How to choose a cloud provider for your website

catgirl

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When creating a new website there are several considerations you'll need to take in when choosing the language, applicable frameworks, and a cloud provider to host the website. This post takes a look at the factors I consider when choosing a cloud provider for a new website.

Pricing

The first factor I consider is whether I can afford to use the provider. Since many cloud providers run on a system of microtransaction based billing, it can be difficult to estimate the monthly rate you'll pay to have your website hosted. I've found that DigitalOcean is the easiest to predict (they provide a simple monthly rate per server + a bandwidth overage fee), whereas you might be able to squeeze some savings in with Amazon Web Services (AWS) if you take advantage of the free tier and keep an eye on your usage and adjust resources according. I find that it's not worth the time you'll spend as an individual to go with AWS as generally large teams discuss how to cost cut and what trade-offs they're willing to make. Cloud providers who are microtransaction based include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and the Google Cloud Platform. Cloud providers who provide flat-rate billing include Digitalocean, Vultr, and Linode. A quirk clarification to make here is that even the flat-rate billing providers may have overage fees and often bill you by the hour per server with a cap, this keeps your bill lower when you delete severs that are not in use.

Features

When choosing a cloud provider I do not want them to be too simple and without features that I need, but at the same time I do not want them to be too complex and difficult to use. I've found that DigitalOcean seems to have the best feature mix for me. But even simple providers like DigitalOcean are adding features such as Managed Databases & Kubernetes Clusters. I do worry that once "we only sell servers" providers will become the confusing mess that is the Amazon Web Services Control Panel. At least they don't use annoying product names and just say Managed PostgreSQL, etc. I also want whatever provider I use to have an API for easy integration and access to their different services.

Support

When choosing a cloud provider I do not want to pay extra for customer support and want a team of people willing to answer non-billing related questions. This usually means it's bundled into the price of the service, although that's better than Microsoft Azure's $30/month plan to be able to call them on weekdays to ask simple questions. It's true that you can find the answer to most questions by using Google, but it's still nice to be able to ask a question and get an answer without having to fork up cash for the privilege.

Conclusion

Choosing a cloud provider is challenging and involves a lot of factors. You probably guessed by now I'm biased towards liking DigitalOcean and against microtransaction based billing. What factors do you consider when choosing a cloud provider for your website?