Amazon EC2 and Azure Virtual Machine (Instance) Comparison

Both Amazon EC2 and Azure VM provide a wide selection of VM types optimised to fit different use cases. An instance or VM is combinations of virtual CPU, virtual memory, temporary storage, and networking capacity and give a customer the flexibility to choose the appropriate mix of resources for workloads. Both AWS EC2 and Azure offers instances at scale for the requirements of any target workload. Both EC2 and Azure provide the option to store VM in persistent storage called EBS in Amazon terminology or Blob Storage in Azure terminology.

EC2 vs Azure VM

Available Windows/Linux VM both Cloud Services Providers:

Type Description Azure VM

Windows & Linux

AWS EC2

Windows & Linux

General purpose Balanced CPU-to-memory ratio. B, Dsv3, Dv3, DSv2, Dv2, Av2 T2, M4, M5
Compute-optimised High CPU-to-memory ratio. Fsv2, Fs, F C4, C5
Memory-optimised High memory-to-CPU ratio. Great for database servers Esv3, Ev3, M, GS, G, DSv2, Dv2 X1e, X1, R5, R4, Z1d
Storage optimised High disk throughput and IO. Ls H1, i3, D2
GPU Specialized for heavy graphic rendering and video editing NV, NC, NCv2, NCv3, ND P3, P2, G3, F1
High performance compute fastest and most powerful CPU H C4, C5

Both AWS and Azure are utility pricing model analogous to your gas, water or power bills. Both Amazon and Azure provide standard instance as PAYG model, and also some instances are available in the reserved pricing model. In a reserved pricing model, you pay upfront at a cheaper rate for instance but commit for certain months or years. In a reserved instance, you pay additional for -storage consumption and network utilisation if it’s cross-geo connectivity. Both AWS and Azure have vast marketplace from where you can pick up and deploy any instance of your requirements at Scale.

Here is where Microsoft differentiate from AWS, you can save up to 72% over pay-as-you-go pricing with an upfront one- or three-year commitment in Azure Cloud. You can also exchange or cancel the RI at any time. Microsoft also offers Hybrid benefits, i.e. 40% off when you bring in Microsoft Windows/Linux workloads from On-prem to Azure. You can use your on-premises Windows Server or SQL Server licences with Software Assurance to make big savings when migrating a few workloads or entire data centres to the cloud.

You can get discounted rates on Azure for your ongoing development and testing, including no Microsoft software charges on Azure Virtual Machines and special dev/test pricing on other services.

Microsoft also offers US$5000 credit for the validated Not-for-Profit organisation for the use of Azure Cloud whilst signing

Relevant References:

Azure Pricing Calculator

Azure TCO Calculator

Offset IT Cost with Azure Cloud

Microsoft Azure credits now available to eligible not-for-profit organisations

Azure 54 regions in 140 countries

Why Managed vCenter Provider cannot be called Cloud Provider?

Before I answer the question of the title of this article, let’s start with what is public cloud and how a public cloud can be defined.

In cloud computing, the word cloud (also phrased as “the cloud”) is used as a metaphor for “the Internet,” so the phrase cloud computing means “a type of Internet-based computing,” where different services and applications are delivered to an organization through the Internet.

Cloud computing is a method of computing that relies on sharing computing resources rather than having own dedicated local resources to handle workloads such as an application. In this type of computing, unused resources are released back to the pool of resources and reutilised when resources are in demand.

There may be differences in service and application offered by cloud service provider but almost all cloud service provider offer some common services, automation, compliance and utilities to tenant. Almost all major service providers have common characteristics and some has enhanced characterises when comes to cloud computing:

Example: Microsoft Azure Platform or Amazon Web Services

Common Features:

Shared Hardware: By definition public cloud is a multi-tenant environment, resources are shared among clients. Multiple clients are hosted on the same hardware, storage and network devices as the other tenants in the cloud.

