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Microsoft Beats Amazon, Google in Cloud Storage Shootout

Microsoft Azure performed slightly better than Amazon Web Services (AWS) in Nasuni's latest cloud storage report.

Google, the only other cloud provider with a large enough global scale to be compared with the other two by Nasuni's standards, came in at a distant third in the report, which is available here to download (after registration).

Nasuni says it performs its biennial cloud storage tests to determine which services it should use to provide as a storage target. The company claims it's not wedded to any one player, unless a customer specifies one. Nasuni first began sharing its benchmarks in 2012 when AWS had an overwhelming edge, though that was before Microsoft had a mature Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering available.

Now, depending on the service, Nasuni primarily distributes its workloads between AWS and Azure and is always willing to add or shift to other suppliers. Nasuni currently prefers Microsoft Azure Blob Storage and Message Queue, though it uses AWS' Dynamo database and EC2 compute instances, said John Capello, Nasuni's vice president of product strategy. The 2015 report, for which Nasuni conducted tests between October 2014 and February 2015, evaluated a variety of read-write and delete scenarios, according to Capello.

"For our purposes, which is to write files for mid-sized to large enterprises to the cloud, Microsoft Azure Blob storage is a better target for us than Amazon or Google," he said. "Amazon is a very, very close second. Amazon and Microsoft seem to be, as many others have said, the real two competitors in this space in providing cloud services in general, but specifically with storage, they're very, very close in terms of both their speed, availability and their scalability."

According to the report, Microsoft outpaced AWS and Google when it came to writing data to a target 13 of the 23 scenarios of varying thread counts or file counts. When it came to reading files, Microsoft constantly performed better, though not to the extent it did in the write tests. When it came to deleting files, Microsoft was twice as fast as AWS and five times as fast as Google.

For system availability, AWS' average response time of 0.1 seconds slightly edged out Microsoft's 0.14 seconds, while Google was roughly five times slower. Nasuni also measured scalability and, when writing 100 million objects to look at the number of read and write misses, "Microsoft had, by far, the largest write variance, which was more than 130 times larger than Google's, who had the smallest variance." Read and write errors were almost non-existent, according to a summary of the report. "Only Amazon showed any misses at all: five write errors over 100 million objects, which gives an error rate of .00005 percent."

Nasuni omitted several key players from the test, notably IBM's Softlayer, which was undergoing system upgrades and led to frequent periods of planned downtime during the testing period, according to Capello. HP was also initially in the test, though Capello said Nasuni chose to leave the company out this time because of HP's announced plans of changes in cloud strategy.

"Before we decided we weren't going to continue testing them [HP], they actually did surprisingly well, in some cases --  better than Amazon and Microsoft in some of the read-write and delete benchmarks," Capello said. "If we had run the full test, it would be interesting to see where they came out. "

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.