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Amazon Lightsail vs. DigitalOcean (containership.io)
75 points by phildougherty on Dec 7, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 58 comments



I think this article misses a really important comparison point.

Does anyone know if Lightsail uses the same CPU credit system as t2 EC2 instances?

Details on what CPU credits are can be found at: http://docs.aws.amazon.com/AWSEC2/latest/UserGuide/t2-instan...

Basically if you use too much CPU for too long, AWS will throttle your CPU usage. This is detrimental to performance in cases where you're not just idling most of the time.

I've had plenty of apps on DO use 40-60% CPU 24/7 without any performance degradation or throttling. Will Lightsail do the same?


Another poster has referenced this: http://www.vpsbenchmarks.com/posts/amazon_lightsail_1gb_is_n...

It seems to confirm your suspicion. I'm not clear on whether Amazon implemented it this way on purpose, or if it was just the quickest path to launch a product, and they'll fix it later.


Thanks for the link. So basically Lightsail isn't even in the same galaxy as DO unless they drop this constraint.

Edit:

I feel like they did this on purpose. It's tough to imagine an oversight as large as this slipped through by accident. It's also something developers will figure out in a matter of minutes while running on their platform.

Hopefully they only have it constrained now to make sure their system doesn't tumble over and they will lift it.

I guess they avoided to mention it because this pitch doesn't sound too attractive on stage: "Introducing Lightsail, a VPS competitor platform where you can get a 1 CPU core machine for $5/month, but understand that if you use more than a few percent of the machine's CPU for any extended period of time it will result in your CPU being automatically throttled to the point where your application will likely become unresponsive, and to add insult to injury we're not really making you aware of this during sign up. On second thought, just forget about it, continue using what you're using now because this isn't suited for production in most typical web applications that developers produce -- it's odd though because that's the market we're trying to cater towards.".


The IO performance, CPU throttling, and price per resource lag make Lightsail a joke compared to DO.

But at least Lightsail comes with a cape. https://www.digitalocean.com/community/questions/does-digita...


It took me a while to figure out how to minimize the share via social media bar that pops up on the left. Which for me seems to block the first 4 letters on the left hand side at my current screen width. Just a heads up. When I move to a larger 1080p monitor there is a space on the left so it doesn't block it. Look at your page with 1600 x 900. Not sure if this is an issue for you but I thought I'd mention it.


These things drive me insane. It's ridiculous. Do these people only check their sites on huge monitors?


Almost nobody checks their pages at 125% or 150%. Even though with higher resolution monitors these DPI settings are becoming more widely used.

When I loaded the page the first thing I did was highlight that stupid box and kill it with the developer bar. I'm at 1080p and 125% DPI.

As a general rule, anything that can hover over other content on the page (from share buttons to menus and beyond) are going to annoy someone and break someone's experience. No exceptions. If it isn't happening today it will happen tomorrow.


Do these people only check their sites on huge monitors?

Based on my experience with a portrait-oriented monitor for document editing, nobody bothers making websites work at viewport sizes other than "maximized on the designer's screen."


Thanks for the heads up, I'll look into making that less annoying.


Not completely on topic, but is your product essentially kind of like Docker Cloud (formerly Tutum)?

I loved Tutum until they became Docker Cloud and started charging per node. The flat monthly price on your product is way more attractive to me.


There is also Carina docker cloud ( https://getcarina.com/ ) from Rackspace which is currently in free Beta.


Yep we have a lot of similarities to Docker Cloud/Tutum. Per-seat pricing, unlimited servers/clusters. We have a free tier you can try out.


I'll definitely check it out!


We changed the size of the social share widget to be smaller, hope it helps.


Holy crap that was a quick fix, and well done. If you want to dive into it further in the future there is room for improvement but bravo on the quick reaction!

If you want me to put on my pedantic hat I'd that it's distracting still without the white space provided by 1080p. I really hate being overly picky like this but I want you to get valuable feedback. Ignore it, or take it but I applaud how quickly you fixed the issue to get this.

EDIT: I went back and checked closer and no there are no pixels that I can't see.


Thanks for the appreciation :) I may just nuke the social share thing altogether, but I think I'll sleep on that decision.


Please do nuke it. I've got it on my blog so I need to nuke it as well (although my blog is pretty much "abandoned" at this point), I've received lots of complaints before about it also getting in the way.


How many people actually use these things? I would normally just copy the link and paste it into Reddit/Twitter/wherever instead of clicking any social media widget.


FYI, it's still "in the way" on my iPad.


