Author Archives: Richard Seroter

Why Reliable Cloud Performance Matters

Why Reliable Cloud Performance Matters

Why Reliable Cloud Performance Matters

People are right to be wary of any vendor claiming to be the “top performing!” or “fastest!” cloud provider. Most folks know that ANYTHING can look spectacular – or unspectacular for that matter – if you stack the deck just right. But at the same time, cloud shoppers have a deep hunger for legitimate information on realistic performance expectations. Cloud performance has a direct impact on what you spend on compute resources, how you decide the right host for your workload, and how you choose to scale when the need arises. In this blog post, we’ll summarize some recent findings and put them in context.

With the launch of our new Hyperscale instances, we at CenturyLink Technology Solutions approached an independent analytics company, CloudHarmony, and asked them to conduct an extended performance test that compared CenturyLink Cloud Hyperscale servers to the very best equivalent servers offered by AWS and Rackspace. CloudHarmony is a well-respected shop that collects data from dozens of benchmarks and shares the results publicly for anyone to dissect. After running a variety of benchmarks over a long period of time (to ensure that the test gave an accurate look over an extended window), they shared their findings with the world.

The results were positive – as we’ll talk through below – but how do reliable performance metrics help you in your cloud journey?

More Bang for the Buck

In an ideal world, you want reliable performance at a fair market price and no hidden charges. In the CloudHarmony results, we saw that our Hyperscale SSD storage provided excellent disk read performance and strong disk write performance through a variety of tests. In the results below – run against AWS c3 servers and Rackspace Performance servers – you can see that Hyperscale has a fantastic IO profile for large block sizes.

Disk Read Performance

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Why does this matter? Consider databases running on Microsoft SQL Server that often works with 64k blocks. By running this workload on Hyperscale, you get persistent storage, high performance, and no charges for IO requests or provisioned IOPS. This results in predictable costs and fewer resources needed to achieve optimal performance.

Simplified Decision Making

Choice is great, but is also a paradox. When you’re faced with dozens of server types to choose from, you find yourself selecting a “best fit” that may compromise in one area (“too much RAM!”) in order to get another (“need 8 CPUs”). In CenturyLink Cloud, we have two classes of servers (Standard and Hyperscale) and both have shown to have reliable performance. Pick whatever amount of CPU or memory that makes sense – which is of course how traditional servers have always been purchased.

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Choose Your Own VM Size

If built-in data redundancy doesn’t matter, but reliable, high performance does, choose Hyperscale. Need strong, consistent performance but want daily storage snapshots and a SAN backbone? Use Standard servers. Straightforward choices means that you spend less time navigating a gauntlet of server types and more time deploying killer applications.

Predictable Performance & Scaling

Valid performance testing results can help you understand how best to scale an application. Should I add more capacity to this VM, or does it make sense to add more VMs to the environment? That’s a hard question to answer without understanding how the platform reacts to capacity changes. The CloudHarmony results not only showed that the CenturyLink Cloud Hyperscale CPU performed better than the others in the “Performance Summary Metric” that compared cloud servers to a bare metal reference system, but also showed that performance improved as CPU cores were added. That’s obviously not shocking, but it’s good to see that performance change was relatively linear.

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CPU Performance

How does this information help you maximize your cloud portfolio? If you know that you can add resources to a running VM *before* scaling out to new hardware, that can simplify your infrastructure and lower your costs. Scaling out is fantastic cloud pattern, but it doesn’t always have to be the first response. You can trust that Hyperscale scales out *and* up well, and you can plan your scaling events accordingly.

Summary

Performance metrics are only a snapshot in time. The individual results may change from month to month or year to year, but a reliable performance profile means that you can minimize costs, make decisions faster, and make predictable choices.

Want to read this CloudHarmony report in full? Click here to download a copy. You can also price out a Hyperscale server for yourself, and sign up to take the platform for a spin!

By Richard Seroter

Yes, It Does Take An Einstein

Yes, It Does Take An Einstein

Yes, It Does Take an Einstein

The phrase, “it doesn’t take an Einstein” is an all-purpose IT department put-down that translates roughly as “it’s so obvious, you don’t need to be a genius to see the right decision to make.” Applied to selecting a cloud computing vendor, this principle would result in the clear understanding that people want reliable performance at a fair market price, with no hidden charges.einstein

Cloud performance has a direct impact on what you spend on compute resources, how you decide the right host for your workload, and how you choose to scale when the need arises. If a service provider offers “fastest performance” at a good price, that’s the right choice, isn’t it? You want the best performance for the money, right? It doesn’t take an Einstein to see that. Except, sometimes it does.

To paraphrase Einstein’s theory of relativity, one’s perception of reality depends on whether one is in motion. Two parties that are in motion will see each other differently depending on their relative speeds and directions. Cloud computing reveals a correlated concept. There is no “top performing” or “fastest” cloud infrastructure. There is only the infrastructure that will perform best for your specific workloads. It’s all relative. At least in this case, thinking like Einstein can help us make the right choice relative to our needs.

What are your cloud workloads? What performance requirements do they need to meet? Different applications and use cases put stress on different parts of the infrastructure. Some need more RAM. Others need more CPU capacity. Others still will see critical performance depend on Input/Output Operations per Second (IOPs). The network and storage are also significant factors in what we would consider overall application performance in the cloud, even if they have nothing to do with the actual hardware that’s doing the computing.

The best practice is to look at specific performance benchmarks for cloud infrastructure relative to your specific workloads. To help our clients accomplish this goal, CenturyLink Cloud recently used CloudHarmony, an objective third party, to measure the baseline performance of our infrastructure offerings. We wanted to understand how well we stacked up against other cloud players in performance areas that mean different things to different buyers. (If you would like to get a copy of the CloudHarmony report, please visit)

One thing that CloudHarmony measured was our IO profile (disk read/write) speed for large block sizes. Why does this matter? If you’re running Microsoft SQL Server database, for example, you will likely be working with 64k blocks. You want to run that kind of workload with a cloud provider that will give you persistent storage and high performance for the large 64K blocks but not charge you for IOPs. This will result in predictable costs and fewer resources needed to achieve optimal performance.

A similar issue arises with the paradox of choice in cloud servers. When you’re faced with dozens of server types to choose from, you find yourself selecting a “best fit” that may compromise in one area (“too much RAM!”) in order to get another (“need 8 CPUs”). In CenturyLink Cloud, we have two classes of servers (Standard and Hyperscale) and both have shown to have reliable performance. Pick whatever amount of CPU or memory that makes sense – which is how traditional servers have always been purchased. If built-in data redundancy doesn’t matter, but reliable, high performance does, you could select our Hyperscale server. If you need strong, consistent performance but want daily storage snapshots and a SAN backbone, you would be best off with our Standard servers. What matters is your specific requirement, not ours. It’s relative. Einstein would approve.

By Richard Seroter

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