Not All Cloud Services are Created Equal


Think about any field, and you can identify the promise of the service provided and how that promise is left unfulfilled by many businesses due to their greed and willingness to leave their customers unsatisfied. Two obvious examples:

  • Preventable medical errors are the third-highest cause of death in the United States, suggesting that many American “healthcare” providers are doing an awful job at living up to their name.
  • In academia, the cost of for-profit colleges is almost twice that of in-state public four-year school tuition ($15,130 vs. $8893), but employability for for-profit graduates is 22% lower that it is for public institutions and private nonprofit schools.

Should you go to the doctor when you get sick? Maybe, but be careful what clinic or hospital you choose – apparently there’s a fair amount of collateral damage. Is an education worth it anymore? Sure, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that a diploma is just as valuable no matter where you go.

Not every doctor will kill you, and not every diploma is worthless, though. The message here is that quality still matters. It matters in technology just as it does in other industries. It’s critical when choosing cloud providers because cloud is ephemeral – a virtual construct rather than a physical machine.

What’s going wrong with the cloud? Practically ALL cloud service providers are grossly
overselling resources. Shady hosting companies used to love shared hosting because no one could immediately see how awful it can become when everyone needed resources at the same time. The greed cloud that’s sold by our competitors is just like shared hosting: if all diners go to the buffet simultaneously, you can find yourself standing there with an empty plate.

The only reason why cloud functions adequately well at many providers is that so many users are paying for something they aren’t using. Resources aren’t guaranteed. The specs you buy represent the maximum burstable amount, but what’s available in terms of CPU and RAM is often smaller than that.

Hey, wait a second – I thought the doctors were supposed to heal me, not kill me … and I thought that the entire idea of the cloud was to counteract resource inconsistency, to counteract peaks and valleys in availability. It’s highly reliable moment by moment due to the thousands of physical machines at play, right? Not with the wrong provider.

At Superb, we think those inconsistencies are ridiculous. That’s why we do not do ANY overselling of our public cloud VM’s. Your resources are ALWAYS guaranteed and are always available. You aren’t riding a technological roller coaster. You always get the 100% peak performance that is written into the specs you choose, as indicated by legitimate third-party benchmarking measurements from PassMark.

After all, advantages of cloud are substantial if you use a provider that is giving you true 100% HA (high-availability) cloud. Here are a couple that were recently highlighted by the data science company Mixpanel Engineering, even though they were frustrated with their provider – Rackspace – and weren’t able to fully benefit from cloud technology:

  • Cheap upfront cost. Mixpanel estimated that cloud is at least 60% lower to get up and running than a dedicated server.
  • Quick implementation and ability to easily adjust servers. For companies that see their traffic frequently rise and fall, it’s simple to bring servers up and down to match your needs. In terms of the ability to deploy new machines, cloud also fares well. (Mixpanel says that dedicated servers are similarly easy to scale for different traffic quantities, but that’s of course within strict limitations since physical hardware will eventually reach peak capacity.)

Mixpanel left Rackspace because they were getting a performance level that was jumping all over the place. Their experience was an IT horror story. They would see their performance fluctuate from 300 queries per second with extra room to 50 queries per second fully maxed out, a position where it would remain for hours.

They were suffering because of the ways that their neighbors were using their cloud servers, a virtual replay of the problem with shared hosting that can easily be solved by not overloading machines with more customers than fit the resources available.

Performance can also get terrible at some providers when other users quit. “Based on observations over a few months, I’m pretty sure that Rackspace actually does the equivalent of a full virtual disk wipe every time a customer deletes a cloud server,” says Mixpanel. “Better hope that none of your neighbors ever decides to cancel their server!”

Finally, Mixpanel complains that they thought the hardware was low-quality and potentially outdated.

Here’s the solution: We use 100% solid-state drives for our public cloud, paired with InfiniBand technology for unmatched speed. And we never, ever, ever oversell. You can forget about your neighbors with us. They are truly irrelevant.

Want proof? Note this statement at the bottom of our cloud page: “Quantities are limited so once the servers are full, you can request to be added to a wait list until more servers are brought online.” Get cloud the way it should be.

By Kent Roberts

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