Cloud // Infrastructure as a Service
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Charles Babcock
Charles Babcock
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Microsoft Azure Named Fastest Cloud Service

CloudSleuth's comparison of 13 cloud services showed a tight race among Microsoft, Google App Engine, GoGrid, Amazon EC2, and Rackspace.

In a comparative measure of cloud service providers, Microsoft's Windows Azure has come out ahead. Azure offered the fastest response times to end users for a standard e-commerce application. But the amount of time that separated the top five public cloud vendors was minuscule.

These are first results I know of that try to show the ability of various providers to deliver a workload result. The same application was placed in each vendor's cloud, then banged on by thousands of automated users over the course of 11 months.

Google App Engine was the number two service, followed by GoGrid, market leader Amazon EC2, and Rackspace, according to tests by Compuware's CloudSleuth service. The top five were all within 0.8 second of each other, indicating the top service providers show a similar ability to deliver responses from a transaction application.

For example, the test involved the ability to deliver a Web page filled with catalog-type information consisting of many small images and text details, followed by a second page consisting of a large image and labels. Microsoft's Azure cloud data center outside Chicago was able to execute the required steps in 10.142 seconds. GoGrid delivered results in 10.468 seconds and Amazon's EC2 Northern Virginia data center weighed in at 10.942 seconds. Rackspace delivered in 10.999 seconds.

It's amazing, given the variety of architectures and management techniques involved, that the top five show such similar results. "Those guys are all doing a great job," said Doug Willoughby, director of cloud strategy at Compuware. I tend to agree. The results listed are averages for the month of December, when traffic increased at many providers. Results for October and November were slightly lower, between 9 and10 seconds.

The response times might seem long compared to, say, the Google search engine's less than a second responses. But the test application is designed to require a multi-step transaction that's being requested by users from a variety of locations around the world. CloudSleuth launches queries to the application from an agent placed on 150,000 user computers.

It's the largest bot network in the world, said Willoughby, then he corrected himself. "It's the largest legal bot network," since malware bot networks of considerable size keep springing up from time to time.

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