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Best cloud computing services of 2021

it engineer in server room with a laptop
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The best cloud computing services offer the opportunity for businesses to undergo digital transformation in order to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

The best cloud computing services

Cloud services have revolutionized computing, not least through IaaS, PaaS, and especially SaaS, which have allowed businesses to develop virtualized IT infrastructure and deliver software through the cloud, independent of a user's operating system.

Even better still, businesses can also mix and match cloud services from different providers through cloud brokers in order to ensure these services work to maximum efficiency and cost effectiveness, but also to reduce the chances of vendor lock-in while also improving redundancy. This may require additional cloud management software, but for larger businesses the economic benefits can be significant.

Because cloud services are run through software platforms and virtualized networks, it means that it's easy to access and analyze data for the purposes of analytics as well as for business intelligence purposes. It also makes it easier to simplify all aspects of monitoring through cloud orchestration and the easy processing of log files through cloud logging services. The result is IT infrastructure that allows for better maintenance and patching, while providing for insights that would have previously been much more difficult to access.

Cloud computing services also offer the advantage of being scalable, which means not only can you access additional resources exactly as you need them, but you are also charged only for the services you use so there's no need to buy in extra hardware for additional redundancy.

This especially applies to when storing data, as online cloud storage can be treated as effectively limitless. Even though you might be using cloud databases for your structured data, you can also archive everything else into massive data lakes for additional processing using AI and machine learning for greater insights.

Altogether, cloud services offer unparalleled potential for improving business performance and increasing profits, and here we'll look at the best cloud computing service provider.

Microsoft Azure

(Image credit: Microsoft)

1. Microsoft Azure

The best cloud services platform

Windows and Linux compatible
12-months free
Comprehensive services
None of note

Microsoft Azure was released nearly a decade ago, in 2010. Users can run any service on the cloud or combine it with any existing applications, data center or infrastructure.

Microsoft Azure provides a wide array of solutions suitable for all types of industry. All your business needs will be taken into consideration. This results in a package better suited for needs.

Azure means there is no need to have physical servers on site. This reduces the usual costs, such as an onsite server support team.

The Azure Migration Center makes cloud transfers faster and easier. The solution is also compatible with Linux.

Microsoft Azure offers a free tier which includes access to all popular services, and over 25 ‘Always Free’ services. All of Microsoft Azure’s prices and plans are laid out in great detail on their site. The page includes a cost calculator and a ‘Pay as you go’ service. Each plan can be tailored to your specific needs.

Amazon Web Services

(Image credit: Amazon Web Services)

2. Amazon Web Services

The most popular cloud computing service

Highly customizable
Huge choice of services
Free trial
None of note

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a cloud-based platform for building business solutions using integrated web services. AWS offers an extensive range of IaaS and PaaS services. These include Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2), Elastic Beanstalk, Simple Storage Service (S3) and Relational Database Service (RDS)

AWS offers extensive admin controls available via their secure Web client. Users can access a number of features from here including encryption key creation and auditing. 

Aws lets you customize infrastructure requirements. This costs far less than if you were set up in your own premises. Users can also access EC2 we services. This permits you to run and acquire servers as necessary. 

AWS has three different pricing models; ‘Pay as you Go’, ‘Save when you reserve’ and ‘Pay less using more’. For more information about these, users must contact sale directly.

AWS also offers a free 12-month tier. Once your trial period has expired, you must either choose a paid plan or cancel your AWS subscription.

Google Cloud

(Image credit: Google )

3. Google Cloud

Google's powerful cloud computing alternative

User friendly
Good range of services
12-month free trial

Google Cloud enables users to create business solutions using Google-provided, modular web services. It offers a wide array of services including IaaS and PaaS solutions.

With Google Cloud’s multi layered secure infrastructure, users can rest assured that anything you build, create, code or store will be protected. This is done through a commitment to transparency and a highly trained team of engineers. 

Google Cloud has a variety of tools to ensure consistent performance and management. These include Compute Engine, App Engine, Container Engine, Cloud Storage and Big Query. Google also offers smooth migration to virtual machines with flexible pricing.

Google claims to be a leader when it comes to pricing by comparison to major revivals, and you can try the service out yourself for free.

IBM Cloud

(Image credit: IBM )

4. IBM Cloud

Reasonably priced cloud services from one of the tech masters

Pre-configured tools
Fully customizable
Management tools

IBM Cloud is a set of cloud computing services offered by the eponymous tech giant IBM. The solution offers platform as a service, software as a service and infrastructure as a service.

IBM Cloud offers a wide range of services. Not all of them are cloud based: it covers both virtual and hardware –based servers, composed of public, private and management networks.

As hardware and virtual-based servers are combined into one on demand cloud-platform, you have complete infrastructure control. IBM refer to their hardware servers as ‘bare metal’. These provide clients with sole access to their entire server. This reduces the ‘noisy neighbor’ effect and greatly improves performance.

IBM Cloud is integrated and managed by a single system that can be controlled via web portal, API (Application Programming Interface) or mobile apps. IBM Cloud’s Bluemix developing solution has a wide range of cloud SaaS management tools. 

IBM Cloud also offers full server customization. This means that everything that is included in the server is handpicked by you. This way you do not have to pay for features that you might never use.

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure

(Image credit: Oracle)

5. Oracle Cloud Infrastructure

Another IT behemoth cloud service

Architecture and storage
Enterprise ready
Free tier

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is another cloud service from a computing behemoth, and as you'd expect it's both a powerful and feature-packed platform. A recent Forrester review noted that Oracle's services were especially strong at supporting different workloads, especially for IoT, OLTP, microservices, along with applications dependent on AI and machine learning. There are two main service provisions available: cloud architecture, and storage data.

Cloud architecture includes data management, databases, and applications, while the Oracle Data Cloud is primarily for driving big data analytics for business intelligence insights. Oracle also provides a range of SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms such as HCM, EPM, SCM, and social media tools. 

As expected, there are a vast range of potential involved in using Oracle's cloud services, but they are really designed to accommodate enterprise needs rather than small businesses or individuals.

For those who do sign up, aside from a 30-day free trial, Oracle Cloud also offers a free service tier which includes unlimited access to two autonomous databases which comes with Oracle Application Express (APEX) and Oracle SQL 

Developer, as well as two compute VMs, block, object, and archive storage, as well as load balancing, monitoring, and notifications.

CloudLinux

(Image credit: CloudLinux)

6. CloudLinux

The best open source cloud computing OS

Cloud OS platform
Full control
Customizations
Built in security
More technical challenges

CloudLinux isn't so much a cloud computing provider, but rather a cloud platform you can build across your own servers. This means that if you'd prefer to have tight control over your cloud network rather than going with third-parties, you can host it yourself. While this presents a different set of challenges, it also offers a range of benefits, especially for those companies already heavily invested in their own IT infrastructure.

CloudLinux is a distro of specifically built for virtualized cloud operations to power shared hosting services, by allocating and limiting server resources to each tenant. Additionally, each tenant is partition from each other, in other to create a more secure environment. The result is a hosting platform that has built in redundancy, stability, and security, in order to provide a better hosting environment.

All cloud services require a degree of technical knowledge to work with, so for those with extensive expertise CloudLinux offers the opportunity to be far more in control of your own services and how they are configured.