Cost effective: Public clouds bring together greater levels of resource and so can benefit from the largest economies of scale. The centralised operation and management of the underlying resources is shared across all of the subsequent cloud services whilst components, such as servers, require less bespoke configuration. Some mass market propositions can even be free to the client, relying on advertising for their revenue.

Ownership and proprietary obligations: You may curious to know who owns what between your cloud provider and you. Your cloud provider owns the layer of physical hardware which you don’t have any control or say what they buy or replace. But you have the ownership of your data, intellectual properties, virtual servers and application. As long as you pay the bills and you do lawful business on hosted environment, your service provider has no rights to switch off or being regular outage on the virtual servers and application without you being notified or compensated.

Enhanced Features:

Self-management: with the high volume, utility model, self-managed systems are required for this business model to make sense. Advantage here for the tech savvy tenants that like to setup and manage the details of their own domain, servers and application by themselves. In this type of cloud based solution provides client with control of their own data and intellectual properties. Self-service is also provide a sense of ownership to a tenant who is willing to manage their own uses of the service and application and keep track of bills and data they own.

Security: Since public cloud is a multi-tenant environment, physical and logical securities are in place to protect a tenant being visible by another tenant. Security is not just placing a Cisco ASA or Juniper firewall in the front of internet and having some virtual switches in vCenter. This is the security that complies with corporate policies and regulations of each territories, the tenant resides.

Hardware Performance: In the public cloud, you cannot select the physical hardware such as compute, cache, network or storage devices. Your virtual server is placed on whatever hardware and network, the cloud provider designates for you. But you have the choice to buy various types of compute, network, load balancer, virtual IP address and storage based on your requirement such as specific IOPS and latency requirement by your application. You can chose to place virtual server with high IOPS capability and very low latency storage. Off course there will extra cost involve by doing so but you will be at least guaranteed performance of the virtual machine. Example: Azure Storage Classification

Network: Even though public cloud is a shared model but you have the choice to procure a dedicated high bandwidth secure network within the shared network guaranteed by the provider. The service provider also guarantees you the security of this network your company procured from the service provider.Example: Azure ExpressRoute

Utility Model: Public Clouds typically deliver a pay-as-you-go model, where you pay by the hour for the compute resources you use. This is an economical way to go if you’re spinning up & tearing down development servers on a regular basis.

No Contracts: Along with the utility model, you’re only paying by the hour – if you want to shut down your server after only 2 hours of use, there is no contract requiring your ongoing use of the server.

Reliability: The sheer number of servers and networks involved in creating a public cloud and the redundancy configurations mean that should one physical component fail, the cloud service would still run unaffected on the remaining components. In some cases, where clouds draw resource from multiple data centres, an entire data centre could go offline and individual cloud services would suffer no ill effect. There is, in other words, no single point of failure which would make a public cloud service vulnerable

Flexibility: There are many IaaS, PaaS and SaaS services available on the market which follow the public cloud model and that are ready to be accessed as a service from any internet enabled device. These services can fulfil most computing requirements and can deliver their benefits to private and enterprise clients alike. Businesses can even integrate their public cloud services with private clouds, where they need to perform sensitive business functions, to create hybrid clouds. Example: Azure Service fabric

Ultimate scalability: cloud resources are available on demand from the public clouds’ vast pools of resource so that the applications that run on them can respond seamlessly to fluctuations in activity. You can acquire a vast pool of resources on to your domain via self-service portal without engaging the service provider. Example: Azure Big Data

Delivery through internet: The availability of public cloud services through an internet connection ensures that the services are available wherever the client is located. This provides invaluable opportunities to enterprise such as remote access to IT infrastructure or online document collaboration from multiple locations. Examples: Microsoft Office 365.

Hybrid Deployments: If a dedicated server is required to run a high speed and high IO database application that on-premises resources can be integrated from a private cloud to public cloud, in effect, hybridising the solution between virtual servers and dedicated servers. The service provider also provides you an option to hybridise your environment you own.

