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Ask HN: What are some great “Free” services provided by IBM, Amazon, etc.?
134 points by behnamoh 248 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 51 comments



Google offers $300 in credit that you can use on anything you like for one year as soon as you sign up right off the bat, and AWS has offered the Free Tier almost since inception.

For startups, Google[1], Amazon[2], Microsoft BizSpark[3], OVH Digital Launch Pad[4], Digital Ocean[5], have startup programs that you can apply to with varying amounts of service credit (usually expiring afer one year). (Don't write off OVH: theirs seems to be the smallest, but their stuff is by far the highest value.. 2GB instances for $3.49/month and great DDoS protection; however, their cloud dashboard takes a little time to get used to, but seems pretty powerful once into it.)

1. $20k to $100k in service credits @ Google: https://cloud.google.com/developers/startups/

2. $5k at Amazon, $15k in accelerators: https://aws.amazon.com/activate/

3. Up to $120k at Microsoft: https://bizspark.microsoft.com/

4. $500 to $100k at OVH: https://www.ovh.com/us/dlp/

5. up to $100k at Digital Ocean (not sure if this is actually launched yet -- we applied for https://userify.com but never heard back): https://www.digitalocean.com/hatch/


I really want to apply to Google. But unfortunately, my startup doesn't qualify due to not being in an approved VC fund, Accelerator, or Incubator.

Does anyone know of any program, that does not require me to give any equity? So that I may join and get the Google credits?


If you know someone that works for Google they can internally recommend you as well.


For real?

Good to know :)


Also keep in mind that most of these credits usually expire after one year, so definitely have a solid plan to get profitable before they run out.


If you have funding from some sort of fund or incubator, you can also ask your investors to talk to Google. (Our investors weren't on the official list, but we talked to them, and then Google put them on the list.)


Startup School Founders Track, but the 1st session is already underway; there will certainly be many more.


Wait .. is this the track where you get a mentor or does it include the "follow along" track as well?


Not sure, I think they're both named the same... But the deals from Google / AWS / Azure are only available to startups that have been accepted (that have access to mentors, office hours, etc.)


Find someone who's connected. We got credits despite not being a real start-up at all.


Isn't Google's $300 credit only valid for 2 months?


Nope, 12 months: https://cloud.google.com/free/

In addition, the $300 is only for expenses in excess of the "Always Free" usage limits, which covers quite a bit of stuff, including 5 gigs of cloud storage, 1 micro compute engine instance, and a terabyte of BigQuery queries per month.

(disclaimer: I work at Google)


Why did it used to be 2 months? When did it change?

It absolutely used to be 2 months, otherwise, my account would still be able to use those 300$ credits. But I just checked, it can't. I still have the expiration email if you want.


I too remember only getting 2 months to use them- I signed up sometime Nov/Dec 2016. Guess they changed it fairly recently.


They changed roughly one month ago. I was still with a little bit of credit left and instead of expiring they told me that was extended


Shouldn't that be "source" rather than "disclaimer"?


People 'disclaim' all sorts of funny things here.


I think it was more of a disclosure...


Yeah, "full disclosure" would have worked fine.


It changes on a whim. Like anything google, some people are probably still seeing 2 months because they are in some bucket or something. Who knows?

Building on google stuff is as risky as building on apple's.


There is a fairly well-known curated list started in 2015, 'free-for-dev' [1], which lists "SaaS, PaaS and IaaS offerings that have free tiers of interest to devops and infradev".

There is another list started in 2016, 'stack-on-a-budget' [2], for "services with great free tiers for developers on a budget".

A tangentially related list is 'Public-APIs' [3], for APIs "which make their resources available for consumption."

[1] https://github.com/ripienaar/free-for-dev [2] https://github.com/255kb/stack-on-a-budget [3] https://github.com/abhishekbanthia/Public-APIs


IBM Bluemix[0] has some good trial offerings, you can always contact them and say you're a hobbyist and they may be able to give you a longer trial. Their IoT platform is pretty cool and you have access to Watson.

