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Who’s got the best cloud latency?

Brandon Butler | July 14, 2016
It depends on where you are. But remember: Your mileage may vary

For some applications, the public cloud is only as good as the slowest connection to it.

Latency of cloud providers – the amount of time it takes for a cloud-based service to respond to a user’s request – is one of many critical factors that customers consider when choosing a cloud provider and monitoring their workloads. So which cloud provider has the best latency?

The real answer is it depends. Myriad factors influence latency: Where the user connects to the cloud from; which cloud data center the user connects to; which network provider is used; the route of the network traffic, among others.

During a 48-hour period in May network-monitoring company Cedexis compiled data across five leading IaaS public cloud providers to take a snapshot of latency in four regions of the country. This is what Cedexis found.

lowest latency cloud b

IBM’s SoftLayer cloud performed the best of five cloud providers. SoftLayer had the lowest latency in the Northeast and in the Southwest. In the Northwest, Amazon Web Services had the lowest latency and in the Southwest Microsoft Azure had the quickest response times.

To compile the data Cedexis deploys a simple piece of javascript code in virtual machines of the five providers: IBM, AWS, Azure, along with Google Cloud Platform and Rackspace. Cedexis then pings those VMs using 10 network providers from multiple sites across the country to create four regional latency reports.

None of the five vendors in the report chose to comment on the data.

Warning: Your mileage will vary

Individual latencies will vary based on different use cases. The data provided for this report represents an average of 10 different network connections to these public cloud providers. So, for example while IBM SoftLayer may have the lowest average latency in the Northeast, another customer may have a lower latency thanks to a more direct connection or by using a different network provider.

“There’s no one provider that’s the best,” says Pete Mastin, an evangelist at Cedexis, who compiled the data.

Other factors that could skew the results too: In most cases Cedexis uses the closest cloud region or availability zone to where the requests originate from. In the Northeast test, for example, Cedexis measured network connections to IBM SoftLayer’s Washington D.C. data centers. In the Northwest region testing, Cedexis measured the connections to AWS’s US West region in Oregon. Cedexis used only one cloud region for Google however: US Central. Google has a US East region available but Cedexis did not include that region in this study. Google also has plans to launch a US West region this year.


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