On the last AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas Amazon introduced several new products. One of them is Lightsail – a simply priced solution dedicated to VPS fans. But is it really Digital Ocean killer?

Amazon Lightsail

You may wonder what’s the difference between a regular EC2 instance and Lightsail?

First: the price. Lightsail is flat priced (nearly, more on this later) and it’s definitely cheaper.

Second: simplicity – you can only choose from one region (at least for now, this is Amazon’s usual strategy when introducing new products), and you can only use already supplied server images.

You also get some form of Route53 (up to 3 domains, DNS requests over 3 millions per month cost extra), and few prebuild images with apps like WordPress. There is no VPC, so from network point of view it’s the Classic EC2. With Lightsail you’ll also get a pre-paid traffic of few TB (depending on the price plan).

Is it Digital Ocean, Linode, etc. killer?

The pricing and specification is strangely similar to Digital Ocean offering, but with the pricier models DO is definitely more powerful than same-priced Lightsail.

In the $80 option, Linode is the strongest option, and Lightsail is the worst one. Both competitors also provide real flat price without hidden charges (like the DNS charge or extra $0.005/hour for unused Elastic IP), which it can came as an unpleasant surprise to someone who doesn’t understand Amazon pricing model.

You’ll also get custom reverse DNS from them – an option unavailable in AWS. Extra transfer after what’s included in the package is exhausted is four and a half times pricer in AWS than it is in DO and Linode ($0.09/GB and $0.02/GB)

When to choose Amazon Lightsail

  • if you’re interested in using other services from AWS
  • if you already have VPS somewhere else and want to diversify
  • if you’re already an AWS customer and want an option cheaper than EC2 for small hosting

When not to choose Amazon Lighsail

  • if you just want a flat priced / cheap VPS
  • if you don’t want to spend time learning how Amazon pricing works
  • if you require a custom reverse DNS
  • if you plan to use more transfer than included and want to pay less for extra
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