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Azure Virtual Machine vs. EC2? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Use case: Set up a virtual machine for providing a remote desktop with desktop applications such as word processing, graphics software, and software development tools. The desktop would most likely be accessed via RDP.

    I have realized such a setup in the past with EC2, and it worked well. However, as Azure and Windows are both products by Microsoft, I wonder if it makes sense to switch from EC2 to an Azure Virtual Machine.

    My current location is Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Other times, I am in mainland Europe. My EC2 instances are in the eu-west availability zone (Ireland). Normally I run a small instance, sometimes I upgrade it to something faster, at the click of a button! That depends on my current needs.

    Questions:

    • Is there any advantage in using an Azure Virtual Machine as compared to an EC2 one ?
    • In case I missed it: Is there perhaps another provider offering a better solution for my purpose? (after all, at least EC2 is primarily advertised as a server product, while I want to run desktop applications)
    • In my location, how would latency approximately compare to EC2?
    Saturday, March 2, 2013 10:35 PM

Answers

  • I now did latency tests with tcping and the method recommended in an article by Rob Blackwell:

    >tcping -i 5 -n 12 %AZURE_1% 80 >azure_europe-north.txt
    >tcping -i 5 -n 12 %AZURE_2% 80 >azure_europe-west.txt
    >tcping -i 5 -n 12 %EC2% 80 >ec2_eu-west.txt
    

    Details about the tests:

    • My location: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
    • I did the tests yesterday in the evening (Western European Time) and today in the morning.
    • I repeated each test several times.
    • Host OS used on all machines: Windows Server 2012
    • Client OS: Windows XP/SP3 (32bit)
    • ISP: ONO Canarias

    Measured average latency:

    • Latency Azure, both locations: around 180ms (except once I got an average of 233ms for Europe North)
    • Latency EC2, eu-west: between 80 and 90ms

    I guess I'll continue using EC2, which also has the advantage that my account is protected by two factor authentication.

    See also my question on serverfault.com.


    • Marked as answer by feklee2 Friday, March 8, 2013 11:49 AM
    • Edited by feklee2 Friday, March 8, 2013 11:52 AM
    Friday, March 8, 2013 11:46 AM

All replies

  • See also my thread in the AWS Discussion Forums: https://forums.aws.amazon.com/thread.jspa?messageID=429790
    Sunday, March 3, 2013 11:55 AM
  • For your requirement of Desktop applications on Cloud Instances it doesn't matter which cloud provider you use as, I guess it wont that process intensive or memory intensive as regular Database Servers or Web Server.

    As you pointed out, latency is indeed the important factory you need to consider. As your current location is Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain. If you considering Amazon, I suggest to pick the EU West, Ireland. Where as if you choose Azure you have 2 data centers to pick North Europe - Ireland, West Europe - Amsterdam. 

    Pricing is one of the key thing you need to choose. If Microsoft office application is the key focus, I suggest you go consider office 365, it works out cloud $6 per user per month.

    Hope that Helps

    Naveen Kumar V [www.navcode.info, mail@navcode.info ]

    Sunday, March 3, 2013 2:51 PM
  • Thanks for your suggestions, navcode! I guess, the smartest thing to do is to check latency with the different providers. It's an experiment.

    Thanks also for your suggestion to use Office 365. However, that's not of interest to me: I'm really looking for a complete desktop solution, and opening Office documents is just one example use case.

    Monday, March 4, 2013 10:54 AM
  • Hi,

    Since the issue is related to Iaas, I have moved this thread to Virtual Machine forums for getting a better support.

    Thanks for your understanding.


    QinDian Tang
    MSDN Community Support | Feedback to us
    Develop and promote your apps in Windows Store
    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they help and unmark them if they provide no help.

    Thursday, March 7, 2013 8:16 AM
  • I now did latency tests with tcping and the method recommended in an article by Rob Blackwell:

    >tcping -i 5 -n 12 %AZURE_1% 80 >azure_europe-north.txt
    >tcping -i 5 -n 12 %AZURE_2% 80 >azure_europe-west.txt
    >tcping -i 5 -n 12 %EC2% 80 >ec2_eu-west.txt
    

    Details about the tests:

    • My location: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
    • I did the tests yesterday in the evening (Western European Time) and today in the morning.
    • I repeated each test several times.
    • Host OS used on all machines: Windows Server 2012
    • Client OS: Windows XP/SP3 (32bit)
    • ISP: ONO Canarias

    Measured average latency:

    • Latency Azure, both locations: around 180ms (except once I got an average of 233ms for Europe North)
    • Latency EC2, eu-west: between 80 and 90ms

    I guess I'll continue using EC2, which also has the advantage that my account is protected by two factor authentication.

    See also my question on serverfault.com.


    • Marked as answer by feklee2 Friday, March 8, 2013 11:49 AM
    • Edited by feklee2 Friday, March 8, 2013 11:52 AM
    Friday, March 8, 2013 11:46 AM
  • Measuring CSP performance is more than simple latency tests. I would suggest that your read this report by Nasuni as the findings are interesting. White Paper: The State of Cloud Storage in 2013.

    To summarise the conclusion (without posting too much as it would be unfair for the publisher)

    "Microsoft consistently performed better than the other CSPs in the tests, delivering the best Write/Read/Delete speeds across a variety of file sizes, the fastest response times and the fewest errors. Not only did Microsoft outperform the competition significantly during the raw performance tests, it was the only cloud storage platform to post zero errors during 100 million reads and writes. In those categories where Microsoft was not the top performer (uptime and scalability variance), it was a close second. For these reasons, Microsoft has replaced Amazon to achieve the top performer position in the 2013 report."

    Of course there are so many variants that no test can be definitely conclusive, but it does make Windows Azure a very strong contender. What might be of interest to you is the rumour that Microsoft are prepping a VDI service code named "Mohoro", Windows Desktop in the cloud and expected to ship sometime in 2014.

    Saturday, June 8, 2013 10:46 AM
  • The State of Cloud Storage in 2013

    I assume they are talking about S3 and similar services. Those are not relevant for running a Windows server, at least on Amazon's EC2. An EC2 virtual machine's disk is stored on EBS (Amazon Elastic Block Storage), which has vastly different performance characteristics than S3. Some EC2 instance types utilize SSDs for EBS.

    When accessing a remote desktop, latency is a primary factor impacting usability.

    rumour that Microsoft are prepping a VDI service code named "Mohoro", Windows Desktop in the cloud

    But this is definitely interesting!



    • Edited by feklee2 Saturday, June 8, 2013 12:19 PM
    Saturday, June 8, 2013 12:03 PM