UPDATE (21/05/13) : Azure announced their plans to expand to the Australian shore yesterday. This blog was updated to include the key changes.
UPDATE (22/10/13) : Updated workload size specification in the IaaS specification comparison table.
There are many blogs comparing the major IaaS providers – however this post focuses more on the Australian market IaaS providers. Organisations of all sizes have begun adopting or investigating Cloud computing making it essential for decision makers to look into what they offer. This comparison looks at what available options are in the market in regards to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers. As more customers are looking at the best combination in the market – we will examine each cloud provider feature set at a high level. Note that this comparison does not include aspects on the PaaS (Platform as a service) space.
IaaS major players in Australia
When referring to pure Australian players – we can count major providers that have (actual) presence in Australia and who are yet to make their services available to this region. Firstly, as we all know Amazon has seen Australia as a serious market with its Sydney region establishment mid last year (June 2012). Next are the Telco’s, Telstra & Optus who recognize that there is a significant revenue for the Cloud market. Finally, companies who wish to scale their services internationally should look at what Rackspace have to offer with their IaaS packages. UPDATE: Microsoft have shared their plans to enable services in Victoria and NSW to cater for the growing demand of Cloud services.
In summary we particularly look at the following Cloud providers:
- Amazon Web Services
- Microsoft Windows Azure
- Telstra Utility Hosting (IaaS)
- Optus PowerOn IaaS
- Rackspace IaaS
Amazon Web Services
AWS has gained huge market share and popularity anywhere in the world including Australia and is seen as a leader in public IaaS. They have very frequent releases with new products/updates coming every 2 weeks or so. As an infrastructure as a service provider, Amazon is seen as a leader in the enterprises and start-ups at present.
Microsoft Windows Azure
Azure unveiled the IaaS Virtual Machines offering preview at the Meet Windows Azure Event in June last year (2012). Last week (17-Apr AEST) Microsoft has made the infrastructure services with GA (General Availability) along with new features such as larger virtual machines and a new pricing commitment based model for possible greater discounts. Despite no local availability in Australia, we see Azure as a major player in the Cloud especially its successful adoption by developers with their PaaS and SaaS offerings. UPDATE: Azure will be available in Australia – see their announcement here.
Telstra Utility Hosting (IaaS)
It has been public for a while that Telstra are offering Cloud services, they have announced $800m investment to build a cloud platform to serve majority of Australian customers. They have also recently completed a major upgrade to their Cloud portal providing greater ease for consumers. Telstra are ramping up its services to cover more geography regions in APAC with its recent initiative – Telstra Global.
Optus PowerOn IaaS
Optus released its first Cloud product late 2010 followed by a major upgrade last year. To support its strategy, the parent company, Singtel has completed re-organisation to focus more on regional opportunities. Optus PowerOn Cloud is a vCloud certified data center.
Rackspace established an Australian presence in 2009 using its overseas data centers. Now, Rackspace has opened an Australian data center and brings its openstack solution for private cloud deployments. There is no date yet when they will release its public cloud offerings in Australia. To make a consistent comparison, we will compare the public cloud offering.
The following table compares the offerings among major Cloud providers in the industry at a high level. The comparison takes into account support and availability within the Australian landscape focusing on Infrastructure services (IaaS). We have selected differentiators as a method to distinguish services/feature set being provided by the Cloud providers (refer to the table). Where applicable, we discuss several key areas in more detail.
This comparison is valid at the time this blog is published and is subject to change in the future as Cloud providers rapidly adding more features.
- Only one region is available at present.
- Refers to the DB cloud offerings (PaaS) and excludes the use of a dedicated database installed on a virtual server.
- Microsoft customised Hyper-V for Azure.
- Refers to a set of virtual machines running on a dedicated hardware.
- Rackspace 100% SLA is for hardware and infrastructure failures – please refer to their SLA here.
- IaaS (Virtual Machines, Networks, Storage) has the same price worldwide. CDN (PaaS) has differing prices based on zones.
- Update: Azure will soon be available in Australia in two regions – New South Wales and Victoria. No official date has been announced yet.
Cloud Engine refers to the underlying provisioning and orchestration technology supporting the IaaS. Azure, AWS, and Telstra IaaS use proprietary Cloud engines with Rackspace notably uses the OpenStack platform, and Optus as the early provider embraces VMware vCloud.
One of the add-on benefits with Cloud is the ability to programmatically manage your infrastructure via API and various programming languages. Both Azure and AWS provide strong API support which practically allow anything done via UI possible via the APIs, this is also accessible via different languages too eg. .Net, Java, PHP, node.js, etc. Rackspace supports the industry standard RESTful API powered by the OpenStack platform. At the time this article written, there are no API published by both Telstra and Optus.
All providers have services around storage – this again refers to dedicated storage offering for unstructured and structured data in the Cloud as opposed to disks attached to servers. Azure offers Table (NoSQL) and Blob (unstructured) storage to store your data; Amazon with its DynamoDB and S3 (and quite recently) Glacier for archiving solution; Rackspace offers Cloud Files and Databases solution but no support for NoSQL yet. Telstra and Optus only offer unstructured data storage option at this stage.
There is not much to say here as all providers we compared have compute offerings – there are varying workload sizes which is described in the above table.
Azure has virtual network, load balancer, and network security products such as Traffic Manager (it’s in preview as this blog is written). AWS has virtual private cloud allowing you to create private and public subnets, load balancer with its elastic load balancing (ELB), and security groups and ACL allowing granular access control mechanism. Rackspace allows the creation of isolated networking with CloudNetworks, Load Balancer with the Cloud Load Balancers product, and advanced traffic filtering using open vSwitch technologies. Despite these similarities there are certain aspects of networking that are different eg. Load Balancer capabilities between Azure, AWS and Rackspace which we may cover in a separate blog.
24×7 Support Availability
All cloud providers offer 24×7 support as follows
- Azure has phone and email options but no online chat support option.
- AWS has phone, email, chat, screen sharing support options.
- Rackspace has phone, ticket (email), chat support.
- Telstra has phone and email support but no community forum option.
- Optus has phone and email support, service management reporting but no community forum.
Each vendor provides differing SLA terms and condition and you should consult appropriate parties (SIs, lawyers, and the relevant vendors)
Telstra IaaS SLA
Optus PowerOn SLA
What does this mean for my organization?
While it is good to see what these cloud providers bring to the table, you will need to understand how your organization can benefit from these. For starters, understand at what stage your organisation is at in the journey of adopting the cloud, what immediate business problems you urgently need to address, and then think about ways Cloud can make a real impact to your organisation.
It is important to look at beyond the hype and to align your cloud initiatives to your business need. At Kloud, we believe that every organisation can benefit from Cloud in some way and we are enthusiastic in enabling your business to be a cloud-ready business. Invite us for a quick meeting & discuss how the Cloud can transform your business.
We look forward to hearing what you think – if you have any suggestions or questions please contact us.
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