Cloud services have revolutionized computing, it has created a hassle-free way of accessing a myriad of IT resources and simplify the undertaking of a number of tasks via the internet. From services to products and from infrastructure to even an OS, everything is making its way to the cloud. As such businesses are increasingly transitioning to different cloud services.
Many cloud service providers have entered the market with cloud servers, but that can leave customers feeling confused about whether they’re really going to get the best cloud hosting. In this article, I’ll review some of the best, most popular cloud providers and their offerings, pricing, and features. So, let’s begin.
One of the fastest-growing clouds among them all, it was made available in 2010 with additional services and regional data centers being added continually since launch. You can run any service on the cloud or combine it with any existing applications, software, data center or infrastructure.
Launched years after the release of AWS and Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure provides a wide array of solutions suitable for all types of industry, a reason why it sits at the top. All your business needs will be taken into consideration. This result in a package better suited for needs.
Azure means there is no need for an on-premise server installation. This reduces the usual costs, such as an onsite server support team.
The Azure Migration Centre makes cloud transfers faster and easier. Because of the ease of transition, organizations with an existing Windows Server deployment may find Azure to be best suited to their needs. The solution is also compatible with Linux.
Microsoft Azure offers a twelve-month free tier which includes access to all popular services, $200 (£153.74) credit and over 25 ‘Always Free’ services. All of Microsoft Azure’s prices and plans are laid out in great detail on their site. The page includes a cost calculator and a ‘Pay as you go’ service. Each plan can be tailored to your specific needs.
The only downside I can see here is its price, which is a little higher when compared to other services.
Founded in 2006, AWS was the first to enter the cloud computing space, and invested heavily in developing an extensive infrastructure in order to offer the best and most reliable service possible.
It is a comprehensive, evolving cloud computing platform for building business solutions using integrated web services. AWS offers a variety of IaaS (infrastructure as a service) and PaaS (platform as a service) services including Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud), Elastic Beanstalk, Elastic Block Store (EBS), Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service), and Amazon SNS (Simple Notification Services).
For businesses, AWS offers high resource scalability which costs far less than an in-house server system. Not only that, many businesses feel that due to Amazon’s extensive focus on remaining ahead of the game, that they are actually investing in a system that will only get better with time, unlike a traditional on-premise server installation, which quickly becomes outdated.
AWS has three different pricing models; ‘Pay as you Go’, ‘Save when you reserve’ and ‘Pay less using more’. It also offers a free twelve-month tier. Once your trial period has expired, you must either choose a paid plan or cancel your AWS subscription.
It’s not being open-source is its biggest drawback, something that frustrates the developers very much. But, that aside, AWS offers the perfect blend of flexibility, resources, tools, security and low costs that make its cloud platform extremely hard to beat.
This Google’s cloud service provider enables users to create business solutions using Google-provided, modular web services. Competing with AWS and Microsoft Azure in every main area of public cloud, it offers an extensive range of services including IaaS and PaaS solutions.
Google Cloud benefits from Google’s long experience countering cyber-threats and security attacks targeted at other Google services. There is a multi layered secure infrastructure that already protect users of the GCP from several threats that might not even be recognized as existing in an on-premise world. In addition to these in-built protections, all GCP users have various tools at their disposal to scan for security threats and to protect their data.
Google Cloud offers some really well developed and reliable tools. These include Google Compute Engine (GCE), Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), Google App Engine, Google Cloud Storage and Big Query. Google also offers smooth migration to virtual machines with flexible pricing.
The Google Cloud Free Tier has two parts:
- A twelve-month free trial with $300 (£230.62) credit to use with any Google Cloud services.
- Always Free, which provides limited access to many common Google Cloud resources, free of charge.
IBM Cloud is a set of cloud computing services offered by IBM for big for businesses. The solution offers PaaS, SaaS and IaaS solutions. With a particular focus on the former two, its Bluemix development tool has been quite popular in the software development community, while its range of powerful cloud SaaS management tools and services are also being well-received.
There are quite a few things that gives it an edge over its rivals, such as being the only major cloud vendor that emphasizes its bare metal servers (IBM refer to their hardware servers as ‘bare metal’), these provide clients with sole access to their entire server and can be very attractive for organizations that have particular performance or security requirements. IBM also gives organizations full server customization, on a scale that the other big three don’t.
