The Server Room Show – Episode 70 – The Cloud

What is the Cloud?

I normally say: It’s someone else’s computer.

I will look at the Cloud today from the perspective of Infrastructure ( Servers, Compute, Storage, Network, etc) and not from an Application’s perspective like Google Docs being a Cloud based app which saves my documents ,,in the cloud” which I can access from anywhere with any of my connected devices.

A video about Cloud based apps like Google Docs, Photos, etc.

As per wikipedia:

Cloud computing is the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage and computing power, without direct active management by the user. The term is generally used to describe data centers available to many users over the Internet.

As per Cloudflare:

“The cloud” refers to servers that are accessed over the Internet, and the software and databases that run on those servers. Cloud servers are located in data centers all over the world. By using cloud computing, users and companies don’t have to manage physical servers themselves or run software applications on their own machines.The cloud enables users to access the same files and applications from almost any device, because the computing and storage takes place on servers in a data center, instead of locally on the user device. This is why a user can log into their Instagram account on a new phone after their old phone breaks and still find their old account in place, with all their photos, videos, and conversation history. It works the same way with cloud email providers like Gmail or Microsoft Office 365, and with cloud storage providers like Dropbox or Google Drive.

Cloud Providers

AWS free tier includes more than 60 products. There are two different types of free options that are available depending on the product used: always free and 12 months free.

The AWS Free Tier provides customers the ability to explore and try out AWS services free of charge up to specified limits for each service. The Free Tier is comprised of three different types of offerings, a 12-month Free Tier, an Always Free offer, and short term trials.

Services with a 12-month Free Tier allow customers to use the product for free up to specified limits for one year from the date the account was created.

Services with an Always Free offer allow customers to use the product for free up to specified limits as long as they are an AWS customer.

Services with a short term trial are free to use for a specified period of time or up to a one-time limit depending on the service selected.

Details on the limits and services provided for free are detailed in each card on the Free Tier page. If your application use exceeds the free tier limits, you simply pay standard, pay-as-you-go service rates (see each service page for full pricing details).

Some services, such as Amazon EC2, Amazon RDS, and Elastic Load Balancing, charge for usage on an hourly basis. The AWS Free Tier for these services provides you with a monthly allotment of hours for the first 12 months. For example, the AWS Free Tier for Amazon EC2 provides you with 750 hours usage of Linux (any combination of t1.microt2.micro, and t3.micro instances), plus 750 hours usage of Windows (any combination of t1.microt2.micro, and t3.micro instances).

How you divide this allotment is up to you. In this example, you can run 750 hours of a Linux t2.micro, or t1.micro instance with 750 hours of a Windows t2.micro, or t1.micro instance each month for the first 12 months. In Regions where t2.micro is not available, the t3.micro equivalent is supported under AWS Free Tier. For example, you can use one Linux instance continuously for a month, or 10 Linux instances for 75 hours a month.

In some cases, leaving your resources running maximizes your AWS Free Tier benefits. For example, when an Amazon EC2 instance enters into running state, a full instance hour is charged. This will occur every time an instance changes into running state, even in the same hour. Instances stop being billed when they are stopped, but are billed for full last hour during which they are running. AWS bills Amazon EC2 instances in instance hours. An instance is billed as soon as it enters the running state, and when an instance enters the shutting downstopped or terminated we stop billing for the instance.

AMIs that are eligible for the AWS Free Tier are marked in the Amazon EC2 Launch Wizard as Free tier eligible. The AWS Free Tier allotment for Linux and Microsoft Windows instances is counted separately. You can run 750 hours of a Linux t3.microt2.micro, or t1.micro instance plus 750 hours of a Windows t3.microt2.micro, or t1.micro instance each month for the first 12 months.

AWS Management Console
Free Tier Summary on AWS Dashboard
EC2 Resources Overview
AWS Free Tier Highlights.
  • AWS Lambda: This FaaS (function-as-a-Service) can be used under Free Tier with up to 1 million requests and 3.2 million seconds compute time a month.
  • AWS Step Functions: User is allowed 4,000 free state transitions per month.
  • Amazon Glacier: This is a long-term data storage service and the user can retrieve up to 10GB of data.
  • AWS CodeCommit: AWS allows up to five users with 50 GB per month of storage and 10,000 Git requests.
  • AWS CodePipeline: Users get one active pipeline per month for free.
  • AWS CodeBuild: User gets 100 build minutes per month on the build.general1.small instance type under free tier.
  • Amazon DynamoDB: AWS’s NoSQL database offers 25 GB of storage and 25 units of read and write capacity free each month. Amazon claims this is “enough to handle up to 200M requests per month.”
  • Amazon Chime: This is AWS’s business communication service that is entirely free for new customers from 4th March 2020 to 30th June 2020. Note that basic features such as text chat and voice calling are always free.  


The Azure equivalent of a free tier is referred to as a free account. As a new user in Azure, you’re given a $200 / 170 Euros credit that has to be used in the first 30 days after activating your account. When you’ve used up the credit or 30 days have expired, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid account if you wish to continue using certain products. Ensure that you have a plan to reduce Azure costs in place. If you don’t need the paid products, there’s also the always free option.

