Use Case Comparison: DigitalOcean and AWS

Wed, 01/18/2023 - 16:11

Overview of DigitalOcean Compared to AWS

DigitalOcean and AWS are both cloud computing providers that offer services such as virtual machines, storage, and databases. DigitalOcean focuses primarily on virtual private servers (VPS) for hosting web applications and is best known for its simple web interface. AWS’ comprehensive and feature-rich platform offers a wider range of services including computing, machine learning, and analytics, and has an ecosystem of partners spanning their global infrastructure.

Each platform has its strengths and weaknesses, which are subjective based on the needs of a company’s IT infrastructure. For example, small businesses and startups looking for a solution to host web applications may choose DigitalOcean, but SaaS startups and companies seeking scalability, security, and integration options would be better suited on AWS. 

Here’s a quick run-down of the pros and cons of each platform:

Pros and Cons of DigitalOcean

Companies seeking a simple web hosting solution may choose DigitalOcean for reasons including:

  • Cost: a straightforward pricing model is generally less expensive, especially for small scale usage.
  • Ease of use: a simple web interface makes it accessible to non-technical users.
  • Community support: companies have access to tutorials from their user community.
  • Developer features: one-click apps, pre-configured environments, and API access.

The limitations of DigitalOcean are often cited as:

  • Service offerings: highly limited compared to other public cloud providers.
  • Scalability: scaling is limited, which can be problematic when companies need to rapidly scale resources.
  • Support: assistance with troubleshooting or infrastructure scaling is limited.
  • Compliance and security: for SMBs that handle sensitive data, DigitalOcean is likely not the right fit.
  • Geographic coverage: data centers are located in only a few geographic regions.
  • No built-in CI/CD functionality.

Pros and Cons of AWS

AWS is most known for its robust services and options with strengths in: 

  • Scalability: companies can easily scale their infrastructure up or down as needed.
  • Reliability: their global infrastructure is highly available and fault-tolerant.
  • Cost-effectiveness: with a pay-as-you-go pricing model, you only pay for the resources you use.
  • Wide range of services: AWS is a one-stop shop for all cloud-related needs, including compute, storage, databases, analytics, machine learning, and more.
  • Security: with an arsenal of security features and compliance certifications, companies have tools available to keep their data and applications secure.
  • Flexibility: the range of options for deploying, managing, and running applications, including on-demand, reserved and spot instances, allows customers to choose options that best. fit their workloads and budgets.

Challenges of using AWS are often noted as:

  • Complexity: The wide range of services and features can make AWS more challenging to navigate and understand. 
  • Steep learning curve: It takes time learn the offerings and fully understand how to use the platform effectively.
  • Potential higher costs: For small-scale or infrequent usage, pricing may be more expensive than DigitalOcean.
  • Less focus on developer experience: While AWS provides a range of developer tools, it does not have the same focus on developer experience as DigitalOcean.

SaaS Companies Better Suited to AWS

When it comes to SaaS products, many businesses find the robust offerings of AWS better suited to their application deployment process. AWS provides a variety of tools for automating deployment, scaling, and monitoring, such as Elastic Beanstalk, AWS CodeDeploy, and AWS CodePipeline. Additionally, AWS has services to build and test CI/CD pipelines, such as AWS CodeBuild and CodeStar.

DigitalOcean does not provide as many DevOps automation tools nor does it have built-in CI/CD capabilities. With limited third-party integrations and only basic logging/monitoring capabilities, it can be difficult to properly manage your application. While DigitalOcean supports containerization, it lacks a container orchestration service like AWS ECS. 

Case Studies and Examples 

To take advantage of the additional features and scalability that AWS offers, these SMBs have made the switch from DigitalOcean to AWS: UpCounsel, G2, Lendio, SendHub, Transparent, and Tripping. These companies took advantage of AWS's global reach and scalability, which helped them to handle their rapidly growing user base.

For smaller businesses that are just getting started or who need only a couple virtual private servers, DigitalOcean may be the good way to start because of its simplicity and fixed-fee pricing. As business grow, managing large numbers of VPSs on DigitalOcean is likely an indication that you’re ready for more advanced tools and services with AWS. Due to AWS’ breadth and complexity, it’s advantageous to also work with an AWS Partner like Stratus10. To help companies identify the right services on AWS, we work closely with you to assess your IT infrastructure, understand your business goals, and set up the right solution. We also train your employees to manage your AWS infrastructure (or, we can manage it for you).

In summary, each cloud infrastructure provider has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the best choice for a company will depend on the specific requirements. It's important to evaluate the specific needs of your business and choose the provider that best meets those needs.

Could you benefit from a consultation for your company? Get in touch with a Stratus10 cloud expert today!

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