A Quantitative Comparison of Rackspace and Amazon Cloud Storage Solutions

Filed in Cloud Industry Insights by Erik Carlin | February 5, 2009 4:18 pm

The cloud is advantageous for many reasons and both Rackspace/Mosso and Amazon offer cloud storage solutions.  We are frequently asked to compare Cloud Files enabled with Limelight’s CDN with S3 and CloudFront.  Many of the questions we are asked revolve around cost and performance (particularly CDN).  These are very quantifiable metrics so I thought I’d share with you the results of some comparative analysis we’ve done.

Cost

Both Amazon and Rackspace/Mosso offer cloud storage calculators, but they are a bit simplified and a head to head comparison is non-trivial.  To make that simpler, we put together an Excel-based calculator that quantifies the total cost of the two solutions including things like request fees, origin fetch bandwidth, etc.  Below we show the results of several common cloud storage scenarios but the calculator is available here[1] (served up via Cloud Files and Limelight) so you can run your own cost comparison.

Before we dive into the numbers, I’d like to comment on one significant differentiator between Cloud Files and S3 – and that is support.  We think our storage service is more than just a commodity like electricity.  Cloud Files houses YOUR data, YOUR applications, and in some cases, YOUR business.  Rackspace has been hosting customers for ten years now, and we know how valuable support (the fanatical kind, is there any other?) is when considering handing over stewardship of your data.  We take that very, very seriously here and believe you shouldn’t have to pay to talk to a human to find out what’s going on with your data.  That’s why support is INCLUDED with Cloud Files.  We are here 24/7 to answer any of your questions or help you out.

Now don’t get us wrong, price is incredibly important too!  That’s why we’ve worked hard to design and offer a cloud storage solution that is exceedingly affordable.  We also leverage the scale of Rackspace as much as possible to reduce our prices and pass them on to you.

In the below scenarios, I list S3/CloudFront pricing both with and without Gold level support.  In most cases, the Cloud Files/Limelight pricing is the same or better than S3/CloudFront pricing even without support (ranging from -3.7% to 17.4% savings), but in ALL cases, the Cloud Files/Limelight pricing is cheaper with support (ranging from 15.8% to 52.9% savings).  In short, with Rackspace/Mosso, you get more for roughly the same or less money!

Cost Data

Scenario 1 – Backup/Archive with medium-sized files

 

5TB of cloud storage.  Inbound bandwidth of 1TB.  100GB of outbound bandwidth.  Average file size is 150KB.

Monthly Cost

Cloud Files Saves You

% Savings
with Cloud Files

Cloud Files (support included)

$772.00

-

-

S3 without support

$934.33

$162.33

17.4%

S3 with support

$1334.33

$562.33

42.1%

 

___________

Scenario 2 – Backup/Archive with small-sized files

 

5TB of cloud storage.  Inbound bandwidth of 1TB.  100GB of outbound bandwidth.  Average file size is 75KB.

Monthly Cost

Cloud Files Saves You

% Savings with Cloud Files

Cloud Files (support included)

$1,038.67

-

-

S3 without support

$1,001.67

($37.00)

-3.7%

S3 with support

$1,401.67

$363.00

25.9%

___________

Scenario 3 -  Lots of data, no CDN

100TB of cloud storage.  Inbound bandwidth of 500GB.  5TB of outbound bandwidth.  Average file size is 150KB.

Monthly Cost

Cloud Files Saves You

% Savings
with Cloud Files

Cloud Files (support included)

$15,407.20

-

-

S3 without support

$15,478.67

$71.47

0.5%

S3 with support

$18,300.47

$2,893.27

15.8%

___________

Scenario 4 – Reasonable amount of small files, CDN-enabled

750GB of cloud storage.  Inbound bandwidth of 50GB.  0GB of pure storage related outbound bandwidth (excluding origin fetch).  CDN bandwidth is 500GB in the US, 300GB in Europe, 200GB in Hong Kong, and 100GB in Japan.  Average file size is 75KB.  80% CDN cache hit.

Monthly Cost

Cloud Files Saves You

% Savings
with Cloud Files

Cloud Files + LLNW (support included)

$367.83

-

-

S3 + CloudFront without support

$380.90

$13.07

3.4%

S3 + CloudFront with support

$780.90

$413.07

52.9%

___________

Scenario 5 – Lots of medium files, heavy read, CDN-enabled

50TB of cloud storage.  Inbound bandwidth of 500GB.  0GB of pure storage related outbound bandwidth (excluding origin fetch).  CDN bandwidth is 10TB in the US, 8TB in Europe, 5TB in Hong Kong, and 3TB in Japan.  Average file size is 150KB.  80% CDN cache hit.

