You’re using notebooks today, such as Google Colab, for your own usage, for your company or schoolf? But you are reaching the maximum capabilities of this service, looking for a simple yet powerful alternative? This blog post is for you! We will explore our own solution.
Google Colab, let’s be honest, is solving many challenges. It allows thousands to not say millions of people around the globe to learn and use Python, to play live with hundreds or libraries, and this for free (at least from a money perspective). It’s quite often for data-oriented use-cases but not only. To be fair I discovered the power of notebooks through Google Colab, a long time ago.
Notebook, you said notebook?
A notebook is a document which contains code (e.g. Python code), text, images, … that can be read by us, humans, but also executed inside the notebook. With Jupyter app, it can be launched inside your web browser, allowing you to explore and experiment easily and share your work with many others.
You can see notebooks as cooking recipes, that you can live-follow step by step and see the result directly. It’s trully wonderful.
Now, imagine notebooks that can be linked to remote power and storage to perform your use cases at scale. That’s it 😀
Offers like Google Colab are nice but limited
You’ve plenty of offers on the market today, providing managed notebooks. The market is splitted in two, complicated offers inside cloud providers (AWS Sagemaker, Google AI Platform Notebooks, Azure ML Notebooks, …) and pure players trying to bring notebook to the mass. The main actor on this field is Google Colab.
Historically, Google Colab is based on Jupyterlab, and forked from this awesome open source project few years ago (source: their FAQ).
Since mid-2021, they now provide 3 plans in 9 countries, from free to paid (Pro and Pro +).
After browsing their website and FAQ I drafted this comparative table:
If you are a student or an individual, learning how much this magic world of data is fun, Google Colab plans brings the basic features to start. That’s cool.
Once you are working on more intensive projects, you may reach Colab limitations:
- Compute resources are not guaranteed: for example you don’t know exactly how long and how much you will have GPU power or RAM memory. Very critical when timing is important (and reproducibility).
- You cannot chose which GPU model will be used: it can be old ones like K80 or good one, it will depends.
- No background execution except in Pro+: you cannot close your internet browser, or it will automatically stop your work.
- Maximum 24 hours time of execution: if you’re running intensive trainings, it’s a boring limitation
- Not official JupyterLab version: the live code editor is based on Jupyterlab, but not the exact open source one. you have some features missing
- Unavailable in multiple countries: quoting their FAQ, “For now, both Colab Pro and Pro+ are only available in the following countries: United States, Canada, Japan, Brazil, Germany, France, India, United Kingdom, and Thailand”
Seeing their pricing, it’s fully understandable to put some limits.
But, what can you do if you want more?
Good news everyone! You have some (simple) alternatives
We are a European company, and if i’m correct the only one to provide managed notebooks in the cloud with GPU power at scale. We released OVHcloud AI Notebooks few months ago and it’s really exciting to solve people challenges. Based on the current usage it’s clearly a success (thumbs up to our whole team behind this new product!).
AI notebooks = European legislation, guaranteed resources, backend execution, native Jupyterlab or VSCode editor, no maximum running time, available everywhere, … And yet it’s simple to use.
Go back to the comparative table, you’ll see that we solve many blockers 😃.
More than words, I‘ve made a short video where I start in Google Colab and migrate my work in OVHcloud AI Notebooks. I took my time, explained everything and the video is lasting 8 minutes. If i wanted to automate it, it should take +-10 seconds.
Want to give a try? Fearing it’s too expensive?
Our pricing is quite simple: you don’t pay per month, you pay what you consume.
1 CPU is 0,03€ per hour, 1 NVIDIA V100S GPU is 1,75€ per hour.
If you use a notebook with 2 CPUs during 24 hours, it will cost 1,44 euro (0,03 x 2 x 24h).
It’s more expensive compared to Google Colab plans, but that’s not exactly the same targets neither the same products. It’s managed Notebooks in the cloud, but with less limitations (our real competitors are AWS Sagemaker or Google AI Platforms).
And we support startups and research! If you are interested, reach our startup program where the whole OVHcloud Public Cloud ecosystem is included (AI tools, K8s, storage, …) up to 100’000 euros.
We also do some philanthropy for schools, open source projects, … contact us!
Thanks for reading 😃