To answer the question, here is my explanation why Managed vCenter Provider cannot be called Cloud Provider?

A single virtual center server is a management point of this type of service provider mostly managed by the small technology team. This type of provider is acting as a trustee of your data instead of a cloud provider. There are possible security and compliance flaws of the systems you may not aware of. There might be potential many single point of failure you may not aware. The bills you received from this type of service provider you never been verified that you truly used those services and application because there is no self-service mechanism with this unscrupulous service provider. There is potential downtime and service outage with this service provider which you have never been compensated. This type of unscrupulous service provider do not follow any service level agreement or respect the agreement they signed. You are sacrificing your productivity by relying on them to provide you a hosted service which you never received with reliably. You cannot simply call them cloud provider. A term should be introduced saying “Managed vCenter” and “Trustee of Data”.

I may be the blogger who is saying this. But here is the global researcher “Gartner Inc.” has to say on who can be called cloud service provider as on May 2015.

Garnter Magic Quadrent

Related Articles:

Understand “X as a Service” or get stuck in “Pizza box as a Service”

Gartner’s verdict on mid-range and enterprise class storage arrays

Understanding Software Defined Storage (SDS)

Understand “X as a Service” or get stuck in “Pizza box as a Service”

“X or Anything as a Service” is an acronym used by many cloud provider and offering almost end to end services to a business. The most traditional use of “X” are Software as a Service (XaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Desktop as a Service (DaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). The other use of “X” are Storage as a Service (SaaS), Communications as a Service (CaaS), Backup as a Service (BaaS), Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), Network as a Service (NaaS) and Monitoring as a Service (MaaS).

As a CIO or CTO of an organization have you had a business case of your organisation how your organization is benefited from “Anything as a Service”? How does it translate your business in terms of consumption of information technology if it was on premises comparing off the premises or so called cloud. The most service provider compete with each other getting a piece of pie from these cloud computing era. However to cut cost these provider going below the bench mark and taking the cloud into “Craig list” where everything offered cheap scarifying quality making it “Pizza box as a Service”.

Here are some guidelines for you to measure your workload, services and application before signing up with a cloud provider.

  1. What type of services or application you would like to migrate to cloud?
  2. Are you migrating tier 1 application to cloud?
  3. What is your peak demand of IO or IOPS for all virtual infrastructure, VDI, services and application?
  4. What is peak period latency requirement for an application and a service of your organisation?
  5. What is your peak bandwidth requirements?
  6. What is the up time requirements?
  7. What is SLA and SLR of your business with the service provider?
  8. Do you have penalty clause with the service provider?
  9. What is your RPO and RTO to business when choosing DRaaS?
  10. What is corporate compliance and data retention policy when choosing BaaS?
  11. Do you have good/great user experience matrix in your organisation?

Once you have answered these question, gather data from existing infrastructure and analyse your requirement than it’s time for you to;

  1. Prepare a business case for Anything as a Service
  2. Identify option1, option2, option 3 for cloud services
  3. Knowing cloud provider
  • Learn more about cloud provider hosting platform
  • Learn more about cloud provider engineering and support capabilities
  • Learn more about cloud provider outbound bandwidth and redundancy of network infrastructure
  • Learn more about redundancy of storage infrastructure of cloud provider
  • Who are the hardware and software partners of cloud provider
  • How user friendly is the management portal of cloud provider

4. Compare and select potential cloud provider

If you haven’t identified above criteria and you are aware that you signed up with a cloud provider who simply patch together a 1Gbe network, 1U rack server and Dell Compellent storage with few SATA disk than you signed for a “Pizza box as a service”. You know that your 2WD car is heading towards off road and you are about to get stuck in mud.

When comes decision making time, count every factor into account and make a decision that provide an outcome you want instead of cheap pizza box as a service which neither fulfil your requirement nor fulfil SLA of your business. Remember it’s about your business not the business of cloud provider.

