Cloud computing provider DigitalOcean is now growing faster than Amazon Web Services. Our December 2013 Web Server Survey showed a month-on-month gain of 6,514 web-facing computers at DigitalOcean; Amazon, meanwhile, grew by an almost as huge 6,269 web-facing computers. Together, the two companies accounted for more than a third of the internet-wide growth in web-facing computers in December.
DigitalOcean is now the 15th largest hosting company in terms of web-facing computers — a remarkable feat considering DigitalOcean had only 280 web-facing computers at the start of this year. Although Amazon is still the largest hosting company (by web-facing computers) and has nearly six times as many web-facing computers in total, the rapid growth at DigitalOcean may have startled those at Amazon who thought their major competitors were Microsoft Azure and Rackspace.
Whilst DigitalOcean competes directly with Amazon EC2, there are a number of Amazon Web Services which do not have a DigitalOcean equivalent. For example, Amazon offer file storage (S3), load balancing (Elastic Load Balancing), and a Content Delivery Network (CloudFront). However, by simplifying their offering — lack of support for Microsoft Windows is notable — and not offering enterprise features, DigitalOcean appeals to users with straightforward requirements such as small businesses and developers.
The cheapest virtual computer ("droplet") at DigitalOcean uses solid state storage and costs less than one cent per hour, about a third of the price of Amazon's cheapest on-demand instance. Unsurprisingly, such competitive pricing is attracting a large number of completely new customers as well as enticing other hosting companies' customers to switch to DigitalOcean.
Sites migrating from Amazon to DigitalOcean
818 existing websites migrated from Amazon to DigitalOcean this month, whereas only 88 sites moved in the opposite direction. Although the difference seems significant, the largest gains at DigitalOcean actually consist of new sites: DigitalOcean is currently hosting 490,000 websites, 120,000 of which were not present in last month's survey as per the Netcraft December 2013 Hosting Provider Switching Analysis.
DigitalOcean growth trends and a timeline of events can be viewed at http://trends.netcraft.com/www.digitalocean.com
Posted by Paul Mutton in Hosting
|Metric||Sep 2012||Mar 2013||Jun 2013||Jul 2013||Aug 2013||Sep 2013|
TLD share by domains of websites at Aliyun in September 2013
- 从海外访问中国境内的网站有时不够顺畅 - 从英国发送到阿里云官方网站的数据包往返几乎要耗时半秒钟，而从美国访问的效果也没有好很多。在过去20天，有多达4%的来自荷兰的访问请求都以失败告终。
- 很多中国主机服务提供商只支持中文。以阿里云为例，无论是官方网站、控制面板还是技术支持，中文都是其唯一的语言。不过，亚马逊云对中文的支持也几乎一样有限 - 只有首页有中文版。
Performance of www.aliyun.com from a Netcraft performance collector located in the Netherlands
China, the world's largest trading nation in 2012, has long been a desirable location for outsourcing labour and services, even within the technology and IT sector where it is not far behind India. The growth of cloud computing providers in Europe and the United States — particularly Amazon and DigitalOcean — may foretell cloud computing infrastructure becoming a commodity and outsourced to the cheapest provider.
The ever-increasing number of internet users in China (591 million at the end of June 2013) requires the development of home-grown internet infrastructure: hosting web applications and other content within a target user's own country typically speeds up requests and improves reliability. The number of internet users in China is greater than either the United States or Europe.
Stratospheric growth in Chinese cloud hosting
Although the number of web-facing computers in China has grown by 8.3% over the last year — the majority of this growth has occurred within the cloud hosting market. Aliyun (云, pronounced 'yun', is the Chinese word for cloud) is the largest cloud computing provider in China in terms of the number of web-facing computers, and remarkably, Aliyun now has six times more web-facing computers than it did a year ago, reaching a total of 17,934 in September 2013. Worldwide, only the cloud computing giant Amazon gained a greater number of web-facing computers.
