3 billion dollars and where customers tend to prefer deployment of their infrastructure with as little clicks as possible, it feels like a huge oversight by the large and well-known cloud players.
Netcraft. (2017). DigitalOcean – Growth | Netcraft. [online] Available at: http://trends.netcraft.com/www.digitalocean.com [Accessed 18 Jun. 2017].
DigitalOcean. (2017). Compute on DigitalOcean | Droplets: fast, resizable cloud servers. [online] Available at: https://www.digitalocean.com/products/compute/ [Accessed 18 Jun. 2017].
Forbes. (2017). Forbes Welcome. [online] Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/janakirammsv/2015/09/10/five-reasons-why-developers-love-digitalocean/#2b14d84f44ef [Accessed 18 Jun. 2017].
DigitalOcean YouTube. (2017). How to Launch a Virtual Private Server in 55 Seconds. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gChdrxL5Ziw [Accessed 18 Jun. 2017].
Linode (2017). Getting Started with Linode. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMEGih45sUQ&list=PLTnRtjQN5ieZtPPlDN_xG1he7god9XRc5 [Accessed 18 Jun. 2017].
Vultr YouTube. (2017). Review VULTR VPS company – July 2016. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JrFM5nLs_g [Accessed 18 Jun. 2017].
Upguard.com. (2017). DigitalOcean vs Linode. [online] Available at: https://www.upguard.com/articles/digitalocean-vs-linode [Accessed 18 Jun. 2017].
Crunchbase.com. (2017). Vultr Holdings, LLC | crunchbase. [online] Available at: https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/vultr-holdings-llc#/entity [Accessed 18 Jun. 2017].