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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

The CloudXPRT v1.1 beta is on the way

As we’ve been working on improvements and updates for CloudXPRT, we’ve been using feedback from community members to determine which changes will help testers most in the short term. To make some of those changes available to the community as soon as possible, we plan to release a beta version of CloudXPRT v1.1 in the coming weeks.

During the v1.1 beta period, the CloudXPRT v1.01 installation packages on CloudXPRT.com and our GitHub repository will continue to include the officially supported version of CloudXPRT. However, interested testers can experiment with the v1.1 beta version in new environments while we finalize the build for official release. 

The CloudXPRT v1.1 beta includes the following primary changes:

  • We’re adding support for Ubuntu 20.04.2 or later, the number one request we’ve received.
  • We’re consolidating and standardizing the installation packages for both workloads. Instead of one package for the data analytics workload and four separate packages for the web microservices workload, each workload will have two installation packages: one for all on-premises testing and one for testing with all three supported CSPs.
  • We’re incorporating Terraform to help create and configure VMs, which will help to prevent situations when testers do not allocate enough storage per VM prior to testing.
  • We use Kubespray to manage Kubernetes clusters, and Kubespray uses Calico as the default network plug in. Calico has not always worked well for CloudXPRT in the CSP environment, so we’re replacing Calico with Weave.


At the start of the beta period, we will share a link to the v1.1 beta download page here in the blog. You’ll be free to share this link. To avoid confusion, we will not add the beta download to the v1.01 downloads available on CloudXPRT.com.

As the beta release date approaches, we’ll share more details about timelines, access, and any additional changes to the benchmark. If you have any questions about the upcoming CloudXPRT v1.1 beta, please let us know!

Justin

The CloudXPRT learning tool is now live!

We’re happy to announce that the CloudXPRT learning tool is now live! We designed the tool to serve as an information hub for common CloudXPRT topics and questions, and to help tech journalists, OEM lab engineers, and everyone who is interested in CloudXPRT find the answers they need as quickly as possible.

The tool features four primary areas of content:

  • The Q&A section provides quick answers to the questions we receive most from testers and the tech press.
  • The CloudXPRT: the basics section describes specific topics such as the benchmark’s target platforms, workloads, companion cloud software, and hardware and software requirements.
  • The Testing and results section covers the testing process, metrics, and how to publish results.
  • The cloud primer provides brief, easy-to-understand definitions of key cloud computing terms and concepts.

The first screenshot below shows the home screen. To illustrate how some of the pop-up information sections appear, the second screenshot shows part of the Key terms and concepts module in the Cloud primer section. 

We’re excited about the new CloudXPRT learning tool! If you have any questions about the tool, or suggestions for additional content to include in it, please let us know!

Justin

Fixes for minor CloudXPRT bugs are on the way

We want to let CloudXPRT testers know that we’re close to releasing an updated version (build 1.01) with two minor bug fixes, an improved post-test results processing script, and an adjustment to one of our test configuration recommendations. None of these changes will affect performance or test results, so scores from previous CloudXPRT builds will be comparable to those from the new build.

The most significant changes in CloudXPRT build 1.01 are as follows:

  • In previous builds, some testers encountered warnings during setup to update the version of Kubernetes Operations (kops) when testing on public-cloud platforms (the CloudXPRT 1.00 recommendation is kops version 1.16.0). We are adjusing the kops installation instructions in the setup instructions for the web microservices and data analytics workloads to prevent these warnings.
  • In previous builds, post-test cleanup instructions for public-cloud testing environments do not always delete all of the resources that CloudXPRT creates during setup. We are updating instructions to ensure a more thorough cleanup process. This change applies to test instructions for the web microservices and data analytics workloads.
  • We are reformatting the optional results graphs the web microservices postprocess program creates to make them easier to interpret.
  • In previous builds, the recommended time interval for the web-microservices workload is 120 seconds if the hpamode option is enabled and 60 seconds if it is disabled. Because we’ve found that the 60-second difference has no significant impact on test results, we are changing the recommendation to 60 seconds for both hpamode settings.


We hope these changes will improve the CloudXPRT setup and testing experience. We haven’t set the release date for the updated build yet, but when we do, we’ll announce it here in the blog. If you have any questions about CloudXPRT, or would like to report bugs or other issues, please feel free to contact us!

Justin

A CloudXPRT build with bug fixes is on the way

We want to let CloudXPRT testers know that updated installer packages are on the way. The packages will include several fixes for bugs that we discovered in the initial CloudXPRT Preview release (build 0.95). The fixes do not affect CloudXPRT test results, but do help to facilitate installation and remove potential sources of confusion during the setup and testing process.

Along with a few text edits and other minor fixes, we made the following changes in the upcoming build:

  • We updated the data analytics setup code to prevent error messages that occurred when the benchmark treated one-node configurations as a special case.
  • We configured the data analytics workload to use a go.mod file for all the required go modules. With this change, we can explicitly state the release version of the necessary go modules, and updates to the latest go release won’t break the benchmark. This change also removes the need to include large gosrc.tar.gz files in the source code.
  • We added a cleanup utility script for the web microservices workload. If something goes wrong during configuration or a test run, testers can use this script to clean everything and start over.
  • We fixed an error that prevented the benchmark from successfully retrieving the cluster_config.json file in certain multi-node setups.
  • In the web microservices workload, we changed the output format of the request rate metric from integer to float. This change allows us to report workload data with a higher degree of precision.
  • In the web microservices workload, we added an overall summary line to results log file that reports the best throughput numbers from the test run.
  • In the web microservices code, we modified a Kubernetes option that the benchmark used to create the Cassandra schema. Prior to this change, the option generated an inconsequential but distracting error message about TTY input.

We haven’t set the release date for the updated build yet, but when we do, we’ll announce it here in the blog. If you have any questions about CloudXPRT, please let us know!

Justin

The CloudXPRT Preview is here!

The CloudXPRT Preview installation packages are now available on CloudXPRT.com and the BenchmarkXPRT GitHub repository! The CloudXPRT Preview includes two workloads: web microservices and data analytics (you can find more details about the workloads here). Testers can use metrics from the workloads to compare IaaS stack (both hardware and software) performance and to evaluate whether any given stack is capable of meeting SLA thresholds. You can configure CloudXPRT to run on local datacenter, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, or Microsoft Azure deployments.

Several different test packages are available for download from the CloudXPRT download page. For detailed installation instructions and hardware and software requirements for each, click the package’s readme link. The Helpful Info box on CloudXPRT.com also contains resources such as links to the CloudXPRT master readme and the CloudXPRT GitHub repository. Soon, we will add a link to the CloudXPRT Preview source code, which will be freely available for testers to download and review.

All interested parties may now publish CloudXPRT results. However, until we begin the formal results submission and review process in July, we will publish only results we produce in our own lab. We anticipate adding the first set of those within the coming week.

We’re thankful for all the input we received during the initial CloudXPRT development process, and we welcome feedback on the CloudXPRT Preview. If you have any questions about CloudXPRT, or would like to share your comments and suggestions, please let us know.

Justin

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