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Finding the best performing server for China

Analysing latency for more than 200 cloud computing services from Shenzhen, China

Introduction

After analysing a test CDNs done using CloudHarmony in Shenzhen, China yesterday, today I’m presenting the results for servers. The term server thereby covers a lot of things starting from big cloud computing platforms like AWS, Azure or Alibaba over more specialized computing platforms like DigitalOcean or Linode to service-oriented platforms like Rackspace.

Whatever their name and service description is, what all have in common is that they somehow provide server capacity other people can use to run their website or web application on. Nothing more to explain here I think, let’s get right to the test.

The test procedure, the tools and its limitations

As with yesterday’s test, the testing was done using CloudHarmony. CloudHarmony allows you to test latency and download speed for 224 server and cloud computing providers covering many of the most popular ones around the world.

To see what the test is like, feel free to have a go at it yourself by clicking on the following link: http://cloudharmony.com/speedtest-latency-dns-for-compute

The test itself was limited to latency mainly because of the reason that this can be tested with very small data packages and is less likely to be influenced by spikes up or down in bandwidth, which would be the case for testing download speed. A more detailed discussion of what latency actually is can be found here: http://www.speedtest.net/articles/what-is-ping-what-is-latency/

Before we get to the results, a quick word on the test process and its limitations. Apart from the limited number of providers tested, I didn’t have any influence on what types of servers or service packages from each of the various providers were actually used. So it might be that CloudHarmony has access to the highest performing computing engine for provider x but only to the cheapest version for provider y, which might influence the results. This, unfortunately, is out of my control.

The test itself was conducted in Shenzhen, China, which is very close to Hong Kong. The test data includes 8 sessions between August 7th 2016 and August 20th 2016 with a maximum of 1 session per day.

Finally, please let me point out, that the data shown below should be taken and consumed with the necessary amount of care. Provider y doing bad in the test doesn’t mean that provider y is a bad service provider or does not work in China, it just means that in the given time period in Shenzhen with the given internet connection the test provided by CloudHarmony didn’t work for provider y at the 8 times the test was run. So don’t jump to any conclusions based on this test alone, seek as many sources and reference points as possible before making any decisions.

After all those remarks, let’s get to the results!

The best performing computing services

2016-08-server

This analysis took the results of each of the 8 tests, sorted the servers by latency with the lowest on top, highest on bottom and awarded points, 10 for the first down to 1 for the 10th.

The top 5 performers for this analysis were:

  1. Azure Asia-East
  2. Alibaba Hong Kong (shared first with Azure)
  3. Google Asia-East
  4. Rackspace Hong Kong
  5. Azure Asia-Southeast

Interpretation

What is very obvious from the analysis above is the strength of Hong Kong as base for Mainland China targeted websites. Since its return to China in 1997, Hong Kong played a key role as gateway to the Mainland, IT is no exception to that.

When comparing the results to yesterday’s CDN results, what is striking is that Google is doing so well. This, however, is easily explained with the fact that Google is only running the servers in Hong Kong and the content is delivered under the domains of the people using the cloud services whereas for the CDN, the content is usually delivered under a domain or IP address linked to Google itself. So in the area of cloud computing, Google’s cloud platform is a real contender.

In Hong Kong’s IT space, Rackspace is known as one of the best choices when it comes to finding a hosting provider with quick connection to China and the results very much confirm that public opinion. In Rackspace’s instance it’s very interesting to see the cloud computing test scoring so much better than the CDN test whereas I would have expected both to be in the top 5.

The shared first in the test were Azure and Alibaba, both with physical presence in Hong Kong and both also known for their great services to the Mainland. Both services alternated in placing first and second in all 8 tests which also speaks to their consistency.

In fifth place, Azure Southeast Asia placed in Singapore represents the first server location other than Hong Kong. Singapore is often regarded as the second best choice after Hong Kong when it comes to connectivity to the Mainland. What is interesting in that regard is that latency results don’t do very well for Singapore, Japan and sometimes even US west coast and Europe are often better when it comes to this. From my own experience having several websites on servers in Singapore, however, loading speed and bandwidth is usually very competitive and not far off from the performance of Hong Kong based websites.

The raw data

Here you can download the screenshot of the 8 test results that were taken as basis for the analysis. Feel free to download the ZIP file and build your own conclusions based on the test result from CloudHarmony.

Conclusion

As expected, the top performers in this test were all located in Hong Kong followed by computing engines in Singapore, Japan and India. As pointed out above, the tests were conducted from Shenzhen which is right across the border from Hong Kong, so servers in Japan, South Korea or even the US might do a little bit better in cities like Beijing or Shanghai.

I will cover the top performers of this test and other cloud computing providers like AWS separately in future posts to get into more detail where each provider’s strengths and weaknesses are.

Again, if you have more information on or questions to this topic or on any of the providers, feel free to reach out to me using the contact button below, I would be delighted to hear from you!

by | Aug 25, 2016 | Server

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