Cloud service providers: Top clouds and how to choose your cloud provider

Choosing the right cloud hosting solutions for your business, website, or application is a critical decision. Below we’ll walk you through the top cloud providers today and how to compare their benefits and features.

What is a cloud provider?

Cloud providers refer to businesses that offer cloud computing services such as cloud infrastructure (including virtual machines and virtual private servers, databases, cloud storage, and more to users who want to host websites and applications in the cloud. Cloud providers offer multiple services distributed across a network of data centers, usually located around the world. Cloud providers are an alternative to traditional on-premise hosting infrastructure, which has declined in usage due to the easily accessible and affordable nature of cloud hosting solutions.

Some of the largest cloud providers offer hundreds of products, but the most commonly used cloud services include:

  • Infrastructure as a Service

  • Platform as a Service

  • Databases

  • Storage

  • Kubernetes

  • Serverless/Functions

Top cloud providers

The top cloud providers by market share, often referred to as hyperscaler clouds, are Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure. AWS is the largest cloud provider, but many businesses look for AWS alternatives as AWS can be very complex, especially for the needs of individual developers and small businesses, and their pricing can be expensive when factoring in AWS egress costs. Smaller clouds like DigitalOcean offer reliable cloud hosting that is simpler to use and often more cost-effective than the big three clouds—learn how DigitalOcean compares to AWS and Google Cloud Platform.

DigitalOcean is the ideal cloud provider for small-to-medium-sized businesses, startups, and individual developers who want a simple cloud solution with a range of product offerings, developer-friendly features, robust documentation, and cost-effective, transparent pricing. Sign up today to get started.

How to choose between cloud providers

When comparing cloud providers, you should consider several factors, including price, global data center locations, products, customer support, documentation, and more. A cloud provider is typically a long-term commitment—while businesses can switch cloud service providers, the process can be time-consuming and expensive, so choosing the right cloud provider from the start will set you up for success.


Consider cost, including both base product pricing, egress pricing (also known as bandwidth or data transfer fees), and additional pricing for add-ons like support. Certain cloud providers like AWS are known for their pricing complexity, so understanding how prices break down and will scale as you grow is important.

Product offerings

Most cloud providers offer some sort of virtual machine or VPS hosting, though some may only offer shared hosting services, which are more suitable for low-traffic websites. Many cloud providers will also offer managed databases, storage, load balancing, Kubernetes, and other products that may be part of your long-term infrastructure. Research what you’ll need and choose a cloud provider that offers those products.


Support is a critical but often overlooked component of choosing any vendor, and choosing a cloud provider is no different. Many cloud providers don’t offer free support beyond billing questions, while some like DigitalOcean offer free ticketed support for all users, and low monthly-cost options for more robust support plans with faster response times.

Data center locations

It’s important to consider where the majority of your users will be located when accessing your website or application when choosing a cloud service provider. Most larger cloud providers have a network of global data centers, but may have gaps in certain locations.


In addition to ticketed support, documentation is also important for self-diagnosing a problem with your cloud infrastructure. Look into product documentation, community forums, instructional tutorials, and more before deciding what cloud service provider to use.

Supported operating systems

While most cloud providers support Linux operating systems, some like Microsoft Azure also offer Windows-based virtual machines. Know what operating system and distribution, such as Ubuntu 22.04, you plan to use to ensure your chosen cloud provider can support it. Some cloud providers also offer tutorials on how to install and manage operating systems.

Frequently Asked Questions

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