With all the urgency and excitement revolving around cloud computing these days, it's not surprising that differentiating among the various services becomes important -- and one of the top criteria is sure to be performance.
In fact, newly-released "last mile" rankings for December show bitter rivals Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) running neck and neck, according to Compuware's (NASDAQ: CPWR) Gomez cloud performance tracking service.
For December, Microsoft's Azure beat Google's App Engine by a nose. Azure came in with an average response time of 10.142 seconds sizzling past Google's average of 10.164 seconds.
By running simple daily performance checks on a random subset of some 150,000 PC peers around the world (with the owners' consent), Gomez calculates average response times for loading a pair of simulated Web pages on the main cloud services providers. The 15 providers where ranked by response time, which Gomez defines as "the total time elapsed while downloading both Web pages in the multi-step test transaction."
As far as the other players go, Amazon's (NASDAQ: AMZN) Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2) came in fifth with a 10.942 second average. GoGrid came in third at 10.468 seconds, while Teklinks held down fourth place with a response time of 10.568 seconds.
"About a year ago, we built a 'reference' site [of] two pages that is representative of what's out there," said Doug Willoughby, director of cloud strategy for Compuware.
"Any given hour we're running 200 tests," he added. "The clients are selected at random."
Compuware acquired Gomezin October 2009. The Gomez First Mile service was designed to provide performance management to applications in the cloud.
Microsoft and Google have collided in a number of markets, and cloud services is increasingly becoming another battleground. However, it hasn't broken out in open warfare yet, perhaps because cloud computing is still a relatively nascent trend.
Gomez's December rankings are posted on the company's CloudSleuthblog.
A Google spokesperson said the company would have no comment regarding the Gomez figures, because "there is not enough background data to understand how the tests were run."
A Microsoft spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Gomez test.