Cloud Computing: What It Is and How to Get It for Free
At the most basic level, the purpose of cloud computing is to deliver services directly online. All you need to access them is a device capable of surfing the web.
Instead of storing terabytes of files on your local drive, using your personal computer to host an application, or hiring and commissioning an IT department to buy, set-up and maintain an entire data centre, you can subscribe to a cloud computing service in a matter of seconds.
The prospect is not only alluring, but also an extremely profitable one. Cloud infrastructures help businesses, developers, and even regular individuals save a lot of money. It’s also the reason why cloud adoption has become mainstream.
What Is Cloud Computing
Think of Google Docs. Dropbox and Google Drive help you easily back-up, share, and access files in the same manner you would with a licensed software installed on your computer, while Slack streamlines your business communications. The difference is that you don’t use the resources of your own PC.
This is a prime example of what cloud computing can do. So far, there are three major types of cloud computing according to level of management:
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). This is the simplest form of cloud. The cloud provider manages every single aspect of the service and you just have to run it. Great examples of SaaS are Netflix, YouTube, your email, Dropbox, Spotify, and more.
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). This is where the cloud starts to unravel itself. With PaaS, you have access to certain “under-the-hood” features. Developers are the main target of PaaS, since this form of cloud gives them the opportunity to instantly code, test, and deploy applications without having to worry (too much) about the physical infrastructure.
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). This is the “full-access” cloud. With IaaS, you have all the benefits of a physical infrastructure, but none of the worries of setting it up. Through virtualization technology, you can commission just 1 CPU, 2 GBs of RAM, and 10 GBs of storage space for you to do as you please, e.g. develop software or build websites.
Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud and DigitalOcean’s Droplets are good examples of the way in which IaaS is transforming the world of cloud computing.
With cloud services, you can instantly scale your infrastructure as per your demands and only pay for the resources you use. You don’t need an IT department to manage your servers, because somebody else does it for you. Since cloud companies leverage economies of scale, you can commission your very own cloud for as little as several dollars per month.
Who Offers Free Cloud Computing Trials?
The awesome part about the cloud is that it’s a highly competitive environment where three major forces (Google, Amazon, and Microsoft) are competing for the ever-increasing market. There are a series of smaller players as well, but these companies are the big game changers. Why? Because they have the capital and scale to invest in new technology, expand their infrastructure, and improve their services.
All the serious competitors in the cloud industry currently offer their first-time customers free trials of their services. This is a sound marketing strategy if you have a great service behind it. If someone likes working with you, then you have the potential to gain a loyal customer that will use your service for all their cloud computing needs.
The flipside is that you can benefit from a state-of-the-art cloud service where you can deploy applications, run your own private network, host a website, and more without having to pay anything for it.
Let’s take a look at the specifics of what you can get.
Google Cloud Free Trial
With $300 worth of credit to use as you please over a period of 12 months and an Always Free program that gives you limited access to a series of premium services, the Google Cloud Platform should be at the top of your list.
Here are some examples of the limits that are in place. You can’t have more than 8 cores (vCPUs) simultaneously running, you can’t commission GPU technology, nor can you increase your Compute Engine quotas without paying for it. Services such as the App Engine and Cloud Storage, also have some limitations, but you do get a fair amount of access to them.
Live chat, phone, and web support is also included.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) Free Trial
Amazon’s AWS Free Tier is a bit different from Google’s. Instead of credit, you get access to certain services that are restricted in one way or another. For example, you can commission an EC2 virtual machine, such as t2.micro (1 vCPU, 1 GB RAM) or t3.micro (2 vCPU, 2 GB RAM) for 750 hours a month over a period of 12 months.
You also have partial access to AWS’ databases, virtual private servers, and more. The problem is that you can reach the limit quite fast. My advice is to never upload files to your virtual machine, since this will use up your allotted disk operations more quickly. Instead, you can create them in EC2 directly.
Alibaba Cloud Free Trial
Although a fairly late entrant to the cloud computing game, Alibaba has a significantly more generous free trial package. Individual users can benefit from a free trial worth $450, while verified organizations can get a maximum of $1,300.
The good news is that your credit is valid for a full year in terms of access to Alibaba’s Elastic Computer Service. The bad news is that all other pay-as-you-go services are only accessible for 60 days. The trial also gives you the opportunity to test each of the products mentioned in Alibaba’s campaign, such as Function Compute, Server Load Balancer, storage or databases, once.
Never Miss a Good Opportunity
So far, this is an overview of what cloud computing is and how you too can benefit from this cutting-edge technology free of charge, for up to one full year.
Seeing as the global economy will undergo a rough period throughout the majority of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, such freebies will be fewer and further in-between.
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs emphasize how important it is that you don’t turn down a good opportunity when it arises, so I advise you to claim your free trial as soon as possible and use it to generate value for yourself and/or for your business.
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