Some of the ways people choose to use their free account are to gain insights from their data, test and deploy enterprise apps, create custom mobile experiences and more.

Azure Cloud Portal
Azure AD – You can run Azure AD for free up to 50 000 objects limit
Microsoft Azure Free Tier Highlights
  • Azure Functions: Users can make up to 1 million requests per month under the free tier.
  • Azure Active Directory: Free tier offers up to 50,000 authentications per month.
  • Azure DevOps: Users can create up to 5 users each with unlimited private Git repositories.
  • Azure App Service: Up to 10 web, mobile, or API apps can be created at zero cost.
  • Azure Cosmos DB: Use up to 500 GB of storage and 400 requests units per second without any cost each month.
  • Azure offers 5 GB of outbound data for free per month.

IBM Cloud

Running AIX as per the previous two part Episodes We saw

A full stack cloud platform with over 170 products and services covering data, containers, AI, IoT, and blockchain. ( You could run for example VMWare Vcenter or Vsphere server to create a Software Defined Data Center running on IBM Cloud or x86 and IBM Power Virtual Machines with Skytap for IBM Cloud)

From bare metal servers to serverless compute, IBM offers resources for any workload.

Choose from robust and durable object, block and file storage services.

Free tier – IBM Cloud Lite Account:

Lite accounts don’t have an expiration date, don’t require a credit card and provide limited access to a catalog of more than 40 always-free services, including IBM Watson® APIs.

When you upgrade to a Pay-As-You-Go account, you get access to the entire IBM Cloud catalog of over 350 products and a USD 200 credit, valid for 30 days, that can be applied to any service.

With a Pay-As-You-Go account, you’ll get access to the entire free tier including 50+ services and promotional discounts.

IBM Cloud Dashboard

Google Cloud

The Google Cloud Free Tier is essentially an extended free trial that gives you access to free cloud resources so you can learn about Google Cloud services by trying them on your own.

The Google Cloud Free Tier has two parts — a 12-month free trial with a $300 credit to use with any Google Cloud services and always free, which provides limited access to many common Google Cloud resources, free of charge. Google Cloud gives you a little more time with your credit than Azure, you get the full 12 months of the free trial to use your credit. Unlike free trials from the other cloud providers, Google does not automatically charge you once the trial ends — this way you’re guaranteed that the free tier is actually 100% free. Keep in mind that your trial ends after 12 months or once you’ve exhausted the $300 credit. Any usage beyond the free monthly usage limits are covered by the $300 free credit — you must upgrade to a paid account to continue using Google Cloud.

Google Cloud Dashboard
Google Cloud Billing Alerts
Creating a VM Instance with CentOS Linux 7 Template estimating at 10.29 USD per month ( 54 USD estimate with RHEL 8 Template) for 2 vcpu with 1 GB Ram and 1x 20 GB Hard Disk

Google Cloud Free Tier Highlights
  • Google BigQuery: Users can avail up to 1 TB of querying and 10 GB of storage per month without any cost.
  • Google Cloud Build: On a daily basis, users get 120 build minutes for free.
  • Google Cloud Source Repositories: Under the free tier, Google Cloud offers up to five users with 50 GB storage and 50 GB of outbound data.
  • Google Cloud Functions: Free tier offers 2M invocations (both background and HTTP), along with 5 GB of outbound network data, 400000 GB-seconds, and 200000 GHz-seconds of computing time.
  • Google Compute Engine: Only one f1-micro VM is available for free in US region but GPU or TPU usage will incur additional cost.
  • Google Cloud Storage: Under the Free Tier, each month, users are offered 5 GB of regional storage in the US, 5,000 Class A, and 50,000 Class B operations, and 1 GB of outbound data that is restricted as per Compute Engine.

Closing Thoughts

The Cloud can be however You want it to be. It can be small and simple or big, expensive and complex.
It can replace your on premises infrastructure and physical servers if you want to and make all of it to exist up in the cloud somewhere in AWS, Azure or Google Cloud Platform or IBM’s Cloud.

You can move your whole VMWare Vcenter or VSphere Instances to the cloud together with the Virtual Machines they run on top ( starting from 5000 – 6000 euros per month depending on the configuration and if its for a 1 host non-production environment or production (2-3 host minimum) configuration. You can read more about it in the links of the shownotes which includes vmware on aws calculator as well.

You can have just a few virtual machines with free-tier for studying for a certification exam or home labbing from anywhere without the need to buy expensive second hand servers and pay electricity bills to the hundreds.

These are just a few examples… You can do a lot or just very little with the Cloud. It’s your decision.

Weigh the pros and cons of a cloud solution and see if it fits for your requirements and workload.

I think that on premises and physical infrastructure at companies are being phased out and will eventually be very minimal or just the absolute necessity to run the place to be able to connect up to the cloud services ( internet connection, some switch and routers perhaps?) while the future is definitely Software Defined and Cloud Based Solutions. Infrastructure which can be managed from anywhere in the world without the need to travel to it and which can be automated to do things you can not do with physical hardware only with virtual machines and software defined solutions.




AWS Vs Azure Vs Google

What is the Cloud?

IBM Cloud

Free Tier Comparisons

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