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How to rent and choose a cloud server in Europe

There are hundreds of cloud service providers in Europe and it is not an easy task to understand all the different offers. You will need to identify the main criteria and know the pitfalls you can fall into when choosing a cloud server.

We have collected data on more than 20 major providers and prepared a checklist to help you to choose the best one for you.

Сloud server solves many customer problems: now your company no longer depends on wear and tear of physical equipment, receives new opportunities for IT infrastructure scaling and staff expansion with no local limitations, as well as a boost for business development. Most often, companies rent cloud servers to make use of their key advantages: scalability, business flexibility, rapid adaptation to changing needs.

A cloud server is created or started using an accessible and scalable pool of cloud provider’s resources. The main parameters (RAM amount, capacities and types of disks) are set at the startup and can be changed during operation — in some cases with no need to stop the system.

The following restrictions are associated with virtual server rental. A virtual server (VPS/VDS) provides some of the resources of physical machines with limited functionality. When renting cloud resources from a provider, the control panel of the entire virtual infrastructure (virtual switches, routers, firewalls, resource pool) is available.

All cloud hosts are divided into those providing virtual machines:

  • with fixed parameters, limited resources and lacking flexibility. Any changes to them require a complete restart and transfer to a new virtual machine.  The cost of such hosting is low;
  • with flexible parameters, relatively unlimited pool of resources, ability to run any number of virtual machines with the right number of cores, disks, subsystems available. At the same time, their cost grows proportionally.

In the cloud with a control panel, the customer gets access to the hypervisor and can configure it on the fly. It runs and supports various virtual machines that emulate the operation of individual servers, including OS, BIOS, HDD, RAM and peripherals.

When the customer rents a cloud server, they manually configure the virtual machines and redistribute resources between them. You can allocate the first one for the application server, the second one for the database, the third one for the corporate website, the fourth one for office applications, etc.

Cloud server rental means that you get mobile, automated and secure services with minimal risk of data loss. The main cloud renting companies are online stores, medium-sized companies (up to 250 computers). The important corporate data is placed in the cloud environment to ensure easy access to it.

Main virtualisation technologies

Most service providers rely on a limited set of virtualisation technologies. The most popular virtualisation options are hardware related. A guest operating system is installed on the server and isolated virtual machines running on their own OS are created. All systems emulate, that is, work as if they were connected to physical hardware.


A solution from Microsoft that is used mainly for Windows virtual machines and Azure cloud platform, although it supports both Linux and CentOS.

It has been actively used since 2008.  There are two versions of the hypervisor: a separate product, Hyper-V Server (free and providing full hypervisor functionality but having limited or disabled Windows services functions), and a role-based hypervisor for Windows Server with advanced functionality available to Windows OEM partners.

There are 4 versions of the server operating system; they are suitable for various tasks and loads, from small businesses to data centers. It has minimal equipment requirements.

VPS with Hyper-V is the most expensive solution on the market, it competes only with VMWare. Therefore, it is most often used only for large projects.


Unlike Hyper-V, it is a free and open-source virtualisation system designed for Linux-based virtual machines. It runs with any OS and supports a wide range of processors.

It has been available since 2007. It does not directly emulate, the procedure is performed via a guest virtual machine. It is used to emulate devices and as a front-end part. Its performance is comparable to that of Xen. It is a little less stable and reliable than Hyper-V but it also costs less.

KVM for Windows offers a free trial month.  For VPS with KVM, many tariffs are available depending on the configuration of the virtual machine.


The main competitor of the solution from Microsoft and the largest developer of virtualisation software. It has been on the market since 1996. It was VMWare that developed the first reference type of server virtualisation. They offer a finished product with virtualisation tools that can be accompanied with other solutions from the vendor.

VMware exceeds Hyper-V in performance but loses in terms scalability. It often turns out to be a more profitable solution at a comparable price (from an economic point of view). It is supported by almost every OS. It offers many packages and their editions for virtualisation designed for different types of tasks: for data centers, cloud management, IaaS, virtualisation of PCs and applications, etc. There are free product options.

It allows you to easily manage all the features in the paid version but even the limited free version is enough to independently create VPS/VDS on physical servers. KVM management is more complicated because access to files, processes and console is configured separately and is not transparent from the start.


A cross-platform open-source solution (like KVM) that has been on the market since 2003. Offers both free and paid server consolidation products.

Their technology extends the functionality of virtual machines. It is less popular and convenient than Hyper-V but has a higher level of security. Unlike KVM, it can support many connected machines and perform backups.

It provides stable operation of virtual machines under Linux. Its installation is not the easiest task because it requires recompilation of the host system kernel. It has a paravirtualisation mode that provides high performance (like the real hardware) and minimalistic hypervisor functions with the rest of the functionality transferred to the application level.

Open Stack

A free IaaS platform for cloud computing with many modules to automate routine system administration tasks. It was created as a joint project in 2010.

