The Seemingly Straightforward Issue of Cloud Server Pricing

  • October 14, 2014

We want to stay competent with regards to the pricing of our services. It is one of our main values along redundancy, performance and privacy. And like all of our guiding principles, competitive pricing is built into our service. What we mean by this is that our customers get a low hourly price per resource in addition to full control over how they want to configure their resources. This is achieved through resource based scaling rather than forcing customers to buy predefined instances with certain amounts of resources.

In addition, our pricing is linear. This means that it is easy to calculate different scenarios when scaling up as hourly price per resource does not fluctuate based on the size of the server. This is especially helpful when you need a slight increase over one resource type. We’ll talk more about this further down.

Even with competitive pricing, we maintain a healthy margin in order to preserve UpCloud’s stability and ability to grow and innovate. Offering services at a competitive price isn’t a sacrifice we want to make in redundancy or performance. We want to offer a high quality, high performance service also suitable for enterprise-level use at an affordable price point.

The straightforward price comparison

Great thing about pricing is that it is easy to quantify and compare – numbers do tell the truth. We have built the following pricing table around some typical configurations and selected some of the better known cloud hosting companies for comparison. We tried to find the most affordable configuration of resources that completely matches the given requirement. For example, if the configuration were 8 CPU cores, 32GB of RAM and 500GB of SSD we only accept an instance for comparison that has at least those specifications.

Initial pricing comparison (prices per month)
UpCloud Cloud-
Sigma
Elastic-
Hosts
Profit-
Bricks
AWS Rackspace Digital-
Ocean
Azure
S 48.24 € n/a 167.00 € 58.72 € 90.10 € 91.83 € n/a 103.33 €
63.36 € 151.01 € 178.00 € n/a 94.31 € 121.15 € 123.81 € n/a
M 99.00€ n/a 335.00€ 119.44€ 182.28€ 332.52€ n/a 206.81€
136.80€ 310.03€ 362.50€ n/a 192.88€ 405.94€ 247.62 n/a
L 196.20 € n/a 664.98 € 238.88 € 364.52 € 664.94 € n/a 565.14 €
271.80 € 620.06 € 719.98 € n/a 385.75 € 811.87 € 495.23 n/a
Comparison done in September 2014. All resources (HDD/SSD, RAM, CPU) must match the requirement given. See configuration requirements below and appendix for more information.
Configuration
S 2 CPU, 8GB, 100GB
2 CPU, 8GB, 100GB (SSD)
M 4 CPU, 16GB, 250 GB
4 CPU, 16GB, 250 GB (SSD)
L 8 CPU, 32GB, 500 GB
8 CPU, 32GB, 500 GB (SSD)

Details on how we came to these numbers can be found in the appendix. To be honest, someone else could arrive at slightly different numbers as many cloud hosting providers have very complex pricing schemes. This is actually something we have tried to avoid at UpCloud. In fact, our pricing is so transparent that you can go see our pricing page and immediately calculate what your actual costs would be (all hourly and monthly prices are linear).

Many cloud hosting companies have decided to offer predefined instances with a given amount of CPU, RAM and storage. This clearly harms some companies in our pricing comparison – however, we think that this is fair as predefined instances harm customers in real production use in a similar way. In this scheme customers need to pay for whatever is available, not what they actually need.

The mismatch between predefined instances and customer demand is why UpCloud has decided to offer true scalability with a resource based model – the power to configure CPU, RAM and storage as freely as possible. The reasoning is quite simple: more control over resources and instance prices. Pay only for what you need and optimise your costs in all scenarios.

How it all changes when you need to scale up

Another important aspect of pricing to think about is the cost of scaling: how does the cost of your infrastructure change when you need slightly more resources? With predefined instances a small need for more computing power or memory might require a quite large upgrade both in resources and thus price. Again, another case for resource based scaling: just bump up whatever resource you need more of and only pay for that increase, nothing more.

Table 2 shows the dramatic difference between resource based and instance based scaling – how much you need to pay more when the previously explained S/M/L-packages are bumped up by 1 CPU core, 2 GB of RAM and 100GB of storage (again, both HDD and SSD).

