So far, our Linux based operating systems in City Cloud have had a slight advantage when it comes to performance. These operating systems have access to a special driver which makes them more integrated in the virtualisation platform which in turn gives them an edge performance vise. We recently insalled the same drivers for Windows so that our customers can get great performance regardless of which OS they choose.
What is VirtIO/BLK?
VirtIO and VirtBLK is in short, the closest you get to doing full virtualization. Usually an operating system is running ON the virtualisation platform, this is the case with all our Windows based operating systems today. The OS doesn´t know wether it´s running on physical hardware or on a virtualised platform and the communication between the actual computing power (CPU, RAM) and the software is emulated in the virtualisation platform to resemble a physical environment.
Why use VirtIO/BLK?
With VirtIO/VirtBLK you could say that the OS is aware of the fact that it´s running on a virtual environment and co-operates with the hypervisor. The hypervisor is the same as a management system (KVM) that keeps track and allocates resources for all the virtual instances. This way. the OS becomes more integrated with the platform and you no longer need to emulate the communication between the platform and the OS. Naturally, this increases communication speed and in turn performance.
We have done some performance testing and compared two Windows servers, one with VirtIO/BLK and one without. The server using VirtIO/BLK gave us a 50% increase in speed within Europe with approximately the same ping. The same goes for read/write speed, 50% faster.
Available for Windows
VirtIO/BLK is now awailable for Windows. We have uploaded a new Windows 2008 Datacenter image with VirtIO/BLK in our app center. Pleasae feel free to try it out. We would like to inform all our users that this image is still in Beta. We might need to do some adjustments and maintenance to make sure that everything works as intended.
Try it out for your self, the increase in speed is apparent and we are so glad to launch this advantage for Windows users. We will post more articles about VirtIO/BLK and Windows in the near future.