It is designed to support maximum automation of hypervisors, flexible design and deployment, work with customer-oriented APIs with the ability to scale, use resources as services.  All modules are run in containers for maximum flexibility and reliability. Since the platform does not require a specific type of hypervisor, it is easily installed on top of any solutions.

The main disadvantage is that the only supported guest platform is Linux OS.  You can manage the server from your personal account by simply adding the necessary resources. You can also switch to other tariffs with similar virtualisation settings.

We have analysed 20+ European providers to help you avoid common pitfalls and choose a decent service provider even in complicated cases like discontinued equipment. Our checklist is available below.

Features and benefits of cloud servers

In terms of functions, a cloud server has the same capabilities as a physical one plus a number of additional advantages.

High resilience and security

Physical servers that serve as a basis for clouds are located in data centers with multi-level information protection. A cloud server also has greater reliability than a physical one — it runs from several nodes located on fault-tolerant equipment. When one node fails, the load is instantly redistributed to other resources, thereby ensuring uninterrupted operation.

Flexible settings and control

Choosing a cloud server for rent means working with the usual operating system for deployment and a convenient control panel. The server restart/reinstallation, snapshots, scheduled updates are managed through the personal account. The flexibility of the network configuration allows to connect to the server through the emergency console of the personal account for recovery in case of loss of network access.

No need to purchase server software licenses. This reduces your operating expenses by switching to a monthly lease of licenses from a service provider.


Any cloud server resource can be rapidly extended/reduced.  A cloud provides almost unlimited resources allowing you to operate and store any amount of data. This is important when it is necessary to add more resources in the short term. As soon as they are not necessary, the resources return to the provider and the customer does not pay for them.

Scalability is an advantage that saves businesses. The ability to increase and decrease your capacity without heavy investments in expensive equipment, paying only for used resources can literally save you in a period of instability. Economic changes force companies to optimise their staff lists. If you work with physical servers, the rental fee will not depend on the number of workplaces, which means no savings. Virtual servers make it easy to reduce power and optimise the financial model.

Pavel Sabirjanov

Qualification level of technical specialists

It is easier and faster for administrators to learn how to manage cloud servers that do not require many configurations and manual work. You can order the necessary architecture and services with a single click in your personal account. Backup becomes a simple and transparent process.

How to choose a provider for renting a cloud server

It is important to start with your business tasks, to take into account the prospects for development and the benefits of cloud hosting. If your company already has a private cloud, then it makes sense to choose a provider that uses the same platform, hypervisor and virtualisation technology.

Particular attention has to be paid to the proposed functionality. Make sure that cloud servers are rented but not VPS/VDS. Otherwise, the advantages of the cloud solution will be negated in terms of scaling and transferring data when switching to another tariff. This is a common pitfall when you choose to rent a cloud server at a low cost.

To deploy cloud infrastructure in Europe, choose a convenient location. For example, there is the largest Internet hub in Frankfurt (Germany) with convenient conditions for customers. To select the best option for renting a cloud server, you need to contact the provider.

The choice of hardware specifications — storage type, disk speed, processor type and speed — is always up to the customer. The provider can offer ready-made solutions for various tasks, for example, at the level of cloud modules with high-frequency processors, etc.

This helps to reduce costs, increase access speed, improve user experience with fast loading of applications and pages. All European data centers have a high level of security, reliability and compliance with GDPR rules.

How to choose a provider for renting a cloud server

Benefits of renting a cloud server

If you roughly calculate the cost of renting a cloud server for five years and buying a physical one in a similar configuration and take into account its depreciation, the cloud option will seem to be more expensive. In fact, it is not.

The direct comparison does not take into account the costs of a huge package of additional works that are required for design and maintenance, organisation of data storage system, purchase of network equipment (including backup), electricity costs, salaries of specialists, software licensing, operating costs and downtime when replacing components and performing maintenance and repair. When renting a cloud, the provider takes care of all the work and costs.  Any parameters can be quickly changed in a cloud, but a physical server will have to be done from scratch with financial investments, which means losing time and money due to equipment downtime during the upgrade.

How to select a cloud service in Europe. Top five providers.

Download the checklist with the best deals and prices from industry leaders.

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How to select a cloud service in Europe. Top five providers.

Download the checklist with the best deals and prices from industry leaders.

Sending, please wait...

As a result, a cloud solution can be two to three times cheaper than purchasing physical equipment. A cloud server for rent turns capital expenses into operating expenses, improves financial reporting and makes business more attractive to investors.

We compared more than 20 providers: we paid attention to consumer appeal of cloud server rental, interaction convenience, importance of calculating operating costs before moving to a data center and problems with a complex coordination system. To take advantage of our study and get a list of questions to providers, download the checklist.

Article author

Pavel Sabirjanov

network engineer and a consultant in network design, escalation support, network administration, and systems administration

Case study:How to move to a new data center with minimal costs by leasing equipment?

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