What is our primary use case?
I was using it primarily for virtual private servers. But recently they came out with the Kubernetes platform and most of what I do at my day job is Kubernetes engineering. I'm very familiar with it. I had wanted to switch all my personal projects over to Kubernetes, and it was really great when Linode finally came out with it. Now I'm using Linode for Kubernetes clusters. I still do hold some VPSs, but most of my stuff is on Kubernetes now. I don't use Linode at my day job. We use Azure for the same thing there, but I choose to use Linode for all my personal projects.
What is most valuable?
I like it because it gives me scalability but, that's true of Kubernetes in general. But I do really like that it is consistent with all the stuff that I regularly do in my day job with Azure, using Kubernetes. It's nice that I can easily transfer that over to Linode using their Kubernetes.
Linode Kubernetes Engine is pretty great when it comes to the amount of Terraforming and manual integrations. Kubernetes does a great job of staying running and looking after itself. I find with VPSs that, every once in a while, something will go down and I will have to restart it manually. With Kubernetes, that tends to happen a lot less. I also find maintenance to be a lot easier.
When it comes to the Linode Kubernetes Engine and the amount of automation it provides, it's awesome, it's a game-changer. If a process randomly dies, it could take me a while to notice that it has died, if I haven't set up monitoring. With Kubernetes, it will just restart itself using Heartbeats.
In addition, the visibility that the Linode Kubernetes Engine provides is awesome. It's better than some of the other cloud providers', such as Azure which is one I work with specifically. I find the Linode version to be a lot more user-friendly. It feels like the Linode interface is designed by someone who actually uses the product, whereas with Azure, it doesn't necessarily feel like that. It feels like some things are user-hostile.
Another feature that is quite helpful for setting up servers is the StackScripts. I've used it to set up game servers, previously. They have a library of instantiation scripts that will set up an environment for you on a VPS, from scratch, with one click. There's a pretty large library too, so that's quite handy.
And the fact that Linode offers a relatively small, but well-focused set of cloud computing services is the reason to go with Linode. What they do, they do well, and they're slowly adding stuff. They were a little bit late to the game on Kubernetes, but their Kubernetes is incredibly solid, in my experience so far. It feels very stable and well thought out.
It's also important that Linode offers worldwide coverage via multiple data centers. I'm based around Toronto and they have a data center right in Toronto. It works very well for me. With other solutions, I often have to pick data centers in Chicago or the like.
What needs improvement?
One thing that I'd really like to see is auto-scaling node pools for their Kubernetes. I don't think that they have that. That's a huge one and would be very helpful. Specifically, what I would like is auto-scaling node pools that would scale down to zero nodes, which is tricky. That's very important for certain use cases. Azure does provide that functionality, although only recently, and it was quite buggy when Azure unreleased it.
For how long have I used the solution?
I have been using Linode for about five years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Linode is super-solid. I haven't really had any downtime in years. I may have had one drive failure, but that was a case where they just restarted it. They then sent me an email saying, "Hey, we had a drive failure. We've re-imaged, we've reloaded it from a backup and you're good to go now."
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
I haven't used Linode at scale, but I don't see any issues in being able to scale it, especially with Kubernetes. In addition, although I don't use them all that much, the NodeBalancers seem to be a well-thought-out solution for scaling.
If I could convert my whole company over to Linode, I would in a heartbeat. That's obviously a tough sell. Personally, I might use it slightly more in the future, but not on a significant scale. If I were to ever go off and start my own company though, I would totally use Linode.
How are customer service and technical support?
Their support is great. It's probably the best support in the industry. I've barely had to deal with them because all their stuff is solid, but when I have interacted with them it has usually been them reaching out to me to let me know about an issue, rather than me reaching out to them. Usually it's them saying, "Hey, there was an issue, but it's fixed. We just wanted to let you know." That's pretty great.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup is pretty straightforward. I was on Linode before I was a professional developer. I was on Google Cloud compute before I was on Linode, and I found the Google Cloud stuff to be incredibly complicated. Then I came to Linode and everything just started to make sense. The simplicity allowed me to build a lot of experience around server-hosting without getting bogged down at the door.
