Most public cloud infastructure and service providers have a concept of credits. Credits are incentives typically given to customers opening up new accounts to attract them to build upon their platform. They allow you you to build, learn and get integrated into providers without have to spend money right from the beginning.
Credit allotments usually are around $5,000 or $10,000 depending on the provider but can be as high as $100,000.
Startup Credits Across Clouds#
One strategy that is often used for especially cost-conscious startups for public cloud infrastructure providers who have the ability to easily move workloads is to receive credits from multiple providers and run workloads across different providers until credits expire across all of them. So for example, a startup may get $10,000 of AWS credits and $10,000 of GCP credits. A subset of customers will run their application on AWS until their $10,000 is completely utilized then migrate to GCP to use up $10,000 worth of credits there to get $20,000 in total free usage.
Typically this is advised against because the operational overhead of running workloads across multiple clouds typically isn't worth it. The use-cases that this tends to work for is for very transferable or ephemeral workloads such as training models on GPUs or running containers with no associated state.
It's important to note that credits typically have a lifecycle tied to them that causes them to expire. Oftentimes this catches customers by surprise. Usually credits are granted on a 1 year basis which means if you have remaining credits that aren't utilized by the expiration term, they're automatically removed from your account. It's important to keep track of your credit expiration dates as to not be caught off-guard.
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