December 3, 2021

Linode vs DigitalOcean

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Both Linode and DigitalOcean offer infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Unlike platforms as a service, IaaS providers offer their customers direct access to their cloud servers and storage. IaaS offers greater flexibility, scalability, and layers of networking. 

With IaaS, there is no need to buy and install an underlying infrastructure. Storage can be expanded as needed, workloads can be scaled up or down, and it is easy to communicate and coordinate with others. 

Both Linode and DigitalOcean support web development, so choosing between them can be difficult.

Linode uses high-performance SSD Linux servers (high tech and efficient) when providing their services. They offer Longview, an analysis package designed for Linux among a variety of cloud computing services. Linode has developed a reputation for successful, innovative approaches to security, including participating in the HackerOne bug bounty project, with white-hat hackers searching for vulnerabilities.

DigitalOcean provides virtual private servers that are referred to as “droplets.” They are used primarily for hosting applications and websites with a high degree of security for applications. They offer two basic types of droplets: A General Purpose Droplet and a variety of CPU Optimized Droplets that are good for CPU intensive projects with massive amounts of data.

Linode vs. DigitalOcean on Developer Tools

DigitalOcean and Linode offer several similar services and features. They are alike in many ways (load balancing, storage, Kubernetes, security, etc.). The “developer tools” they offer, however, are quite different, and represent the uniqueness of each organization as they came up with their own solutions.  

Linode

Linode has invested in top-class Linux servers to provide the best cloud-based user experience possible. This has paid off, with many web developers preferring Linode because of its extreme reliability. Their layout is well designed and easily navigated with an easy-to-use control panel. Linode offers advanced DNS management, API platforms, and scaling facilities. Their developer tools include:

  • Terraform provider—an “Infrastructure-as-code” tool which offers management features for different Linode resources
  • Rancher—centralizes Kubernetes management for working with multiple clusters across a variety of clouds
  • Pulumi—supports use of general purpose programming languages (GO, Python, JavaScript) to manage Linode’s resources
  • The Packer Builder plugin—makes creating private Linode Images easy
  • Container Storage Interface driver—integrates Kubernetes and other container orchestrators with Linode Block Storage
  • Terraform Kubernetes installer—creates a Kubernetes Cluster on Linode Cloud infrastructure using the ContainerLinux operating system. It takes advantage of the Linode regional private network, and comes with cluster enhancements 
  • Kubernetes Addon—uses automatic Linode NodeBalancers provisioning for LoadBalancer services and status reporting (allows resources to be rescheduled)
  • The Docker Volume Driver—supports use of Docker commands for provisioning, attaching, and detaching volumes to containers (Volumes can be eliminated automatically when not being used)

DigitalOcean

DigitalOcean uses the name “droplet” (a reference to ocean) to describe the virtual private servers they offer. Their General Purpose Droplet is designed for critical applications, including e-commerce sites, medium-sized databases, high-traffic servers, and Software as a service (SaaS). They offer a variety of CPU-optimized Droplets with themes ranging from video encoding and machine learning to working with massive NoSQL databases. Here are some of the tools they offer:

  • NGINXConfig—used to configure nginx servers, easily (NGINX is an open-source software designed for web serving, caching, load balancing, reverse proxying, media streaming, and more)
  • DNS Lookup—provides instant results for domain searches
  • Bandwidth calculator—estimates a Droplets’ bandwidth allowance with DigitalOcean
  • Glob tool—tests globs quickly and easily with sets of test strings
  • JavaScript minify tool—reduces JavaScript source code using an interactive web interface designed for Terser
  • SPF explainer—explains a domain’s SPF records and will search a domain and examine its records or evaluate IPs for sending mail
  • Open API—integrates with existing workflows and tooling, seamlessly. This makes it easy to develop, update, and manage a cluster
  • Full Kubernetes API—creates a control plane when creating a Kubernetes cluster and provides an endpoint for the kubectl CLI

Linode vs. DigitalOcean on Kubernetes 

Kubernetes is a very useful tool and is offered by both DigitalOcean and Linode. Both use version v1.17, though the tools used to work with Kubernetes differ. DigitalOcean uses droplets to build nodes, while Linode uses nodes from the dedicated, standard, or high-memory ranges. Regardless of method, both Linode and DigitalOcean work well with Kubernetes containers.

Linode Kubernetes Engine

Clusters can be created easily by way of the web interface, CLI or API, or terraform. Basic graphs per instance (IPv6 and IPv4 network traffic, CPU, and Disk I/O) are supplied by their Longview analysis package (deployed on all Kubernetes nodes). Linode’s node pools can be constructed of nodes from the standard, dedicated, or high memory ranges. 

There is no cluster (or node) autoscaling nor any cluster upgrades, and there are no node patches or upgrades. There are, however, automatic control plane patches. There is no managed Docker registry, but they do have a how-to guide for setting one up with their Object Storage as well as the Docker registry Helm chart. 

Linode does not offer a Kubrnetes dashboard, though a Kubernetes Web UI Dashboard can be installed by working with a kubectl proxy on the cluster. 

DigitalOcean Kubernetes Service

The DigitalOcean Kubernetes Service also uses Kubernetes v1.17, and new clusters can be built with web interfaces, CLI, API, and terraform. The node pools can be built from General Purpose Droplets and a variety of CPU-optimised Droplets (these can be mixed and matched to fit different workloads and projects). A cluster-autoscaler is offered for dynamically sized node pools. Clusters come with a CNI plugin, a Kubernetes dashboard, and automatic patches within maintenance windows 

DigitalOcean’s cloud controller manager, CSI plugin, and cluster-autoscaler are all open source and can be found on GitHub. They offer excellent documentation and how-to tutorials and explain how to configure load balancers, how to add block storage, etc.

General Purpose Droplets support a fairly spacious memory and can scale applications, such as blogs and testing.

Location, location, location

A primary consideration, in terms of speed, is the location of their data centers. The farther away from a data center an organization is, the longer it takes to communicate back and forth. The locations of DigitalOcean’s and Linode’s data centers are listed below:

DigitalOcean has thirteen data centers located in eight cities. Their data centers are located in:

  • London
  • San Francisco (3)
  • Singapore
  • New York (3)
  • Amsterdam (2)
  • Frankfurt
  • Toronto
  • Banglore

Linode has eleven data centers located around the world:

  • London
  • Atlanta
  • Sydney
  • Fremont
  • Toronto
  • Mumbai
  • Newark
  • Singapore
  • Dallas
  • Tokyo
  • Frankfurt

Difficult Choices

Linode and DigitalOcean are both cloud infrastructure providers with many similarities. Both companies offer several related services, such as object storage and Kubernetes. Comparing the two providers and making a decision is not easy.  

Linode has successfully satisfied its customer base with multiple products and services, from GPU or CPU to high memory requirements. In comparison, developers can manage DigitalOcean easily through their best-in-class web interface, and they have an uptime guarantee of 99.99%. Compared to the Google Cloud Platform or AWS, both Linode or DigitalOcean are much easier to work with, whether for storing files or spinning up a server.

TechnologyAdvice can help in making this decision.