I drive one of those cars for which the manufacturer recommends "premium" fuel with a higher octane rating. However, I read an article recently which claims that using premium fuel usually doesn't provide any benefit. Still, wouldn't it be great if using different petrol in your vehicle resulted in noticeably better performance? Faster acceleration? Better driving?
What about cloud computing? I think most people who use public cloud service providers are willing to tolerate a certain performance tradeoff. After all, cloud computing assumes you are willing to share your server with other tenants in a virtualized environment. Still, if you are hosting a web site on a public cloud server, wouldn't you want to have the best possible response time to make that web site as snappy as possible?
Recently, Intel partnered with Bitnami to bring an astounding 20% throughput improvement to their clients running their Wordpress application. That's like upgrading to the next generation of CPU!
If you are unfamiliar with Bitnami, they have a very cool product. Let's say you are a client of a major cloud service provider like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Services or Oracle Cloud Platform. If you want to stand up a web site based on Wordpress or Drupal (like 80% of the World Wide Web), how do you go about it? The usual way is to start with a generic Linux system, install packages for PHP, Wordpress, MySQL, etc, configure them and then start adding your web content.
Or, you can do it the easy way. You can request a pre-configured Wordpress application which has all of that package installation and configuration done for you.
This is what Bitnami supplies: preconfigured web applications from your cloud service provider. I found an example video which shows this working on Azure. Pretty slick!
Not only is it easier to use the Bitnami Wordpress application, it's also faster. Today the Wordpress images from Bitnami get that 20% performance boost over their previous images, and probably quite a bit higher than you might get from sticking the stack together on your own.
How did we do it? The gory technical details can be found here. Simply, Intel is able to take the open source software which makes up the Wordpress application and, based on our in-depth knowledge of how the processor architecture works, we're able to get a nice boost. No proprietary or closed source tricks were used.
Now, of course, we would love for datacenter managers to choose our latest generation processors (like our current Intel® Xeon® E5-2600 v4 family) to deliver a nice boost in performance depending on workloads. But isn't it nice to get a generational boost in the cloud.