Thinking about Cloud adoption, but confused over pricing

Cloud service providers’ customer list spans from individual developers to large enterprises. The top three cloud providers — Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure — offer free trial versions of various services. These free offers come with limited resources and can’t fulfill the full production needs. However, the free trial gives you an idea of how services will work without even paying anything for it.

There are basically two types of offerings under Free Tier, i.e., “free for a limited time” and “always free.” The services under each type of Free Tier can vary as per the cloud provider. There may be instances where a cloud provider offers one service free for a limited time and the other cloud provider offers similar service free for lifetime with certain limitations.

Here, we will explore the key aspects of Free Tier offerings by top cloud providers — AWSMicrosoft Azure, and Google Cloud. Read to understand the similarities, differences, and limitations of each offering.  

AWS vs Microsoft Azure vs Google Cloud Platform (GCP) Free Tier Types

As already mentioned, there are only two types of free tiers, namely:

1. Free for Limited-time:

Cloud providers offer you certain services free for 12 months. This free tier is offered only to the first sign-up or registrations with the services and that too with certain limitations. You will be charged for services as per the usual rate 12 months after you first signed up.

2. Always Free:

There are a few services that cloud providers offer that are free for lifetime, but this comes with a monthly limited usage of those services. You can manage the monthly usage of services via consoles offered by the respective provider.

Key Points to Remember:

  • Azure and Google Cloud offer service credit when you sign-up.
  • Google Cloud offers $300 as credit to use it for any Google Cloud Platform service. Your 12-month free trial will end early if you spend all $300 of credit before 12 months.
  • Azure offers $200 credit when you sign-up and this can be spent during the first 30 days. However, spending all the credit will not end your free trial.

What are the Free Tier restrictions on AWS, Azure and Google Cloud?

The Free Tier services mentioned above have time restrictions of up to 12 months for the users signing up for the first time and usage limitations per month. These are the restrictions that come as “the name suggests” but these are not the only ones and others can typically apply too.

Here are the other restrictions that Free Tiers are generally equipped with:

Operational limits:

Free Tier services are offered with defined limitations that can only be exempted when you switch to the paid version.

Software and Operating Systems:

The commercial software and operating systems are generally not included under Free Tier. It seems fair as the software and OS give the user exclusive control to meet their demands that should be actually paid.

Rollovers are prohibited:

The limitations are defined typically for monthly usage, if you do not use what is offered in a given month, the usage won’t be carried forward to next month. Well, here is an pro tip if you really want to get an idea of the service, please use it within the month as it is an ideal timeline for experiments.

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.  

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.

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.

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