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DigitalOcean vs Linode

Note: Pricing and product information are correct as of Mar 1, 2024, and subject to change

Cloud hosting providers play an important role in facilitating the deployment and management of virtual machines, Virtual Private Servers (VPS), and other cloud hosting services. Scalability, reliability, and performance are crucial for businesses, making it a challenge to identify a cloud provider that aligns seamlessly with their requirements. Hence, choosing the right cloud hosting provider is key for developers and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) looking to leverage cloud computing services.

Among the many options available in the cloud computing market, DigitalOcean and Linode stand out as strong contenders, compared to hyperscaler clouds like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Each offers a comprehensive array of cloud computing services tailored to diverse user needs. This article will give you an in-depth analysis of DigitalOcean vs Linode, helping you navigate the complexities of choosing the right cloud provider.

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Summary

  1. DigitalOcean’s pricing model is simple and affordable, with transparent pricing and no hidden fees, enabling businesses to accurately forecast costs and optimize their cloud budget.

  2. Linode’s limited managed database offerings might potentially restrain technology choices and require startups to undertake database operations and maintenance tasks themselves, incurring additional overhead or they might be forced into vendor lock-in scenarios.

  3. From Managed Kubernetes to seamless app deployment and fully Managed Databases, DigitalOcean provides a robust array of cloud services tailored for developers, startups, and SMBs.

Overview of Linode vs DigitalOcean

Linode was founded in 2003 to provide Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting as an early infrastructure-as-a-service platform for developers and small businesses. Most recently, Linode announced its acquisition by content delivery network and web services provider Akamai in February 2022 for approximately $900 million. Akamai operates one of the world’s largest distributed computing platforms optimized for edge delivery and security services. The implications of Akamai’s ownership for the future direction and customer experience of Linode are still evolving. Linode has focused specifically on the Linux server market and has grown over the past two decades.

DigitalOcean entered the cloud computing space in 2012 as a venture-backed startup. It aimed to build a developer-friendly platform for easily launching and scaling cloud servers at affordable prices. DigitalOcean simplified cloud infrastructure for rapid application development by emphasizing ease of use, reliability, and performance. DigitalOcean made waves in the cloud hosting market recently by acquiring Cloudways, a managed cloud hosting platform in August 2022. Later in July 2023, Paperspace, an AI compute provider, was acquired by DigitalOcean. This enables DigitalOcean’s customers to leverage Paperspace’s advanced AI/ML capabilities, and high-performance GPUs, which empowers them to train, develop, and scale their machine-learning models in the cloud. Industry analysts view these acquisitions as a strategic play by DigitalOcean to offer a more robust cloud platform. With Cloudways and Paperspace in the fold, DigitalOcean caters to its core audience of developers and startups.

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Comparing DigitalOcean vs Linode: Product offerings

Both DigitalOcean and Linode have products like dedicated CPUs, virtual machines, storage blocks, and backups, that make cloud deployment easier. DigitalOcean stands apart from Linode in the managed database aspect. DigitalOcean has managed database services for PostgreSQL, MySQL, Redis, MongoDB, and Kafka. Linode provides managed database services for only MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MongoDB.

DigitalOcean products

Droplets: Droplets are easily deployable and highly scalable Linux-based virtual machines (VMs) that run on top of virtualized hardware. DigitalOcean offers a range of flexible and scalable Droplet plans, including Basic Droplets for general-purpose workloads, CPU-Optimized Droplets for compute-intensive applications, and Memory-Optimized Droplets for memory-intensive workloads, catering to various business needs.

DigitalOcean Kubernetes (DOKS): DOKS is DigitalOcean’s Managed Kubernetes offering, which provisions, configures, and maintains the Kubernetes cluster for you, reducing the operational burden of deploying and running Kubernetes.

AI/ML deployment and Notebooks: DigitalOcean’s customers can access highly scalable GPU-accelerated infrastructure powered by Paperspace.

Managed databases: DigitalOcean offers a spectrum of managed databases, from relational MySQL and PostgreSQL databases for traditional workloads, to the flexibility of the document-oriented MongoDB, to scalable in-memory caching with open-source Redis. They even provide managed Kafka for efficient data streaming pipelines. Having a wide range of managed database offerings from DigitalOcean can be a significant advantage for SMBs and startups compared to Linode’s more limited options.

Managed hosting: DigitalOcean with Cloudways accelerates web performance without hosting headaches. Cloudways provisions optimized, auto-scaling servers to supercharge WordPress and PHP apps—with no server admin required.

Functions: DigitalOcean serverless functions enable developers to accelerate work without infrastructure burdens. These serverless solutions allow focusing strictly on shipping features quickly, not patching servers.

Storage: DigitalOcean offers comprehensive cloud storage options with Volumes Block Storage and Spaces Object Storage. Block storage provides high-performance SSDs for storing data persistently, independent of Droplet lifetimes. Volumes can be attached and detached on-demand, enabling seamless storage expansion. Spaces Object Storage delivers scalable, cost-effective storage compatible with AWS S3, suitable for serving static assets, and storing backups. DigitalOcean’s storage options are easy to provision and integrate with services like load balancers and CDN.

