What is our primary use case?
Initially, my use case was to have a server platform running that wasn't tied to the company that I worked for at the time. I wanted a solution where I could access our product and services from a platform that had no relation to our own. I was performing testing, as if coming from the outside as a customer of ours, having no network conductivity on our servers or anything like that. That was the first use case.
We realized that it was pretty handy to have a cloud platform that didn't reside in our network, so what happened next, when we moved our data center from Dallas to Florida, we employed the platform to facilitate it. We used a temporary name server and temporary mail server and another temporary server to keep some of our core services running while we were physically moving servers across the country.
When I moved and thought of this company, I used Linode as a temporary general server, as a holding place for all sorts of things. This included web services, our website, and other similar things. But then when I moved most of that to other providers, I still kept some of the web services running. So, it's like an application server for customers.
Basically, if I provide a service to a company, such as a mapping service for a logistics company, then my domain name can be used to access applications on the Linode server. I have a couple of instances there right now that are performing this task.
How has it helped my organization?
Linode offers worldwide coverage in multiple data centers, although this is not important to me because I only use the US data centers. In fact, one of the reasons that I stick with Linode is because of their US presence. Right now, I am only using the data center in Dallas and this specifically gives me a US presence.
Having a long-standing relationship with Linode, it's been easy to develop and subsequently deploy services provided to our customers on their platform. Without it, I would have to use a different platform like Amazon or Microsoft Azure, or something like that. Where this makes a difference is that it would take longer to get to market in the case where one of our customers requires a change or a specific feature that we don't normally provide. The fact that it is easy for us to modify that quickly and without much overhead means we can implement it. Essentially, the flexibility that Linode provides extends through us to our customers, which is a bonus for them.
What is most valuable?
The most valuable feature is that they are flexible and easy to get a hold of if I need something. For example, if I need to provision a server quickly, or if I need to change something, or if I for some reason need to do something that's outside of my plan that I pay for, I can contact them quickly and always get a hold of someone and always get a solution for it. I don't know if this is typical or if it's just based on having been a customer for a reasonably long time, but that's the main reason that I stick with them. It can be summed up by saying that they provide a much better level of service than a larger company like Amazon. I use Amazon as well, but it's a different experience.
What needs improvement?
Because they are a smaller company, they do not have, for example, all of the ways for authentication that Amazon or Azure has. However, that's not a downside for me because it means it's less complex to implement for us. So, while it is simple compared to some large solutions, that's a benefit to me and not a drawback.
For how long have I used the solution?
I began working with Linode in 2004 or 2005 when I was working as a technology officer in my former company in the US. I still use the product but it for my own business in Europe.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Linode has been very stable. Every time there is an outage, they will always contact me beforehand to let me know that there is something planned. I've never had an unplanned outage, so it's positive.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Scalability-wise, it has improved over time. Initially, it was harder to deploy complex servers and then grow them. What we'd have to do was shut them down and then scale up and then deploy a whole other server and then move whatever we had. This could have been an application or a number of applications, which were all moved to that new instance.
As it is now, you can just do it on the fly. But having said that, I don't really scale up and down very much. I generally know what I need and then deploy it. After that, if I ever discontinue something, we turn that off.
So in summary, I see that it has improved, but I haven't really used it much.
In my company, there are between three and five of us who work on it at any given time. Each of us performs multiple roles but in this capacity, we are system administrators and system engineers.
At this point, probably between 20% and 25% of the server and cloud needs are provided by Linode. As the business grows, the usage will grow, although it's always going to be proportional to what we have now. Given that 2020 was a pretty crazy year, it is very hard to predict growth right now.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
I also use Amazon but It's a less personal experience. For example, if I'm abroad and I can't take care of something until I get back, I can't call Amazon and say, "Hey look, can you delay my invoice for two weeks, because I'm in Bangladesh and I have to deal with something," because my company is not big enough for that. With Linode, it's perfectly fine. You can just call them and they'll take care of it, which shows a high degree of flexibility and a high level of service.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup was not very easy, although when I set it up, it was quite some time ago and things were more difficult on the web at that time. I think that the difficulty of the installation has been commensurate with the level of technology on the web at the time. It is easier to do now than it was when I started.
They have the Linode manager, which is an online interface that works by you starting with selecting a service. You select all of the things that you want to have included in your service, whether it's a bare metal server or a virtual server, or whether it's provisioning new storage for that server that you already have. After it's selected and it's up and running, you have the same KVM that you do on other services. For example, you have a virtual screen as if you were in front of your machine in the data center.
What was our ROI?
We're such a small company that we don't really do this type of financial breakdown. We're just happy if we make a little bit more money than we did last quarter. Nonetheless, I can say that we have seen ROI because I believe that our flexibility is partially based on Linode's flexibility, which lets us keep and get more clients. I just couldn't give a specific number of how much.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Being that they are small, their prices are slightly higher than the large providers like Amazon if you compare raw computing power. However, I understand they have to be slightly higher because they just don't have as many customers. If you come from the outside, not knowing how things are going to work, then look at the costs by doing a cost analysis, you might wonder why you should choose them if they're going to be more expensive across the board.
I can say that it doesn't affect me because I know what I'm paying for. It is easy to say that any solution can be cheaper and it could be better, but I know what Linode does, I understand the service I'm getting, and I know what it will provide me. As such, I think that it is fair and I am willing to pay the premium.
If you have a situation where you just want to spin up a server and run a test, without actually having a client and you don't want to incur too many costs, it's not been bad at all.
Considering support, response time, uptime, and price, I think that the price to performance ratio is pretty good. They've been very responsive whenever I have had questions, so from that point of view, I'm very satisfied.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
I have experience with AWS and Azure but when it comes to evaluating other products, we haven't sat down and had comparison meetings or anything like that. Everybody that works in the company has been with me for a while, so they're very familiar with which servers and services work based on our needs.
There are obviously reasons to use, for example, Microsoft Azure because perhaps one of your services uses one of their services that they provide intimately. In a case like this, it's just easier to deploy on their platform because maybe you use one of their endpoints that are already on Azure.
I haven't seen any reason to compare the products because whatever service we create and develop to offer to our customers dictates where we put it.
What other advice do I have?
Linode offers a smaller, but well-focused set of cloud computing services to customers, which I think is important because they are able to provide a very high level of support. If they did everything, if they were much larger, maybe they couldn't maintain that level of support because it wouldn't work if all of their customers asked for special treatment.
My advice for anybody who is considering Linode is to start very small and become a customer of theirs, just so you get used to and familiar with the way that you deploy servers and services. I suggest this because of the fact that they are not a Microsoft or an Amazon, but rather they're a much smaller company.
Again, become familiar with it, and even if it seems a little basic at times, allocate a small part of your development budget to just becoming a customer. This involves creating an account and playing around a little bit, and you'll see that you have most of the features that you need.
That is what the experience has been like for me. Maybe it's not like that for everyone, but try it out. You will probably see that it's more than you might think initially, at least that's the reason that I stuck around and stayed with them for so long.
I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?
If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?