Cloud Costs and the Bubble Pricing Apocalypse
Earlier this year, the no-code platform Bubble dramatically changed its pricing. Customers were not excited.
Reactions ranged from what you might describe as “defeated acceptance” all the way to white-hot outrage.
On a LinkedIn post by Bubble Co-CEO Emmanuеl Straschnοv announcing the changes, one user replied, “I’m absolutely in favour of price increases. I think Bubble is worth it. But not at these levels. I might be able to afford it in 18 months. Here’s to hoping I can, but very jarring now to see prices increase so astronomically.”
Another user commented, in part, “…For me it isn’t really about the price increase but the break in trust. I trusted them fully when I decided to go with a ‘locked in’ platform…”
Bubble’s new model uses something called “workload” units. These are, essentially, the discreet actions and cloud computations that have to happen for your Bubble app to do something. For example, if your app needs to display a list of items for sale, you’ll need to expend a workload unit to query your database and retrieve the items you want your users to see. The more complex the task, the more workload units you’ll use.
And if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, you might make very expensive mistakes.
Why did Bubble do all this? Its old “capacity” model tended to strain its cloud resources, and if Bubble’s infrastructure slowed down, that meant every Bubble app slowed down, too. Change (and the price increase to support it) had been a long time coming.
But Bubble’s price increases aren’t an isolated incident. Cloud computing costs for everybody building web and mobile apps are rising.
Cloud costs are sky-high
Unless they use on-prem infrastructure exclusively, everyone building apps today relies on at least one cloud provider like AWS (the cloud behind Bubble), Azure, GCP, or Oracle. They often interact with that cloud through another intermediary service provider — SaaS companies like, for instance, Bubble.
The benefit of this is abstraction. In this case, Bubble takes care of a lot of things you’d have to take care of otherwise. Kernels? Kubernetes? What are those? Who cares! That’s what abstraction is for.
But abstraction itself is costly. And because there’s a lot of abstraction going on with SaaS, there’s more money being spent on it than ever before. Flexara’s latest annual “State of the Cloud” survey found that IT managers were more concerned about cloud costs than cloud security for the first time in over a decade of these reports.
The rise of AI will only exacerbate the trend. AI is, you might be able to guess, resource-intensive. SalesForce justified its latest price hikes by citing its new AI-powered services.
To be clear, whether you’re managing your own cloud or not, cloud costs are going up. There’s just more demand for cloud services today.
Still, a SaaS-managed cloud will always, naturally, be more expensive. Sometimes, that tradeoff is worthwhile. Other times, not so much. Bubble’s new prices saw some customers estimating they’d be paying 1,000 times more for the same cloud services they were getting before.
Tips for minimizing spend
If you’re a non-technical founder, project manager, or tech decision-maker (or even if you are technical), there are some high-level steps you can take to help ensure you’re not overspending on SaaS and the cloud.
- Hire an in-house expert. Low-code/no-code platforms, in particular, like to tell their prospective customers that “technical expertise” isn’t a requirement to use their products. They’re wrong, especially if you want to optimize your app’s performance and spend less. You need a trusted expert to help you make informed decisions about your app’s architecture and the cloud. Consider that these platforms offer “built-in” databases, but you can connect to external ones too. You can’t know which option is right for your app if you’re “non-technical” or not a data architect. And keep in mind cloud storage is just one part of cloud computing.
- Have a data posture. A data posture refers to how you manage your organization’s data. A strong point of view on data governance and scalability will guide your decision-making when you’re choosing cloud and SaaS providers. Your data will (hopefully) be compliant, your processes will be more efficient, and you’ll use fewer cloud resources. For example, if you think there might be a benefit to pivoting to on-prem infrastructure in the future, then you should prioritize flexibility now. You’ll want to choose SaaS providers that emphasize their hybrid cloud solutions or robust data export options.
- Take a multi-cloud approach. Multi-cloud refers to using more than one cloud provider. For instance, one provider might have better dynamic storage options, while another is better suited for static storage. You could split up your data stream to take advantage of both. Be calculated when you’re making decisions like this, though — overcomplicating it could cost you more. You can even leverage one cloud’s capabilities (or your relationship with them) in negotiations with a different provider to get a better deal.
At Onymos, our pro-code approach to rapid app development uses a “no-data” architecture model that connects directly to your cloud. We think it’s more secure and cost-effective that way.
If you’re building web applications, a connected medical device, or any kind of app, Onymos can help. Get in touch with our team to find out how.