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Why is vCloud Air 35% Cheaper Than Azure and 83% Cheaper Than AWS?

Imagine that your local grocery store or supermarket proudly proclaimed, “We’ve cut the price of eggs 44 times and they’re now $3!” and their competitor down the street, not to be outdone, claimed, “Eggs are $2.75 here!” The first question you’d ask is, “How many eggs do I get and what size are they?” In short, what exactly am I getting for my money? Yet in the cloud wars when vendors cut prices, the headlines are the equivalent of, “Vendor cuts egg prices to $2.75 rendering chicken farms irrelevant,” and blogs sprout speculating about the type and cost of the underlying poultry and flock management.

When it comes to running applications on IaaS, price-performance is what matters. It is no use having low-cost cloud service if it’s not powerful enough to run your app with the performance you need. To that end, VMware commissioned benchmarking tests from Principled Technologies, who determined that vCloud Air delivers 2x the compute power of Microsoft Azure and 3x the storage performance of Amazon AWS.

Once we factor in those performance differences, it is much easier to do an apples-to-apples cost comparison of vCloud Air: vCloud Air is better performing and 35 percent cheaper than Microsoft Azure compute, and only a sixth of the cost of AWS storage.

vCHS tops competition

vCloud Air Delivers 2x the Compute Power of Azure

Azure offers a set of preconfigured compute instances such as “Medium (A2),” which has two virtual cores and 3.5 GB RAM. Yet two virtual cores of Azure is not necessarily the same as two vCPUs on vCloud Air because of differences in the underlying hardware. In other words, it is important to know what amount of “horsepower” two vCPUs actually give you. More importantly, when you’re able to compare two service offerings on equal terms, what is the cost implication?

Principled Technologies found that vCPU performance on vCloud Air was double that of Azure. If you have compute-intensive applications, you will need either larger Azure instances or double the number of Azure instances to get the same compute power out of the equivalent-sized vCloud Air virtual machine. That may end up costing you 35 percent more on Azure. Here’s how:

A basic vCHS Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) subscription includes 10GHz of vCPU with 20GB RAM for $642 per month at MSRP (before discounts – see vCloud Air Pricing). Out of this single VPC, you can create five virtual machines with two vCPU and 4GB RAM each (vCHS lets you create VMs of arbitrary size out of the pool of memory and CPU).

To get comparable compute power from Azure would require either five Large (A3) instances or 10 Medium (A2) instances. Either configuration (5 Large or 10 Medium instances) would cost $864 a month, a 35 percent premium over vCloud Air.

vCloud Air –

Virtual Private Cloud

Azure A2 Instances

Azure A3 Instances

VM Size

VM with 2 vCPU, 4GB RAM

2 vCPU, 3.5GB RAM

4 vCPU, 7GB RAM

SPEC CPU int score

44.1

21.3

39.0

SPEC CPU fp score

43.0

20.0

36.1

Cost comparison based on a Virtual Private Cloud in vCloud Air

List Prices

$642/month

Standard: $0.12/hr

Standard: $0.24/hr

Equivalent Number of VMs

5

10

5

Total monthly price

$642

$864

($0.12 x 10 x 730)

$864

($0.24 x 5 x 730)

Azure pricing for standard instances, Linux, US East – Azure Price List

This comparison also ignores the free redundant compute capacity that is built into every vCHS virtual data center for High Availability and load balancing purposes. To achieve this level of redundancy and performance management in Azure would require twice as many instances – the recommended Azure approach is to double up to get redundancy. Therefore, vCHS compute delivers a 35 percent price-performance advantage over Azure compute, and it’s 70 percent if you want Azure redundancy.

vCloud Air Delivers 3x the Storage Performance of AWS

Principled Technologies’ testing showed that when testing random I/O patterns with 64k block sizes, a virtual machine in vCloud Air with 140GB of storage consistently achieved a minimum of 3,300 IOPS. That was at least three times greater than AWS results for volumes of the same size. To match the performance of vCloud Air, you will need to either increase the volume size or pay for guaranteed IOPS, which will end up costing almost six times more on AWS. Here’s how:

EBS General Purpose (SSD) Volumes provide 3 IOPS per GB of storage while EBS Provisioned IOPS Volumes provide 30 IOPS per GB of storage. AWS states that the maximum IOPS per volume for General Purpose EBS is 3000, so you’d need two volumes – and software designed to use two volumes – to break through that performance barrier.

To get the same performance from AWS that you get from vCloud Air requires:

  • 3,300 IOPS ÷ 30 IOPS/GB = 110GB of EBS Provisioned IOPS Volumes, or
  • 3,300 IOPS ÷ 3 IOPS/GB =1,110GB of EBS General Purpose (SSD) Volumes

vCloud Air –

SSD-Accelerated Storage

AWS EBS General Purpose Volumes

AWS EBS Provisioned

IOPS Volumes

List Prices

2TB for $240/month

$0.10 per GB-month

$0.125 per GB-month$0.065 per provisioned IOPS-month

Cost comparison based on achieving 3,300 IOPS for a single virtual machine

Volume Size

140GB

1,100GB

110GB

Cost Comparison

(140GB/ 2TB) x $240 =

$16.41 per month

$0.10 x 1,100GB =

$110 per month

$0.125 x 110GB =

$13.75 per month

$0.065 x 3,300 IOPS =

$214.50 per month

AWS EBS pricing for standard instances, Linux, US East – EBS Pricing

With vCloud Air, you can support your toughest, most demanding workloads without having to pay additional hidden fees – or perform clever tricks to do parallel writes across multiple volumes.

The bottom line is, the hype surrounding the cloud price wars is clearly missing a discussion of what you get for your money – the performance. Infrastructure that is 20 percent cheaper does not help if you must buy 100 percent more of it to get the job done.

The Principled Technologies results demonstrated the high-performance architecture of vCloud Air and how you need to buy less of it to run your applications. If you’d like to prove it for yourself, read the full Principled Technology reports for CPU performance and I/O performance, including methodology, and sign up for vCloud Air.

Our Chief Cloud Architect Jason Lochhead provides more details on the OCTO blog about how these strong results highlight key architectural decisions that our team made when we designed vCloud Air.

To learn more about upcoming vCloud Air features and capabilities, follow this vCloud blog with your favorite RSS reader, or follow our social channels at @vCloud and Facebook.com/VMwarevCloud.