Another strong feature of IBM’s cloud services is that its tools and security features work well over multi-cloud environments. IBM also gives organizations full server customization, on a scale that the other big three don’t. Meaning everything that is included in the server is handpicked by the client. This way the client does not have to pay for features that they might never use.
IBM also offers a ‘Lite’ tier. This has no time limit, will not ask for credit card details and includes 256MB of Cloud Foundry Memory. After this you have the option of the ‘Pay as you Go’ Tier where you only pay for what you use. The website has a calculator which you can use to estimate costs. If neither of these is suitable, you can contact IBM for a subscription package tailored to suit your needs.
The thing that’s holding IBM back is the fairly high costs of their services. Moreover, since it allows for full server customization which is a good thing, but on the downside, it can take up to several hours to configure and deploy a custom server, which has caused many customers to finally turn their back on IBM.
This cloud service from the eponymous tech giant Oracle offers a really respectable range of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS services.
Particularly notable is their RightNow suite of applications, which are excellent tools that are designed for business looking to improve customer service and staff productivity by streamlining chat, social media, call, and virtual assistance communication channels.
Oracle’s Ravello tools are really great for easily deploying existing VMs to the cloud, while its PaaS services for data management, business analytics, and app development have all attracting a growing number of users who prefer Oracle’s approach.
Oracle has positioned itself to take advantage of the personal and small business market, so pay-per-use costs are relatively low. Aside from a 30-day free trial, Oracle Cloud also offers a free service tier which includes unlimited access to two autonomous databases which comes with Oracle Application Express (APEX) and Oracle SQL.
The main drawback of this is that larger businesses simply won’t find them an option when it comes to their own needs.
VMware vCenter Server is a cloud system that provides centralized management and operation, resource provisioning and performance evaluation of VMs residing on a distributed virtual data center. 8VMware is a powerful tool when it comes to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of your company.
The cloud system sits at the top of the preference list of the most developers main because of their strong support & overall approach. This model clearly works wonders, so much so that you’d rarely come across customers complaining about it, which might be something which some of the top cloud providers on this list could learn from.
Moreover, you can call this cloud system a truly global one, since; it is available in 20 different languages. While it is true that it might be a smaller fish in the pond, it still punches far above its weight. Provided they are careful not to let their CX (customer experience) suffer, the mass availability of this cloud platform is definitely a huge plus for lots of businesses out there.
Plans are classified into Standard and Foundation with prices depending on number of servers and the support term (1 or 3 years). The vendor offers a pricing calculator at their website to give you an idea on the cost (number of servers vis-à-vis the support term).
A cloud infrastructure solution designed to simplify web infrastructure for developers, DigitalOcean also encourages them to be an active user community to help each other out. The community’s feedback helps the company in improving its tools and features further in a feedback/development loop thus enabling them to achieve the best results with their limited resources.
Two important areas that they have concentrated on are giving developers unparalleled speed and performance of their hosted websites & applications and making their entire platform as simple to use as possible. Information, tutorials, and Q&As are easily within reach, allowing beginners to get up to speed in no time so that they can get onto the business of developing and managing their websites and applications.
DigitalOcean offers four cloud computing packages to suit varied hosting needs. Each plan is affordable and feature-rich, as well as straightforward to configure.
For $5 per month, you get 1GB of RAM and 25GB of SSD storage, while CPU performance remains the same. The higher you pay the more storage you get. Interestingly, there are more options for $15 per month. You can get 3GB of RAM with 1 core, 2GB of RAM with 2 cores or 1GB of RAM with 3 cores.
For $960 per month, you get 192GB of RAM, 32 cores and 3840GB of storage. You can visit the pricing page for more details.
Sadly, DigitalOcean does need to address the issue of their customer support, which is not only frustrating users but is also damaging their otherwise strong brand image.
In this article, I reviewed the top cloud service providers; this will get you started but the answer to the question which is the best cloud computing provider for you really depend on what you need it to do.
The simple fact is that there is no universal solution fits all cloud provider; they all have their advantages and disadvantages, so which one you choose should only be a matter of what works best for you. That said, if you ask me which is my favorite one, well, then Amazon’s AWS is it.