Although China's cloud computing infrastructure is still in its infancy, Aliyun's future looks particularly promising, as it is owned by the Alibaba Group. This group is the largest hosting provider in China, features within the top 30 hosting providers worldwide, and has already established a strong internet presence with its better known e-commerce platforms, Taobao and Alibaba.com. Aliyun now makes up almost 92% of the web-facing computers at Alibaba Group.
|Metric||Sep 2012||Mar 2013||Jun 2013||Jul 2013||Aug 2013||Sep 2013|
Indigenous market and the Great Firewall of China
Despite the strong growth of the Chinese cloud hosting market, most of the growth seen by Netcraft is hosting sites aimed at the Chinese market. Hosting content as close to the end-users as possible increases the performance of the web site, and this effect is particularly prominent in China: internet traffic crossing the border can sometimes appear to be slow, unstable, or even blocked, perhaps as a side-effect of blocks enforced by the Golden Shield Project (also known as the Great Firewall of China). In September 2013, more than half of the domains of websites hosted at Aliyun were in the .cn TLD, around 41% in .com, whilst domains in other ccTLDs appeared to be very rare. Unlike Amazon's global reach, Aliyun's reach appears to be limited to the local market — at least for the time being.
TLD share by domains of websites at Aliyun in September 2013
Obstacles holding back the Chinese cloud
Using cloud hosting in China could make sense for non-Chinese companies looking to increase their presence in China; however, a number of obstacles remain. These explain why the Chinese cloud is still mostly indigenous, and is likely to remain so for some time:
- Neither the pricing models nor the variety or operating systems are as attractive as those offered by the cheapest non-Chinese cloud hosting companies. Taking Aliyun as an example, its on-demand instances do not support Windows operating systems unless you opt for a 2-core or 4-core CPU, and they are not significantly cheaper than its more established competitors. The cheapest on-demand option at Aliyun is ¥0.27 ($0.04) per hour which buys you a single core, 512MB of RAM, and a 1Mbps internet connection. This is almost twice the price of Amazon's cheapest option and a comparable DigitalOcean instance can be had for just $0.007 per hour. However, as pricing models vary, reserved instances at Aliyun can be cheaper in some circumstances.
- Internet connectivity from outside China can be patchy — packets sent to www.aliyun.com from the United Kingdom take almost half a second to make the journey and back again, and the performance in the United States is not much better. More than 4% of requests to www.aliyun.com from the Netherlands failed during the past 20 days.
- Many Chinese hosting services are only available in the Chinese language. This is the only language available for Aliyun's brochure website, control panel, and technical support. However, Amazon's support for the Chinese language is almost as limited — a single marketing site appears to be the sole Chinese-language site for AWS.
- Some Chinese hosting companies only accept business from Chinese customers. For example, Aliyun's customers are required to have a Chinese mobile phone number in order to receive a verification code to complete the signup process. Customers wishing to buy an on-demand instance at Aliyun must go through an identity verification process, which requires the registrant to be a national of China or one of a few other Asia-Pacific countries, or to represent a Chinese company. Customers must also hold a credit or debit card issued by a Chinese bank compatible with Alipay. Customers must also register with the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology if they wish to associate a domain name with an Aliyun cloud server, but such registration is currently unavailable to foreign enterprises.
Performance of www.aliyun.com from a Netcraft performance collector located in the Netherlands
The current obstacles suggest that the cloud is unlikely to be outsourced to China yet. However, the availability of cloud computers in China is likely to increase to match its rapidly increasing local demand with competition both from local providers like Aliyun and overseas players like Microsoft and Amazon. Microsoft has collaborated with a partner company in China, 21Vianet, in order to bring its Cloud to China, and is making competitive price plans customised for the Chinese market. Perhaps by following this model, other non-Chinese companies such as Amazon could enter the Chinese market, providing local data centres and support to Chinese-speaking customers within the stricter regulatory environment. Equally, if some red tape were cut and network connectivity improved, Aliyun and other Chinese cloud providers could be poised to take a larger share of the global cloud computing market.
Netcraft provides information on the internet's infrastructure, including the hosting industry and web content technologies. For information on the cloud computing industry, please see http://www.netcraft.com/internet-data-mining/.
Is it possible to estimate the revenue of a hosting company based on its public presence — that is, is the number of websites it hosts directly proportional to its market value? By using the market capitalisation (or acquisition purchase price, where appropriate) as a valuation and examining the number of web-facing computers, a striking patterns emerges.
Valuation of a hosting company against the number of web-facing computers found in August 2013.
Blue = "pure" hosting company; Orange = significant other areas of business. The dashed line is based only on pure hosting companies.
†Go Daddy’s valuation is based on its 2011 buyout offer, adjusted for growth in web-facing computers and for inflation.
Amongst the hosting companies examined, there is a fairly strong correlation between the number of web-facing computers and the valuation of the hosting company: the more computers visible at a hosting company, the higher the valuation. Considering only pure hosting companies (without significant other business, marked in blue), the average value per web-facing computer is circa $43,000.
