Amazon narrowly tops Microsoft as king of the cloud

Amazon takes first place for reliable cloud storage, according to a study by data protection service provider Nasuni. Nasuni has been testing the 16 largest cloud storage providers since April 2009 to determine which ones are most reliable, and Bloomberg reports that Microsoft came in as a close second to Amazon.

Shockingly, out of those 16 providers who were part of the study, only 6 of them actually passed. Among those, besides Amazon and Microsoft, were AT&T Synaptic, Nirvanix, Peer1 Hosting, and Rackspace Cloud. Nasuni spares those who didn't pass the embarrassment of being named, but that certainly doesn't stop us from guessing. Some top providers that aren't mentioned include Google and GoGrid.

Nasuni's most basic test wrote files of different sizes, while accessing the server simultaneously from multiple connections and reading the uploaded file from other connections. Five out of the 15 providers tested failed here when simple write-read-delete operations failed. When they tried to save photos and archive large amounts of files, they ended up stressing some of the systems to the point of actually breaking them.

The providers that were still standing (10, if you're counting) got to move on to the performance test, where Nasuni tested how fast the providers could write and read files of various sizes. Two of the providers didn't move quickly enough to be acceptable for the vast majority of organizations, but Nasuni points out that it really comes down to the needs of individual users. Microsoft's Windows Azure platform actually came out first in the write speed test, followed by Nirvanix, leaving Amazon eating their dust in 5th place.

The test that might be of greatest concern for a lot of users was stability, which took into account how often the service went down, how long it stayed down, and whether there was any damage to hosted data. Thankfully, none of the 8 providers who were still standing at this point failed. Amazon had the fewest outages, with just 1.43 per month, with Azure showing 99.9% up time. AT&T was most unreliable, due to several very long outages.

The real competition was between Azure and Amazon. The two services came out very close, but Amazon eventually won the day. Although Azure had a slightly better average ping time than Amazon (which Nasuni points out as being due mostly to Amazon's service being the most used), Amazon had the lowest variability in service. Nonetheless, the differences were mostly negligible.

So, what's the point of all of this? The fact that so many of the providers failed is actually scary, considering that businesses are relying on these services to keep their operations moving smoothly. It's a major decision when a business decides to go all in on a platform, and not one that can be easily backed away from, so it's definitely important to pick a reliable one to begin with. Yet some very visible companies are absent from Nasuni's study, and it just goes to show that you really can't rely on a name.

Images courtesy of Nasuni

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

PC Tools AntiVirus Free Edition 9.0.0.898

Next Story

TeamViewer 7.0.12280

19 Comments

dotf said,
Explains why iCloud is built upon both leading providers.

every time I try to tell an Apple person that, I get yelled at with the usual responses of "nuh uh, it's the Apple cloud software".... wish people would realize Apple doesn't do everything and they do depend on people like Microsoft for some really high end stuff

neufuse said,

every time I try to tell an Apple person that, I get yelled at with the usual responses of "nuh uh, it's the Apple cloud software".... wish people would realize Apple doesn't do everything and they do depend on people like Microsoft for some really high end stuff

Exactly I keep telling this guy I know that iCloud is partially powered by Azure and he keeps totally denying it. He's willing to admit the Amazon usage, but the idea that Apple would rely on Microsoft technology makes him physically ill.

KingCrimson said,

Exactly I keep telling this guy I know that iCloud is partially powered by Azure and he keeps totally denying it. He's willing to admit the Amazon usage, but the idea that Apple would rely on Microsoft technology makes him physically ill.


Keep telling him. Hopefully he'll hand himself.

neufuse said,

every time I try to tell an Apple person that, I get yelled at with the usual responses of "nuh uh, it's the Apple cloud software".... wish people would realize Apple doesn't do everything and they do depend on people like Microsoft for some really high end stuff

Which proves a VERY old quote about Windows *absolutely wrong*.

To put the quote in perspective, it compared Windows not to MacOS - but to UNIX and mainframe iron (specifically, IBM and DEC iron). The quote, in fact, came from IBM's mainframe division, shortly after the release of Windows 3.1 (NT was, in fact, in late alpha) - the Big Blue mainframer pooh-poohed the idea of mainframe-type reliability by any version of Windows.

