The Cloud is supposed to be easy — easy to migrate onto, easy to operate from, and easy to budget for. Because of those much-lauded benefits, many companies make the mistake of thinking all Clouds are the same.
But all Clouds are different, in aspects as various as how they virtualize their servers to how they structure their billing. And all Cloud users are different, too; your business systems are not like those of your partners, competitors, or any other enterprise.
Because all Clouds are different and all businesses are different, finding the best match for your unique needs isn’t as simple as choosing the Cloud closest to your price point. You have to understand your exact needs and find a provider who can prove it can meet them. That’s where benchmarking comes in.
Businesses that operate servers are already familiar with the practice of performance benchmarking. Benchmarking is simply running tests to capture an accurate baseline.
Benchmarking helps you monitor your environment, optimize your resources, and identify potential problems before they occur.
The concept is straightforward but the actual task of running a benchmark can be complicated, and benchmarking Cloud performance is particularly tricky.
All Servers Are Not Created Equal
Different servers in the same server farm are not equal. There are variables affecting performance on every server configuration in a traditional data center, such as:
- Operating systems
However, while there are plenty of devilish details, they are devils you know. When you own the server farm, you can control a lot of these variables.
How Well Do You Know Your Cloud?
Unlike an on-premise data center, the performance of your Cloud is not within your control. You’re paying for the privilege of letting someone else worry about whether the server running your business software is optimized to deliver the best performance and security.
And in the Cloud, the hardware and software aren’t the only variables. Your software could be running on one well-configured virtual machine on Monday and a poorly-configured virtual machine on Tuesday. Worse yet, you could be sharing your server with a bunch of resource hogs some days, and other days, your server-mates could all be on vacation.
Maybe you bought the top-tier plan so you think you don’t have to worry. You’re paying for peak performance, so that’s what you must be getting. But the same variables that impact performance on lower-cost plans impact expensive plans as well.
No matter how much you’ve spent, you’ve bought a pig in a poke. It could be a prizewinner or it could be nothing but snouts and tails.
Does this mean you’re stuck with whatever your Cloud service provider gives?
Cloud Benchmark Results Are a Purchasing Tool
The answer is to run Cloud benchmarks. A Cloud benchmark can give you assurance that your applications will perform as well in the Cloud as they would on-premises. Cloud benchmark results can help you:
- Make an informed buying decision
- Select the best provider
- Scale as your needs increase
What to Expect from a Cloud Benchmark
A Cloud benchmark applies a standardized measurement to compare the performance of your environment on different Clouds. With this information, you can make a better buying decision; if you know how your software will run on certain Cloud, you can be sure to buy only as much service as you need.
There are three ways you can use Cloud benchmarking:
- Before you buy to right-size your spending plan
- During the buying process to compare offerings
- After you’ve purchased to scale your environment
Before You Buy
Buying Cloud services without performing a benchmark is like buying eyeglasses without a prescription. You may think you know what you need, but face it—you don’t know unless your vision has already been measured.
What to measure:
- Daily needs for disk space, CPU, RAM, and I/O
- Inventory of business-critical features and services
- Differences between your hardware and software configurations and standard configurations
During the Buying Process
Now that you’ve collected measurements with your pre-buy benchmark, you can put them to work during the due diligence process. Use your benchmark results to compare providers and server technology so you don’t end up under- or overprovisioned.
What to ask:
- Which provider’s database management system can best support all of my applications’ databases?
- Which provider’s service package aligns best with my applications’ requirements?
- Which provider’s service package can best accommodate my network traffic patterns?
Your benchmark can tell you more than how your system will perform in a particular Cloud today; it can help you evaluate how well your provider will handle your business’s workload in the future. A load test can be run that simulates various models, so you can know what you need before buying an upgrade or paying for any actual build-out.
What to ask a Cloud service provider:
- Can it upgrade the capacity of the servers your Cloud is running on to meet your forecast demands?
- Does it have capacity to add machines to your Cloud?
- Can it increase your networking capacity to meet the spikes in traffic your benchmark predicted?
- If your geographical footprint expands, can your provider offer edge computing or other solutions to decrease latency for your users?
Your Wallet Can’t Protect You. Be Smart and Benchmark
Your wallet can’t protect you. No matter how much you spend, you can’t be sure you’re getting the right Cloud service for your business because price and performance don’t go hand in hand. Entering into a Cloud services contract without hard data on your business systems is the same as buying a car sight unseen; you just don’t know if you’re getting what you think you paid for.
Be sure the Cloud service you buy is the service you need, today and as you grow. Benchmarking your specific environment on a specific Cloud will tell you everything you need to know to make a smart buying decision.