An average company value per web-facing computer on the order of tens of thousands of dollars may seem surprisingly high, but there is, of course, more to it than the cost of a single computer. The number of web-facing computers does not take into account the potentially large number of computers used behind the scenes, which may vary from hosting company to hosting company depending on business model — there are likely to be fewer hidden computers at a shared hosting provider than at a cloud hosting provider.
Even with the same number of web-facing computers, the valuation of a hosting company can vary due to the quality of the physical hardware, the network infrastructure, and also sales and support staff. Most important is the current and future revenue, and hence profit, that each web-facing computer can generate.
This average value per web-facing computer masks a great deal of variation between hosting companies:
Value per web-facing
Value (USD) per web-facing computer. Companies marked with a * have significant other areas of business.
Comparing two competitors in the managed hosting market, Rackspace and Peer1, highlights a significant difference in the valuation based on web-facing computers. Each web-facing computer at Rackspace is valued at twice as much as one at Peer1; perhaps this reflects the value of Fanatical Support and the flexibility of Rackspace's OpenStack-based cloud.
Go Daddy's valuation of $4.1bn is based on a deal in 2011 (adjusted for both inflation and computer growth), which reportedly amounted to $2.25bn for 65% of the company. This valuation is greater than expected from the number of computers at Go Daddy, but this difference could be explained by its equally prominent role as the largest ICANN-accredited domain name registrar.
SoftLayer is in the process of being acquired by IBM, who say the acquisition will strengthen their leadership position in cloud computing and help speed business adoption of public and private cloud solutions. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the deal is speculated to be worth more than $2bn.
The correlation between computers and market value can be used not only to estimate the value of private companies which have never been sold before, but also to estimate the value of the hosting divisions within much larger companies, such as Amazon.
Amazon's market capital stands at around $131bn today, but the majority of its revenue comes from online retailing. A valuation based on computer counting would suggest that its hosting division, Amazon Web Services, could be worth approximately $7.8bn, around 6% of Amazon's entire market value. Based on its Q2 2013 earnings report, Amazon's AWS division (within the Other category) accounted for 5.7% of its total revenue between 1st April and 30th June 2013.
Netcraft has developed a technique for identifying the number of computers (rather than IP addresses) acting as web servers on the Internet, providing an independent view with a consistent methodology on the number of web-facing computers at each hosting location worldwide. For more information, see our Hosting Provider Server Count.
Posted by Paul Mutton in Hosting
[November 2013: Click to view updated graphs and statistics for DigitalOcean]
Cloud hosting startup DigitalOcean has grown extraordinarily over the past six months. In December 2012, DigitalOcean had just over 100 web-facing computers; in June 2013, Netcraft found more than 7,000. DigitalOcean provides SSD-backed virtual computers which are available by the hour. The cheapest droplet, as it refers to virtual computers, costs less than a cent per hour, about a third of the price of Amazon's cheapest option. DigitalOcean claims to be able to provision a new droplet within 55 seconds in one of three locations: New York, Amsterdam (available since January 2012), and San Francisco (April 2013).
|Hosting provider||December 2012||June 2013||Growth||Growth (%)|
|Shore Network Tech (Linode)||54,051||57,701||+3,650||+6.75%|
Fastest growing hosting providers by web-facing computers, December 2012 to June 2013.
Over the last six months DigitalOcean had the fourth largest growth in web-facing computers with only Amazon, Alibaba, and Hetzner ahead of it. DigitalOcean's more than 50-fold growth makes it the 72nd largest hosting provider in the world by web-facing computers, up from 549th in December and 102nd last month. DigitalOcean had the second largest growth of web-facing computers last month — it was one of only five hosting providers to grow by more than 1,000 web-facing computers — and it contributed 10% of the total growth worldwide.
|Previous hosting provider||Net movement to DigitalOcean|
|Shore Network Tech (Linode)||+1,028|
Sites (hostnames) switching to DigitalOcean from notable providers, May 2013 to June 2013
As shown in the table above, websites are migrating to DigitalOcean from its better known competitors; last month almost 1,500 websites moved from Rackspace and 1,000 from Shore Network Tech (Linode). NewsBlur, a news aggregation website, is one of the busiest sites hosted at DigitalOcean. Several websites belonging to the Ruby on Rails project including guides.rubyonrails.org and api.rubyonrails.org are now hosted at DigitalOcean after recently moving from Linode.