Backups: DigitalOcean’s backup solution through SnapShooter enables users to back up files, applications, and databases from DigitalOcean and other cloud providers seamlessly. SnapShooter supports popular apps like Laravel and WordPress, as well as databases like MongoDB, MySQL, and PostgreSQL. It offers comprehensive backup options which range from daily/weekly/monthly/ up to every 5 minutes. Consolidating backups into a single job can also be easily configured by the user. Additionally, SnapShooter allows users to restore previous versions of individual files or entire applications with ease, providing granular control over backup settings, retention policies, and storage options, ultimately helping businesses build efficient and cost-effective business continuity strategies for their cloud data.

Linode products

Linode Instances: Linode’s Virtual Private Servers (VPS) provide scalable computing resources with SSD storage, billed hourly, and available across multiple data centers.

Kubernetes Engine: Linode Kubernetes Engine (LKE) is Linode’s managed Kubernetes service, offering cluster creation, automatic upgrades, and scaling for containerized applications.

Storage: On Linode, storage comes in the form of Block Storage Volumes and Object Storage buckets. Block Storage Volumes are network-attached disks that can be resized and shared between different Compute Instances. The Object Storage service provides S3-compatible buckets with geo-replication across Linode data centers.

Managed Databases: Linode offers fully managed database services, to MySQL and PostgreSQL and MongoDB only. For a detailed comparison, please refer to the below table.

Parameters Linode Managed Databases DigitalOcean Managed Databases
PostgreSQL,MySQL,MongoDB Fully managed service Fully managed service
Redis One-click app to self-install. Self-managed operations Fully managed service
Kafka Not available Fully managed service
Scalable storage Not available. Upgrading database plans requires deploying a new database instance and migrating data, which might lead to downtime. Fully managed service
Billing Based on compute instance pricing Database pricing separate from instances
Use Case Might not be ideal for startups/SMBs. Requires database admin resources. Developers split their focus between apps and ops. Perfect for startups/SMBs. No database ops overhead. Developers stay laser-focused on apps.

Pricing

When it comes to pricing, DigitalOcean has made affordability and flexibility a key focus across its product portfolio. DigitalOcean’s basic Droplet pricing starts at just $4 per month for 1 CPU, 512 MiB RAM, and 10GB storage, making it economical for startups and companies with smaller workloads. Hourly billing ensures you only pay for what you use, while higher-spec instances offer generous RAM to vCPU ratios. DigitalOcean’s Managed Databases are also priced attractively, starting at just $15/month while handling all the ops tasks. Load balancing and object storage services are bundled at no additional charge with Droplets. Overall, DigitalOcean provides exceptional value by offering core infrastructure services at low entry prices, while layering on platform capabilities and pricing discounts as usage scales.

In contrast, Linode’s pricing of virtual machine instances is based on the hardware resources alone. Their shared CPU instances start at $5/month for 1 CPU, 1GB RAM, and 25GB storage—undercutting DigitalOcean’s basic option slightly. However, Linode charges separately for add-on services like NodeBalancers, object storage, backup services, and any future managed databases. This approach might make their pricing less predictable as requirements grow. Additionally, to get unshared dedicated CPUs, the premium Linode plans might ramp up significantly in cost compared to shared instances on DigitalOcean that can often meet lighter workload needs sufficiently.

DOKS vs LKE

Both DigitalOcean and Linode offer managed Kubernetes services. The following are the two key factors where DOKS shines over LKE:

DigitalOcean’s managed Kubernetes (DOKS) offers a High Availability(HA) control plane at $40/cluster/month. The same HA plane that Linode Kubernetes Engine (LKE) offers at $60/cluster/month. Given small teams typically operate only a few Kubernetes clusters, this recurring HA add-on cost may make production-grade resilience expensive, especially for SMBs.

DOKS elevates cluster observability and security to new heights with its seamless integration of Cilium Hubble. This network visibility tool empowers you to gain insights into service dependencies, enabling proactive monitoring, alerting, and comprehensive application tracking within your clusters. Moreover, Hubble fortifies your infrastructure by providing real-time visibility into external access attempts and blocked connections, ensuring robust cluster security and compliance.

Networking

DigitalOcean provides a robust set of networking features to enable secure and high-performance connectivity for cloud deployments. All Droplets get a private and public IP address. Using DigitalOcean’s Cloud Firewalls, custom rules can filter inbound/outbound traffic between Droplets over the private network. Load balancing is included to distribute traffic across Droplet pools. For high availability, floating IPs allow reassigning public IPs to different Droplets. A built-in software-defined VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between your local resources and the DigitalOcean cloud. Additionally, DigitalOcean manages DNS hosting and offers advanced DNS routing policies. DigitalOcean’s DNS network provides low-latency lookups across geographic locations.

