When it comes to quickly setting up, managing and destroying server resources, DigitalOcean has really changed the paradigm. For example, we can set up a server in under 5 minutes for a tiny fraction of the cost we would otherwise need to pay to a hosting provider like GoDaddy or Bluehost - albeit without all the bells and whistles of a managed setup with cPanel access. DigitalOcean has also commoditized services like Load Balances which have traditionally been notoriously difficult to manage and configure.
So it's no surprise that their latest product in beta - "Spaces" aims to address yet another facet of server and project management - space to store unstructured data.
Why use FTP when you can use Spaces?
A company or a project often needs to have a central repository of a whole bunch of unstructured data. This is different from a database or the code needed for a server side application. For that, we need to use specialized data storage with unique requirements. I'm talking about stuff like documents, videos, images, presentations, and all other types of unstructured data. We have services like Google Drive for example, that allow enterprises to share documents, and while that's useful, sometimes you don't need all the additional features and the learning curve that goes with it.
DigitalOcean's solution called "Spaces" is literally just that - a space where you can store any kind of file without the complications of individual folder permissions, sharing, collaboration etc. It's basically a substitute for an unstructured FTP folder - except that you don't need to go through all the hassle of creating your own FTP server, managing users and permissions etc. You get a URL and each file can be accessed and downloaded from a browser. Let's take a look at DigitalOcean's Spaces and see how easy it is to set up.
Creating a New Space
When you log into your DigitalOcean account, there'll be a new tab called "Spaces" along with the existing ones on top. Keep in mind that this product is still in beta, so you'll need a beta invitation to check it out. When you click on the new tab, you'll be invited to create a new space:
Next, you need to give your space a name. Keep in mind that this will be incorporated into your final URL so the name has to be in lowercase and can use dashes (-). For now in beta, only the NYC3 region is available.
You can see that you can also manage the default access for the space files. These can be changed for individual items, but for now you can choose to have anyone list the files, or just you.
Taking a look at the pricing, you can see that it's far, far lower than anything a hosting service will offer you. Here's a screenshot:
At $0.02 per GB, that's cheaper than GoDaddy, DropBox, or Box.net. Here's a compact table showing you the comparisons between other online storage services. But the true value comes in the fact that you only pay for what you actually use! Unlike Google Drive and other storage services out there, you don't spend money on space you don't use. Hardly anyone uses up their complete quota of disk space - be in 10GB or 1TB. With DigitalOcean, you're never spending money on what you're not using!
Accessing Files in Spaces
Once your space is created, you can upload files or view current ones using the URL provided as shown here:
Since I chose to allow public listings, I can use the copied URL to open up this file in an incognito tab without an account:
This is a great solution for those who need storage space for unstructured files, but don't want to overcommit to space that they don't use. You can even use access keys to selectively grant access to users and applications, thereby making it a simpler and more viable alternative to FTP!