The result of that rather surprising study is that both EC2 and Azure (based on a core of Windows Compute Cluster Server) absolutely kicked the bejeebers out of *any* mainframe - including those of IBM - as far as reliability and uptime go.

The *real horror* (for IBM and any other mainframe company that wants to repurpose those mainframes as *cloud backbone*) is that neither EC2 or Azure require expensive hardware; both are designed to run on what has been euphemistically called *commodity hardware*.

Thus the mainframe is even further marginalized; for once, Microsoft actually is partly to *blame*.

I love my Microsoft cloud services. The one time it was down, they gave me 50% of my money back even though it was only down a couple hours.

max22 said,
Cloud is not the way to go if you want your data backed up properly.
You're right, having it on your hard drive in your house is much more secure..

Xerax said,
You're right, having it on your hard drive in your house is much more secure..

I've got my 'important' data (some of it actually is, some of it is just total crap that's near and dear to my heart) backed up on two non-connected hard drives at home, in addition to being in the cloud. I feel pretty secure

Xerax said,
You're right, having it on your hard drive in your house is much more secure..

I don't know if you're being sarcastic, but if so, let me point out that cloud servers use hard drives too, and on most services your data could be sold / given away without your knowledge. It's simply much safer if you keep backups at your own home, so YOU decide when / what to use that hard drive (for).

Coi said,

I don't know if you're being sarcastic, but if so, let me point out that cloud servers use hard drives too, and on most services your data could be sold / given away without your knowledge. It's simply much safer if you keep backups at your own home, so YOU decide when / what to use that hard drive (for).

Of course cloud servers use hard drives, but somehow these guys have developed some smart ways to store data reliably and yet cheaply. Data centres have fire-extinguishing systems and are kept dry, the same can't be said of the place where my hard disks are placed in my house, if someone accidentally pours some water on the hard disks...

And if you want to do a local + cloud backup but is worried about your data being sold / given away, just encrypt all your data with something strong before sending them to the cloud.

Kai Y said,

Of course cloud servers use hard drives, but somehow these guys have developed some smart ways to store data reliably and yet cheaply. Data centres have fire-extinguishing systems and are kept dry, the same can't be said of the place where my hard disks are placed in my house, if someone accidentally pours some water on the hard disks...

And if you want to do a local + cloud backup but is worried about your data being sold / given away, just encrypt all your data with something strong before sending them to the cloud.


Ok, I agree on that one, but hard drives are DRIVES and therefore they can always simply fail, wether it's a server hard disk or a home hard disk. I thought he saying that server storage systems are somehow less likely to fail than our own hard disks.

"considering that businesses are relying on these services to keep their operations moving smoothly. "

only a fool would put their entire biz in the cloud. sure its great for websites but not for high-demand business apps.

the420kid said,
"considering that businesses are relying on these services to keep their operations moving smoothly. "

only a fool would put their entire biz in the cloud. sure its great for websites but not for high-demand business apps.

This.

the420kid said,
....

Respectfully disagree.
This is what we call in the industry as out-dated mentality.

Think back to 20 years ago, the out-dated mentality then was "the mainframe is the only business computer available, only a fool would run on distributed systems".

This is just a new skin on people trying to hold on to the ideas of old.

Consider the small to medium sized business. By your arguement they are fools for having data backed up in triplicate on Azure, for pennies per user per month, versus investing $50K in IT infrastructure just to get their non-technical business off the ground.

uhm, yeah.

for some, data backed up to a cloud is MORE secure... viruses, hd crashes, misplaced cd's/dvd's, and more all wipe out data for a lot of people. At least in the cloud its safe.

Where mainframes used to excel wasn't security - in terms of security, a mainframe is just as vulnerable as any other sort of computer that is physically accessible - but in terms of cost per gigaflop of compute power. That is, in fact, why mainframes have held on as long as they have in large-scale general-purpose computing.

With the increased power of desktop and server CPUs, and the greater ease of use of clustering software, you only need a mainframe or other big iron for niches - and general-purpose, but large-scale computing tasks is no longer one of them.

EC2 was *kind of* expected to sneak in that category *eventually* - EC2 is, after all, based on Linux. But Windows? Talk about the left-field (or as IBM used to call it, Wrong Field) surprise.

Commenting is disabled on this article.