Cloud at Cost Main Page Screenshot Cloud at Cost is a new company offering very low cost virtual servers. For their first 10,000 nodes, they’re offering a $35 one time setup fee to get a virtual server for life (of the company). There are additional $70 and $140 one time plans for slightly larger virtual servers, or the option for $1, $2 or $4 per month. I decided to give one of these virtual server plans a try. There were quite a few hickups. I wouldn’t say they’re production ready quite yet, but if you want a server to play around with, the price is right, and their services are certainly worth that price.

Their front website looks pretty well designed and it’s pretty obvious the cheap servers are a means for them to quickly raise a lot of initial capital. Once you get an actual account and login, the user interface is pretty bare-bones. Your root password is e-mailed to you in plain text. This wouldn’t be so bad as you can change it, but it’s also the password to get into the admin console for your VM and cannot be changed. It’s also in a disabled text input field so you can’t even select it to copy and paste it without modifying the website with Firebug.

I also noticed that if I rebooted my VM, it completely reset everything. At first I though it was actually erasing the VM, but it turns out only the configuration was being reset due to a provisioning script, /etc/rc3.d/S97-setup-run.sh, not being removed after installation. There was a notice on their support board indicating the problem. It had the wrong path listed (/etc/init.d/S97-setup-run.sh), but the support page did allow comments, so I posted a response correcting it.

Cloud at Cost Support Ticket Screenshot I assumed the company was Canadian as their rates were in Canadian Dollars, however the GeoIP lookup of my VM showed it to be in a Utah, disturbingly close to the infamous massive NSA data centre. I realize power for large endeavours in this region is much cheaper, which is most likely the reason for the location, but it’s still a little creepy. ( Update: Apparently I wasn’t using a good GeoIP service. According to the comments, a traceroute places the data centre in Canada) Other things I noticed were that there wasn’t a DNS interface, no IPv6 support and you don’t get a list of operating systems until you actually start to make your purchase. They have a very limited selection too: CentOS, Ubuntu LTS and Debian.

Their support also leaves a lot to be desired. I noticed the configuration issue and submitted a ticket. Although I discovered the solution on their support page and updated the ticket before they could respond, it’s still been several days and the ticket has not yet been closed. Also, their support ticket system does ask you for your VMs SSH user and password. Why would they even need this information? Other services like Linode simply offer support for making sure your VM environment is sound, but the operating system itself is always your responsibility. They shouldn’t even be asking for peoples’ passwords at all.

Using tespeed, I saw download speed peaking around 30MB/s and upload speeds averaging around 15MB/s, with a few results in the 25MB/s to 50MB/s range. The speed test also showed latency to be average around 70 ~ 90ms.

IP: 162.xx.xx.xx; Lat: 40.296800; Lon: -111.676100; ISP: Neighborhood ISP
Loading server list...
Looking for closest and best server...
Testing latency...
74 ms latency for http://speedtest.fiber.net/speedtest/ (Fibernet Corp, Orem, UT, United States) [1.98 km]
192 ms latency for http://vision.neighborhoodisp.com/speedtest/ (Neighborhood ISP, Orem, UT, United States) [1.98 km]
76 ms latency for http://speedtest1.veracitynetworks.com/speedtest/ (Veracity Networks, Provo, UT, United States) [2.74 km]
70 ms latency for http://speed1.sumofiber.com/speedtest/ (Sumo Fiber, Salt Lake City, UT, United States) [29.65 km]
91 ms latency for http://sto-utah-01.sys.comcast.net/speedtest/ (Comcast, Salt Lake City, UT, United States) [29.65 km]
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Upload speed: 5.66 Mbit/s

As far as the one time prices go, $35 for life seems like a good deal until you realize that at the monthly rate of $1, it would take 2.9 years for you to actually save any money. It’s the exact same with the $70 one-time vs $2 monthly for the second tier and the $140 vs $4 for the third tier. If you select the one-time price, you’re basically betting that the company will survive over three years and that you’d still be using them after that time.

So, just to recap, here are a list of issues I have with CloudatCost:

  • No IPv6 Support
  • No DNS Services
  • The company charged you in Canadian Dollars, yet the GeoIP of the data centre is in Utah, USA ( See comments below )
  • Limited Operating System Support (CentOS, Ubuntu LTS and Debian)
  • Supported distributions listed nowhere on the site until you go to purchase section
  • Configuration wiped on reboot (fixed)
  • Very slow support response times
  • Monthly plans are cheaper than one-time plans unless the company lasts longer than 2.9 years

The positive side:

  • Hosting plans are cheap
  • Download and Upload rates seem to top out around 30MB/s ~ 50MB/s

Overall, it’s a service that seems right for the price. Most services bank on people utilizing nowhere near all of their allocated VM space. Many will over provision nodes and keep the low-usage/idle VMs packed onto one cluster of servers and migrate other more highly utilized VMs onto more powerful servers. I suspect Cloud at Cost is banking on this underutilization for their initial influx of capital.

Cloud at Cost is a bare bones VM playground that is the right price for developers and those that like to tinker. It’s be a great landing zone for small scripts, scheduled tasks and development servers. However, for anything production grade other than basic monitoring services, I’d suggest using something a bit more reliable such as Linode.

Comments

Wunsch 2013-11-05

I'm not sure what the deal is with GeoIP services locating the IP in Utah. If you look at whois information or do a traceroute, it's very clearly in Ontario.

I asked their support about IPv6 on October 28th, and got this response: "I am very sorry but this isn't supported at this time. We are working on this so you can do it your self in the panel and you will get an email once its live. I don't expect it to take very long as its in QA testing."

ChinnoDog 2013-11-11

I can also confirm that it is in Canada after many tracert / tracepath commands. I updated apt to use Canadian mirror ubuntu-archives.mirror.nexicom.net with 4-5ms latency and installing software is much faster now. :-)

Steph 2014-03-05

I would say I have not been very pleased with their service thus far after purchasing a Developer 3 package a while back. I have had numerous outages and my most recent support ticket has gone unanswered for a month and a half (so far) despite numerous attempts to contact them via support tickets, email and twitter. They do keep posting new twitter posts, though, so it seems like someone might be out there someone. They just don't care to support their product. My current opinion is that Cloud At Cost is a scam. Sigh...

ThaOne 2014-03-16

Cloud at cost has been down for days now. They do not answer tickets or complaints. They have even brought down their Facebook page. If their page was up you will see nothing but complaints as to why tickets where not answered for months and why no one is getting the servers they paid for. They may have skipped town with people's money. Beware. Another great company run by Indians to scam Canadians and skip town.

Comments are closed. Why?