There is also a surprising amount of open source projects they put out[1][2].

Disclosure: I work at IBM in the Cloud Division.

[0] https://console.ng.bluemix.net/

[1] https://github.com/ibm

[2] https://github.com/strongloop


I will say, I was interested in trying out Bluemix for sake of Watson but the 30 day trial was a huge, huge turn off. I signed up for an account to look around for a project I'm hoping to find time for next month...but my clock is ticking now despite not using ANYTHING. By the time I'm ready to develop, the trial will be expired.

It's a terrible approach IMO.


Hey, I tried the Bluemix 30 day trial, even continued with a subscription. I ended up cancelling before I got very far. The UI was noticeably slow, every click was like 5 seconds to load. It was really frustrating as a new user digging around looking for things.

I was using the MobileFirst Services Starter and the documentation was not great, lots of broken links, and just very disparate - I couldn't really figure out how to piece things together. I spent a weekend pulling my hair out trying this thing before I went back to a MEAN stack on Heroku. It's entirely possible that I am the wrong client for this product, it's really difficult sifting through the IBM marketing information!


I can confirm about giving you a longer trial. I had an excellent experience getting my trial extended.


If you want to try screenwriting, Story Writer by Amazon is an excellent free-to-use service. Basic, yes, but after a couple years using it I can assert it does the trick. Perfect for those wanting to 'give writing a script a try' without forking over for the industry standard Final Draft.

https://storywriter.amazon.com/


The crowd here will likely prefer the open source fountain, which is a markdown style language that can be used with your favorite editor:

https://fountain.io/

I'd recommend it to anyone -- even non-technical people -- it's a shame it wasn't what became the standard, but you can export to final draft format.


Ah yes, I did come across that. I was looking for a very specific format-only tool that would pass muster vs a Final Draft by comparison. I'm sure nailing the expected look/feel is do-able in Fountain and probably, as you note, appealing to the tech savvy sector.


Celtx is probably the best free-tier screenwriting software


I used it years ago and as a machine-based software I'd likely agree. I seem to remember trying to load it again and seeing it wasn't freeware, or had a 30 day trial. Might be a distorted recollection, but I was looking quite intensely before selecting Story Writer. Even like Word .dot files for formatting. Nice to see competition in the space, IMO.


How does this compare to writerduet?


Writer Duet is like staring at a Cable News Broadcast screen with all sorts of stuff everywhere in the way. To me it's visually distracting and more than I feel like using / interacting with.

Story Writer is like using a Text Editor with just enough smarts to assist with predictive Character type names and quick-to-set-up descriptions / transitions. Personally I far prefer the simplicity of Story Writer.


If you have a MSDN subscription, perhaps from your employer, you get a free $50/mo -> $150/mo Azure credit.

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/member-offers/msdn...


Or likewise, Bizspark can get you the Azure credit too, along with basically an MSDN subscription.


For AWS I think some of the best offerings on their free tier are Lambda and DynamoDB. Both of which have generous lifetime free tiers.

Using the two of them you can have an API and database that is good enough for a lot of startups and hobby projects without paying a dime (ever).

Together they are used for Amazon Alexa skills which means hosting your Amazon Alexa skill is free for most skills.


I think DynamoDB is waning in it's already limlited popularity. It has some clever ideas, but is really hard to implement. The main selling point is price, but you kinda get what you pay for.


If you can fit your use case into DynamoDB without any struggling: the performance and ease of scaling is a massive bang for your buck.

It's actually pretty easy to use too if your use case makes sense for it.

However, if your use case does not fit what DynamoDB expects, you are better off using another DB rather than try to bend DynamoDB to your will.


https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/free/

> Get $200 free credit - Start free with $200 in credit, and keep going with free options.

> Try any Azure services - Explore our cloud by trying out any combination of Azure services for 30 days.