What was our ROI?
To some extent I have seen a return on my investment with Linode. The project that I have it's called Beerbase.ca, and it's a site that aggregates prices from the Ontario Beer Store. Here in Ontario, we have one company that handles all beer sales. My site crawls The Beer Store website daily, gets all the different prices, and then populates the database. Beerbase.ca displays them.
I haven't monetized the site, but the value that I get from it, is as a personal project, is that whenever I'm applying for jobs, it says a lot when I say, "Hey, this is my project that I've been running for years." People really like it. They think it's funny and it's gotten me in the door at just about every company that I've worked at. It has been the thing that has set me apart. The ROI there is huge, although it's intangible.
You could say that Linode has helped to accelerate innovation in beer pricing. I wouldn't say we're saving the world, but it's a fun, interesting project.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
The biggest benefit of Linode is the pricing. It's the best deal in the business. When I look at the server bills from Azure compared to Linode, if I were to host a similar amount of stuff on Linode, it would just be a better deal, and it always has been.
Another great aspect with Linode—and I don't know if they give this to everyone—is that they will often have discount codes, where you get $20 of free credit. That's the equivalent of four months of a Nanode (or nano node) which is the smallest server. That's incredible for getting something set up, and that is what initially got me onto Linode. Someone who I really respect was doing a sponsorship with Linode, but that person said he was using Linode even before he was sponsored by them. I thought, "Okay, I'll go give this a try. What do I have to lose? It's four months for free." But I never turned back. And even now, where I'm on Kubernetes and it would be trivial to switch providers, I have no intention of doing so.
I would recommend that people look at the Linode Kubernetes Engine because it allows you to better utilize all of the compute that you're paying for. With VPSs, you have to do a balancing game of having enough without paying for too much. But with Kubernetes, you can have all of your projects on one cluster and just add nodes as needed. That even improves the already good pricing from Linode.
Their pricing model is also very simple compared to Azure. I don't understand why Azure doesn't price things the way that Linode does. With Linode, it's very simple to get an idea of what something is going to cost you. By comparison, I regularly have to do estimates of pricing on Azure, and that is an exercise in futility. It's very complicated the way that Azure prices out their stuff.
That simplicity is very important to me because all of my personal projects are hosted on Linode. It does a very good job of giving you what you need quickly and getting out of the way; of not complicating things. It lets you just work on your thing so you can get it going quickly. With other cloud providers, there are all these configurations and "gotchas".
I save at least $100 a month with Linode. I don't host a lot there, but the Kubernetes clusters that I'd be looking at on Azure would be significantly more.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
I tried Google Cloud, but I didn't really like it all that much. It was expensive and also quite complicated. I find Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud to all be a little bit over-complicated. Linode definitely feels like the best solution for someone who doesn't want to spend a lot of time dealing with their cloud provider. Sometimes it makes sense to go with Azure, especially if they're going to give you a ton of free credits to get you on their platform, in the startup stage.
Linode's API is great, much better than the other providers' APIs. It's more convenient to use. I haven't used Linode's CLI, but I'm very happy to hear that they provide one.
For anyone who just wants a simple server host that does everything that the big companies do, but one where they actually care that their stuff is easy and convenient to use, and one whose pricing is good, Linode is definitely the way to go.
What other advice do I have?
My advice to others who are considering using Linode would depend on what industry or what field they're in. I'm primarily a systems engineer and I end up being a cross between DevOps and a regular backend engineer. For anyone who is on that career path, it's invaluable to do a project and learn to use the tools before you're in the actual industry. It gives you a huge head start. Linode is definitely the best way to go about it because it teaches you the fundamentals and it's a lot more intuitive than the other providers. It will help you out when learning it. From there, when you start at a company, no matter what provider they're using, the fundamentals that you learned using Linode will definitely pay off.
Don't hesitate to try it and check out the Kubernetes, because that is very in-demand right now.