Joe Masters Emison


Upcoming Events

Where the Cloud Touches Down: Simplifying Data Center Infrastructure Management

Thursday, July 25, 2013
10:00 AM PT/1:00 PM ET

In most data centers, DCIM rests on a shaky foundation of manual record keeping and scattered documentation. OpManager replaces data center documentation with a single repository for data, QRCodes for asset tracking, accurate 3D mapping of asset locations, and a configuration management database (CMDB). In this webcast, sponsored by ManageEngine, you will see how a real-world datacenter mapping stored in racktables gets imported into OpManager, which then provides a 3D visualization of where assets actually are. You'll also see how the QR Code generator helps you make the link between real assets and the monitoring world, and how the layered CMDB provides a single point of view for all your configuration data.

Register Now!

A Network Computing Webinar:
SDN First Steps

Thursday, August 8, 2013
11:00 AM PT / 2:00 PM ET

This webinar will help attendees understand the overall concept of SDN and its benefits, describe the different conceptual approaches to SDN, and examine the various technologies, both proprietary and open source, that are emerging. It will also help users decide whether SDN makes sense in their environment, and outline the first steps IT can take for testing SDN technologies.

Register Now!

More Events »

Subscribe to Newsletter

  • Keep up with all of the latest news and analysis on the fast-moving IT industry with Network Computing newsletters.
Sign Up

See more from this blogger

IaaS Performance Benchmarks Part 6: Rackspace Cloud Servers

This is the sixth part in a series of articles about creating my own IaaS performance benchmarking project. In the first part, I explained my methodology for testing instance types across major IaaS providers. I've run benchmarks for Amazon Web Services, Google Compute Engine, and Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines. In this part, I look at Rackspace Cloud Servers, which have been around for a long time and been though a few revisions.

Rackspace focuses on support and its managed hosting options, and I believe it is the only major IaaS provider that offers a built-in plan for on-demand servers that includes managed hosting support. However, for the purposes of these benchmarks, I am only considering the features and prices of the compute resources without support services.

As of today, there are three U.S. regions available for Rackspace through RightScale (the cloud management service I’m using to run most of my benchmarks, as it gives me image parity): Chicago, Dallas, and Virginia. In each of those regions, I kicked off one of each “Performance” and “Standard” instance type that Rackspace offers, for a total of 48 VMs. Rackspace announced its Performance Cloud Servers in November, when it also renamed its "Next-Gen" instance types as Standard.

As with the previously-tested cloud providers, I ran on RightScale’s CentOS 6.4 images. Rackspace offers a somewhat-confusing discount program based on how long you’re willing to commit and whether you’ll pay up front. According to Rackspace, it is possible to get up to a 37% discount on its pricing with a three-year commitment and paying up front, so I have used a 37% discount as the “discounted pricing” amount.

Rackspace's Performance servers in theory should be competitive with Amazon’s newer instance types (e.g., M3, C3, I2) and Google Compute Engine. For example, the Performance instance types apparently run on Intel Xeon E5-2670 2.60GHz processors; AWS lists its M3 family as running on the E5-2670, the C3 family on the E5-2680, the I2 family on the E5-2670v2, and GCE says it uses 2.6GHz+ Xeon Sandy Bridge processors. However, on CentOS 6.4, I found that Rackspace's Performance instance types really didn’t perform significantly better than its Standard instance types.

Why? This description in a Rackspace developer blog post offers some clues: “So, terminology aside, today, when you boot any Linux image on Rackspace Cloud, that image uses standard paravirtualization (PV), for Windows and FreeBSD we use HVM. In the case of the new Performance Cloud Servers, we still default to PV images, and are currently testing PV on HVM images.”

But what exactly does this mean? Unfortunately, Rackspace’s own support portal has no useful information on PV vs. hardware-assisted virtualization (HVM), even though here, it means the difference between UnixBench scores that are competitive with AWS and GCE and scores that end up well below Azure. The short story is that you should see substantially higher UnixBench scores using HVM virtualization, at least on the processors being used. By not having HVM virtualization available yet for its Performance instance types for Linux, Rackspace is not offering a particularly competitive product today.

[Security concerns are driving organizations to consider private and hybrid clouds, according to a Rackspace survey last year. Read the report in "Private, Hybrid Cloud Interest Spurred By Security and Control."]

Based on conversations with several individuals at Rackspace, I believe (a) that Rackspace will have HVM support for Linux for its Performance instance types at some point in the first half of 2014 (note that this is my guess, not anything they said), and (b) that it will probably perform similarly to the benchmarks run on the beta version that Rackspace has made available, which gives numbers more than 3X better than what I got.

I will discuss my results by including both the “what if Rackspace supported HVM for Linux today” and the “what I actually got” perspectives. I should note that Rackspace has graciously given me access to a pre-release version of a CentOS image that can be launched with HVM on the Rackspace Cloud, which I plan to test before the conclusion of this IaaS benchmark series.

Rackspace Benchmark Results

Here are the main takeaways that I have from testing across Rackspace:

• For the first time in testing IaaS providers, I saw a regional difference: Rackspace Chicago delivered the three top single UnixBench scores (from the three most expensive instance types), and five of the top ten, but also five of the six worst scores (from the least expensive instance types). This requires further investigation to draw any significant conclusion, since I ran all these in a single day.

• The best price-per-performance for me was with the 512MB Standard, with the 1GB Performance a distant second. Of the more beefy instance types, the 8GB Performance stands out as having much better price-per-performance than the others (likely because it has eight vCPUs; you have to go to the 60GB Performance to get more than that).

• Performance in the single-threaded UnixBench results does appear to vary, at least a little bit, based on price, and the Performance types do better than the Standard types, even with everything running on PV virtualization. In particular, the 8GB, 15GB, 30GB, 60GB, 90GB, and 120GB Performance types all scored at least 544 (average) on the single-threaded UnixBench scores, whereas the rest of the instance types all scored 493 or less (average). However, under HVM virtualization, it appears that results over 1500 should be expected.


View Larger


View Larger

NEXT: Comparing Rackspace To Other IaaS Providers


Page:  1 | 2  | Next Page »


Related Reading


More Insights


Network Computing encourages readers to engage in spirited, healthy debate, including taking us to task. However, Network Computing moderates all comments posted to our site, and reserves the right to modify or remove any content that it determines to be derogatory, offensive, inflammatory, vulgar, irrelevant/off-topic, racist or obvious marketing/SPAM. Network Computing further reserves the right to disable the profile of any commenter participating in said activities.

 
Disqus Tips To upload an avatar photo, first complete your Disqus profile. | Please read our commenting policy.
 
Vendor Comparisons
Network Computing’s Vendor Comparisons provide extensive details on products and services, including downloadable feature matrices. Our categories include:

Research and Reports

Network Computing: April 2013



TechWeb Careers