Monthly Cost

Cloud Files Saves You

% Savings
with Cloud Files

Cloud Files + LLNW (support included)

$12,872.00

-

-

S3 + CloudFront without support

$13,468.67

$596.67

4.4%

S3 + CloudFront with support

$15,988.97

$3,116.97

19.5%

* All Amazon prices have been confirmed via their online calculator (there was a $0.70 discrepancy on Scenario 5 which appears to be related to rounding of AWS published prices or a problem with the AWS calculator for Japan related CloudFront costs) but if you find a bug, please let us know so we can fix it.

CDN Performance

 

Amazon opted to build their own content delivery network (CDN) while Rackspace chose to partner with Limelight Networks[2], a leading, global CDN provider.  Limelight serves some of the largest media customers in the world (including Disney, MSNBC, NetFlix, Microsoft Xbox, and Amazon Video on Demand) and has an extensive world-wide network.  Before we take a look at the performance data, let’s examine the network characteristics of each solution.  After all, CDN performance will be driven by these factors.   You can find the Amazon CloudFront edge location and limit information here[3], but I’ll summarize below in the following comparison table:

Limelight Networks

CloudFront

Number of Edge Locations

60

14

Max Data Transfer Speed

No Limit

1Gbps

Max Requests per Second

No Limit

1,000

At the time of this writing, Limelight has more than four times the number of edge locations compared to CloudFront which means your data served through Limelight will have a higher percentage chance of being closer to those who access it.  In addition, for heavy access to content, CloudFront limits the performance by capping the max transfer speed and number of requests per second.  By contrast, Limelight’s scale is so huge that there are no individual limits.  Max transfer speed and requests per second are only limited by the overall, aggregate egress capacity of Limelight’s network which, at the time of this writing, is 2.2Tbps.  In short, Limelight will get your data closer to your users and will be able to serve popular content faster.  Now, let’s see if the quantitative data confirms this.

CDN Performance Data

To compare CDN performance, we placed identical 8KB files in both Cloud Files and S3 and CDN enabled the content to Limelight and CloudFront, respectively.  We then used Gomez[4] to measure end to end response times (including DNS resolution, etc.) to the content via the CDN URLs, every five minutes, over the course of one week, from various nodes throughout the world.  The results are as follows, broken down by region:

USA
erik1

The average response time is 232ms for CloudFront vs. 57ms for Cloud Files which means in the US, Cloud Files is 4.1 times or 307% faster than CloudFront.


Europe

erik2

The average response time is 261ms for CloudFront vs. 62ms for Cloud Files which means in Europe, Cloud Files is 4.2 times or 321% faster than CloudFront.


Asia

The average response time is 602ms for CloudFront vs. 323ms for Cloud Files which means in Asia, Cloud Files is 1.9 times or 86% faster than CloudFront.


Global

erik4

The average response time is 333ms for CloudFront vs. 107ms for Cloud Files which means globally, Cloud Files is 3.1 times or 211% faster than CloudFront.


In addition to the substantial performance benefits of Limelight over CloudFront in all regions of the world, also note the consistency of content delivery.  Limelight’s massive scale and global presence not only ensure faster delivery, but also more predictable delivery.

 

Conclusion

Cloud Files enabled with Limelight marries cutting edge storage technology, the lowest price, and the fastest, most consistent content delivery, all backed by Fanatical Support.  Clearly there are more variables than cost and performance, but we wanted to help get you the data you need to make an informed decision.  If there are any flaws in our methodology or calculations, we welcome feedback so we can correct them.  We feel strongly about Cloud Files and how it can benefit you.  Thankfully, others agree.  We are honored to have been voted the Best Cloud Storage Solution[5] at the 1st International Cloud Computing Conference & Expo 2008 West!
You’ve seen the data.  We hope you give Cloud Files a try and experience it for yourself.  If we can be of any assistance serving you or answering any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Endnotes:
  1. here: http://cdn.cloudfiles.mosso.com/c4891/CloudStorageCostComparison.xlsx
  2. Limelight Networks: http://www.limelightnetworks.com/network/
  3. here: http://aws.amazon.com/cloudfront/#details
  4. Gomez: http://www.gomez.com/
  5. Best Cloud Storage Solution: http://cloudcomputing.sys-con.com/node/808512

Source URL: http://www.rackspace.com/blog/a-quantitative-comparison-of-rackspace-and-amazon-cloud-storage-solutions-2/