Over the summer our cloud infrastructure partners at AWS, Rackspace, and SoftLayer have been both expanding the capabilities of their infrastructures and competing with each other on price. To keep on the leading edge, incorporating the new capabilities into Qbox required some reconfiguring of the deployment library that is one of our great value-adds.

It was a complex task, but we’ve finally completed this work. Where possible, we wish to share the pricing goodness with our customers. This post explains the changes in SoftLayer Pricing

IBM, long thought of as a premium services provider, recently decided that they were not going to cede price leadership to Amazon Web Services. After purchasing SoftLayer last October, they began a cycle of price cutting this summer. For a time, Softlayer was the most expensive option. That is no longer true.

For Qbox customers, SoftLayer pricing has been cut 30-50% across the board. To their credit, IBM has also expanded their offerings in more data centers, recently adding Toronto, London, and Hong Kong. Existing Qbox deployments on SoftLayer will receive this price cut starting today.

For price-conscious customers who need the capacity but are not concerned with the extra performance boost provided by our SSD-backed instances, SoftLayer represents the best option.

New Amazon Instances

Our smallest instance on AWS, the t1.micro with 613MB RAM, has been elimated in favor of the newer t2.micro. The upgrade increases RAM to 1GB, and swaps out standard EBS drives with much faster SSDs.The next instance size, the m1.small with 1.7GB RAM, has been replaced with the t2.small with 2GB RAM. Like the micro, it now has SSD as well.Both t2 instances benefit from AWS’s new “burstable performance” model that can drastically improve the performance and stability of smaller clusters.

Customers currently utilizing the older t1.micros and m1.smalls may continue to do so, but it will not be available for re-provisioning if you choose to spin it down. This will be especially critical if you have multiple nodes of the same type.

As of now, all AWS instances will be SSD backed, which provides an up-to 40x increase in disk performance versus non-SSD. That translates to less I/O wait, and thus quicker responses and more stability during load spikes. EBS is no longer available.

If you wish to migrate from old instances to new, please fill out a support ticket. We still need to do these migrations manually, but they only take a matter of minutes.

Rackspace Pricing

Compared to their bigger brethren, Rackspace has positioned itself a bit differently. They feel that their commitment to personalized service and support will differentiate themselves and save them from commodification. We at Qbox certainly appreciate this differentiation, as it is a differentiation that we strive to achieve as well.

If and when we have to deal with our infrastructure partners, our friends at Rackspace are by far the most helpful and expeditious. However, they have, more or less, chosen to hold the line and even slightly increase their pricing on certain servers.

For Qbox customers on Rackspace, it is likely you chose their deployment option because of its proximity to your other infrastructure, and presumably, you chose Rackspace for the support reasons. Nevertheless, as our pricing is tied firmly to our costs from infrastructure partners, users on the 512MB Standard and the 1GB Performance options will see a 12-15% increase in price.

As always, we welcome feedback on the scale and configuration of our infrastructure — and we hope to hear from you if you wish to see new features or capabilities developed.