Bottom line: Akamai offers many features you might get from Amazon Web Services, but in a far simpler package and at a comparable price.
Who should choose Akamai? Independent IT workers who need their own infrastructure and IT teams who want to outsource their data center without becoming specialists in Amazon/Google/Microsoft stacks.
What we like about Akamai
- Simplicity: The range of cloud services are straight to the point, and more than sufficient for the vast majority of use cases.
- Documentation: A thorough documentation site and user forums will provide much of the help you might need, although human tech support is also available.
- Full control: When you host your application on Akamai, you have complete control over the server.
- Snapshot backups: You can automate routine snapshotting of your server’s operating system and data.
What fell flat
- You are the sysadmin: With the full control comes complete responsibility for the server. You will be running the system updates and ensuring backups and disaster recovery exist.
- Prices can be higher: The simplicity usually means narrower selection at a higher premium. And unlike AWS the billing is mostly not metered, but instead you just pay a flat monthly fee. You won’t be able to cut costs by periodically switching off servers or pruning your object storage data.
- Somewhat poorer VPS hardware: A shared-CPU Akamai with 4GB RAM showed an AMD CPU model from 2019, while a comparably priced t2.medium EC2 at Amazon ran on an Intel CPU released in 2022. I did not measure a performance difference between the two, but it does seem that Akamai may not update its hardware at the same pace as AWS.
Akamai’s Editorial Review
Akamai is run by a team that believes in making a cloud platform that is the most accessible on the market. This company’s service is most like Microsoft Azure or AWS, but with a far simpler menu of services and options, keeping it to features that are most useful to medium-sized and smaller businesses. Its billing style keeps things plain and obvious.
The main weaknesses of this company tend to be the result of its smaller scale. The smaller range of compute instances means fewer opportunities to fine-tune what you use.
Akamai also identifies strongly with Linux, and every operating system it offers for your virtual hosts will be some flavor of Linux. Customers looking for Windows, macOS, or a Microsoft SQL database will have to look elsewhere.
- Shared CPU VPS (starting at $5 per month)
- Dedicated CPU VPS (starting at $30 per month)
- High Memory VPS (starting at $60 per month)
- GPU VPS (starting at $1,000 per month)
- Straightforward VPS
- Pre-built application servers and community “StackScripts”, ready-made recipes for server setups
- Developer-oriented experience
- Object storage compatible with S3
Plans and Pricing
The cheapest possible Akamai VPS is currently $5 per month and scales up.
Here are some of the Akamai web hosting plan options:
- Shared CPU VPS–starting at $5 per month
- Good for: Small businesses and individuals running any one of a broad range of web applications. Good general-purpose virtual machines.
- Dedicated CPU VPS–starting at $30 per month
- Good for: Small businesses and larger, for applications like e-commerce where consistent performance is required.
- High Memory VPS–starting at $60 per month
- Good for: Medium businesses and up, databases, and websites that make heavy use of caching. High Memory plans also have dedicated CPUs.
- GPU VPS–starting at $1,000 per month
- Good for: Media production, gaming, and other use cases that involve highly parallel compute processes like machine learning, AI, video encoding/transcoding.
Another alternative, which will likely perform a lot better for a high-traffic site even at its starting price of $5 per month, is Object Storage, which mimics Amazon’s S3 service and can similarly be configured to serve up static websites.
You can use Akamai’s cloud pricing calculator to estimate costs for using web hosting.
Akamai excels as an entry-level Infrastructure as a Service provider. Its most notable features include:
Competing cloud providers have a wide array of specialized hardware configurations, but Akamai focuses on a simple menu of general-purpose virtual servers. When it isn’t worth the time and effort sizing to tight specifications, Akamai makes it as easy as possible to get up and running.
I found the management of the virtual servers is simple. You have the option of using SSH to log into them, or a web-based shell called LISH. If you need to modify networking rules or storage, Akamai’s management site keeps all these to a few clicks.
You aren’t stuck with cookie-cutter basics. Akamai also makes scaling up approachable. You can add more virtual servers and distribute traffic with a NodeBalancer.
Akamai’s competitors offer very powerful logging and monitoring tools, but in my experience, Akamai’s is one of the simplest to start using. Just turn on a LongView client, install the agent on your server, and data will start coming into your dashboard.
Application and community StackScripts marketplace
Akamai offers two different methods of starting your new VPS with the application of your choice already set up.
- Marketplace Productivity applications like the project management tool FocalBoard, WordPress, and video game servers like Minecraft are all available in the marketplace. When you choose one of these, your new server comes configured with your chosen application running, and all you need to do is personalize it.
- StackScripts In Akamai lingo, a StackScript is just a script that runs when the new VPS first wakes up. You can create and reuse your own, or you can browse the Community StackScripts tab to find scripts others have written. These can be a convenient way to get started with an application that was not already in Marketplace. Creating and saving your own scripts also gives you the ability to make your specific server setups easily repeatable.