Here is a bookmarklet that I have saved from a previous discussion on HN that will delete those kinds of things from the page:

https://alisdair.mcdiarmid.org/kill-sticky-headers/


I really think Amazon is about to kill DigitalOcean with LightSail. I have already spun up a few instances from LightSail and its almost a carbon copy of DO but with the power of the AWS ecosystem behind it. I think its now the prefect platform for startups with still pretty minimal costs but the ability to have my Node app on LightSail storage resources on S3 and have a managed database with RDS is a no brainer. I think people are a little too worried about the difference of a few dollars between AWS and DO now and are missing the amount of traffic you could handle for less than 100$ a month with LightSail and the ability to more easily scale later on.


According to VPSBenchmarks Lightsail isn't comparable to other VPSes: http://www.vpsbenchmarks.com/posts/amazon_lightsail_1gb_is_n...

  >TLDR: Amazon Lightsail 1GB will melt down with less than 15% sustained cpu usage
And also in DO I can be sure that I won't pay more then 5$ per month. Even if I'm DDOSed. Since network is essentially unlimited (There are currently no network overcharges since metering doesn't work yet). In the future I assume that they would remove my site If I get DDOSed instead of sending me bill I can't pay.

But AWS: If you get DDOSed you just pay a large bill. Which can of course get nulled if Amazon feels like it but still.


On AWS you get a big bill, but they continue serving your content. With DigitalOcean, I've heard multiple reports that they simply disable your VPS until the DDoS ends, making your instance unreachable. With OVH, they include DDoS protection as standard. I use all three services and I like them all, but there are some big strengths and weaknesses to be aware of among them.


no! simply no!

DigitalOceans main selling point is not only the price and speed at which you setup a node. The main selling point is their freaking awesome support and their tutorial/help pages that help a lot of people with troubles that might have.

AWS, with its amazing stack size, cannot compare in those 2 departments IMO!


I don't have experience with DigitalOcean support but there tutorial/help pages are indeed very useful, I have used them a lot.

Its an issue for DigitalOcean that if someones trying to install MongoDB on Ubuntu they can still use any VPS provider they want. The instructions that DO provides are not platform specific to them.

I still do want DigitalOcean to succeed though, I think there great and still love there product. I think building an S3 competitor(Not expandable volume storage) would make them more competitive. Its still going to be really tough though, right now any side project is going to be default on LightSail.


Their support is remarkably good, even on the lowest tiers. The most I ever had to wait was a few hours for a reply, and usually it's 30 minutes or less to get an initial response.

Over the years I've opened up a number of tickets on $5-20/month droplets for all sorts of problems. Even problems that were my own fault, which I received answers through either blog posts they linked me to or step by step instructions on how to fix it.

On multiple occasions they helped me recover from catastrophic errors like having SSH locked down to only accept connections with SSH keys but the SSH service died because I ran out of disk space. In this case they can mount a recovery disk to your droplet which will let you get at your file system.


>their tutorial/help pages that help a lot of people with troubles that might have

Aren't these available for free?


Yea. Props to DO, but those are the docs I use when playing with apache/nginx config on EC2 instances.


I agree RDS is the killer feature here. I have not played with lighttsail but if I can one click launch a managed postgres instance, I'm sold.


You can still use RDS and connect to it from DigitalOcean.


Sure, and pay for egress.

    Data Transfer OUT From Amazon RDS To Internet
    First 1 GB / month	$0.000 per GB
    Up to 10 TB / month	$0.090 per GB
    Next 40 TB / month	$0.085 per GB


I hope not. Over-consolidation of this space would be bad for everyone as it would open up the potential for Amazon to monopolize the Internet core.

We will stick with DO and Vultr for most things. They also still have a bit of a performance edge.


AWS is already the monopoly. A couple of years ago it was reported that they were bigger than the next 17 competitors combined.


That's a dominant player but not a monopoly.

The danger is that we'll get to the point that >90% of Internet traffic in the US flows via AWS or uses something in AWS. At that point AWS owns the Internet and can start consolidating and shutting out other data centers and providers. It puts concepts like "peering" at risk.

That would be a monopoly. There would be only one way to host, at least for anything serious.

A hard oligopoly scenario with Google, Microsoft, and Amazon would not be much better. We want there to be many smaller players.


In the "Where DigitalOcean Beats Lightsail" section, you might add that the OS selection on Lightsail is extremely limited. I believe you can currently only choose Amazon Linux or Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.


And surprisingly no Windows on either one.