Operating System share by web-facing computer at DigitalOcean in June 2013
DigitalOcean provide a number of template images in order to create a droplet, including five Linux distributions: Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian, Arch Linux and Fedora. Of the web-facing computers presenting a distribution-specific server banner, Ubuntu is by far the most popular: over 70% of web-facing computers with an identifiable distribution are using the Debian-derived distribution. Microsoft Windows is conspicuous by its absence; DigitalOcean has postponed plans to support Windows citing complexities including licensing and security concerns.
DigitalOcean — 2012 graduate of the Tech Stars startup accelerator — has had difficulty getting access to a sufficient quantity of IPv4 addresses in Amsterdam which meant that it was uneconomic to provide smaller droplet sizes. In May 2013, DigitalOcean announced the availability of further IP addresses for smaller droplet sizes in Europe, re-enabling the creation of 512MB and 1GB droplets.
Netcraft provides information on the Internet infrastructure, including the hosting industry, and web content technologies. For information on the cloud computing industry visit www.netcraft.com.
In September 2012 Netcraft reported that Amazon had become the largest hosting company in the world based on the number of web-facing computers. In the last eight months, the e-commerce company's tally of web-facing computers has grown by more than a third, reaching 158k. The number of websites hosted on these computers has also increased, from 6.8M in September 2012 to 11.6M in May 2013, a 71% increase.
Although Amazon’s main business is still online retail, Amazon Web Services (AWS), its cloud computing division, has been growing in significance. In Amazon's first quarter of 2013 the Other category (which still includes AWS along with other non-retail activity) was just under 5.0% of its revenue, up from 3.2% at the same point in 2011. The first publicly available AWS service was launched in 2004, but it was not until 2006 that Amazon launched its two core services S3 (data storage) and EC2 (per-hour rental of virtual computer instances). Since then, Amazon has been increasing the number of services provided: in 2012 alone, 159 new services and features were released.
Including its retail infrastructure, the number of web-facing computers at Amazon has grown more than thirty-fold in four years: in May 2009, Netcraft found 4,600 Amazon-controlled web-facing computers; in May 2013, Netcraft found 158k web-facing computers on 164k IP addresses. Netcraft estimates the number of computers behind a group of IP addresses by using a variety of heuristics based on the TCP/IP characteristics seen in the HTTP responses gathered. Hosted on those computers, there are more than 11.6M websites (or hostnames) which corresponds to 2.1M websites with unique content (active sites). Despite being the largest hosting provider by number of web-facing computers, it is dwarfed by Go Daddy, the largest hosting provider when considering the number of websites hosted. Go Daddy has 37M websites on just 23k web-facing computers: the high ratio of websites to web-facing computers may be indicative of Go Daddy's role as a registrar, for which it has a large network of holding pages, and its inexpensive shared hosting platform.
EC2 - Elastic Compute Cloud
EC2, provides on-demand virtual-computer instances billed per hour and is currently available from all nine AWS regions. Each region may correspond to multiple physical data centres which are structured into "Availability Zones". The two largest regions, US East (Northern Virginia) and EU West (Ireland), account for more than three-quarters of all EC2 usage as measured by Netcraft. Sydney, the newest AWS region, now accounts for just under 1% of all measured web-facing computers using AWS, having almost tripled in size in the past four months. In total, more than 156k instances power at least one hostname on 3M domains across the internet.
Launched in 2011, the GovCloud (US) region is specifically intended for more sensitive applications that require additional security and compliance with US regulations. As of May 2013, Netcraft found just 27 web-facing computers within the government cloud, some of which power www.grdregistry.org and www.govdashboard.com. Given its intended role, it would not be surprising if a large proportion of the computers used in the region are not web-facing.
|Metric (EC2 Total)||February 2013||March 2013||April 2013||May 2013||Growth (4 month)|
Many uses of EC2 such as batch data-processing will not be directly measurably over the internet: Netcraft measures publicly visible computers with corresponding DNS entries and which respond to HTTP requests. Netcraft's Web Server Survey is run at Amazon from the Northern Virginia region, so the region may be over-reported due to services like latency based multi region routing which provide differing responses depending on topological location.
