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On track for a CloudXPRT web microservices update this fall

Last month, we announced that we’re working on an updated CloudXPRT web microservices test package. The purpose of the update is to fix installation failures on Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure, and ensure that the web microservices workload works on Ubuntu 22.04, using updated software components such as Kubernetes v1.23.7, Kubespray v2.18.1, and Kubernetes Metrics Server v1. The update also incorporates some additional minor script changes.

We are still testing the updated test package with on-premises hardware and Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure configurations. So far, testing is progressing well, and we feel increasingly confident that we will be able to release the updated test package soon. We would like to share a more concrete release schedule, but because of the complexity of the workload and the CSP platforms involved, we are waiting until we are certain that everything is ready to go.

The name of the updated package will be CloudXPRT v1.2, and it will include only the updated v1.2 test harness and the updated web microservices workload. It will not include the data analytics workload. As we stated in last month’s blog, we plan to publish the updated web microservices package, and see what kind of interest we receive from users about a possible refresh of the v1.1 data analytics workload. For now, the v1.1 data analytics workload will continue to be available via CloudXPRT.com for some time to serve as a reference resource for users that have worked with the package in the past.

As soon as possible, we’ll provide more information about the CloudXPRT v1.2 release date here in the blog. If you have any questions about the update or CloudXPRT in general, please feel free to contact us!

Justin

CloudXPRT status and next steps

We developed our first cloud benchmark, CloudXPRT, to measure the performance of cloud applications deployed on modern infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platforms. When we first released CloudXPRT in February of 2021, the benchmark included two test packages: a web microservices workload and a data analytics workload. Both supported on-premises and cloud service provider (CSP) testing with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Microsoft Azure. 

CloudXPRT is our most complex benchmark, requiring sustained compatibility between many software components across multiple independent test environments. As vendors roll out updates for some components and stop supporting others, it’s inevitable that something will break. Since CloudXPRT’s launch, we’ve become aware of installation failures while attempting to set up CloudXPRT on Ubuntu virtual machines with GCP and Microsoft Azure. Additionally, while the web microservices workload continues to run in most instances with a few configuration tweaks and workarounds, the data analytics workload fails consistently due to compatibility issues with Minio, Prometheus, and Kafka within the Kubernetes environment. 

In response, we’re working to fix problems with the web microservices workload and bring all necessary components up to date. We’re developing an updated test package that will work on Ubuntu 22.04, using Kubernetes v1.23.7 and Kubespray v2.18.1. We’re also updating Kubernetes Metrics Server from v1beta1 to v1, and will incorporate some minor script changes. Our goal is to ensure successful installation and testing with the on-premises and CSP platforms that we supported when we first launched CloudXPRT.

We are currently focusing on the web microservices workload for two reasons. First, more users have downloaded it than the data analytics workload. Second, we think we have a clear path to success. Our plan is to publish the updated web microservices test package, and see what feedback and interest we receive from users about a possible data analytics refresh. The existing data analytics workload will remain available via CloudXPRT.com for the time being to serve as a reference resource.

We apologize for the inconvenience that these issues have caused. We’ll provide more information about a release timeline and final test package details here in the blog as we get closer to publication. If you have any questions about the future of CloudXPRT, please feel free to contact us!

Justin

Reports of CloudXPRT installation failures

Recently, CloudXPRT testers have reported installation failures while attempting to set up CloudXPRT on Ubuntu virtual machines with Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure. We have not yet determined whether the installation process fails consistently on these VMs or the problem occurs under only specific conditions. We believe these failures occur with only GCP and Azure, and you should still be able to successfully install and run CloudXPRT on both Amazon Web Services virtual machines and on-premises gear.

We apologize for the inconvenience that this issue causes for CloudXPRT testers and will let the community know as soon as we identify a reliable solution. If you have encountered any other issues during CloudXPRT testing, please feel free to contact us!

Justin

We welcome your CloudXPRT results!

We recently published a set of CloudXPRT Data Analytics and Web Microservices workload test results submitted by Quanta Computer, Inc. The Quanta submission is the first set of CloudXPRT results that we’ve published using the formal results submission and approval process. We’re grateful to the Quanta team for carefully following the submission guidelines, enabling us to complete the review process without a hitch.

