Is there a place where we can compare* the many new arising cloud hosting providers? From reading into each of them, they seem very different and range from just hosting applications (google) to a semi-full enterprise web serving framework (rackspace). Comparing "by hand" takes a lot of time. All have limitations and different prizing, but which are those and how do they compare?

I'm looking for an unbiased comparison site, rather then a discussion on "which is the best".

* I don't mean a hosting provider comparison site, of which there are many. The properties of cloud hosting providers are remarkably different and don't compare well on classical hosting provider comparison charts.


NOTE: answer resent - see last paragraph if you wanted to down-vote it for "spamming"

For price comparison you can use cloudorado.com. It will give you prices of a cloud servers (IaaS only) with specified resources (RAM, HDD, CPU). It also provides a limited comparison of CPU performance based on UnixBench, but it is rather side effect than purpose.

For benchmarks itself, apart from already mentioned cloudharmony, you can also use cloudsleuth.net. It is focused on network benchmarks only, or page load times to be precise.

I know I post it for the second time here. Sorry for that, but by a misfortune I was telling about a service which can help in DDoS attacks on another thread and my account was deleted because there was a lot of spamming for that service, while I had nothing to do with it. Anyhow, my answer in this thread disappeared with the account while it was already up-voted to a second position. So I wrote it again and I hope you won't down-vote it as spam and that I won't be deleted now due to this post.

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  • Thanks for this, this really seems like an answer to my original question: an unbiased comparison site. Apologies to Javier, who wrote an excellent answer already, but this is much closer to what I wanted. – Abel Jun 25 '11 at 10:12

Remember that 'cloud' is just a buzzword, intentionally undefined to refer to almost any kind of setup. So, you should first separate apples and oranges. Fortunately, some slightly more precise terms are appearing.

First, the big three kind of services:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)


  • IaaS is just a VPS with some API and/or web control that lets the client manage the number of instances at will. The billing is done afterwards, according to usage. This is what Amazon ECC, GoGrid, Rackspace 'cloud servers', Slicehost offer.
  • PaaS services don't give you a 'machine' (real or virtual), they give you a programmable environment where you can put your code. That's what Google, and (i think) Rackspace 'cloud sites' offer. You could also say that typical shared hosting offerings are a limited form of this.
  • SaaS are a specific application giving specific services. The classic examples are hosted applications like email, ERP, CRM, and so on.

A very related offering is storage (Amazon S3, Rackspace 'cloud files', GoGrid cloud storage,etc), and recently databases (Google, amazon), queue managers (Amazon, Google). You could say these are just SaaS; but usually they aren't very useful by themselves, so they're commonly seen (and sold) as part of a platform, to be added to PaaS or IaaS.

Ok, with all these classifications, you can just plan your requirements and check each provider to see which parts are offered, at what prices, and if they're ready to be used, or if need some extra work.

For example, GoGrid's storage can simply be mounted via Samba, or copied by rsync. Traffic between a server instance and the storage isn't metered. That makes it very easy to use. Rackspace files, OTOH, are more like Amazon: you get an API to read/write files, and can optionally make them visible to the world via HTTP, so you can for example, store images or video files directly referred to from your webpages. Traffic is metered, but cost per GB is way lower... you get the idea.

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  • +1 that's a great answer, esp. the breakdown and simple, short explanation of XaaS terms. Very helpful! – Abel Nov 6 '09 at 11:45
  • +1 thanks for the clever and intersting answer. – Marco Demaio Aug 6 '10 at 15:01

Well, most of them use XEN (Amazon, Rackspace, GoGrid). Their offerings are quite different, in the sense that out of the 4 previously mentioned, rackspace is the only one not guaranteeing CPU, since their nodes consist of a cheap Opteron quad and 16GB of RAM, which means it's pretty slow, and there are other VPS providers which will top it easily.

The popular choice is usually Amazon since it works (most of the time), it's popular and offers many AMIs, and then GoGrid is pretty decent when it comes to hardware they offer, but very expensive when it comes to bandwidth, unless you are ready to buy a pre-paid package.

When you reach a certain pricing point, none of these clouds will make sense any more. For example, Amazon's 34GB RAM instance will run you close to 800$ per month if ran non-stop. At this pricing point even a dedicated server will run you cheaper (depending on your host of choice). Most likely colocation will be more cost-effective if you're currently spending 1000$ per month, depending on what you're doing. Someone doing a lot of video transcoding which can burst may want to stay on the cloud where he can start 100 instances and handle a lot of videos at the same time, but for a well-built web app the needs to scale shouldn't be very large.

A rule of thumb: there is no such thing as an unbiased comparison website, and even blog posts are mostly paid for nowadays, especially when the blogger is popular or even semi-popular.

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  • Thanks! I'm a bit naive and still believe in unbiased comparison... hmm, my dreams vaporize cloudwise ;-). Seems like even a biased or sponsored site doing clouds only isn't around (yet). You talk about XEN, which is Cisco, what about VMWare or even others? It seems all beta yet, any thoughts on those? vmware.com/appliances/deploy/vcloud-express.html – Abel Nov 5 '09 at 20:12
  • Don't understand the whole Xen is Cisco, since Xen is a freely available hypervisor, with popular commercial implementations like Citrix XenServer. Any VmWare based cloud will be more expensive, because the VmWare software itself is expensive. – gekkz Nov 5 '09 at 20:26
  • Oops, meant to write Citrix, no idea why I wrote Cisco, my bad ;-) – Abel Nov 5 '09 at 20:35
  • Actually Xen is part of Citrix, and I'd say VMWare's products are quite solid nowadays. – af. Nov 5 '09 at 20:36

cloudharmony.com has an amazing comparison of the cloud computing services, with drill down criteria and professionally run up-to-date benchmarks on each of the cloud services as well as case studies etc.

Others: http://www.lowendbox.com

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