The success of the cloud can be attributed to its agility, on-demand provisioning and scalability. However, a secure, stable and high-performing cloud environment is a prerequisite for successful deployment.
Here are some common symptoms of poor cloud performance:
- The elapsed time or delay for a cloud file transfer. A file transfer can be slow due to saturated lines or specific hardware problems that usually result in packets being dropped or “lost.” Packet-loss has a major impact on data throughput and application speed in general.
- The variation in delay over time, known as jitter. In particular, this affects real-time applications transmitted via video and/or audio, such as Skype for Business. Jitter manifests itself in video-frame drops or freezing screens.
- Slow business transactions, which can result from poor application design. This happens, for instance, when threads within an application are serialized and one thread has to wait for the other to complete, such as when making a hotel reservation.
In the above examples, performance bottlenecks can often be easily found. But in many cases, the underlying cause of performance problems is hard to isolate or even identify, especially if the problems are intermittent or caused by the way the network and application interact.
A typical example is network latency, which is the delay caused purely by the distance between source and destination. Latency affects some applications more than others – chatty applications like SQL that exchange many small transactions tend to suffer from network latency. Network latency is an important differentiator when it comes to cloud performance.
What makes a cloud perform? Here are some tried and true methods.
Shortening the Distance
Since network latency is proportional to distance, the obvious way to overcome it is to bring your data closer to your users. Shortening the distance between a cloud service and users, networks or other clouds reduces latency. This is why we created the Equinix Performance Hub to help organizations gain proximity to local networks, end users and cloud service providers by extending corporate networks out to the edge, where most users, data and applications reside.
Another way to improve cloud performance is to use a private network instead of the public Internet. A private network provides a controlled and reliable infrastructure and can also make virtual private network tunnels obsolete, which can result in better routing paths. In addition, a private network allows users to improve specific application performance by configuring the quality of service to enable the prioritization of business-critical and real-time traffic. For example, the Equinix Cloud Exchange drives up performance and security by providing direct and secure virtualized connections to multiple cloud services in 21 top business markets worldwide, giving cloud buyers the ability to easily switch from the public Internet to a private network that directly connects to the cloud.
Nurture the Elephans
To solve issues related specifically to high-volume file transfers or high-throughput requirements, TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) Window scaling can be quite effective. TCP Window scaling increases the maximum window size that can be received in the TCP, and the larger the negotiated window, the more bytes can be buffered before a TCP acknowledgement from the server back to the client is required. This is most effective over high-latency, high-bandwidth networks, or so-called Long Fat Networks (LFNs, pronounced “Elephans”), where the TCP Window size is usually the
Improvements are also possible at the application layer, but this is usually beyond the control of both the network and cloud service providers, as it requires application protocol code changes. Fortunately, smart appliances are available that understand application and OSI Layer 7 protocol behavior and mitigate its performance constraints when deployed over a wide area network (WAN). This is called “WAN optimization,” which can be offered in the cloud as a service. This service in combination with Equinix Performance Hub and Equinix Cloud Exchange enables our customers to achieve an optimal cloud performance experience.
Learn more about high performance cloud infrastructures and how to access the Equinix cloud ecosystem of more than 500 cloud service providers.