What is Amazon Lightsail?


Amazon Lightsail is the newest member of the AWS Compute family. It has been less than a year since the cloud giant introduced this new service, having made it official on November 30, 2016 during Reinvent 2016.

In response to increasing competition from other web hosting providers, particularly those that offered affordable Virtual Private Servers(VPS). These were ideal for developers to run their websites and build their cloud applications on.

And this is exactly what Lightsail promises — easily accessible VPS at predictable costs.

Let’s take a look at this latest offering from Amazon Web Services in detail, and find out what it offers.

What is Amazon Lightsail?

Think of Lightsail as an effort from Amazon to offer virtual private servers to its customers, starting at the very attractive entry level of $5 a month. Unlike AWS, where pricing and customization can quickly become complicated for cloud users, Lightsail keeps things light and simple for users.

In fact, Amazon claims that customers can get started with just three clicks.

This simplicity is what defines this latest offering from Amazon, which many see as a logical step for the cloud giant to expand their footprint among developers. This VPS solution is easy to get started, but is there for users when they need to scale, offering them the full power of the AWS ecosystem when they are ready to expand.

The Lightsail idea

Before the cloud took over, users rented servers from hosting companies. They still do, but now the focus has shifted towards their virtualized descendants like DigitalOcean, Bluehost, Linode, and Vultr to name a few. These companies have built highly successful businesses providing remote servers for developers, websites, and small and medium businesses that are in need of internet services, but don’t need to go the datacenter or public cloud route.

Of the names above, DigitalOcean has stood out, as it found a massively underserved niche of developers that wanted to spend as little time and money as possible to bring their ideas to life. AWS is an excellent solution for cloud workloads of medium to large scales, but the platform starts becoming complicated and intimidating the smaller you go.

DigitalOcean found incredible success by selling to this different market of individual developers.

They offered them an affordable solution to go from idea to deployment at a low cost, without navigating the confusing AWS control panel, working through the dizzying array of settings and options, while also getting access to an extremely active and vibrant community.

This move to launch Lightsail appears to be a direct attack on DigitalOcean, and several other small companies like it.

And in many ways, it is.

But in reality, Lightsail is much more than Amazon offering a low-cost VPS solution like these other providers. It is a rethinking of the AWS setup process and tools that users are provided access to. It may not be as flexible as the regular cloud storage and computing services that AWS offers, but it does make cloud a lot friendlier to beginners.

This is Amazon showing that it, too, can do simple, and it shows in all areas of the Lightsail — from the friendly and inviting website that Amazon created separately for this service to the user interface, the packages and feature set of this new offering. Lightsail may have been created as a response to companies like DigitalOcean, but it promises much for users that want access to a simple cloud.

We’ll be taking a look at the features of Lightsail, how it compares to other VPS services, and how exactly it is different from EC2 in future articles.