Whitepaper Summary: Azure on Top in a Comparative Analysis of 5 Large Cloud IaaS Providers

I wanted to summarize the results published in this whitepaper because this comparative analysis provides insight into relative cost and performance of the providers, but also the value ( cost + performance) received from one provider versus another. This report from Cloud Spectator examines the performance and pricing of 5 of the world’s largest IaaS providers over a 5 -day period, and provides a process to clearly determine the price-performance value of a cloud provider, addressing the issue of standardization in the marketplace. The providers in the comparison were:


You can read the full whitepaper, posted by Cloud Spector on Scribd HERE, but here is my 60 second summary of the bottom line results.

Findings – Cost (pay-per-hour price)

To understand the performance value, Cloud Spectator factored in the pay-per-hour cost from each provider. While many providers offer long-term discounts, which may increase their price-performance value, were not considered, likely due to the fact that discounts would vary by customer based on negotiation.

  • Windows Azure – $0.12
  • Windows Amazon – $0.12
  • HP Cloud – $0.14
  • Rackspace Cloud – $0.24
  • Softlayer – $0.26

Bottom Line Results – Azure and Amazon tied for 1st with equal per-hour cost as a result of the MS commitment to match Amazon pricing.

Findings – Performance

Performance was measured with a Unixbench test over a period of 5 days. A noticeable difference separates the providers between a score range of 300-600 (Amazon EC2 and Rackspace) and 1100-1500 (SoftLayer, HPCloud, and Windows Azure).

  1. Windows Azure
  2. HP Cloud
  3. Softlayer
  4. Rackspace
  5. Amazon EC2

The most telling aspect of performance results is Azure on top and Amazon at the bottom of the list. For details stats and more info on how performance was measured, see the full whitepaper.

Findings – Value (cost + performance)

The CloudSpecs Score is a further normalization of the price-performance values established on the previouspage, used to easily understand how much value the best provider gives its user in relation to other providers.The highest-value provider receives a score of 100, and other providers are pegged in relation to it. The results, top-to-bottom were:

  • Windows Azure – 100
  • HP Cloud – 80
  • SoftLayer – 36
  • Amazon EC2 – 28
  • Rackspace – 19

Basically, in terms of value, Windows Azure crushed the competition.


While least expensive is not usually best, Windows Azure results contradict this common condition, tied for 1st in price and walking away from the competition in performance and value categories. Cloud Spectator said:

Though Amazon EC2 has the lowest price advantage over the other 4 providers at $0.12 per hour (tied with Windows Azure), the lowest cost does not always mean the best value for a customer looking for maximizedperformance. Also, while Amazon EC2 had the lowest performance, due to its cost, it did not score lowest onthe price-performance value measurement, the CloudSpecs score; in fact, while Rackspace performed 1.5 times better than Amazon EC2 on the Unixbench tests, its higher price dropped it lower than Amazon EC2 in the CloudSpecs score

You can read more on Windows Azure here on System Center Central at http://www.systemcentercentral.com/search-results/?search=Windows%20Azure

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