Tech review

Get higher transaction throughput and better price/performance for SQL Server on AWS with an Amazon EC2 r5b instance and EBS gp3 storage

Due to their flexibility and on-demand design, public clouds can seem like a logical choice for many organizations running transactional database workloads. Not all public cloud solutions are the same, however. Your organization likely wants a solution that meets or surpasses your performance needs and can help keep costs low for your IT budget.

Our hands-on testing aimed to show the online transaction processing (OLTP) performance capabilities of an Amazon Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2) r5b.16xlarge instance backed by Elastic Block Storage (EBS) gp3 volumes and a Microsoft Azure E64ds_v4 VM in two storage configurations. One Azure configuration relied on Premium SSD volumes (P40 and P60) and the other used an ultra disk volume. We made the EC2 R5b instance and Azure VM configurations as comparable as possible in computing and memory resources. In addition to having 2nd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors, the EC2 instance and both Azure VMs had the same number of vCPUs (64) and comparable on-demand hourly pricing. The EC2 instance had 512 GB of memory, and the Azure E64ds VMs had 504 GB. To learn more about our configurations and why we chose them, see the full details on page 2 of our report.

After completing our hands-on testing with the TPROC-C OLTP workload from HammerDB v4.2, we created a worst-case cost scenario based on 720 hours of usage per month—running all day, every day for a month—to compare the price per performance of each on-demand, license-included solution. Expenses vary depending on the plan your organization chooses, which would include using the cloud for short-term performance bursts or needing longer-term options (e.g., one year, three years).

Compared to the two Azure VM configurations, we found that the EC2 R5b solution featuring EBS gp3 storage delivered:

More SQL Server transactions. Compared to the Azure solutions, the AWS EC2 R5b solution processed up to 2.7 times the new orders per minute (NOPM). (Note that the P40-backed Azure configuration used disk caching, but the caching feature was not available for the ultra disk configuration.)

Faster response times during a SQL Server workload. The EC2 R5b solution offered up to 67 percent lower average latency for new order transactions, helping to ensure more consistent performance.

A lower cost for transactional database performance. Our EC2 R5b solution had a lower monthly cost than both configurations of the Azure VM. Based on the NOPM performance in our testing and the cost assumptions we noted above, the AWS solution can offer up to 68% lower price per 1K NOPM.

With the performance and cost savings that we saw from the AWS EC2 R5b solution featuring gp3 storage, your organization can get the scalability and flexibility benefits of a public cloud solution at a better value.

To find out more about our testing and results, read the report at

This blog was commissioned by AWS.

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