New research questions conventional wisdom on 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.


Updated 1522 GMT Two pieces of research have simultaneously hit the inbox of CloudTech, both with surprising findings in terms of choosing cloud providers. A study from Spiceworks argues Microsoft Azure is more popular than Amazon Web Services (AWS) for IT professionals, while analyst house Cloud Spectator has revealed a surprising name at the top of the best ranked European cloud service providers.

The Cloud Spectator report focuses particularly on performance as well as price factors, measuring vCPU, memory, and block storage performance, and found 1&1 to be the best performer. Using 100% at its benchmark, it finished ahead of UpCloud (95), CityCloud (72) and CloudSigma (68). Of the widely considered major players, Google Compute (50) performed best, well ahead of Azure (27), AWS (27), and IBM SoftLayer (22).

“When it comes to price performance, we see many smaller players find an advantage by offering high-performance infrastructure at a very competitive price,” said Kenny Li, CEO of Cloud Spectator in an email. “The volume [from the hypervendors] also comes with additional performance considerations, such as throttling to provide a standard user experience across the entire infrastructure, which may result in lower performance on cloud services.”

1&1 was also cited in January by Cloud Spectator as the best value infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provider, and again the vendor’s high VM performance and competitive pricing saw it come out on top here. AWS scored highly in the VM – vCPU and memory – performance, but lower relative disk performance and higher monthly costs saw it drop, while CloudSigma came top in storage only for VM performance to see it slip to fourth overall.

Verizon, who confirmed its exit from the majority of the public cloud space in February, scored lowest – and it is a trend which Li expects to see continue. “Without going into too much detail, we are witnessing a consolidation of the industry,” he said. “Players like Verizon, HP, and Dell, have exited the cloud infrastructure space and adopted strategies that focus on supplementing cloud adoption.”

The move to analyse Europe was a natural one for Cloud Spectator, with more and more US-based players growing their footprint. Yet Li adds a note of caution for European customers. “The report illustrates a huge difference across the European market,” he said. “The price performance scores in this report show one side of the story; there is a discrepancy in value for public IaaS, emphasising the need for this type of research.

“Businesses still need to evaluate how the price performance value of a cloud-based environment will directly impact their own TCO, which will vary depending on their application performance requirements,” Li added.

Elsewhere, Spiceworks argues that not only is Microsoft more popular than AWS in IaaS public cloud – 16% of respondents compared to 13% – it also has more scope for growth. 21% of the almost 350 people polled said they are considering Azure, compared to 11% for Amazon.

The report also examined the what, why and where of cloud services. The most popular option according to survey respondents was web hosting, cited by more than three quarters (76%) of those polled, followed by email hosting (56%), and storage and file sharing (53%). One in five organisations is adopting infrastructure as a service currently, with an additional 16% considering it.

You can find more about the latest Cloud Spectator report and download it here.

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