> Pay nothing at the end - We use your credit card information for identity verification, but you’ll never be charged unless you choose to subscribe.


Google cloud platform has many free offerings..

https://cloud.google.com/free/


Google Cloud has a fairly generous lifetime free tier:

https://cloud.google.com/free/

5GB of cloud storage, 1 free micro instance, 1TB of BigQuery queries etc.

You also get $300 credit for 12 months.

Disclaimer: I work for Google.


Is the individual plan limited to certain countries?


There is the AWS free tier[0]. which means you can get free ec2 instances:

> 750 hours per month of Linux, RHEL, or SLES t2.micro instance usage.

(along with S3 and some other services) I think it's only free for a year though.

Other than that, they have lumberyard[1] which is a game engine, but I think there are some weird terms like you need to use AWS if you use a server[2][3].

[0] https://aws.amazon.com/free/

[1] https://aws.amazon.com/lumberyard/

[2] https://aws.amazon.com/service-terms/#57._Amazon_Lumberyard_...

[3] > 57.4 Operating Restrictions. Without our prior written consent, (a) the Lumberyard Materials (including any permitted modifications and derivatives) may only be run on computer equipment owned and operated by you or your End Users, or on AWS Services, and may not be run on any Alternate Web Service and (b) your Lumberyard Project may not read data from or write data to any Alternate Web Service. “Alternate Web Service” means any non-AWS web service that is similar to or can act as a replacement for the services listed at docs.aws.amazon.com/console/lumberyard/userguide/alternate-web-services .


AWS free tier is only available for the first 12 months.


IBM's Cloudant is pretty sweet. I used it last year to dev some apps I was working on using CouchDB and PouchDB. It saved me the hassle of installing CouchDB and gave me the chance to play with their APIs which have some pretty nice additional features.

https://cloudant.com

They give you $50 of service a month for free, which was way more than I ever approached.


What advantages did you see comparing Cloudant to CouchDB?


With the release of CouchDB 2.0 there's not a lot of difference anymore, and much of what's new in that came from IBM's work on CouchDB.

Right now Cloudant offers a full text search. You can build that into a CouchDB on your own too, but it's an add on. I've been meaning to take a crack at installing it on a Raspberry Pi I have CouchDB 2.0 running on but I've not done it yet.

They might also have an enhanced version of the "Fauxton" DB manager. It's been awhile since I've logged into my account there so I don't recall how close in features they are now.

I think they have their own authentication routines that may have some advantages for some users.

Aside from that they make it really easy to just start using it. If you wanted to work with really big data sets Cloudant would be a pretty good option because you can skip all the DB setup work and have instant access a highly scalable platform that lets you get to right to work.


> What advantages did you see comparing Cloudant to CouchDB?

> If you wanted to work with really big data sets Cloudant would be a pretty good option because you can skip all the DB setup work and have instant access a highly scalable platform that lets you get to right to work.

I think one need to state it more clearly with cloudant you get a hosted solution SaaS, they will scale better then you, have better backups, and will be able to rebuild a view quickly, while you are deleting logs to rebuild it and struggling to get performance out of your vps.


Microsoft gives nonprofits $5,000 in credits annually towards Azure services.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/philanthropies/product-donat...


Does anybody have experience with Red Hat's OpenShift PaaS? [0]

Reading through the sales copy, it seems to be a reasonable competitor to Heroku. They offer 3 small gears free and have a startup assistance program for those that qualify.

[0] https://www.openshift.com/pricing/index.html


Intel XDK - this is an IDE for developing mobile apps, but without messing with Phonegap/cordova paths/installs etc. - it compiles in Intel's cloud and gives You a link to download (or live-reload/preview during development) - very handy - since I've found it I really prefer developing mobile apps that way.


Microsoft Power BI Desktop can connect to almost a hundred data sources, do data cleanup and joins, and create beautiful reports suitable for business users.

https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/desktop/




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