Comparing Public Cloud Performance – Part One – Microsoft Azure

I’ve been working with the major cloud vendors for some years now and for me performance has always been a key factor when choosing the right platform for Infrastructure-as-a-Service, I’ve always struggled in finding the right balance of cost vs configuration when choosing the right platforms and have created this 3 part blog to highlight some of the differences I’ve seen between Azure, AWS and Google Cloud.

I’ve just started a new role as Cloud Architect for 1&1 IONOS, working in the Enterprise Cloud division, and one of the main factors in coming here was the technology stack and the surrounding network settings and some of the claims that it makes especially with performance and simplicity. This blog will highlight those performance claims and also the cost-benefit that choosing the right cloud provider will be for you.

For the tests I’ve kept it simple, I will be using small instances that will host eventually host microservices with Docker so cost will be one variable but performance is another, I will be creating an instance with 1 vCPU and 2Gb RAM, this system will be a baseline for testing, I will use Novabench ( for some basic CPU and RAM performance modelling. There are so many tools out there but I find this one real quick and simple to test against some key attributes, I will also use the same tool for all the cloud vendors instances so this should show unbiased results too.

Let’s start by looking at Azure and for this I’ve selected the A1_v2 size as this consistent with other instances on the clouds I will be testing, The CPU used is an Intel Haswell E5-2673 v3 and the price for this including windows server licensing and support costs comes out at £62.20 per month

2018-11-20_13-59-06Azure Pricing calculator for A1_v2

For IONOS Enterprise Cloud I’ve also selected a similar spec and have used the Intel Haswell E5-2660 v3 based chip for the OS as this will be very close to the A1_v2 instance in Azure, Like Azure I’ve also included the Windows Server license cost in the subscription along with 24/7 support which is actually free. The monthly cost for this server is £50.96 so comparing costs of using IONOS Enterprise Cloud there would be a saving of £134.88 over the year, a saving is a saving, so on paper the costs look good so far.

2018-11-20_14-00-37IONOS Enterprise Cloud Pricing for A1_v2 equivalent

Now, what about performance tests between the two?  First I wanted to see how the external and internal internet connectivity was performing, so no big surprise, IONOS way outperformed Azure by a factor of 3, which is to be expected given the infrastructure back end design running on InfiniBand and the datacentre interconnects.

2018-11-22_10-07-47Azure Speedtest performance rating

2018-11-22_10-40-14IONOS Enterprise Cloud Speedtest performance rating

Next, the focus turned to CPU, RAM and disk performance for this I ran the Novabench performance utility and performed tests on both servers, the tests did throw up some major differences between the two. Let’s take a look at Azure first

2018-11-22_10-40-59Azure A1_v2 Instance Novabench Results

The Azure instance had a low score for its CPU benchmark which makes sense as the CPU is a shared resource with other instances being hosted on that Hyper-V cluster node within the Azure cloud, the RAM score was also low with a throughput of 3929 MB/s, but what was noticeable was that the disk read performance was good with a throughput of 163 MB/s but write speeds were a complete polar opposite.

The IONOS Enterprise cloud eclipsed the metrics of the Azure instance and really showed off the advantage of having dedicated CPU and memory resources for the instance

2018-11-20_12-37-19IONOS Instance Novabench result

The CPU performance was 385% that of the CPU in Azure and for Azure to achieve a similar score an additional 3 CPUs would have to be added to maintain the same CPU score. The RAM speed also was way beyond that of Azure and achieved 19318 MB/s a factor of 3 times faster, the disk read & write performance both outperformed Azure, it did maintain an equal throughput for both write and read speeds with writes outperforming by 18 times that of Azure. Just a note here that I used a standard HDD as the storage medium and could have used an SSD instead which would have increased the performance even more.

Finally, I configured another instance in IONOS Enterprise Cloud using an AMD Opteron 62xx 2.8Ghz processor to see it that could match the Intel-based Azure instance and for much of the benchmark scores it was comparable to the Azure instance, even better the cost of the instance was £31.52 a month giving a saving £368.16 over the year. It should be mentioned that IONOS Enterprise Clouds let you configure cores and storage at will in the most granular way possible: core by core and Gigabyte by Gigabyte.

2018-11-20_15-55-43IONOS AMD Instance Novabench result


For Azure to catch up to similar performance of that of IONOS Enterprise Cloud the Azure instance would need to be reconfigured to a A4_v2 size this is 4 times the resources of the IONOS Instance which would increase the monthly cost to £182.44 which would equate to £2210.64 for the year of which £1599.12 would be for the cost of an equal performance instance of that of the IONOS instance.

2018-11-22_10-12-03Azure A4_v2 Instance Novabench Results

Can you really justify that type of expense of spending an additional £1600 per year for the same performance? IONOS Enterprise Cloud employs KVM based virtualisation making extensive use of hardware virtualisation and maps the CPU power of a real core to a vCPU and provides dedicated memory so it is surely the way to go.

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