What is an Instance in Cloud Computing?

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An instance acts as a virtual machine and is provided by a third-party cloud service. This helps forego the need to manage and maintain physical servers on-site, lowering costs and improving efficiency. 

Instances are a commonly used term in the cloud computing ecosystem. They are generally used for scaling up applications cost-effectively. Such instances are nothing but a server on which the application runs. 

Cloud providers maintain instances through hardware in their data centers while providing virtual access to you. These instances can then be used to run compute-intensive workloads, such as databases, microservices, and containers. 

Work Process of Cloud Instance in Cloud Computing

Instances work as your servers but are present in the form of a virtual machine in the cloud. You can either source these from third parties or create and manage your virtual server instance in the cloud computing environment.

These instances can be configured through the cloud server to meet your graphics processing, CPU, memory, and other requirements. The configurations can also be imported from pre-defined policies, especially for security and network.

When using a third-party virtual server or cloud providers, you are generally charged only for the resources you use, enabling you to create and destroy as many instances as you need. In addition to flexibility, instances also help scale up processes by spinning up and down according to the workload. This process is also known as auto-scaling.

Instances can also be grouped in a cluster to support heavier workloads. Alternatively, they can be spread out in different cloud availability zones by the provider. 

You can create and use cloud instances with the following steps:

Specify the required computing resources.

You need to provide the number of computer resources, such as RAM, storage space, and CPU you need to run, enabling the provider to create a suitable cloud instance. This will also help determine the type of instance and its pricing options that you can select from.

Allow the provider to build the instance

Upon receiving the details, the cloud provider will make a virtual machine tailored to your specifications. The provider will use a hypervisor and virtualization layer to run multiple instances with a single server.

Access and use the instance

Once created, you can access and use the instance like a virtual machine. You can install software, run applications, and perform other computing tasks. The instances are managed by the provider and can be adjusted dynamically according to your changing needs.

Pay for usage

In general, instances have a pay-per-use model. The pricing will depend on the number of computing resources used, the period for which they were used, and other features. 

In this way, cloud provider instances combine the power of resource management and virtualization to provide scalable, flexible, and personalized virtual machines.

Types of Instance in Cloud Computing

Cloud service providers offer different instance types to cater to varying computing needs and workloads. Following are a few commonly used cloud instances:

General Purpose Instance

The general-purpose instance is used for application workloads, offering a balance between cloud computing, network capabilities, and memory. Therefore, it is appropriate for applications and workloads without any particular specifications. 

GPU Instance

GPU instances have powerful graphics processing units (GPUs) and are used for running operations that require parallel processing, such as deep learning, machine learning, scientific solutions, and video rendering. 

Storage Optimized Instance

As the name suggests, storage optimized instance are used for large storage capacities and throughput applications. These instances provide an alternative to local storage with high IOPS and low latency. Storage-optimized instances can, therefore, be used for databases, big data processing, and data warehousing. 

Compute Optimized instances

These Cloud instances are built to provide high-performance computation capabilities by offering a high CPU power-to-memory ratio. This can be used for applications requiring significant computational power, such as scientific modeling and batch processing. 

Memory Optimized Instances

the Cloud Instance Made for running memory-intensive applications, and memory-optimized instances, provides extra RAM. This is ideal for applications that need to process massive datasets, do in-memory analytics, or use caching methods.

High CPU Instance

The cloud instance which Built for running CPU-intensive tasks, high CPU instances can be used for applications such as gaming servers, distributed analytics, and batch processing, which demand a lot of processing power. 

Accelerated Computing Instance

A fresh computing approach, accelerated computing, separates the data-intensive aspects of an application to run on a separate acceleration device. The control functionality is done on the CPU. Instances enabling this type of computing are known as accelerated computing instance. 

General Overview of the Pricing of Cloud Instances

ProviderInstance TypePricing ModelPrice (per hour)
Google Cloude2.microOn-Demand$0.0076

Cloud Instance Life Cycle

Different stages of the Cloud Instance Life Cycle, include:


This refers to allocating compute resources according to the workload to the instance based on a set of rules and configurations. This is done on the end-user’s side, wherein they send a list of their requirements. 


