How do you manage infra costs when you're still small?

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Hi fellow Indie Hackers and Bootstrappers. I've been wondering how a solo developer who is trying build a product to quit his day job manages all the infra costs during the initial days of their product?

I want to build a SaaS product. But, at this point I'm not even sure if this is going to take off and I don't want to end up loosing a lot of money for infra. Looking at AWS costs makes me nauseated. Is there any other platform which gives free services for some period of time? How did you guys manage during your initial days?

Any inputs are really appreciated!

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Hey Sunil,

Give DigitalOcean a try. I built multiple projects there and the easy a use was a big plus even when I was new to CS.

  • pretty easy to install and get started
  • It is an Indian Tax complaint (GST) service
  • you have a complete estimate of your costs
  • documentation is pretty solid
  • they setup meetups in Bangalore
  • have servers located in Bangalore
  • provide CDN service as well
  • might have recently introduced a dedicated customer service (you should check)
 

Question: What if I want the server in US? Do they force me to use Indian data center just because I am in India?

 

No, you can choose your data-centers located in USA, UK and Singapore.

 

In the same boat as you it seems - side projects to see how far they can go.

I guess the short answer is "free tier". I'm using some combination of the following, all free.

  • AWS, Azure for hosting, Lambdas/Function Apps (not free, but really low pay-as-you-use)
  • Firebase for data persistence
  • CircleCI for builds
  • GitHub (now free private repos)
  • TravisCI for open source, if that's your thing.

I guess it depends on how heavy your initial baseline compute requirements are ... you can start on Free tier stuff and then scale up to paid once you get customers?

 
 

I've faced this problem while building my SaaS product MFY.im

Static files

Use Netlify if need to deploy some static applications like ReactJS. It's free up to a certain bandwidth

Raw VMs

If you want raw VMs, go for DigitalOcean, which will cost you only $5 per month (lowest plan). On the other side, AWS and Google Cloud gives you 1 year free VM (just one)

Serverless

Most the cloud providers like AWS, GC, Azure provide serverless functions which provide up to 1 million free requests. That's more than enough

Google App Engine Standard

Google App Engine (standard) lets you deploy a full VM, but the server will be active only if there are requests coming in. If you're not receiving huge traffic, this should be a good option

Startup credit

Almost all cloud providers now offer startup credit which will be around $3000-$10,000 for a year. You could apply for that one too

DigitalOcean - my favorite

If you're just getting started, I would recommend DigitalOcean. It's the cheapest among all cloud providers

 

As I’ve been trying and failing to build a successful side project over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that any option you choose is good enough for the start. Just to mention a few:

  • a 5$ server from DigitalOcean or similar
  • free/hobby Heroku dynos
  • free tier in any of the cloud providers (either using β€œregular” services or going serverless)
  • mBaaS (Firebase or similar)

Of course, if you have some experience in using any of this, it should probably be your choice so that you can spend time building the actual project instead of messing with the infrastructure.

 

Ansible + Terraform + Billing Alerts. These three things are big helps to control what resources are used, how, for what reason. Then Billing alerts notify when expenses reach projected levels. This has saved others, it has saved me, and it can save you; from leaving resources running and payig through the nose for it.

Also, AWS has a 'free tier' for the first year. It amounts a a server computer, small database server, and basic file storage.

 

Get AWS Credits by joining an online incubator

If you were to join StartupSchool which is an online incubator and is free to join you can get $1000 USD in AWS Credits which should for a small startup last you the full year. There are various other online incubators so it not super hard to get free credits to start working with.

Serverless on AWS is nearly free

If you have more time than money than Serverless architecture is free, ApiGateway, CloudFront, AWS Lambda, even SSL integration with Amazon Certification Manager is free where your usage you can have 1000 of users and maybe you will see a bill in the cents not even dollars.

Heroku

If you really want simplicity just deploy to heroku, it can handle much but it will get the job done.

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Sunil Kumar profile image
A passionate programmer. I love building new things.