Amazon EC2 vs DigitalOcean

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Amazon EC2

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Amazon EC2 vs DigitalOcean: What are the differences?

What is Amazon EC2? Scalable, pay-as-you-go compute capacity in the cloud. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.

What is DigitalOcean? Deploy an SSD cloud server in less than 55 seconds with a dedicated IP and root access. We take the complexities out of cloud hosting by offering blazing fast, on-demand SSD cloud servers, straightforward pricing, a simple API, and an easy-to-use control panel.

Amazon EC2 and DigitalOcean can be primarily classified as "Cloud Hosting" tools.

Some of the features offered by Amazon EC2 are:

  • Elastic – Amazon EC2 enables you to increase or decrease capacity within minutes, not hours or days. You can commission one, hundreds or even thousands of server instances simultaneously.
  • Completely Controlled – You have complete control of your instances. You have root access to each one, and you can interact with them as you would any machine.
  • Flexible – You have the choice of multiple instance types, operating systems, and software packages. Amazon EC2 allows you to select a configuration of memory, CPU, instance storage, and the boot partition size that is optimal for your choice of operating system and application.

On the other hand, DigitalOcean provides the following key features:

  • We provide all of our users with high-performance SSD Hard Drives, flexible API, and the ability to select to nearest data center location.
  • SSD Cloud Servers in 55 Seconds
  • We provide a 99.99% uptime SLA around network, power and virtual server availability. If we fail to deliver, we’ll credit you based on the amount of time that service was unavailable.

"Quick and reliable cloud servers", "Scalability" and "Easy management" are the key factors why developers consider Amazon EC2; whereas "Great value for money", "Simple dashboard" and "Good pricing" are the primary reasons why DigitalOcean is favored.

According to the StackShare community, Amazon EC2 has a broader approval, being mentioned in 3605 company stacks & 1612 developers stacks; compared to DigitalOcean, which is listed in 943 company stacks and 686 developer stacks.

Decisions about Amazon EC2 and DigitalOcean

Albeit restricted to only a few places worlwide compared to its peers in the cloud segment, I am yet to find another provider capable of delivering a score over 5000 (Geekbench) in a benchmark on a single CPU machine, and each machine costs $6 a month. For homelab and experienced users who don't need DBaaS or IaaC's, it's a pretty straightforward choice. A more comprehensive review of Vultr's HF machines can be found here.

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Tejas Sangoi
Founder, CEO at Thalia Technologies · | 4 upvotes · 27.6K views

Our company builds micro saas applications. Based on the application we decide whether to deploy it over one of our shared servers or on a dedicated server.

We decided to Lightsail over EC2.

  1. Lightsail is a lightweight, simplified product offering that has a dramatically simplified console. The instances run in a special VPC, but this aspect is also provisioned automatically, and invisible in the console.

  2. Lightsail supports optionally peering this hidden VPC with your default VPC in the same AWS region, allowing Lightsail instances to access services like EC2 and RDS in the default VPC within the same AWS account.

  3. Bandwidth is unlimited, but of course free bandwidth is not -- however, Lightsail instances do include a significant monthly bandwidth allowance before any bandwidth-related charges apply.

  4. It has predictable pricing with no surprises at the end.

  5. The flexibility of EC2 leads inevitably to complexity. Whereas for Lighsail there is virtually no learning curve, here. You don't even technically need to know how to use SSH with a private key -- the Lightsail console even has a built-in SSH client -- but there is no requirement that you use it. You can access these instances normally, with a standard SSH client.

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Chose Hetnzer over DigitalOcean and Linode because Hetzner provides much cheaper VPS with much better specs. DigitalOcean might seems like a good choice at first because of how popular it is. But in reality, if all you need is a simple VPS, you won't benefit much from the their oversubscribed datacenters which often underperform other competitors. Linode is also a good choice. They have cheaper options and performs slightly better than DigitalOcean. In the end, choosing a more affordable host helps you save money. That's important when you're running a tight ship.

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Peter Schmalfeldt
Senior Software Engineer · | 3 upvotes · 47.8K views

While Media Temple is more expensive than DigitalOcean, sometimes it is like comparing apples and oranges. DigitalOcean provides what is called Virtual Private Servers ( VPS ). While you seem to be on your own dedicated server, you are, in fact, sharing the same hardware with others.

If you need to be on your own dedicated server, or have other hardware requirements, you do not really have as many options with DigitalOcean. But with Media Temple, the skies the limit ( but so is potentially the cost ).

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Jerome/Zen Quah
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DigitalOcean was where I began; its USD5/month is extremely competitive and the overall experience as highly user-friendly.

However, their offerings were lacking and integrating with other resources I had on AWS was getting more costly (due to transfer costs on AWS). Eventually I moved the entire project off DO's Droplets and onto AWS's EC2.

One may initially find the cost (w/o free tier) and interface of AWS daunting however with good planning you can achieve highly cost-efficient systems with savings plans, spot instances, etcetera.

Do not dive into AWS head-first! Seriously, don't. Stand back and read pricing documentation thoroughly. You can, not to the fault of AWS, easily go way overbudget. Your first action upon getting your AWS account should be to set up billing alarms for estimated and current bill totals.

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Craig Finch
Principal Consultant at Rootwork InfoTech · | 6 upvotes · 136.9K views

We first selected Google Cloud Platform about five years ago, because HIPAA compliance was significantly cheaper and easier on Google compared to AWS. We have stayed with Google Cloud because it provides an excellent command line tool for managing resources, and every resource has a well-designed, well-documented API. SDKs for most of these APIs are available for many popular languages. I have never worked with a cloud platform that's so amenable to automation. Google is also ahead of its competitors in Kubernetes support.

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Stephen Fox
Artificial Intelligence Fellow · | 2 upvotes · 139.7K views

GCE is much more user friendly than EC2, though Amazon has come a very long way since the early days (pre-2010's). This can be seen in how easy it is to edit the storage attached to an instance in GCE: it's under the instance details and is edited inline. In AWS you have to click the instance > click the storage block device (new screen) > click the edit option (new modal) > resize the volume > confirm (new model) then wait a very long time. Google's is nearly instant.

  • In both cases, the instance much be shut down.

There also the preference between "user burden-of-security" and automatic security: AWS goes for the former, GCE the latter.

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Most bioinformatics shops nowadays are hosting on AWS or Azure, since they have HIPAA tiers and offer enterprise SLA contracts. Meanwhile Heroku hasn't historically supported HIPAA. Rackspace and Google Cloud would be other hosting providers we would consider, but we just don't get requests for them. So, we mostly focus on AWS and Azure support.

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