Cloud Spectator study reveals surprising list of top 10 cloud providers

James has more than a decade of experience as a tech journalist, writer and editor, and served as Editor in Chief of TechForge Media between 2017 and 2021. James was named as one of the top 20 UK technology influencers by Tyto, and has also been cited by Onalytica, Feedspot and Zsah as an influential cloud computing writer.


Here’s something that may raise a few eyebrows: 1&1 has been named the best value infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provider according to a new benchmark report from Cloud Spectator.

The report, a follow up to last year’s verdict which found Amazon EC2 had “significant” cost advantages investing long term, saw a 350% performance difference between the top 10 service providers, and urges organisations to invest in infrastructure testing or risk overspending.

In all, 17 cloud service providers (CSPs) were tested, ranked in terms of performance in virtual central processing units (vCPUs), block storage, and memory, as well as the relationship between price and performance. 1&1 came out on top due to its high VM performance combined with its least expensive packaged pricing. ProfitBricks, Ubiquity, CloudSigma, and Google round off the top five, with Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and IBM SoftLayer not even in the top 10.

The main reason for this disparity appears to be around pricing; the metrics do not count on elements such as support, security, geographical location, and managed services. Although the researchers admit smaller, more specialised CSPs with aggressive pricing structures can achieve higher rankings, IBM SoftLayer fell because of its comparatively poor price-performance value despite high rankings in VM environments.

Despite this, a note from the researchers also argues that VM performance is ‘pretty much the same from CSP to CSP.’ “On VM performance alone, the top 10 IaaS providers in this report exhibited a difference of 3.5x,” the report reads. “With block storage performance, differences exceeded 10x.”

Another interesting finding related to the ‘noisy neighbour’ protocol; Cloud Spectator argues businesses sharing physical resources with different users is not an issue with the majority of providers.

“In public cloud environments, some providers, especially major ones such as Google Compute Engine and Amazon Web Services, employ performance throttling among other strategies to deliver a consistent user experience regardless of the actual user load on the physical machine,” the report states. “This means that, while performance may be artificially low for the VM, the user will not see much change over time.”

Google and AWS have recently been embroiled in a slanging match of sorts; the former calling out the latter’s pricing structure following AWS’ 51st cost reduction last week. Rackspace, CenturyLink, Interoute, Hostway, and PhoenixNap completed the top 10 vendors.

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