If you are unfamiliar with the process, you can find general information about how we review submissions in a previous blog post. Detailed, step-by-step instructions are available on the results submission page. As a reminder for testers who are considering submitting results for July, the submission deadline is tomorrow, Friday July 16, and the publication date is Friday July 30. We list the submission and publication dates for the rest of 2021 below. Please note that we do not plan to review submissions in December, so if we receive results submissions after November 30, we may not publish them until the end of January 2022.

August

Submission deadline: Tuesday 8/17/21

Publication date: Tuesday 8/31/21

September

Submission deadline: Thursday 9/16/21

Publication date: Thursday 9/30/21

October

Submission deadline: Friday 10/15/21

Publication date: Friday 10/29/21

November

Submission deadline: Tuesday 11/16/21

Publication date: Tuesday 11/30/21

December

Submission deadline: N/A

Publication date: N/A

If you have any questions about the CloudXPRT results submission, review, or publication process, please let us know!

Justin

Publishing CloudXPRT results from testing on pre-production gear

We recently received questions about whether we accept CloudXPRT results submissions from testing on pre-production gear, and how we would handle any differences between results from pre-production and production-level tests.  

To answer first question, we are not opposed to pre-production results submissions. We realize that vendors often want to include benchmark results in launch-oriented marketing materials they release before their hardware or software is publicly available. To help them do so, we’re happy to consider pre-production submissions on a case-by-case basis. All such submissions must follow the normal CloudXPRT results submission process, and undergo vetting by the CloudXPRT Results Review Group according to the standard review and publication schedule. If we decide to publish pre-production results on our site, we will clearly note their pre-production status.

In response to the second question, the CloudXPRT Results Review Group will handle any challenges to published results or perceived discrepancies between pre-production and production-level results on a case-by-case basis. We do not currently have a formal process for challenges; anyone who would like to initiate a challenge or express comments or concerns about a result should address the review group via benchmarkxprtsupport@principledtechnologies.com. Our primary concern is always to ensure that published results accurately reflect the performance characteristics of production-level hardware and software. If it becomes necessary to develop more policies in the future, we’ll do so, but we want to keep things as simple as possible.

If you have any questions about the CloudXPRT results submission process, please let us know!

Justin

Default requirements for CloudXPRT results submissions

Over the past few weeks, we’ve received questions about whether we require specific test configuration settings for official CloudXPRT results submissions. Currently, testers have the option to edit up to 12 configuration options for the web microservices workload and three configuration options for the data analytics workload. Not all configuration options have an impact on testing and results, but a few of them can drastically affect key results metrics and how long it takes to complete a test. Because new CloudXPRT testers may not anticipate those outcomes, and so many configuration permutations are possible, we’ve come up with a set of requirements for all future results submissions to our site. Please note that testers are still free to adjust all available configuration options—and define service level agreement (SLA) settings—as they see fit for their own purposes. The requirements below apply only to results testers want to submit for publication consideration on our site, and to any resulting comparisons.


Web microservices results submission requirement

Starting with the May results submission cycle, all web microservices results submissions must have the workload.cpurequestsvalue, which lets the user designate the number of CPU cores the workload assigns to each pod, set to 4. Currently, the benchmark supports values of 1, 2, and 4, with the default value of 4. While 1 and 2 CPU cores per pod may be more appropriate for relatively low-end systems or configurations with few vCPUs, a value of 4 is appropriate for most datacenter processors, and it often enables CSP instances to operate within the benchmark’s max default 95th percentile latency SLA of 3,000 milliseconds.

In future CloudXPRT releases, we may remove the option to change the workload.cpurequests value from the config.json file and simply fix the value in the benchmark’s code to promote test predictability and reasonable comparisons. For more information about configuration options for the web microservices workload, please consult the Overview of the CloudXPRT Web Microservices Workload white paper.


Data analytics results submission requirement

Starting with the May results submission cycle, all data analytics results submissions must have the best reported performance (throughput_jobs/min) correspond to a 95th percentile SLA latency of 90 seconds or less. We have received submissions where the throughput was extremely high, but the 95th percentile SLA latency was up to 10 times the 90 seconds that we recommend in CloudXPRT documentation. High latency values may be acceptable for the unique purposes of individual testers, but they do not provide a good basis for comparison between clusters under test. For more information about configuration options with the data analytics workload, please consult the Overview of the CloudXPRT Data Analytics Workload white paper.

We will update CloudXPRT documentation to make sure that testers know to use the default configuration settings if they plan to submit results for publication. If you have any questions about CloudXPRT or the CloudXPRT results submission process, please let us know.

Justin

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