Several years ago, I moved from VPS hosting to Google Cloud for my web projects and this was a HUGE relief. Now I can’t imagine hosting my projects on any platform other than GCP and I’m going to reveal the most important pros and cons of Google Cloud.
[Disclaimer: This is not a promotional post, this is an honest review; I’m not paid for it. I just want to help other entrepreneurs make their web projects more secure and reliable.]
What’s Wrong with Traditional VPS Hosting?
So, what’s the problem with traditional hosting providers in the first place? The answer is short — the lack of reliability.
Do you think a 1-hour maintenance at least once a month, with a notification being published only on the hosting website, and not sent over email, is normal?
I don’t think so.
This is how it worked for me. Consider that, compounded by the numerous “network crashes”, and you get the full picture of my annoyance.
At that time, I did not even realize how much better the infrastructure I could build for my project if I used a cloud platform. Now I know.
Google Cloud Platform Advantages
Here is a list of Google Cloud advantages compared to a traditional VPS hosting (I believe AWS offers similar functionality).
Reliability is first and foremost. I can hardly remember if my VM instance ever restarted without my having initiated it. Even Cloud SQL gets updated once every 3–4 months, for 5 to 10 minutes.
And the main advantage here is you can schedule your server maintenance time.
- Run B2B SaaS? Ok, then schedule it for Sunday morning when businesses sleep.
- Run B2C app? Make it Monday morning, when users go to work or school.
And, of course, you can run multiple server instances and eliminate downtime completely!
Nowadays you normally issue an SSL certificate for one year only; longer periods are considered insecure. This means you need to issue a certificate and install it on your server every year.
No, it’s not hard, but you should keep that in mind. And you probably know what happens when your SSL certificate has expired.
What Google Cloud offers is the ability to issue and manage SSL certificates for you automatically. It’s done by creating a load balancer, and it only needs to be done once. And when it’s done your certificates never expire—Google Cloud renews them automatically.
If you use traditional hosting, chances are you store all the files your users upload on the same machine.
- Are those files safe?
- What if a machine crashes and the backup service has not been working for the past week?
- How do you scale if your project achieves rapid growth?
Google Cloud has storage “buckets” where you can put your files so they are not stored on a particular server. A bucket can be public, so you can store public images there, for example. Or a bucket can be secured, so you read and write files through a server. This is how you can store invoices and any other secured documents.
And the best part of this approach is that your server instances become clear. You can scale very easily and you don’t have to worry where the files are located.
This is the best problem your startup might have. And if you have it, you know how to solve it.
Just make a snapshot of your VM instance and deploy extra instances. Or, you can tune your server (CPU, RAM, etc.) if it’s sufficient.
For my current project, we have a VM instance which is a web-server (IIS/ASP.NET). We have a Cloud SQL instance which runs a database. We have a Linux VM instance which runs a blog and responds only when an URL starts with /blog/.
I can monitor all instances independently and see where a problem is or which instance needs to be upgraded.
And if my WordPress crashed because I installed the wrong plug-in, I know that it wouldn’t affect the main app because it’s a different machine.
This is quite specific and does not apply for everyone.
We run our product on .NET stack. This means we must address Windows and SQL Server licenses. It’s therefore quite helpful that Google Cloud includes license fees in your monthly fees. You don’t need to buy a costly standalone SQL Server license before you even get your first customer.
Google Cloud Platform Disadvantages
Of course there are some Google Cloud disadvantages; in short:
- Cloud hosting is more expensive than traditional hosting. But, to be honest, it’s worth the peace of mind.
- Google Cloud DNS is still slower than CloudFlare, so we use the latter for DNS resolution.
- No free support (as far as I know). But Google Cloud has extensive documentation, so we haven’t had any problems implementing any features yet.
I hope this helps you build a more reliable product and sleep better!