For all the TL;DR people, it depends on what you need from your Cloud Hosting Provider’s services. All of them are good in some way, shape, or form.
Now, let’s start with the basics of what Cloud Hosting is. Cloud hosting, as Wikipedia defines it, is an on-demand provider of services that requires a lot of storage, computing power, or even easy scalability. For more detailed information about Cloud Computing and Cloud hosting, you can check the Wikipedia page about it.
In this comparison, I will be sharing my personal experiences with Cloud Hosting Providers and their Pros and Cons. Throughout my years of System Administration and Web Development, I have tried and switched between many Cloud Hosting Providers. The major ones that I have used are:
- Amazon Web Services (later referred to as AWS)
- Microsoft Azure (later referred to as Azure)
- Google Cloud
- Oracle Cloud Services
In this comparison, I will be showcasing the differences between them in the following ways:
- Server locations
- Used services
- Cost per month
- Free Trial/Free Tier
- Customer Support experience
- Personal experience
In this sort of comparison, I will note all the differences between them.
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
I have used AWS services in multiple instances and various situations. These include using AWS for their Simple Mail Service (SES), Simple Storage Service (S3), EC2 Virtual machines, and finally, Cloudfront as a CDN.
For all my usage of AWS services, I have been using their Free Tier, also known as the 12-month free trial period, which worked fine for me since most of the time, the services I used were needed for only a few months at most. Some services, like SES, were always online, as we used it for sending important emails from our webshop. However, integrating with G Suite wasn’t great, as it sometimes sent emails to spam. Even when we used the hosting provider’s mailing service, emails still went to spam, so customers contacted us to ask why they didn’t receive any mail.
Regarding services that needed a location closest to us, I used Frankfurt servers, as they were and still are the closest ones to Croatia. The relatively low ping on a 200/50Mbps fiber connection (there was an option to use a 1Gbps/500Mbps connection, but it was unstable as other building users had issues with it, so we had to get a slower and more stable speed) made work and using services fast enough.
During my usage of AWS, we had to contact them once when setting up SES, as we got stuck while setting up a domain and our connection with Cloudflare. The answering time was within one working day, and we received an answer at night, but it was fast enough for our usage. That ticket took us about five emails and one call from their technician using Skype to help us out.
Overall, AWS is a decent service, but in some options, they are one of the most hard-core services to set up, and canceling services that aren’t in use is one of the weirdest things to do, just not to get billed for services that are connected to others that aren’t in use. Yes, I had an issue with that once after using the AWS Free Trial on my own. I stopped using EC2, and a few months later, I got an invoice for using networking to EC2, which was terminated and deleted. It took me a few hours of my life to find all connected services and remove them, just not to get billed for it.
I have used other Microsoft and non-Azure services like Exchange Online (now known as Microsoft 365 Business Basic) and Azure AD connected with a dedicated Windows Server 2016 machine as Microsoft 365 integration (then known as Office 365) for easier user management within company premises.
When I was using Virtual machines, I used various locations, from the closest to us, which were now known as Germany North and Germany West Central, up to East US on which I spun in those days Windows Server 2016 with Remote Desktop to make one task for college (couldn’t run Hyper-V on a personal laptop in those days, something with compatibility was wrecked).
Connection to servers was fast, and while testing Remote Desktop, their connection speed of at least 1Gbps symmetrical was enough for my usage as there weren’t any compression artifacts at all.
For all tests and short usages of Virtual Machines, I used Student Free Trial and Free Trial with credits, which can be used for periods for Azure. They also have a pay-as-you-go method where you pay for how much usage did you have of services.
In all the time using Azure, it was never contacted support as it wasn’t needed at all. The only support used by Microsoft is for their current Microsoft 365 Business Basic plan when I had some difficulties with payment processing and debit card, which was locked to Microsoft services (couldn’t pay for a month of subscription, found out about it after the card was unblocked and even Revolut card got blocked even though it had enough money on it).
Overall, Azure is perfect for people who need Windows VMs in the Cloud, especially if they need VMs with Remote Desktop functionality. Other features like Storage and Networking weren’t tested, so I can’t say anything about them.
Up next is Google Cloud, which is one of the biggest providers of Cloud Computing Services, from virtualized servers (VPS) using Cloud Computing service, Kubernetes with Kubernetes Engine, various APIs for use with Maps, YouTube and other Google Services, Firebase for NoSQL databases in real-time, and simple applications which can use that service, and way more, especially for AI as Google is number one for new AI learning and new AI experiences (right after OpenAI and their AI services).
For my usage, I’m still using Google’s APIs for Maps, ReCaptcha Enterprise, and YouTube as those APIs are linked with some of the websites that I built and it is needed so that sites can showcase all correct data, but also I have used their Cloud Computing service for rocking VPS machines for various tests and some production versions of applications later used for clients. I tried to get and use Kubernetes for a short while in college days to learn more about it, and finally Firebase which was used for one demo application that had to use Firebase as a database (NoSQL web application).
Server locations are all over the world, and for my usage, I’m spinning up Cloud Computing VPS machines on Frankfurt location. The ping from my home network (currently a 45/10Mbps copper connection) to the server is within 2-10ms, depending on the time when I ping the server and how much is in use. We have access to a 50/10Mbps package, but couldn’t get those last 5Mbps because of our location. If we were about 50 meters closer to the network switchboard, we could get full speed. Hopefully, a fiber upgrade is incoming, and it will upgrade from peasant speeds to new 1Gbps/500Mbps speeds.
Google Cloud has a Free Trial with $300 in credit, which can be used to try all services with a few of those always free, and after the trial is ended, it is a pay-as-you-go method. For all usage, I’m paying a small amount monthly for personal tests in Cloud Computing whenever I run VPS for short tests, and clients are paying for API usages, mostly for Maps and ReCaptcha usage.
In personal experience, I can say that the UI for management and documentation of it is decent, no issues there. Also, I didn’t need to contact support for Google Cloud services, but I have used Google Support for other services like Google Workspace and YouTube, and their response time and answers were decent, for most of the answers, it took about up to 2 working days as almost all my Support tickets were sent on weekends and late shift times.
Oracle Cloud Services
As someone who uses Oracle Cloud Services to serve this website and blog, I have only positive things to say about it.
Personally, I only use the Compute service from all the Oracle services they offer, and they provide all the features that others have. My experience will be focused on this one service.
I am currently using the Always Free Tier of the Computing service, and the site is running on an Oracle ARM core with 24GB of RAM and 50GB of block storage, which is more than enough for this small(ish) site.
Like the other services, Oracle Cloud Services has server locations all over the world, and I use the Frankfurt location as it is closest to me. With my current copper connection, the ping to the server ranges from 1-8ms, depending on home network usage.
Regarding support, I have contacted Oracle Cloud Services support a few times, and I must say that their support is great. Whenever I had an issue or a question, they responded within 1 working day and provided detailed answers and solutions to my problems. Their support team is knowledgeable and helpful, and they have helped me with issues related to the Compute service as well as other Oracle services. Overall, I highly recommend Oracle Cloud Services, especially for those who need reliable and fast Cloud Computing services with great support.
In conclusion, there is no best Cloud Computing/Cloud Hosting Service for everybody. It always depend which services do you need and how much do you want to pay for them. It also depends where are servers located as sometimes server location is way more important then pricing, which is in all cases variable which can’t be determined at first as some projects will scale to highest of demands.
Text is proofread using OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
All links used in Blog post are for Educational Purposes, except Revolut link which is affiliate link to register for Banking Service.
Cover graphics is my own, created in Canva. All rights are reserved to Copyright holders of logos used for Services.