A developer-oriented experience customers rave about
Positive reviews for Akamai often cite the ease of using the platform and the affordable, easy-to-understand billing.
Full control over a VPS allows a developer to do just about anything with the server. Akamai’s administration and monitoring tools also provide detailed insight to its performance and activity levels.
Object storage compatible with S3
The Object Storage service is for storing data that spends most of its time at rest, rather than frequently being written and rewritten. You can interact with the data using the same code or utilities that you would use for AWS S3. It can also be used to host static website assets, or even an entire website if you do not need a dynamic backend like WordPress.
Object Storage pricing begins at $5 per month for the first 250GB, and $0.02 per month for every additional GB.
Akamai setup and teardown of cloud assets is quick and painless and can be done with ease. Additionally, after further research and testing, Akamai’s virtual servers and databases provide performance that appears comparable to AWS.
- Easily managed: I found management of the virtual servers is simple. You have the option of using SSH to log into them, or a web based shell called LISH. If you need to modify networking rules or storage, Akamai’s management site keeps all these to a few clicks.
- Scaling possibilities You aren’t stuck with cookie-cutter basics. Akamai also makes scaling up approachable. You can add more virtual servers and distribute traffic with a NodeBalancer. Akamai also offers Kubernetes clusters, which will let you take three or more Akamais and turn them into a first-class, self-healing platform for any number of services.
- Monitoring Akamai’s competitors offer very powerful logging and monitoring tools, but in my experience, Akamai’s is one of the simplest to start using. Just turn on a LongView client, install the agent on your server, and data will start coming into your dashboard.
For an additional $2 per month, your VPS can benefit from automated backups. With this turned on, snapshots of your VPS will be taken daily and three of them will be available at any given time: the last daily backup, a two to seven day old backup, and an eight to 14 day old backup.
Akamai makes it incredibly easy to contact its support team. You can call separate numbers for a variety of issues: if you are having an attack, need to talk to a sales rep, or if you need technical support.
On top of that, you can email the support team with your queries.
If you want to find what you are looking for on your own, Akamai makes it easy with a community support forum.
Customer support is a strong point, as Akamai responds quickly and in great detail. I was also able to access an IRC channel with community members and staff.
Compare Akamai Alternatives
Here’s an overview of how Akamai compares to alternative web hosts:
Cloud Web Host
Pricing + Basic Plan Features
Starting at $3.60 per month
- 1 website
- 20GB Storage
- Free SSL certificate
Consider AWS if:
You plan on a larger and more complex architecture or wish to leverage its many other offerings
Starting at $3.80 per month
- 1 website
- 10 GB storage
- 32GB database storage
- Free SSL, phpMyAdmin, caching, SSH/SFTP
Consider Microsoft Azure if:
Your organization is already invested in Microsoft platforms or you prefer a Windows server
Starting at $6.11 per month
- 1 website
- 10GB Storage
Consider Google Cloud Platform if:
You believe your project will benefit from Google’s competitive uptime, and its network’s size, speed, and security features
Frequently Asked Questions About Akamai
Who owns Akamai?
Linode, LLC is an American company based out of Philadelphia founded by Christopher Aker in 2003. It was acquired by Akamai (headquartered in Cambridge, MA) in March 2022 for $900 million. Akamai is a content delivery network and cybersecurity provider.
What kind of support does Akamai offer?
Akamai provides a library of guides and tutorials, a community forum for customers, a brief status page that always reflects the current state of Akamai’s services, and a technical support ticketing system to reach its 24/7 customer support team. They will also respond to emails and on a toll-free phone number. Akamai is a frequent winner of Stevie Awards for sales and customer service.
Where are the Akamai servers located?
In North America, Akamai has data centers in Newark, New Jersey; Atlanta, Georgia; Dallas, Texas; Fremont, Calif.; and Toronto, Ontario). It also has locations in Europe and Asia.
How I Rated Akamai
I rated Akamai by using it for three months on a personal project, and comparing its prices and services to competitors I use during normal work. The services offered by Akamai and its competitors are broad and numerous, and often do not neatly overlap, so a comprehensive comparison is not strictly possible. Instead, I focused on the areas most customers are likely to use.
I test web hosts based on the following factors:
- Plan value: What plans are available, and do they offer a good value?
- Ease of use: Is the dashboard easy to navigate?
- Support: How fast can you get help when needed, and is support genuinely helpful?
- Features: What features does the host offer, and how do they compare to similar competitors?
- Security: Does the host offer SSL certificates, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack protection, backup services, and scans for viruses and malware?
- Speed and uptime: Does the provider offer a fast, stable environment for your website? How does it perform in tests, and what kind of servers does the hosting company use?
- Recent improvements: What has the host done lately to update its technology and services?
Learn more about our review methodology.