Our approach for images has always been straightforward: Provide unmodified images that allow you to run anything that you need in our cloud. (Ugh. We said cloud.) Early on, this started as our customers needed to run custom kernel modules or images and weren't able to with other, locked-in providers.
The full-virtualization approach does have a performance trade off, although it is typically not noticeable to most users. The benefits, on the other hand, are significant: Full, unmodified o/s control – for most of you, this means Linux and maintaining your kernel. For some, though, it means running FreeBSD, Solaris, and yes, even Windows on our service. (Although we don't provide automated tools to configure these operating systems, you can install and run them.)
Recently, much has been said about virtualization performance and quite a few of you have approached us asking how you can make things faster. The answer is — you can! By installing paravirtualized drivers in your instance, you can significantly increase performance. After reviewing our set of images, we've decided to change our approach by including these drivers by default.
This does not mean that we'll control your system, or prevent you from running unmodified operating systems. If you are, or want to, you still can. But by default we'll work to give you the best performance out of the gate.
Our CentOS 5.4 32bit and 64bit images have both been updated today with these drivers for all new deployments. If you have an existing CentOS system (Upgraded to 5.4) you can follow these steps in our knowledgebase to update and install the paravirtualized drivers yourself.
Stay tuned as our other base images are updated in the coming weeks.
the Host Virtual Team