Cloud hosting options

For a work-related project I recently needed to compare cloud hosting options so I had a quick look at Amazon’s EC2, Rackspace’s Cloud Servers and IBM’s Smart Business Cloud. For our particular requirements, Rackspace looked like the best option but they all seem to be quite similar, though with an obvious enterprise focus from IBM. Below is a list of the main differences I spotted between the three options which I thought might be useful to others (there are probably many more).

Amazon EC2 Rackspace Cloud Servers IBM Smart Business Cloud
Direct 24x7x365 Support Extra

Free forums (community)

$49+ or $100+/month local business hours

$400+ or $15k+/month 24x7x365




Free forums (support-monitored)

$75+ or $1000/month

Software support No Yes

Specific list including some OS, SQL server, MySQL, Apache, IIS/.NET


OS support only, charged per hour on top of instance cost

Login to machine for troubleshooting support No Yes Extra

Part of add-on software support

Local data kept on instance reboot No Yes Yes
Mountable persistent storage Extra

Elastic Block Storage (EBS)


CloudFiles API not file system access


Charged per hour

CPU bursting Partial

Micro instances only


Free when spare capacity on host

Instance capacity changes No

Create new instance and migrate


Reboot required

Reverse DNS support Yes Yes Unknown
Reserved public IP address per instance No

5 reserved public IPs per account

Yes Extra

Up to 4 per instance, per hour charge for reserved

Reserved instances for assured availability Extra

Up front cost, cheaper rates


Can be combined with managed hosting


Up front cost, cheaper rates

Import your own virtual machines Partial

VMware VMDK images of Windows Server 2008 (Datacenter, Enterprise, and Standard editions)

No No
Images including 3rd party software Extra

Microsoft SQL Server

Many IBM products


Microsoft SQL Server


Many IBM products; pay as you go, bring your own license, free for development use

Performance monitoring Extra



3rd party Server Density recommended

Easy to use No

Complex but lots of features


Simple but limited features

Free trial Yes

1 year full time free micro instance including storage, data transfer and other services


1st month free (up to £50)


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