Going by usage statistics, Amazon’s AWS is the most popular platform in the world for virtualizing business IT infrastructure. Customers love it for its ability to scale up to potentially millions of users, the ability to customize every aspect to your liking and the security and reliability of the industry’s biggest name. Still, it’s not a perfect platform. Among the knocks against it are that it’s tough to come to grips with if you’re not technically inclined and don’t have an IT staff doing everything for you, and AWS tech support operates on a sliding scale and can get very expensive with heavy use.
Coupon sites like VPS coupons can help mitigate the overall cost of AWS, but it’s an at-best temporary solution.
AWS has grown to over a million customers, including heavy hitters like Netflix and Samsung, but that doesn’t mean it’s automatically going to be right for your specific business needs. If you feel like AWS just isn’t quite the right fit for you, here’s six of the best alternatives to take a look at.
1) Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
GCP launched after AWS and has spent most of its life playing catch-up, but it’s now at the point where it is drawing very close to Amazon’s offering. Like AWS, GCP offers not just virtual computing but a robust range of services including storage,big data analytics and machine learning. It’s exceptionally fast when it comes to handling huge amounts of data, and if you’re already widely using other Google services it’s very easy to integrate with them. The ease of use of the browser-based console is also very popular with their customers.
2) Microsoft Azure
Microsoft’s Azure platform has also grown to become one of AWS’s closest competitors in terms of size and scope. This is a particularly popular platform for businesses looking to run a hybrid cloud model, particularly those with longstanding local Windows systems and lots of legacy users to get switched over. Microsoft also puts a particular emphasis on larger enterprise customers, especially those that are already users of their various cloud-based services like Office 365.
3) IBM Softlayer
Softlayer’s competitive advantage is a huge number of data centers, making it arguably the most reliable and fastest option out there. As with Microsoft Azure, it’s also more friendly to hybrid cloud solutions than many of the other options in this space. It’s an excellent choice for those who want dedicated servers that they don’t have to share with anyone else, and these private virtual servers are also highly customizable. This does tilt it a bit toward larger organizations with a dedicated IT staff, however, as getting applications up and running can take more work here than it does with options like AWS.
If you run Linux and you want things as simple and basic as possible, DigitalOcean is the solution that is most closely tailored to your needs. They also focus on being the most affordable of the major options, and their prices are fixed regardless of things like traffic quantity. And if your development scheme happens to align with what their offering, this is very likely going to be the fastest option for you as well.
Hetzner is another “budget” option tailored to smaller companies or those with a very specific infrastructure. This one is based in Germany, so it’s more appealing to developers and businesses located in Europe or who expect the majority of their traffic from that region. They’re very customizable, and offer you the ability to scale up to if you outgrow their budget offerings. However, you’ll have to be comfortable with managing your servers yourself, including securing yourself against DDoS and other forms of attack.
6) IBM Bluemix
IBM’s other cloud-based option focuses heavily on the ability to customize your platform, which is one of the primary features sought after by app developers. Bluemix is “platform as a service” (PaaS) rather than “Infrastructure as a Service” (IaaS), however, it won’t suit everyone’s needs quite as well. Non-developers trying to use it will likely find it too confusing and overwhelming to get everything they want to work, in spite of advertising declaring that you don’t have to know anything about coding to use it. On the plus side, IBM’s customer service is some of the best in the business at present and is available around the clock.