For years now I've imagined battles with HP printer driver developers and myself. In my most grand envisioned scenarios I sneak up on their filthy hords in the middle of a product crisis (requiring some type of printing and/or scanning) and then rip their laptop's display from its hinges in a single mighty cleaving blow.
Wires, bits of plastic, LCD fluid and small screws fly as I pound the display into their printer/scanner, all the while screeching, "Have you #_&%ers ever considered doing usability studies on your software?".
Signing Up for HP's Cloud
Signing up for HP's cloud is reminiscent of installing HP printer drivers of yesteryear. In these days of multi-part/page forms to ease the pain of signup, HP chooses to hit you with a massive form which collects seventeen different bits of information about you. Once you get past the initial signup, you'll be locked down in a form asking your payment information.
To make matters worse, prepared to scratch your head over HP's pricing.
Don't Get Confused with HP's Pricing
Back in December I read a post by Beth Pariseau referencing the respective pricing for Rackspace, AWS and HP's small instances. With some feedback from myself and Rackspace she later updated the post to show HP had the best price of the three providers for small instances.
Unfortunately, HP's pricing page today indicates we were only half-correct about their pricing model. Starting March 31, it appears HP plans on raising the price of their small instances to $0.07 an hour, or 1/2 a cent more an hour than Amazon. That difference works out to a whopping $3.60 more a month than AWS ($0.065/hr), and a staggering $7.20 more a month than Rackspace ($0.06/hr). Yes, I'm being dramatic. Remember those printer drivers?
Thankfully, there's a silver lining in HP's cloud offering.
Enter HP's X-Small Instances
After pulling my hair out trying to figure out HP's confusing UI, I stumbled across the fact they provided X-Small instances, which are set to be priced at $0.04 an hour after 3/31. . Digging further, their X-Small instances appear to be essentially what AWS calls a small instance (less .7GB of RAM and 100GB of storage), and what Rackspace calls a 1GB instance.
It was at this point I realized a blog post detailing the difference in the different instance sizes and pricing might be useful. That was right before I was shocked at how fast HP's X-Small instances are.
HP's X-Small Instances Are Crazy FAST
In my tests, HP's X-Small instances finish booting and become available for ssh in about 20-30 seconds. Amazon's small and micro instances took ~1-2 minutes to fully boot and become available for ssh. I didn't test Rackspace, but I did fire up a few instances on my tiny OpenStack cluster, and those booted and became available for ssh in about the same time as Amazon's instances.
Bandwidth in and out of HP's instances appears to be around 3MB/s.
I downloaded Primate Lab's Geekbench to the instances and ran it in 32-bit mode. All the kernels I tested were 64-bit. I don't claim to know much about benchmarking, so take the following for what it's worth.
The result for a X-Small instance on HP's cloud yielded a Geekbench score of 4042. The result for a Small instance on AWS yielded a Geekbench score of 1691. I've included a side by side comparison of both provider's small instances, as well as a comparison between the XX-Large HP instance and their X-Small instance.
It's worth noting the single core-tests for both HP instances are nearly identical, as are the memory throughput tests. It's likely they are using all the same type of hardware for their instances, with the minimum instance getting a single core from these machines. Consider this if your application/framework isn't multi core capable.
In conclusion, HP's X-Small cloud instance would appear to give you the biggest bang for your buck when pricing all the top cloud providers. While I'm not especially in love with HP's signup flow, or their CRAPPY cloud UI, I have to admit their pricing (even after 3/31) looks pretty good for light dev/staging work.
Now, back to my ninja themed daydreams!
Update (1/23/13): I've completed a GeekBench comparison of HP Cloud's X-Small instance and a 1GB instance from Rackspace. Rackspace's 1GB instance weighed in with a 2337.