Which is a little odd as you can get Windows running on an EC2 instance (t1.micro) for $10.95/month. Although maybe the margins on Lightsail are too thin so Amazon doesn't want to pay Microsoft's licensing fees.

And before someone whines about Windows, keep in mind Windows Server 2016 now installs headless by default and will run on 512 MB of RAM (which is what the $5 Lightsail offering has).


You might like Vultr ... they let you install any OS via an ISO file. For Windows: https://www.vultr.com/docs/windows-custom-iso-with-virtio-dr...

Keeps the pricing down, since you're the one responsible for licenses.


A Windows Server 2016 license costs $350~700. There's absolutely no way that saves money on small instances over any reasonable duration. It would take tens of years to come even close!

The way Microsoft licenses Windows Server to Azure/AWS/etc is completely different to how they license it to you or I, and the pricing is hard to compete against at the lower ends.


YMMV. Saves me money since I already have a license. I assume many migrate to the cloud.


Great suggestion. I updated the post with that. Thanks!


"In the performance testing section later on in this post, we'll see how those numbers hold up to stress tests."

I don't see it. Did I miss the performance testing section?


There are benchmarks on on VPSbenchmarks: http://www.vpsbenchmarks.com/posts/amazon_lightsail_1gb_is_n...

I'm not sure how reliable they are but if they are this doesn't seem good for AWS:

  >TLDR: Amazon Lightsail 1GB will melt down with less than 15% sustained cpu usage
  >
  >Okay then, experiment aborted. 25% sustained cpu usage is too much, all other VPS at the same price can handle that but maybe we're just over the limit, we moved traffic to another machine and let the Lightsail VM cool down for a few hours.
  >It should be noted that for $7, Vpsdime easily handles that traffic.
  >For less than $4, OVH "VPS SSD 1" can do the same.


It will be interesting to see if Amazon changes that. I can see how it happened in the first place...basically reusing the same setup they use for a t2.micro.

If they leave it as-is, I can imagine anyone using it for something non-trivial being highly disappointed.


Whoops! Good catch.

Performance comparison is coming in part 2. Sorry! Editing.


Speaking of cacthes, one your headers says:

Pricing & Billing Gaurantees

should be

Pricing & Billing Guarantees


Fixed! Thank you!


Looking forward to a performance comparison. I've heard there's a cap on the egress speed that's pretty low.


AWS currently not offering Lightsail/EC2 hosting within Canada, as well. DigitalOcean has been in Toronto for a while. Certainly not an important detail to many, but it was for me.

AWS has been saying they will open in Canada for quite a while... seem to keep pushing the date further and further.


I've been a DO customer for years but all it would take to sell me on Lightsail at this point is if Lightsail performance beats DO. but from what i'm seeing, it seems like that's not the case?


It's not close. (I use both at work and have used both for a long time)


I completely disagree that digital ocean has a loyal customer base, their customer support has been degrading across time and minor annoyances such as wp servers keep failing and you have to reset your instance, just minor stuff like that has been adding over the years and I've been wondering if a company will show up so I can move my stuff over there.

This looks like it will be it. They just got so annoying it was unbearable.


A great comparison between DigitalOcean and LightSail. I was looking for this.

One small correction, AWS doesn't have any more the largest footprint when it comes to regions and revenue. Microsoft Azure now has more regions and DCs than AWS and Google combined. And for the revenue they reached 15B dollar mark by last quarter, making it the the largest and the most profitable cloud provider ever. Who would thought that is possible two years ago!


When I looked at lightsail the last time, it only allowed me creating anything in Virginia. DO allows you to create droplets all over the world.


I won't use Lightsale precisely because it exists.

While AWS is a great collection of services, it is needlesly complicated to use and at times very frustrating. Using it at work is fine since the span of services is so wide I can forgive the awful user experience, but if I have to vote with my feelings, I choose the service I use in private, when I pick what I like.

In this case DigitalOcean.


wish they'd matched linode. Oh wait they have poor performance, never mind...though actually the bandwidth might be useful cost-wise still, relative to "normal" AWS bandwidth costs at least, until you reach the max, then apparently it's $0.09/GB, whereas DO is $0.02 per GB for overage (and I think they don't actually charge for it yet even LOL).

digitalocean is being attacked on all sides, interesting. Hard to believe that giant AWS is trying to imitate one of its upstart competitors...


Who has poor performance? Lightsail, DO, or Linode?


lightsail


DO must be unsustainably burning cash. Acquisition by a larger player keen on developer mindshare seems inevitable




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