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Microsoft Azure Blob wins over Amazon S3 in Nasuni benchmark testing

Performance tests on Amazon S3, Microsoft and Google rank Microsoft Azure Blob No. 1 in cloud storage.

Microsoft Azure maintained its lead over Amazon's Simple Storage Service in cloud storage performance, according to Nasuni's biennial report on its benchmarking of the cloud providers' speed and availability.

Nasuni sells cloud NAS systems that integrate on-premises data with public cloud storage. The vendor tests cloud providers' ability to handle large numbers of writes, read and deletes for both availability and scalability. It began publishing its results in 2011 when Amazon S3 scored the top results, but Azure passed S3 in 2013.

In the 2015 published results, Azure Blob Storage emerged as the overall top performer against Simple Storage Service (S3) and Google Cloud. Microsoft came out ahead of Amazon and Google as the top performer in writes, reads and deletes of data in the cloud.

"In terms of read performance, Microsoft still consistently outperforms the other [cloud storage providers]," Nasuni's State of Cloud Storage report stated. "However, Amazon trails Microsoft by less than it did in write performance. Microsoft's read performance superiority is seen in the delete benchmark. It is more than twice as fast as at deleting files as Amazon and nearly five times as fast as Google."

Nasuni ran three versions of writes and reads in the providers' clouds, at different times of the day, and for file sizes ranging from 1KB to 1GB and thread counts ranging from one to 50 to determine the overall average. The test ran for 12 hours and used multiple testing machine instances and several non-serial test runs.

"We found that Azure Blob performed better than Amazon just by a hair on writes and reads particularly for small file sizes," said John Capello, Nasuni VP of product management. "On large file sizes, Amazon did better than Azure. Azure did well on an overall blend of files. It's not clear to us as to why. We don't have a lot of visibility into that so it's not clear what happens on their side. We do know Microsoft is more about the network and dealing with ingest as opposed to managing the architecture."

The availability tests ran for 30-day periods and measured each cloud provider's response time to a single write, read or delete process in 60-second intervals.

Amazon and Azure were near even in response times. Amazon had an average .1 second time with Microsoft at .14 seconds. Google was a distant third at .5 seconds.

Nasuni tested scalability by measuring the cloud provider's ability to perform consistently as the number of objects under management increased. Capello said Nasuni wrote 100 million objects and measured the number of write or read misses, with the optimal performance being zero misses. The tests also measured variance and object speed.

Azure and Google had zero write errors, while Amazon had an average of five write errors at 100 million objects written.

Nasuni also measured the average write speeds and variances. Amazon had a high write speed of 300 objects per second, three times as high as Microsoft and Google. Azure had a high variance with low write speed. Google's write speed was slightly faster than Amazon and Azure, with a steady variance.

"Performance under increasing object counts is often the Achilles heel of a cloud storage system, and this test measures the CSP's ability to maintain performance levels at the total number of objects store in a single container increases to hundreds of millions," according to the report.

Nasuni's report included only three cloud providers this year. The report said Nasuni considered HP's Cloud Object Storage and IBM's SoftLayer, and even tested them in a limited capacity. However, HP's change in strategic direction raised doubts about its relevance and IBM's scheduled outages made it difficult to run tests against.

"There really are two players in the market that provide enterprise-class performance," Capello said. "It's Amazon and Azure. They really separate themselves from the rest, including Google."

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