VMware vSphere 6.0 VS Microsoft Hyper-v Server 2012 R2

Since the emergence of vSphere 6.0, I would like to write an article on vSphere 6.0 vs Windows Server 2012 R2. I collected vSphere 6.0 features from few blogs and VMware community forum. Note that vSphere 6.0 is in beta program which means VMware can amend anything before final release. New functionalities of vSphere 6.0 beta are already available in Windows Server 2012 R2. So let’s have a quick look on both virtualization products.

Features vSphere 6.0 Hyper-v Server 2012 R2
Certificates

 

Certificate Authority Active Directory Certificate Services
Certificate Store Certificate Store in Windows OS
Single Sign on VMware retained SSO 2.0 for vSphere 5.5 Active Directory Domain Services
Database vPostgres database for VC Appliance up to 8 vCenter Microsoft SQL Server

No Limitation

Management Tools Web Client & VI

VMware retained VI

SCVMM Console & Hyper-v Manager
Installer Combined single installer with all input upfront Combined single installer with all input upfront
vMotion Long distance Migration up to 100+ms RTTs Multisite Hyper-v Cluster and Live Migration
Storage Migration Storage vMotion with shared and unshared storage Hyper-v Live Storage Migration between local and shared storage
Combined Cloud Products Platform Services Controller (PSC) includes vCenter, vCOPs, vCloud Director, vCoud Automation Microsoft System Center combined App Controller, Configuration Manager, Data Protection Manager, Operations Manager, Orchestrator, Service Manager, Virtual Machine Manager
Service Registration View the services that are running in the system. Windows Services
Licensing Platform Services Controller (PSC) includes Licensing Volume Activation Role in Windows Server 2012 R2
Virtual Datacenters A Virtual Datacenter aggregates CPU, Memory, Storage and Network resources. Provision CPU, Memory, Storage and network using create Cloud wizard

Another key feature to be compared here that those who are planning to procure FC Tape library and maintain a virtual backup server note that vSphere doesn’t support FC Tape even with NPIV and Hyper-v support FC Tape using NPIV.

References:

http://www.wooditwork.com/2014/08/27/whats-new-vsphere-6-0-vcenter-esxi/

https://araihan.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/vmware-vs-hyper-v-can-microsoft-make-history-again/

https://araihan.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/microsofts-hyper-v-server-2012-and-system-center-2012-unleash-ko-punch-to-vmware/

https://araihan.wordpress.com/2015/08/20/hyper-v-server-2016-whats-new/

Microsoft’s Hyper-v Server 2012 and System Center 2012 Unleash KO Punch to VMware

Hyper-V has been integral part of Windows Server 2008 and enhanced with great features in Windows Server 2012. According to Gartner’s magic quadrant Microsoft Hyper-v has been positioned in the leader category second to VMware. Combining Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 provide you a high performance Cloud Technology. Microsoft licensing model is highly flexible and charges only by physical processors and offer unlimited virtualization rights with Datacenter editions. With Hyper-v, your return on investment (ROI) increases as your workload density increases.

Pricing Comparison:

The pricing is based on the following assumptions:

  • Average consolidation ratio of 12 VMs per physical processor.
  • Number of physical hosts required 21. Each physical host contains 2 physical processors with six cores each.
  • Three years License and Maintenance; VMware cost includes Windows Server 2012 Datacenter edition for running guests
  • costs do not include hardware, storage or project cost
  • Pricing is based on published US prices for VMware and Microsoft as of September, 2012.
  • The cost above doesn’t include Microsoft Windows Server license cost for guest operating system.
  • Windows Server 2012 Datacenter allows you to run unlimited Windows Server 2012 on Hyper-v Server 2012 host.

