There are several cloud service providers in the market and their solutions have been designed to cater to specific type of customers and usage. Hence, it can be easier to figure out the right solution depending on the use case and budget if we consider the intrinsic service architecture. Here is a comparison of the two popular cloud providers: Google Cloud Platform and DigitalOcean.
Since Google Cloud Platform is close to AWS in terms of the range of features, expect a lot of functionalities with GCP. However, GCP is quite selective on its toolset. In case of DigitalOcean, the onus is on the system administrator to configure and run the Virtual Machines. In simple terms the cloud service providers tend to make bulk of their revenue by selling memory and they understand that their additional services would cost them more as well as attract new customers. Digital Ocean just focuses on delivering virtual machines without too much overhead in order to keep prices low. Google Cloud Platform has increases its investment in cloud services by introducing additional features that would act as customer-magnets.
Both of the services come with different pricing. In general DigitalOcean is the cheaper option out of the two. But, don’t consider this as a hard and fast rule; few additional hours of system administration to configure and maintain a service can reduce the cost, eventually leading to offsetting of initial cost of GCP.
Note that the DigitalOcean pricing is most straighforward and Google’s pricing is more structured, but still transparent (discounts are applied automatically).
Here are the most common use cases which will help you zero in on the most relevant service provider.
Some of the industries (example: banking and financial sector) in which companies follow strict rules, law mandates that they should run their infrastructure in a specific geographic region. DigitalOcean allows users to chose the country in which the virtual machines run, but GCP doesn’t provide such control. Google will let you choose the region like Europe, but not a specific country.
Availability of skilled system administrators
Google Cloud Platform is trying to establish its positioning by providing the most common services without bloating itself like AWS. That means you get all the primary functionalities of a cloud service, but still requires some involvement of a system administrator.
DigitalOcean believes in cheaper solution, so you need to approach this in Do-it-Yourself point of view. They provide virtual machines and basic functionalities like DNS or additional disks, leaving the rest to the system administrator.
To sum up, DigitalOcean requires more effort from a system administration in comparison to Google Cloud Platform (GCP). In fact, Google’s solution closely matches the automation set up by AWS.
Dependency on a specific technology
If you dependent on a specific proprietary cloud technology like Google Big Tables then you have to go with GCP. However, Google in general is open source friendly; for example Kubernetes is gradually becoming quite popular for micro-services orchestration and it’s open source.
Digital Ocean does not have any proprietary service, so the administrator needs to figure out the required solutions and install them.
A proprietary cloud technology has the advantage of reducing installation and maintenance costs and the disadvantage of building dependency of the service provider.
DigitalOcean doesn’t have solid out of the box security in place, the system administrator needs to install firewalls etc. Also internal networks in Digital Ocean are not as much isolated as in other cloud providers and require additional configuration for security.
Google has it Google Cloud IAM (Identity and Access Management) similar to Amazon IAM and offers external firewall along with isolated internal network.
Apart from the traditional disks a cloud storage service can effectively simplify the archival of any kind of file.
Google Cloud Platform has services similar to Amazon S3 and Glacier to store any amount of data and create backups. The cost of all these services are proportional to the amount of data stored, number of requests and throughput.
DigitalOcean does not have similar cloud storage service although its hard disks that can be resized easily.
Machine Learning and Big Data
Google is investing a lot in Machine Learning and it’s has started calling itself an AI company. Google Cloud Platform has certain options to easily set up an Apache Spark cluster with Google Data Proc, decreasing processing costs significantly. Apart from that, Google’s machine learning open source technologies like TensorFlow are readily available in GCP. Google also provides out of the box APIs for predictive analysis, cluster analysis, neural networks, etc. But, these solutions should ideally perform well with structured businesses and technical architecture in comparison to a company that is just starting off. The primary reason being, these pre-built algorithms lead to black boxes and the cost per request can be vague while working with Big Data.
Just like above-mentioned point, Digital Ocean does not offer any machine learning or big data solution, it just provides affordable virtual machines.
Microservices come with additional architectural tasks such as load balancing, service discovery, containerised applications, etc.
Google Cloud Compute delivers Kubernetes out of the box, which is an open source and popular microservice orchestration technology fined tuned by Google’s expertise.
DigitalOcean does not offer any tool or service as they are quite focused on offering virtual machines at much lower price.
Selecting the right cloud platform is not a simple task, but the following can be considered as the rule of thumb:
- DigitalOcean is suitable for small projects or the setups that require extensive customisation. Quite effective in cutting down infrastructure costs when few servers are needed and there are capable system administrators to configure and maintain the setup.
Google Cloud Platform applies to wide range of companies — from startups to large projects. It provides options to take advantage of Google’s open source technologies and services and reduces infrastructure cost.