When everyone is trying to be the cheapest Cloud Provider, how can we separate ourselves from the others?

A few things come to mind.  One differentiator is Performance.  Performance is typically measured by CPU/Memory/Disk/Network.  Or the “Core 4”.

CPU and Memory tend to get all the attention but Disk is the unsung hero.  Slow disk=slow performance no matter how much CPU and Memory you throw at an application or a problem.

So let’s talk about Disk for a bit here and in particular Latency and IOPS.  Networking comes into play with these metrics but for the sake of this discussion we are going to glance over it a bit.  The network infrastructure sitting between True North’s compute and storage layers is a bit of a super highway with room to spare.

When working with this storage speed comparison we will want to look at the IOPS (I/O per s) and the Latency (AvgLat) data from the below charts.  They work together to form an understanding of overall disk performance.

  • IOPS (I/O per s) is the amount of Input/Output (IO) operations per second.  Or how much data can be read from or written to/from a storage system per second.
  • Latency (AvgLat) is how fast a single Input/Output (IO) request is handled.  Or how fast the above data can be read or written to/from a storage system.

These values together give a comparative measurement that can be used to quasi judge overall storage performance.  User experience and a real world workload is always the final say.   High performance subsystems are only awesome if your application requires and can utilize these capabilities.

So let’s take a look at some of the summarized results.

  • True Cloud Server tests resulted in 196,150.20 total I/O per s with an AvgLat of .020ms (SSD/Hybrid)
  • Another Cloud Provider (1) test resulted in 29,211.44 total I/O per s with an AvgLat of .204ms (SSD)
  • Another Cloud Provider (2) test resulted in 914.96 total I/O per s with an AvgLat of 4.370ms (HDD)

Cloud Provider (1) is utilizing SSD storage.  Cloud Provider (2) is utilizing spinning disk (HDD).  I wanted to relay the drastic difference is data between SSD and spinning disk (HDD).

True Cloud Server outperformed Another Cloud Provider (1) utilizing SSD storage in terms of I/O per s at 196,150.20 vs 29,211.44.

True Cloud Server also outperformed that same Cloud Provider in terms of AvgLat at .020ms vs .204ms

The tests below were performed with a 1GB test file using 4 threads, an 8k block size and we estimated 25% writes and 75% reads.  Those percentages are fairly typical of an average workload.  Microsoft DiskSpd was used as the testing tool.  All VM’s were configured with the same specifications in terms of vCPU, Memory and Disk Size.  Comparisons were done against the 2 largest Cloud Providers in the world.

The results vary widely between us and the competition.  When comparing our tests to another provider utilizing SSD we outperform the competition in terms of both I/O capability as well as latency times.  One large reason for this is that we are not limiting IO per VM or disk.  At massive scale noisy neighbor problems can occur and placing hard limits per VM or disk would make sense for performance and our internal cost containment.  Until we reach such a massively large scale we will continue to over provision performance for our customers and monitor for obvious abusive of resources.

We want to have happy consumers of resources that do not need to read caveats, min/max guides and fine print details to understand what they are getting in terms of performance or in some cases what they are not getting.

So till then, Happy Computing!

Test Results Data

True Cloud Server SSD/Hybrid


Another Cloud Provider (1) SSD


Another Cloud Provider (2) HDD