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This article was published on October 2, 2010

AirVM simplifies cloud hosting then bills it by the hour. This could change the game.

AirVM simplifies cloud hosting then bills it by the hour. This could change the game.
Brad McCarty
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Brad McCarty

A music and tech junkie who calls Nashville home, Brad is the Director TNW Academy. You can follow him on Twitter @BradMcCarty. A music and tech junkie who calls Nashville home, Brad is the Director TNW Academy. You can follow him on Twitter @BradMcCarty.

In the cloud hosting world, there are only a few choices. The big ones, such as Amazon and Rackspace, are what normally come to mind for a couple of reasons. To start, they were some of the first big players in a game that still hasn’t fully developed all of the rules. Second, they truly do offer great services. In order to compete, upstart cloud hosting providers really have to work to stand out from the crowd. AirVM has found a way to do exactly that.

I had a chance to talk with Joshua N. Vautour, the brain behind AirVM and I was truly impressed with what he’s trying to do. First, Vautour realizes that the cloud hosting market is confusing. Second, he sees the market as being more expensive than it needs to be. Bearing these two things in mind, Vautour went to work.

Most people in the tech space are familiar with how to set up and manage a hosting account through traditional means. Front end programs such as cPanel and Plesk make that exceedingly easy. But cloud hosting has quickly shown itself to be a realm of confusion. AirVM has designed a simple system for setting up and managing your cloud services, and that starts with the control panel:

The first thing you’ll likely notice is that each of your services is broken down by a box. The expanded first box gives us an in-depth look at an individual server. You can see in the bottom right corner exactly what it is costing you per hour (yes, per hour, and we’ll talk about that in a moment) and then prominently across the top  you see an overview of your monthly costs and remaining time.

So now, about that per-hour billing. As I said, AirVM was also looking to solve the issue of billing that is simply too expensive to make cloud services a viable option for many people. If you have a blog, for instance, that typically only gets 20-30k page views monthly, the bottom end of AirVM’s services will suit you just fine. But let’s say that you decide to post something that manages to catch vast attention – you can simply upgrade your services with a couple of clicks, and you’ll only be charged per hour that you stay at that level. Once the traffic is gone, you can easily scale back down without added cost or contract.

Setting up an AirVM resource is also equally as easy. You have a choice between Linux or Windows-based VM’s, without considerable added cost for the Microsoft versions. In fact, instead of charging a licensing fee, your per-hour rate simply gets bumped up to cover the incurred cost. You can configure the CPU cores, guaranteed processing, RAM, storage and even 32 or 64 bit architecture, just as you would with any other server:

I don’t want to run the risk of simply sounding like a commercial for AirVM, so I have to tell you about a couple of negatives for the service as well. First, there are no European-based servers as of yet. That’s a pretty limiting factor for this Ottawa, Ontario-based company. However, Vautour assures me that AirVM is profitable and isn’t going away anytime in the foreseeable future.

The other potential negative is in the competition. While there might not be more budget-conscious choices out there, the cloud world is moving up fast and AirVM is going to have to remain nimble in order to compete. So far, though, that hasn’t been a problem. I’ve honestly never seen a better-looking or easier to use control panel and billing setup than what AirVM offers.

Is AirVM the right choice for everyone? It’s not likely. But it is absolutely the right choice for many, and that “many” should continue to grow as AirVM does. I can tell you, first hand, that Vautour is passionate about what he does, and that AirVM’s service seems to reflect that passion. If you’ve ever considered moving to the cloud, AirVM needs to be on your list.