The network performance of Amazon Web Services (AWS) is less predictable than Microsoft’s and Google’s, even though the company is the leading public cloud platform. This is demonstrated by ThousandEyes’ second Cloud Performance Benchmark.

ThousandEyes researched the network performance of cloud providers for the second year in a row. Last year, the company did this only for AWS, Microsoft Azure and the Google Cloud Platform (GCP), but this year, Silicon Angle writes, Alibaba Cloud and IBM Cloud were also examined.

ThousandEyes uses specialized software sensors in cloud data centers in 54 countries. Enterprises can also use agents in their own internal infrastructure and on employees’ devices. All this information is combined to create a map of the network paths through which the traffic passes.

AWS relies on the internet

The Cloud Performance Benchmark shows that there are still important differences between the five cloud providers. For example, AWS relies heavily on the public internet to deliver network traffic, and less on its own infrastructure. As a result, the predictability of the network’s performance is lower than that of its competitors.

AWS tried to tackle these problems last year by introducing the Global Accelerator. In that case, the company does use its own private network connection to deliver traffic in exchange for payment. However, ThousandEyes now states that this does not always lead to better performance.

“…there are several examples where the internet actually performs faster and more reliably than Global Accelerator, or, the results are negligible,” says the report. However, latency and overall performance have improved compared to last year.

Most improvement at Google

Most of the improvements were visible with GCP, which does use its own infrastructure to transport traffic. GCP saw an overall performance improvement of 36.4 percent compared to the previous year.

However, GCP still has some challenges. For example, traffic between Africa and Europe appears to take 2.5 to 3 times longer than with other cloud providers. The reason is that traffic from GCP is first diverted to the US, so it does not take the most direct route.

Microsoft Azure saw a 29.2 percent improvement in the predictability of its performance, partly due to the use of its own infrastructure. In India, however, the predictability of performance decreased by 31 percent.

IBM and Alibaba Cloud

IBM Cloud and Alibaba Cloud participated in the Cloud Performance Benchmark for the first time this year. Both companies did well, and IBM certainly managed to deliver performance comparable to the three major providers.

IBM also has a hybrid approach to delivering traffic, using both the Internet and its own infrastructure. Which of the two is used depends on the region.