How containers change cloud bills

VM = planned costs

At present, using the cloud - at least at the infrastructure level - mostly means virtual machines (VMs). VMs have specific configurations just like physical machines, though on the ElasticHosts platform the config is decided by the users themselves. These configurations don't shrink or grow unless specifically changed by users when VMs are shut down.

This forces cloud users to plan ahead with provisioning VMs and it has a positive side effect: the costs are completely planned too. ElasticHosts customers save 50% by committing to a monthly plan over hourly burst pricing.

The other kind of cloud servers: containers

Elastic Containers are our auto-expanding servers which we introduced to our platform back in 2014 (you can learn more about them here). Their signature attribute is they don't have fixed configurations (CPU, memory) like virtualisation based servers, instead use up as much resource as they need at a given moment. This can change from minute to minute, thus the cost of running a container also changes fluidly with the load.

The huge benefit of this is that users don't over-provision cloud containers and only pay for what they use.

The running costs are fluid, but not completely out of control: users can set a cap on CPU and RAM for each container, hence on their bills.

Using prepay credits is a very fitting way to pay for containers: as time passes, the running costs are subtracted from the credits. It means zero commitment and a true pay-as-you-go experience. For containers which run only infrequently or often have near-zero load, this is a perfect and cost-effective solution.

However, containers maintaining a steady load will benefit from a mixed solution. Purchase a monthly plan to cover the foreseeable load that will hit your container, and keep your prepay balance topped up to cover any burst use. This will ensure you pay only for what you use and at the lowest possible price.


Let's take a Cloud Container in the London West zone and look at its 30-day CPU usage. To keep it simple, we'll assume that the container uses the same amount of CPU during each day. E.g. The CPU usage is 1000 MHz throughout the first day, 3000 MHz through the second day, etc. See the CPU usage in a graph:

How much do you pay for this CPU usage cost with different payment methods?

  1. Monthly plan only: If you want to guarantee all of your costs ahead of time, you need to buy a plan for the highest CPU value the Cloud Container takes during the 30 days. In this case, this means 3000 MHz and the plan will cost £10.80.

  2. Prepay credit only: If you want to pay entirely for usage, the funds will be deducted every hour from your prepay balance for the CPU that you have consumed during that period. In the example, this would reduce the cost to £9.36 over the 30 days.

  3. Combined payment: you can save even more if you combine the two payment methods; subscribe for the amount of CPU your server is very likely to use most of the time, and let the usage above that be billed against your prepay balance.

  • If you subscribe for 500 MHz, the monthly plan will cost £1.80 while the hourly burst will cost £5.76. The total cost will be £7.56.
  • If you subscribe for 1000 MHz, the monthly plan will cost £3.60 while the hourly burst will cost £2.88. The total cost will be £6.48.

As this example shows, you can save up to 40% of your container costs by finding the right combination of payment methods. We encourage everyone to take a closer look at their containers' resource usage after every 2-3 months and adjust their monthly plans accordingly.

Containers are the future

The incredible cost-effectiveness is just one reason why containers are the future of the cloud. Containers also have better performance (no hypervisor overhead), are faster to deploy, scale vertically and need less admin work. If you haven't before, give it a try!

As always, if you have any question, please leave a comment or talk to our 24x7 support team.

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