Tech review

See 2X the Microsoft SQL Server OLTP performance for a lower cost by choosing an Amazon EC2 r5b.8xlargeinstance over a Microsoft Azure E64_32s_v4 VM

After you’ve decided to run your Microsoft SQL Server database workloads in the cloud, you have another challenging choice to make: which cloud service provider (CSP) to use. As with any business decision, cost is a significant factor. For large, critical workloads, however, you also need high performance, which can be at odds with the need to limit spending.

In hands-on testing, we found that an r5b.8xlarge instance from Amazon Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2) offers a balance of performance and cost. We compared the online transaction processing (OLTP) performance of an Amazon EC2 r5b.8xlarge instance and an Azure E64_32s_v4 VM by running a TPC-C-like OLTP workload from HammerDB v3.3. Both instances used Intel Xeon Scalable processors (Cascade Lake), ran Microsoft SQL Server 2019 Enterprise edition, and had similar storage configuration specifications for input/output operations per second (IOPS) performance. (To learn more about why we chose to compare these two specific instances and see their configuration details, read the full report.)

We found that the Amazon EC2 r5b.8xlarge instance delivered:

  • Better OLTP performance. The EC2 instance delivered more than double the new orders per minute (NOPM) of the Azure VM. By handling more database work, these instances could help your organization build more e-commerce revenue.
  • Cost savings in a worst-case scenario. To model a scenario in which an organization had to run their workload 24/7, we compiled the on-demand, license-included cost of both solutions for a full 730-hour month.1,2,3 Using the performance numbers from our testing, the price for 1,000 NOPM from the EC2 instance was $17 USD lower than the price for 1,000 NOPM from the Azure VM in this full-month scenario. With that cost difference, you could pay as much as 62 percent less for the EC2 r5b.8xlarge instance we tested than for the Azure VM with comparable NOPM performance. (Costs will vary depending on the plan your organization selects; some plans are best suited for short-term performance bursts, while others work better for long-term solutions lasting a year or more.)

  • Everyday cost savings. We also calculated the price for 1,000 NOPM in a scenario with lower cloud utilization: 8 hours of usage per day for a total of 240 hours over the course of a month. In this scenario, we envision an administrator spinning up an instance and restoring respective snapshots to the storage volume to use for eight hours per day, then spinning down the instance, saving a new daily snapshot, and deleting the storage at the end of the day. Here, based on the difference in price per 1,000 NOPM, you could again pay as much as 62 percent less with the EC2 r5b.8xlarge instance than with the Azure E64_32s_v4 VM while achieving comparable NOPM performance.

To learn more about all the results and get the details of our testing, read the report at http://facts.pt/5ro20rg.

This blog was commissioned by AWS.

1 – Instance pricing from both CSPs did not include operating system or SQL Server costs. To include those, we used each CSP’s pricing calculator.

2 – Amazon, “AWS Pricing Calculator,” accessed February 2, 2021, https://calculator.aws/#/.

3 – Microsoft, “Pricing calculator,” accessed February 2, 2021, https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/calculator/.

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