Pricing comparison: delta (the increase in price per month) when scaling up from the original configurations with 1 CPU core, 2 GB of memory and 100 GB of storage
UpCloud Cloud-
Sigma
Elastic-
Hosts
Profit-
Bricks
AWS Rackspace Digital-
Ocean
Azure
S+ 19.44 € n/a 55.60 € n/a 90.05 € 236.04 € n/a 102.59 €
34.56 € 59.55 € 66.60 € n/a 94.31 € 265.44 € 123.81 € n/a
M+ 19.44 € n/a 55.60 € n/a 175.85 € 318.50 € n/a 331.55 €
34.56 € 59.55 € 66.60 € n/a 180.11 € 347.90 € 123.81 € n/a
L+ 19.44 € n/a 55.60 € n/a 193.68 € 627.71 € n/a 2095.92 €
34.56 € 59.55 € 66.60 € n/a 197.94 € 657.11 € n/a
Comparison done in September 2014. All configurations (HDD/SSD, RAM, CPU) must match the required resources in the comparisons. The figures represent delta, or increase in price, when scaling up. See appendix for more information.
Configuration
S+ 3 CPU, 10GB, 200GB
3 CPU, 10GB, 200GB (SSD)
M+ 5 CPU, 18GB, 350 GB
5 CPU, 18GB, 350 GB (SSD)
L+ 9 CPU, 34GB, 600 GB
9 CPU, 34GB, 600 GB (SSD)

The enormous price changes in some of the bigger instance based configurations is due to the requirement to upgrade to a significantly larger instance. We feel that this is a fair comparison as no other alternative is given – unless the customer would change their demand which sounds like a compromise they should not be having to do.

While scaling may not be an everyday scenario and requirement for many – it is definitely good to plan for it. A day might come when your service gets more visitors, requiring more resources to keep the application responsive. Another more commons scenario is where you end up filling your storage and need to increase it. Do you really want to end up paying for all those extra CPUs and GBs of memory as well?



Appendix

For transparency, the following tables detail how we came up with the pricing comparisons. We provide links to relevant pricing tools and pages and information on what configurations we chose. Please note that all resources must at least match the given configurations.

Pricing Comparison Sources
Company Pricing Notes
UpCloud UpCloud Pricing Zone: London
AWS AWS EC2 Pricing EC2 for CPU+RAM, Zone: Ireland
AWS EBS Pricing EBS for HDD/SSD, Zone: Ireland
Azure
Azure VM Pricing
VM for CPU+RAM, Zone: Europe North
Azure Storage Pricing Storage for HDD, Zone: Europe North
Cloud-Sigma Cloudsigma Pricing 1CPU = 2GHZ, Zone: Zurich
Digital-Ocean Digital Ocean Pricing all resources must at least match UpCloud
Elastic-Hosts ElasticHosts Pricing 1CPU = 2GHZ
Profit-Bricks Profitbricks Pricing Zone: Germany, pricing tool broken 18/09/2014 when conducting this comparison
Rackspace Rackspace Pricing Mostly managed cloud
IaaS Pricing Comparison – Selected Configurations
Company S M L S+ M+ L+
UpCloud exact match exact match exact match exact match exact match exact match
AWS m3.large + EBS m3.xlarge + EBS m3.2xlarge + EBS m3.xlarge + EBS m3.2xlarge + EBS c3.4xlarge + EBS
Azure A3 + storage A4 + storage A7 + storage A4 + storage A7 + storage A9 + storage
Cloud-Sigma exact match exact match exact match exact match exact match exact match
Digital-Ocean $160/mo $320/mo $480/mo $320/mo $640/mo
Elastic-Hosts exact match exact match exact match exact match exact match exact match
Profit-Bricks exact match exact match exact match n/a n/a n/a
Rackspace Performance 1-4 Performance 2-15 Performance 2-30 Performance 2-15 Performance 2-30 Performance 2-60