Server Virtualization Environment:

image

Pricing Summary:

image

Microsoft Server Virtualization Cost break-down

image

VMware Server Virtualization Cost break-down

image

Features VS Cost Breakdown- Multi-Site Private Cloud Computing

Together with Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 is truly a cloud and datacenter management solution with eight separate components such as management, monitoring, provisioning, disaster recovery integrated into one unified product. A unified System Center management solution delivers greater OPEX cost savings than VMware in addition to CAPEX cost savings.

image

Number Game:

image

Breakdown in resources (/Host/Guest/Cluster):

image

Network Virtualization

 image

DR Solutions

image

Truth about VMware lies:

You don’t have to be Einstein to understand that VMware is in significant pressure from all sides. Hence they are misleading Cloud market with biased information. I would strongly recommend you to assess your business position, compare apple to apple before renewing/buying your next Cloud products. Though VMware is still no.1 player in Cloud Computing market but their fear is real that VMware loyal Customer is switching continuously to Microsoft Cloud Technology. A declining enterprise market leads them to spread the following one sided information.

1. VMware claim: VMware vSphere 5.1 can achieve an 18.9% higher VM density per host than with Microsoft Hyper-V.

Facts: In one of VMware’s own tests, when provided adequate memory to support the number of users the performance variance between vSphere 5.1 and Hyper-V R2 SP1 was only 2% (using 24VM’s).

2. VMware claim: Hyper-V performance is poor. If performance is important to you, choose VMware.

Facts: In reality, Hyper-V offers near-native levels of virtualization performance, for which there are multiple supporting proof points (including independent third party validations):

  • Enterprise Strategy Group Report (2011) – SharePoint, Exchange, & SQL on Hyper-V Host.
  • Microsoft & Intel – 700,000 IOPS to a VM | Near Native with VMq: Windows Server and Hyper-V are not a limiting factor to IO performance. There shouldn’t be any significant concern around IO for virtualizing with Hyper-V.
  • Project Virtual Reality Check (Terminal Services on Hyper-V).

3. VMware claim: Hyper-V isn’t ready for the enterprise. It can’t handle the most intensive of workloads like VMware can.

Facts: Hyper-V offers near native levels of performance for key workloads, ensuring that customers can virtualize their mission critical, high-performance applications and workloads with confidence on Hyper-V. Additionally, a growing number of enterprise customers are running their businesses on Microsoft Hyper-V. Please read Microsoft Private Cloud success stories.

4. VMware claim: Hyper-V is lacking some of the key VMware features today. Features such as vMotion, HA, Memory Overcommit, DRS, Storage vMotion and Hot-Add are important features for us, and Hyper-V simple doesn’t come close.

Facts: Hyper-V R2 SP1 and System Center 2012 provide Live Migration, High Availability, Storage Live Migration, Dynamic Memory Allocation, Hot-Add and subsequent removal of storage.

5. VMware claim: VMware vSphere 5.1 is more secure than Hyper-V because it’s architecture and small code base.

Facts: Small footprint doesn’t equal a more secure hypervisor. Both vSphere and Hyper-V use the same memory footprint to run. The disk Footprint in ESXi 5.0 (144 MB) doubled from ESXi 4.0 (70 MB). Microsoft follows the rigorous, industry-leading Secure Development Lifecycle (SDL) for all its products. It is possible to achieve a 40-60% reduction in patches using Server Core based on historical data.

6. VMware claim: There is no virtual firewall in Hyper-V while VMware provides vShield Zones.

Facts: Windows Server 2012 also includes an integrated firewall with advanced security features. An old version of vShield Zones is included with vSphere 5.1 (details here) and vShield Zones has several limitations like every VM’s traffic passes through the Zones virtual appliances which slows down the traffic.

7. VMware claim: Microsoft doesn’t offer anything comparable to VMware Fault Tolerance.

Facts: VMware Fault Tolerance has limited applicability and severe limitations. It cannot function with:

  • Thin Provisioning and Linked Clones
  • Storage vMotion
  • Hot plug devices and USB Pass-through
  • IPv6
  • vSMP
  • N-Port ID Virtualization (NPIV)
  • Serial/parallel ports
  • Physical and remote CD/floppy drives
  • no more than 4 FT VMs per host be used

8. VMware claim: VMware significantly support for Linux operating systems than Hyper-V.

Facts: In production environment, Hyper-v supports Microsoft Windows Server and Linux Server without modifying any guest operating systems or installing tools.

