According to a new report by researchers in Australia, stress tests have revealed that the "infrastructure-on-demand services offered by Amazon, Google and Microsoft suffer from regular performance and availability issues."
The seven-month study of Amazon's EC2, Google's App Engine, and Microsoft's Azure cloud computing services simulated 2,000 concurrent users connecting to services from each of the three providers, with researchers measuring response times and other performance indicators.
The results were at best mixed, and at worst, severely dysfunctional. For example, I'd never heard that when using Google App Engine, none of your data-processing tasks can last longer than 30 seconds, lest the service throw an exception back at you.
Researchers found that the three platforms "delivered wildly variable performance results as Amazon, Google and Microsoft trialled, added and dropped new features."
Response times on the service also varied by a factor of 20 depending on the time of day the services were accessed. Anna Liu, associate professor in services engineering at the University of New South Wales School of Computer Science responsible for the study, also noted the immature monitoring tools and the inability to accurately estimate cost:
"None of the platforms have the kind of monitoring required to have a reasonable conversation about performance," she said, in the report from Australia's ITnews. "They provide some level of monitoring, but what little there is caters for developers, not business users. And while Amazon provides a dashboard of how much it is costing you so far, for example, there is nothing in terms of forecasts about what it will cost you in the future.
It's way too early to suggest that cloud services can't meet the customer needs, but it's important to know what you are getting into if you want to use these services now. As with any nascent technology, early adopters will benefit in some ways and suffer in others. Cloud services still offer one of the most intriguing ways to consume IT and software applications.
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