Geographic distribution of computers per EC2 region in May 2013
|Data Centre (EC2 - Web Facing Computers)||February 2013||March 2013||April 2013||May 2013||Growth (4 month)|
|Asia Pacific (Singapore)||6,576||6,805||6,998||7,290||10.9%|
|Asia Pacific (Sydney)||499||739||1,129||1,427||186%|
|Asia Pacific (Tokyo)||7,342||7,595||8,065||8,601||17.1%|
|EU West (Ireland)||23,778||24,635||25,326||25,942||9.1%|
|South America (Sao Paulo)||2,115||2,263||2,396||2,655||25.6%|
|US East (Northern Virginia)||87,094||88,543||92,426||93,537||7.4%|
|US West (Northern California)||9,325||9,478||9,715||9,695||4%|
|US West (Oregon)||5,217||5,573||5,965||7,051||35.2%|
S3 - Simple Storage Service
S3 provides an online file storage service which can be managed programmatically via Amazon's API. Files are logically grouped into containers called buckets which can be made public and accessible over HTTP but default to being private. As with EC2, Netcraft cannot track private use of S3 but is able to survey websites using S3 publicly to serve static files and even entire websites.
|Metric (S3 Total)||February 2013||March 2013||April 2013||May 2013||Growth (4 month)|
In May 2013, a total of 139k hostnames were found to be hosted directly on S3, either using a subdomain of s3.amazonaws.com or using a custom CNAME pointing to S3. Of these, 24.7k hostnames, or over 18.5k domains, point to an S3 bucket configured to serve an entire website, as does mediahackers.org. Many more websites are not hosted entirely on S3, but make use of the service to serve static files such as images, stylesheets, or file downloads.
One of the most widely referenced S3 hostnames is used for twitter badges bucket, which was once a common method to display twitter icons on a third-party website. Tumblr, a popular blogging platform recently acquired by Yahoo!, also makes use of S3 to host static media.
CloudFront is a Content Delivery Network which can be used to serve both dynamic and static content from 28 edge locations which are topologically closer to a site's visitors. Caching content reduces the bandwidth and performance requirements on the website's own servers and, by being topologically close to visitors, the latency associated with each HTTP request can be improved.
In the May 2013 survey, more than 63k hostnames were served via CloudFront, more than 60% of which point to an S3 bucket. Amazon uses CloudFront on its own websites, including imdb.com, and also uses it for serving images on Amazon.com. Other than Amazon itself, CloudFront users include: the Toronto Star, a Canadian newspaper, and Pirifrom, the makers of utility program CCleaner, are two of the most visited sites using CloudFront amongst users of the Netcraft Toolbar.
|Metric (CloudFront Total)||February 2013||March 2013||April 2013||May 2013||Growth (4 month)|
The number of CloudFront-dedicated IP addresses and computers cannot be easily measured as different results are obtained depending on the location of the request.
Route 53, is a managed Domain Name System (DNS) hosting service. Route 53, named for the TCP and UDP port used for the protocol, hosts DNS records which map from human-readable hostnames to IP addresses. Integrated with the rest of AWS, it allows programmatic access to change DNS records in response to changes elsewhere in a customer's infrastructure. As with CloudFront, Amazon have servers providing this service in edge locations outside of its 9 EC2 regions; Route 53 is available from 28 separate locations.
|Metric (Route 53 Total)||February 2013||March 2013||April 2013||May 2013||Growth (4 month)|
Over the past four months there has been a steady growth in the number of websites using Route 53 to host their DNS records: it now serves DNS records for 169k domains. Busy sites making use of this service include pinterest.com, a social photo-sharing website which is a heavy user of Amazon's infrastructure; MediaFire, a file uploading and sharing service; and ow.ly a URL shortener.
Heroku is Platform as a Service (PaaS) provider owned by Salesforce. Whilst not operated by Amazon, it makes heavy use of AWS services, especially EC2. Heroku provides an abstracted managed environment for web developers to deploy applications in a number of different languages. In May 2013, Heroku was serving 70K domains directly (not behind a CDN) across 4,786 computers.
|Metric (Heroku total)||April 2013||May 2013||Growth (2 month)|
Heroku, as demonstrated in the results from Netcraft's survey, has been available almost exclusively from the Northern Virginia EC2 region. In April, Heroku announced availability of its service in Europe from the AWS EU West region based in Ireland. Only a limited number of Heroku customers have had access to this region during a private beta phase which explains the currently low uptake: only 1% of the computers attributed to Heroku were in the region.
|IP Addresses||April 2013||May 2013|
|US East (Northern Virginia)||4,374||4,915|
|EU West (Ireland)||33||56|
Netcraft provides information on the Internet infrastructure, including the hosting industry, and web content technologies. For information on the cloud computing industry including Microsoft Azure, Rackspace Cloud, and Google App Engine, please contact email@example.com.