If you’re looking for a U.S.-based cloud provider to host your business applications and data, you might want to take note of one new report that ranks the performance levels for providers in 2012. The results might surprise you, because it turns out that size and location may make a big difference in overall performance.

The data was provided to ReadWrite via Compuware’s CloudSleuth service, which monitors the on-going availability and response time of providers around the world. The CloudSleuth application is hosted by cloud providers just like any other customer’s app and is constantly polled for metrics from 17 locations around the U.S.

Global Cloud Availability, Past 30 Days

The data for the rank list was aggregated over the 2012 calendar year, measuring average response time, availability, and consistency. Consistency is the standard deviation of the response time, indicating the range of values for the reported response times over the course of the year, according to Compuware APM Technology Strategist Stephen Pierzchala.

To come up with the overall ranking, Pierzchala explained, the company combined the individual ranks for all of the three categories.

In 2012, based on overall rank, the top five providers were:

  1. Connectria (US Central – Missouri)
  2. Layered Tech (US Central – Illinois)
  3. Qube (US East – New York)
  4. Layered Tech (US South – Texas)
  5. Layered Tech (US Central – Missouri)

Not exactly widely known providers, are they? The players with more notoriety – like Rackspace, Google, Windows Azure and Amazon Web Services – are conspicuously missing from the top five listing. Looking at the rest of the list, Rackspace’s Texas facility rolled in at number 6 overall, with Windows Azure’s Illinois data center tying for ninth. Google App Engine was ranked number 15, and the highest Amazon Web Service rank was the EC2 facility in California, which came in at number 26 in a list of 38.

Fly-Over States Rock

There’s another interesting pattern, one that leaped out as soon as Pierzchala pointed it out.

“If you look at the first 10-15 providers, they’re almost all located in the center of the U.S.,” he noted.

Location, it seems, makes a big difference in where you choose to host your cloud applications. If you are one of the coasts, there’s a certain logic to hosting your cloud applications and data in a facility that is in the middle of the country, where all users, wherever they are, can roughly traverse as the same amount of network to get to the actual cloud machine. Balancing your data and app use geographically can provide real benefits.

North America Cloud Response Times, Past 24 Hours

That the top-ranked providers are all smaller providers may not be an accident, either. Larger providers may have slower response times ands availability by virtue of the fact they are working with so many customers and web applications. If that’s the case, there may be something to using a smaller provider that’s not located on one of the Coasts.

The full overall rank list is below, followed by the top 10 providers in terms of average response time and availability for 2012, respectively.

2012 Top U.S. Cloud Providers

  1. Connectria (US Central – Missouri)
  2. Layered Tech (US Central – Illinois)
  3. Qube (US East – New York)
  4. Layered Tech (US South – Texas)
  5. Layered Tech (US Central – Missouri)
  6. Rackspace (US South – Texas)
  7. GMO Cloud (US West – California)
  8. PeakColo (US West – Colorado)
  9. SoftLayer (US East – Virginia)
  10. TekLinks (US South – Alabama)
  11. Windows Azure (US Central – Illinois)
  12. SoftLayer (US South – Texas)
  13. SoftLayer (US West – Washington)
  14. US Signal (US Central – Michigan)
  15. Google App Engine
  16. ElasticHosts (US West – California)
  17. BlueLock (US Central – Indiana)
  18. CloudSigma (US West – Nevada)
  19. Dimension Data (US East – Virginia)
  20. ElasticHosts (US South – Texas)
  21. TekLinks2 (US South – Alabama)
  22. SoftLayer (US West – California)
  23. GoGrid (US West – California)
  24. Cartika (US South – Texas)
  25. Dimension Data (US West – California)
  26. Amazon EC2 (US West – California)
  27. Terremark (US East – Florida)
  28. eApps (US East – Georgia)
  29. Amazon EC2 (US East – Virginia)
  30. Green House Data (US West – Oregon)
  31. eApps (US East – Virginia)
  32. GoGrid (US East – Virginia)
  33. Voxel (US East – New York)
  34. Claris Networks (US South – Tennessee)
  35. Green House Data (US West – Wyoming)
  36. Voxel (US West – California)
  37. Bit Refinery (US Central – Colorado)
  38. PhoenixNAP (US West – Arizona)

2012 Top 10 U.S. Cloud Providers (By Average Response Time)

  1. Windows Azure (US Central – Illinois)
  2. Layered Tech (US South – Texas)
  3. Rackspace (US South – Texas)
  4. Connectria (US Central – Missouri)
  5. SoftLayer (US South – Texas)
  6. Layered Tech (US Central – Illinois)
  7. Qube (US East – New York)
  8. Layered Tech (US Central – Missouri)
  9. PeakColo (US West – Colorado)
  10. BlueLock (US Central – Indiana)

2012 Top 10 U.S. Cloud Providers (By Availability)

  1. Layered Tech (US Central – Illinois)
  2. Connectria (US Central – Missouri)
  3. SoftLayer (US East – Virginia)
  4. Terremark (US East – Florida)
  5. US Signal (US Central – Michigan)
  6. SoftLayer (US West – Washington)
  7. GMO Cloud (US West – California)
  8. Green House Data (US West – Oregon)
  9. Amazon EC2 (US East – Virginia)
  10. Qube (US East – New York)

Story images and data courtesy of Compuware.