Cloud developers look beyond top cloud providers for ease of use

Specialized services from Digital Ocean and Caspio could shift companies' focus from the major cloud providers, hoping to pay for what they need.

In the cloud, sometimes less is more. Amazon Web Services (AWS) has a wider variety of services than any of the

other major cloud providers, but that does not necessarily make it the best option for your needs.

Cloud administrators can help decision-makers look beyond the three top cloud providers to specialized servicesthat offer easy-to-use platforms and low cost relative to the value they provide. These specialty cloud providers can more suitably fit a company's cloud strategy, saving the company time and money.

Infastructure as a service (IaaS) provider Digital Ocean and platform as a service (PaaS) provider Caspio, for example, take a different approach to cloud services by focusing on ease of use rather than an array of services -- particularly for developers.

Ease of development, management in Digital Ocean

Digital Ocean is an IaaS designed for developers. It is well suited for developers that need basic infrastructure and are willing to configure and manage additional services themselves.

Digital Ocean
pricing details

Digital Ocean charges for droplets per month and per hour. Monthly rates range from $5 for a 1 core, 512 MB of RAM, 20 GB SSD and 1 TB of data transfer to $80 for a 4 core, 8 GB RAM, 80 GB SSD and 5TB of data transfer. The hourly charges for the same droplets range from $0.007 to $0.119.

The company offers virtual servers -- known as droplets -- that run one of the four popular Linux distributions and is backed by solid state drive (SSD) storage. Digital Ocean servers can be deployed in under a minute, which eliminates some of the delay troubles of other cloud providers. This is especially useful for developers that frequently start and stop their virtual machines (VMs).

Another useful feature is the ability to resize running droplets. This saves time for developers who might otherwise have to shut down their server, save an image and then restart another VM. Users can create snapshots of machine images from the control panel when needed.

Ease of use in Digital Ocean stems from the support for rapid software installation. Developers can start with Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian or Fedora distributions and add applications including Ruby on Rails, a full LAMP stack and Docker -- a light-weight, portable container service for Linux.

The Digital Ocean application program interface (API) is simple and straightforward, like the management portal. The API functions are organized around key components, such as droplets, images, SSH keys, domains, events and errors. Using simple request URLs, developers can create, reboot and shutdown droplets; list images; add SSH keys and show domains.

Caspio pricing details

Caspio is priced on two models. The standard pricing is $249 per month for unlimited apps and an unlimited number of users. This includes unlimited storage and 1 GB of data transfer per month. Users with more limited needs and budgets can purchase services starting at $19 per month. Apps are unlimited, but fees are charged based on the number of data pages, database storage, data transfers and API transactions.

While navigating the (AWS) management console can be difficult, the Digital Ocean control panel is simple and streamlined. Digital Ocean offers fewer services, making it less cluttered. However, it does offer easily configured domain name system (DNS) management, backups, one-click software installs and two-factor authentication. Users also have access to a command line console.

There is an array of tutorials in the community support section of the Digital Ocean site ranging from beginner topics -- such as installing WordPress on Ubuntu -- to more advanced topics -- like installing a mail transfer agent on CentOS.

Streamling application development in Caspio

While Digital Ocean is bringing ease of use to software developers, Caspio is serving the market for end users who are comfortable creating Microsoft Access databases.

Caspio is a PaaS for creating basic Web database applications. The service uses Microsoft SQL Server as the back end, but users do not have to interact directly with the relational database management system. Instead, they use a point-and-click interface to create custom applications. The app builder allows users to create forms, publish data, create reports and generate graphs. There is also support for password authentication, styles, localizations and multiple languages.

For those who would rather use a predefined application, there is a modest set ranging from a business directory and knowledgebase to order management and lead generations.

About the author:
Dan Sullivan holds a Master of Science degree and is an author, systems architect and consultant with more than 20 years of IT experience. He has had engagements in advanced analytics, systems architecture, database design, enterprise security and business intelligence. He has worked in a broad range of industries, including financial services, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, software development, government, retail and education. Dan has written extensively about topics that range from data warehousing, cloud computing and advanced analytics to security management, collaboration and text mining.

This was first published in May 2014

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