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Virtual Datacenter 14 times faster than AWS and Azure

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Norwin Metzger
Von Norwin Metzger
Wednesday, 23. September 2020

As the fastest cloud in Switzerland, Virtual Datacenter offers outstanding disk performance at attractive conditions. With regard to configurations affordable for SMEs, we are miles ahead of the big competitors Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure and offer up to 14 times better IOPS performance (Input/Output operations Per Second). For popular applications such as virtual desktops and databases one of the major bottlenecks. 

Virtual Datacenter up to 14 times faster

To compare the storage performance of the different providers, we created a Windows Server VM on each cloud service and performed a performance test using Microsoft’s tool DiskSPD. A typical instance affordable for SMEs is used. The test is performed on all VMs with the following parameters:

  • Test duration: 30 seconds
  • block size: 8192 bytes
  • Read/write ratio: 75%/25%
  • parallel threads: 8

On Amazon AWS a m5.large instance is used with SSD-backed General Purpose Storage and on Microsoft Azure a D2s v3 instance with SSD Premium Storage. The instance in Virtual Datacenter is configured with 2 vCPU, 8 GB RAM and the standard SSD storage. All three VMs are priced similarly. The results clearly show that Virtual Datacenter is ahead in terms of IOPS, data rate and latency.

Poor performance on AWS and Azure

The general purpose instances at AWS and Azure, which are affordable for SMBs, offer poor performance for access to storage by today’s standards. This may sound surprising, but it is due to the network-based storage, which has a relatively high cost per IOPS. In the highly scalable environments of AWS and Azure, this is the only reasonable way to store data persistently. 

Of course, both providers also offer storage options for applications with high IOPS requirements. But these become really expensive. AWS charges $0.07 per month per guaranteed IOPS ($700 for 10’000 IOPS) and Azure $0.05 per guaranteed IOPS ($500 for 10’000 IOPS). These are just the cost of guaranteed IOPS, without actual storage space or number of storage transactions. In addition, a VM instance with sufficient network bandwidth for storage access is required, which usually causes additional costs. 

A cheaper alternative for better performance are instances with local and semi-persistent NVMe storage in AWS and Azure. However, there is no guarantee that the data on the NVMe storage will be preserved, for example, if the VM in the data center changes hosts. Therefore, local storage should only be used for temporary purposes. The AWS instance m5d.large for example provides good performance for temporary storage on local NVMe storage with 22,522 tested IOPS. 

Conclusion

The hyperscalers Amazon and Microsoft offer with their inexpensive VM options entry level offers, which are completely sufficient for some applications. However, the relatively poor disk performance is noticeably more significant in popular SMB deployment scenarios such as virtual desktops or the operation of databases for business applications. Anyone who wants more IOPS will be asked to pay heavily, because in the extremely scalable and flexible architecture of the hyperscalers, each IOPS causes high costs. For large companies with a complex IT environment, this is worthwhile, but SMEs tend to draw disadvantages from it.

It’ an opportunity for smaller cloud providers to offer their customers a multiple of disk performance with a simpler architecture without being significantly more expensive than the entry-level offerings from AWS and Azure. ServerBase thus combines the advantages of direct-attached storage (DAS) and redundant network storage. This enables high IOPS values at manageable costs and without compromising data security.

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