9. VMware claim: VMware supports broad applications, while Hyper-V does not.

Facts: Since VMware does not have certified logo program for any application, they are not in position to dictate which application are supported or not. On the contrary, every single application that achieves a logo for Windows Server can be run on guest operating system on a Hyper-V, and is therefore inherently supported. There are over 2500 ISV applications listed on Microsoft Pinpoint that work with Hyper-V. Truth is neither Microsoft nor VMware mention which application you can install on a guest operating systems. It’s completely up to you what you would like to run on guest operating systems.

10. VMware claim: VMware’s Site Recovery Manager (SRM) enables us to simplify our DR story, and provides us with a solution to not only perform a planned failover, but test it whenever we like. Microsoft simply can’t deliver an alternative to this.

Facts: System Center 2012 components like Data Protection Manager and Orchestrator can provide tailored DR solutions. Windows Server 2012 includes an inbox replication capability, Hyper-V Replica, at no cost.

11. VMware claim: Microsoft Hyper-v isn’t ready for Hoster or Service Provider.

Facts: Hyper-v has been adopted by service provider industry to host their own infrastructure and public cloud simultaneously on Hyper-v utilizing Microsoft Network Virtualization. Click here and filter using hosting and public cloud to find the list of hoster. Examples: hostway, softsyshosting , hyper-v-mart , geekhosting , BlueFire and many more.

12. VMware Claim: Hyper-v does not fully comply with Trunking, VLANs

Facts: Microsoft Network virtualization is more advanced than VMware standard Switch and DV Switch. Microsoft Hyper-v is fully compliant with 802.1q trunking, VLANs, VIP, networking Tunneling, multitenant IP management. VMware is catching up on network virtualization. Being in back foot VMware advertised to hire a PR professional to campaign on network virtualization.

Bottom-line: Why Selecting Hyper-v Over VMware

Other than cost savings, the following reasons why you should select Hyper-V and System Center 2012 over VMware vSphere 5.1

1. Built-in Virtualization: Hyper-V is an integral part of Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2012

2. Familiarity with Windows: In-house IT staff can utilize their familiarity and knowledge of Windows environment to deploy Hyper-v minimizing training cost and learning time.

3. Single Platform Cloud Management Technology: System Center 2012 enables you to manage physical, virtual, private and public cloud using a common console view for multi-hypervisor management, 3rd party integration and process automation, ability to manage applications via a single view across private and public clouds, and deep application diagnostics and insights.

4. Running common Microsoft Application: It is obvious that Microsoft application will run better on Hyper-v 2012. Still Microsoft has published third-party validated lab results that prove best-in-class performance for Microsoft workloads on Hyper-V.

5. Private, Public or Hybrid Cloud: Microsoft provides complete solutions for Private, Public or Hybrid cloud with next generation computing technology like IaaS, PaaS, SaaS.

6. Value for Money: Microsoft Private Cloud provides value for money. You will receive unrestricted virtualization license once you buy Windows Server 2012 Datacenter and System Center 2012.

7. Easy Migration: Convert VMware virtual machine to Microsoft Hyper-v virtual machine in few easy steps. See this link.

8. Single Vendor: Since your existing virtualization workload is mostly Windows Server, from vendor communication and contract management point of view, having Microsoft Hyper-v make more sense.

References:

Microsoft Cloud Summit Australia

Microsoft Private Cloud Cost Calculator

Microsoft Private Cloud Success Stories

Microsoft Cloud Computing

System Center 2012

Windows Server 2012

Hyper-v Server 2012

Download Microsoft System Center Private Cloud Evaluation Software