On Linode, all compute instances are deployed into the provider’s private cloud network. This allows private networking between these instances using IP addresses on Linode’s network. Public IPv4 and IPv6 addresses route traffic from the public internet. Using Cloud Firewalls can provide an additional security layer to set policies around allowed public/private traffic. Instances can selectively advertise private or public IP addresses for inbound traffic. NodeBalancers help facilitate load-balanced service distribution and failover across Compute Instances. Separately, Linode offers DNS hosting with primary and secondary configurations. Clients can also tunnel into Linode using a SOCKS(Socket Secure) proxy for encrypted connections.

DigitalOcean’s restriction on allowing only publicly recognized top-level domains (TLDs) in their Domains and DNS management service is an added advantage. This enhances security and trust by preventing malicious activities (phishing or distributing malware through domains with non-standard/unofficial TLDs), aligning with industry standards, and reducing association with suspicious domain names. Linode’s DNS approach does not impose such restrictions, which might expose its customers to security-related risks.

When it comes to networking capabilities, DigitalOcean has notable advantages over Linode in the following key areas:

Integrated Software VPN

DigitalOcean also makes it easy to install VPN solutions through one-click applications and more to securely connect your on-premises resources or local devices to your cloud infrastructure. This allows extending the private network over an encrypted tunnel. Linode requires setting up a SOCKS proxy for encrypted tunneling, which might be a more manual process.

Simplified Load Balancing

Load balancing on DigitalOcean is natively integrated with Droplets, allowing for simplified distribution of traffic across backend pools. This is included by default. With Linode, you might need to provision and manage separate node balancer instances at specific costs to load balance across instances.

Generous Data Transfer

DigitalOcean includes free inbound data transfer without any throughput limitations. Outbound has simple flat-rate overages after generous free quotas. Linode imposes a hard 40Gbps bandwidth cap on total outbound traffic, which could restrict high-throughput workloads.

Reserved IP

DigitalOcean’s provision of Reserved IP for ingress empowers startups with enhanced reliability, scalability, and simplified network management, facilitating seamless global expansion and high availability of services. Conversely, Linode’s omission of this feature may limit businesses’ ability to efficiently manage network traffic and ensure uninterrupted service delivery, potentially hindering their competitiveness and scalability in the cloud market.

Data Transfer per Node

DigitalOcean:

Linode:

  • 4 - 20 TB data transfer per month

  • No free data transfer included

  • All data transfer is billed at standard rate

For SMBs and ISVs(Independent Software Vendors), DigitalOcean’s generous free data transfer tiers and low overage pricing can provide significant cost benefits over Linode’s pay-for-transfer model. Having that initial transfer bandwidth included for free allows better predicting and controlling cloud expenses, especially for startups with variable traffic.

By scaling free data transfer allocations based on resource usage, DigitalOcean ensures SMBs and ISVs have ample free transfer while larger instances get increased quotas to match their throughput needs. The $0.01/GiB overage fee is very economical, even for bandwidth-intensive workloads.

In contrast, Linode’s lack of free transfer might lead to unpredictable and potentially high data costs depending on application usage patterns. Overall, DigitalOcean’s data transfer pricing model provides more cost-effective and predictable data egress for SMBs compared to Linode’s premium transfer fees. This affordable network transit enables focusing resources on growth rather than cloud bills.

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

When it comes to accelerating content delivery and improving web performance, DigitalOcean provides a distinct advantage with its CDN service through Space Object Storage. By leveraging DigitalOcean’s global data center footprint, the CDN allows caching and serving static website assets closer to end-users worldwide. This content acceleration is especially beneficial for businesses with a global customer base or those looking to optimize their web applications’ speed and responsiveness.

Unlike Linode, which requires integrating with third-party CDN providers, DigitalOcean CDN provides a seamless, native solution tightly coupled with its infrastructure.

Data center coverage

DigitalOcean’s extensive coverage of 15 data centers offers customers a broader geographical reach and increased flexibility in choosing the most suitable data center location for their needs. This expansive network allows businesses to deploy services closer to their target audience, reducing latency and improving overall performance. Additionally, having access to multiple data centers enhances redundancy and fault tolerance, ensuring high availability of services, even in the event of data center failures or outages.

While Linode’s data centers in 11 regions still provide global coverage, DigitalOcean’s lead gives SMBs more flexibility and granular options to optimize deployments based on performance, availability, and data locality priorities as they grow. The ability to be closer to customers worldwide is a competitive advantage.

Simplify operations and boost productivity with DigitalOcean

When choosing between Linode and DigitalOcean for your cloud infrastructure, DigitalOcean stands out as a compelling option tailored for developers, startups, and SMBs. Its robust product suite includes Managed Kubernetes, seamless app deployment through the App Platform, fully managed databases, load balancing, and more—allowing businesses to streamline operations and focus on core competencies. DigitalOcean’s transparent, predictable pricing without hidden fees makes it financially viable for tight budgets, accurately forecasting costs.

PLUS, DigitalOcean provides extensive documentation, an active community for support, premium assistance channels, a global data center presence ensuring high availability, and a 99.99% uptime SLA underscoring reliability. By prioritizing simplicity, affordability, and developer-friendliness across its comprehensive yet cost-effective offering, DigitalOcean is an optimal cloud platform for businesses seeking to optimize cloud operations and scale their ambitions.

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