Free Cloud Services

“What is this” I can hear you say, “Free Cloud Services”?

Is this some trickery, some cunning ploy to get you to read ahead a little bit further in todays age where attentions spans are like a well designed Cloud architecture, in micro (services) seconds.

We this is no trickery, if you have not heard, most of the dominating and some of the up coming Cloud Service Providers provide Free Cloud Services. 

You will note that some major SaaS and PaaS providers are not listed here, as they do not provide (from my knowledge) a free service. They might if you contact your friendly account manager. I also have not mentioned the free storage providers like DropBox, Google Drive, etc.

This is a log post, but hopefully if will form a great start to your analysis of what is available in the free market. I will cover the following providers, and have provided links to each Cloud Service Provider Free page:

 
I have created a summary here of the different types of Free Service categories – however this does not make the comparison easier. It will allow you to dive deeper into each Cloud Service Provider Free Tier options, so take a look then read on. Come back to this table once you have read on and it will make more sense.
 

Amazon Web Services

By far the most comprehensive list of services available to try for free, in fact around 60 services. It should be noted that these services are a mix of:

  • Always Free
  • 12 Months Free
  • Short Term Trials
 

The main difference between each category might be obvious, however it should be noted that you should only look to leverage all of these Free Services for Proof of Concepts (PoC) or Pilots. The reasons is each covers different service types for shorter of longer periods because logically you might need a greater amount of time to adequately complete your PoC or Pilot. So treat the Always Free or 12 Months Free just like the Short Term Trial periods.

To that point, the Always Free categories also comes with some service limits, which in Production would not allow you to scale within the Always Free category rules; so limiting this to PoC and/or Pilot would likewise make sense.

For a detail listing of the AWS free service types per Free category, I have a write up here.

Google Compute Platform

Providing to options to trial services, the GCP Free Tier categories provide great coverage for most of the services, in fact more then 20, with two options to trial:

  • Always Free
  • 12 Month Trial with $300 Free Credits 
 
The GCP free tier provides two categories, with the first being a limited access to a set of services, always free. The second being $300 of credit for use within 12 months, on any service.
 

The Always Free tier is not a program, but categories of services which are always free as a part of your GCP account. Whilst I have provided a summary of what is available under this tier, you should refer here for more information. 

It should be noted that the 12 month $300 trial has some strict conditions to ensure you have never been a paying customer and have never made use of this previously – so it is really for net new GCP customers wishing to on board to GCP. With the GCP trial, you also need to take into consideration what will happen with your data. Essentially all data is lost, unless you download it. You can also convert your 12 month trial to a paid subscription. There are also some additional terms and conditions which you should be aware of here.

For a detail listing of the GCP free service types per Free category, I have a write up here.

Microsoft Azure

It was rather disappointing to find that Microsoft Azure provides a limited set of services to trial, in a combination of:

  • Always Free
  • 12 Months Free
  • 30 Day Trial with $200 Free Credits 
 
The Azure free tier provides three somewhat confusing categories, with the first being a limited access to a set of services, always free. The second being 12 months limited usage of certain services, which have some strict limitations on usage quotas. The third being 30 days to use $200 of credit on any service.
 

The Always Free tier is not a program, but categories of services which are always free as a part of your Azure account. However consumer beware, if you go over the allowance you will be charged for additional usage.

The 12 month limited usage for certain services provides access to around 22 services in a very limited usage capacity, so there are doubts in my mind about ever having the ability to run for 12 months as a free service – without the need to convert to a paid subscription. 

It should be noted that the 30 day $200 trial has some strict conditions to ensure you have never been a paying customer and have never made use of this previously – so it is really for net new Azure customers wishing to on board to Azure. With the Azure trial, you also need to take into consideration what will happen with your data. Essentially all data is lost, unless you download it. You can also convert your 30 day trial to a paid subscription. In my opinion 30 days is barely enough time to review the features – so be careful as you might find yourself on the 31st day having to convert to a paid subscription. Azure lock-in comes to my mind. 

Whilst I have provided a summary of what is available under this tier, you should refer here for more information. 

For a detail listing of the Azure free service types per Free category, I have a write up here.