The results from the second annual State of Cloud Storage Report, produced by Natick, Mass.-based solution provider Nasuni, has Microsoft Windows Azure topling Amazon S3, last year’s winner.

Nasuni tested five top public cloud storage providers for speed, availability and scalability.

In 2013, Nasuni tested five clouds: Amazon S3, Microsoft Windows Azure Blob Storage, Google Cloud Storage, HP Cloud Object Storage, and Rackspace Cloud Files. The company said that while many cloud storage platforms are publicly available, only these five platforms currently offer the combination of functionality, market experience and price that Nasuni requires to support production customers.

Nasuni’s engineers conducted all tests between November 2012 and January 2013 using virtual machines across most of the major cloud-compute platforms. Each CSP was tested by using three “outside” machines (for example, Amazon EC2 was not used to test Amazon S3) spread throughout the eastern region of the United States.

Microsoft Azure took a significant step ahead of Amazon S3 in almost every category tested, Nasuni found. Across the three tests, Azure emerged as a top performer in all categories, and the leader in two out of three:

Speed: Azure was 56 per cent faster than the No. 2 Amazon S3 in write speed, and 39 per cent faster at reading files than the No. 2 HP Cloud Object Storage in read speed. Availability: Azure’s average response time was 25 per cent faster than Amazon S3, which had the second fastest average time.

Scalability: Amazon S3 varied only 0.6 per cent from its average the scaling tests, with Microsoft Windows Azure varying 1.9 per cent (both very acceptable levels of variance). The two OpenStack-based clouds – HP and Rackspace – showed significant variance of 23.5 per cent and 26.1 per cent, respectively, with performance becoming more and more unpredictable as object counts increased.

Overall, however, the test results demonstrated clear advancements on all platforms over last year, including improved performance and fewer errors. It is clear that the minimum bar is moving upward, which is good news for anyone consuming or considering cloud storage. As more CSPs mature into enterprise-class cloud storage offerings, organizations and vendors will be able to leverage competitive advancements in price and technology to improve their overall storage infrastructure.

Andres Rodriguez, CEO of Nasuni, Microsoft’s investment in its second generation cloud storage, which it made available to customers last year, has clearly paid off. With Amazon S3 and Microsoft Windows Azure, the cloud storage industry clearly has two strong players to choose from. Even more encouraging, however, was the marked performance improvement across the board. As CSPs continue to mature, competition among top quality providers can only benefit enterprise IT.

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