I know with cloud it's easier to spin up new environments on the fly and tear them down again when we're done, but what sort of network performance can I expect from Amazon EC2 and other cloud services?
You should expect Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) network performance to be the same or better than if it were in your own data center environment. This can also be expected of other cloud services. Cloud providers are in the business of offering a service that will enhance performance of applications on shared resources. This is because a customer can set up compute, storage and database resources as needed to align with the workload required from the application.
Customers should expect better performance with cloud services like Amazon EC2 network and NetSuite than in their own data center.
Some are skeptical that this is not the case. In The Deep End blog, Paul Venezia states that "certain elements of cloud computing are inarguably beneficial," but later voices concern when he says that cloud computing customers "might find the performance of [their] Web servers varying greatly, despite being identically configured." Arguably, this could be a concern; however, reputable cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and NetSuite have service-level agreements (SLA) that promise performance and availability guarantees. NetSuite's SLA provides for a service level of 99.5% uptime. Amazon EC2's SLA provides a guarantee of 99.95% uptime. Both companies offer credit for not meeting these commitments.
Peter Wayner, a contributing editor of the InfoWorld Test Center, conducted a benchmarking exercise on AWS using the DaCapo suite. He configured both the T1 Micro Servers and the M1 Medium Servers with AWS EC2 in an attempt to determine performance expectations over time. Performance was more consistent on the M1 Medium Servers than on the T1 Micro Servers.
He conducted a number of tests using DaCapo software to see how each machine performed. Results showed that the T1 Micro ran eight to 10 times slower than the M1 Medium and often failed to complete a task. It may not be surprising that the least expensive virtual servers AWS provides are not up to the task of handling enterprise applications.
As I review various articles on performance testing on cloud environments, it is apparent that many people have attempted to discredit the notion of expecting better performance. Most tests, however, have been performed in a narrow capacity using applications with limited capabilities to measure performance, such as with Wayner's test. Testers also did not work with cloud experts from the cloud services companies to determine why they experienced slow performance on or across different platforms.
Based on my research, I believe customers should expect better performance with cloud services like Amazon EC2 network and NetSuite than in their own data center. They just need to choose the right vendor that can meet their specific performance requirements.