As a user of Amazon Web Services (AWS) I thought I’d give the new HP Public Cloud a try. First of all, my use case is pretty simple: I’m a casual user who wants to be able to fire up a server now and then in various regions around the world to host my son’s Minecraft world, to run a remote desktop, or to run a remote VPN server. I want to be able to turn them on when I need them and turn them off when I don’t, without losing the server, its software, configuration or data.
AWS lets me fire up a server in about 5 countries: Brazil, USA, Ireland, Singapore, Tokyo. I can choose a Linux or Windows operating system, with a vast array of pre-configured server and software images available. Once a server is up and running, I can suspend it and not incur the hourly charge. When I need the server again, I can start it up within seconds. It’s a great service, very reliable and very cheap. I also use Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) and Simple Email Service (SES) which are also excellent and cheap.
So when HP announced their Public Cloud Beta, I was excited to dip my toe in the water. Here is what I found:
- It’s pretty simple to start up a server, although at this stage they only have a few regions in the USA.
- They give you a public IP address with your server, which is a good thing. Amazon gives you a long string they call ‘Public DNS’ which works fine, except when connecting from the Windows Minecraft client, but if you want a standard public IP address they charge you 1 cent per hour. So far so good for HP.
- Pricing is vary competitive with Amazon. You’d think they would try to undercut AWS pricing to gain some market share, especially when AWS has so many more features and global regions, but hey, it’s still pretty cheap.
- Here’s the deal-breaker, at least for me: HP Public Cloud offers no easy way to suspend a server when you don’t need it, and come back later in a few hours, days, weeks or even months, restart the server and pick up where you left off without having incurred any charges except a very minimal charge for storing the virtual image. On AWS I can do this with two mouse clicks. On HP it’s still possible, but you have to be a command line guru and run complicated scripts to take a snapshot of your server and store it for later use. Not easy and not user friendly. Maybe this won’t matter to users who have no need to suspend servers and later restart them. But for me it’s a big deal and means I won’t be using this service.