Is “free” Cloud Hosting suitable for Production Apps?


Careful with up-front incentives and vendor lock-in: Many supposedly competitive PaaS’s and cloud hosting providers attract developers by making it seem easy to start running new apps. They start by offering a small “dose” of resources for free. The accompanying marketing campaigns sometimes seem to be saying: “Take it – it’s free forever”. But as apps start growing, they need more and more resources. And those additional resources are far from free. In fact, at that point the formerly “free” pricing usually becomes very expensive.

In short, it makes no sense to host production applications on the kind of PaaS’s that offer a small amount of resources for free, but are too expensive for real usage. Because when your app is ready for production, you have to migrate it to dedicated servers. And then you lose all benefits of PaaS automation.

It’s even worse if the PaaS you’re using has lock-in features, for example proprietary APIs to code to, because it will be very painful to migrate your app. In some cases it will be impossible, and you will have to stay and continue paying outrageous prices. This is called “vendor lock-in” and it’s something that everyone should be wary of when choosing a cloud vendor.

Recently Jelastic introduced a revolutionary pricing model designed explicitly for production applications and extensive scaling. It also includes great discounts for reserved resources and volume usage. Let’s take a look how it works.

Dynamic resources: One of the main benefits of Jelastic’s Platform-as-Infrastructure is the ability to dynamically scale resources up and down for your servers automatically – based on application demand.

Dynamic resources make that magic happen – they’re added when you need them, and removed again as soon as you’re done with them. This helps you to cope with celebrity endorsements (e.g. Twitter or Facebook mentions), or any other unexpected surges in demand, without any pre-planning or special coding.

Thanks to the hourly billing, you only pay for those additional resources for the limited amount of time that you need them. So you no longer need to upgrade your entire hosting package for a month or a year just to cope with a short term spike in demand!


Reserved resources: In addition, you can now configure reserved resources for your servers to “pre-book” resource usage in advance. You always pay for reserved resources, even if your actual resource usage is lower. But in exchange you get a great discount compared to dynamic resources. And if you want, you can get fixed pricing for your usage by simply setting all of your servers to only use reserved resources.


Hybrid pricing – the best of both worlds: But I personally prefer a mix of the two kinds of resources described above. The best approach is to use reserved resources for your typical usage (to pay the minimum price), combined with the powerful automatic scaling provided by dynamic resources to handle your unexpected peaks on demand. So you can get a great discount for reserved resources and still handle load spikes.


Choose the vendor that is open, dynamic and transparent:  So as you are looking for the right hosting partner make sure that you prepare for the future.

  • Is the solution scalable?
  • Does it have transparent pricing where you understand the costs of running your app during peaks and lulls in volume?
  • Can it scale within a server and across servers if necessary?
  • Are there any complex and proprietary APIs to code to which mean that you will be locked into a particular vendor for good?

When you’ve answered these questions to your satisfaction you can be sure to have a long and prosperous relationship with the right hosting partner and the best platform.

Picture: © Miramiska –


Ruslan Synytsky

Founder & CTO, Jelastic
Ruslan has more than 10 years’ experience in software development and is an expert in large-scale distributed Java applications.

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