At the staging step, cloud resources are allocated to the instance, preparing it for launch. This is also known as a pending stage, where the cloud provider sets and checks the security and network configuration and modifies the settings to handle the user's requirements. 


The instance is said to be running when it starts hosting the workload. This could refer to a new group or a new instance sharing the load of an already running cluster. Developers can deploy workloads on running instances, and this is where they are started to be billed for instance use.


The cloud provider may stop an instance to troubleshoot issues and modify its settings according to the workload.


Manually restarting the instance enters it into a functional stage, also resuming billing. 


It is the last Instance Life Cycle stage in which once the instance's purpose is fulfilled, it can be deleted. This includes removing its corresponding data from the instance store volume, which is temporary storage on the same computer as the instance. 

Real-world Use cases of Companies using different types of Cloud Instances

Company/ApplicationInstance TypeUse Case
NetflixEC2 (Amazon Web Services)Streaming service requires scalable infrastructure
AirbnbGoogle Compute EngineHosts various microservices for their platform
SnapchatAzure VMReal-time multimedia messaging
PinterestEC2 Spot InstancesCost-effective batch processing
DropboxCustom VM InstancesScalable storage and file synchronization
ZoomAWS EC2Video conferencing with dynamic scaling needs

Best Practices: Tips for selecting the right instance

Workload TypeRecommended Instance TypeBest Practices
Web HostingGeneral PurposeUse instances like AWS t3 or m5 for balanced CPU and memory resources.
Data AnalysisCompute OptimizedChoose instances like AWS c5 for high-performance CPU needs.
Machine LearningGPU InstancesOpt for instances like AWS p3 for intensive GPU computations.
Database ServersMemory OptimizedSelect instances like AWS r5 for high memory requirements.
Batch ProcessingSpot InstancesUse AWS Spot Instances for cost-effective batch jobs and flexible workloads.
Development & TestingGeneral Purpose/Spot InstancesUse low-cost instances for non-production environments, like AWS t3 or Spot.

Benefits of Cloud Instances in Cloud Computing

In cloud computing the Cloud instances enable users to scale up without worrying about the underlying hardware, providing extended usability without high costs. By acting as virtual machines, cloud machines can offer the following benefits:


Cloud instances can be easily adjusted to varying workloads, enabling them to scale up or down according to the user’s needs. 


A cloud instance offers a highly secure platform with data encryption, limited access, and restricted access. In addition, it provides backup and disaster recovery features to prevent data loss. 

Infrastructure Maintenance

By using cloud instances, users can focus on their core work rather than having to maintain infrastructure and spend money on it. 


With cloud instances, you can run applications and processes from anywhere, allowing you to work with your team without being in physical proximity to each other.

Faster time to market

Instances can be made and retired in a few seconds, enabling developers to accelerate development with quick deployments. This also helps save costs. Moreover, users can test new ideas and design new applications without hardware limitations. 

Comparison between leading Cloud Provider's Instance offerings

Feature/ParameterAWS EC2Google Compute EngineMicrosoft Azure VM
General Purpose Instancest3, m5e2, n1B-series, D-series
Compute Optimized Instancesc5, c6gc2F-series
Memory Optimized Instancesr5, x1m2, n2E-series, M-series
Storage Optimized Instancesi3, d2pd-ssd, pd-balancedL-series
GPU Instancesp3, g4dna2, t4NV-series, NC-series
Pricing ModelOn-Demand, Reserved, SpotOn-Demand, PreemptiblePay-As-You-Go, Reserved, Spot
Regions Availability25+ regions20+ regions60+ regions
Auto ScalingYesYesYes

Conclusion - What is an Instance in Cloud computing

An instance is like a virtual machine offered by cloud platforms. It allows you to use a remote operating system and hardware without having to invest money or space in buying physical machinery.

Cloud instances can be used for storage, application server software, and CPUs. Due to their dynamic nature, cloud instances can offer varying levels of computing capacity, enabling easy scale-up and infrastructure flexibility. 

So from the above details, we hope it is cleared what is an instance in cloud computing and its benefits.

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