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Amazon EC2 latency from Australian soil

Posted at 22:58 on Thu, 7th April 2011 in networking, technical.

Which of the Amazon EC2 Regions is best for users located in Australia. I've tested the latency of each, and here are the results.

Update: As of 12 November 2012, Amazon are now offering AWS services hosted in Sydney!

One of the problems that has haunted Australian web developers for many years, is finding reliable,  affordable, scalable and functional VPS suppliers, located physically within Australia. At Itomic, we've tried quite a few suppliers over the years and each has their pro's and con's. Comparing them with what's offered by suppliers like Amazon and Rackspace (physically located in America), we don't get anything close. The problem with using American hosts however, is that the latency to these can be a bit of a problem for interactive websites. By interactive websites, I mean, those that need to communicate with the server often to promptly display various data on the screen (aka AJAX).

Amazon's EC2 service is a very reliable and flexible Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting service. Over the past 6-12 months, they've setup additional Point's of Presence's (POP's) in Tokyo and Singapore. So with this news, I was a little curious about the latencies different Australian capital cities had to each of these, and if I had to choose one, which would be the best, on average. So I went about spinning up an instance for each, ran some tests from some hosts I had access to, and averaged things out!

Things to be aware of:

  • each of the tests was conducted from another server in a data centre within the specified Australian city during off-peak times. This was to ensure it wasn't influenced by unreliable internet connections or spikes in server usage.
  • the tests were based on 10 consecutive pings (i.e. ping -c 10 <host>) all around the same time, and the average of these 10 were used.
  • each EC2 instance ran a Debian 6.0 x64 server or minimal OS images with Large memory selected.

And the reults:

EC2 Server Region / Test Location Perth Melbourne Sydney Canberra Average
Asia Pacific (Singapore) 56.38 315.48 107.28 151.76 157.7
Asia Pacific (Tokyo) 233.47 217.31 153.96 121.63 181.6
US West (N. California) 241.99 180.54 163.09 165.247 187.7
US East (Virginia) 312.30 253.34 219.83 258.77 261.1
EU West (Ireland) 367.46 357.33 317.77 313.01 338.9

The main surprise is the great latency that all cities besides Melbourne & to a lesser extent Canberra, had to the Singapore EC2 instance. It's important to note that not all users in Melbourne will get this latency, but perhaps those using the same ISP as the Melbourne test host would. If Melbourne's routing could be improved, the Singapore EC2 instance would be more than adequate for hosting VPS servers, servicing Australian users.

If anyone wants to do some tests using hosts in Adelaide, Brisbane, and Hobart (I had none, sorry!), it would be great to hear from you!

Hopefully in the near future, Amazon will setup a POP somewhere in Australia, and then we won't have to worry about this sort of thing,  In the meantime though, a Singapore EC2 server is looking very attractive.