7 Cloud Computing Acquisition Targets

Today’s savvy new cloud companies will likely get gobbled up by the giants that will rule cloud computing in the years ahead.
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It always hurts a tech company’s feelings to be called an “acquisition target.” Oh no, protests the small fish, we’re not in business to be gobbled up – we’re going to succeed in our own right.

While that hope may be sincere, big obstacles loom before a tech firm can call itself “entrenched.” Nowhere is this more true than in the crowded field of cloud computing vendors. These young companies face a cruel rule of the cloud business: the future of cloud computing won’t be ruled by small players.

It’s the big boys who will be victorious in the emerging cloud computing market. Success in offering remote computing leans heavily toward bigger-is-better: more servers, bigger networks, more complex managed services.

In 2009, however, being a small fry is great. Now is the time when anyone with an idea and a few bucks can jump in. But the window is short. By, say, 2012 or so, it’ll be clear the winners are the likes of Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce. When a CTO tells the CEO which cloud provider she picked, it better not be Barney’s Server Hut.

The good news for small cloud vendors: Today’s hulking titans will grow into still bigger hulking titans by devouring talented upstarts. (In fact, the tech titans will likely devour everything. No word yet on when Google will buy the state of California.)

As the giants look around for tasty targets, the following seven cloud companies are desirable choices. Each is a bright up and comer with something to offer. Each is basking in the glow of positive buzz.

And, of course, one never knows…maybe one of these young cloud firms will itself start snapping up its colleagues. Any one of these outfits could someday be a household name. In the rapidly churning cloud market, the future is impossible to predict.

1) GoGrid

Forget Amazon or Rackspace – GoGrid wants to host your enterprise data on its Xen-based servers. The company’s chutzpah is impressive: it actually places a comparison chart between itself and Amazon EC2 on its homepage, which – based on brand awareness – is sort of like David comparing himself to Goliath.

By the looks of its pricing chart, GoGrid has very deliberately aimed at undercutting Amazon’s prices, down to the penny. According to GoGrid’s reckoning, its cloud infrastructure services offering saves you about $600 a month over Amazon’s.

GoGrid’s menu of services is extensive, ranging from standards like load balancing to a nice touch like managed compliance audits. It touts its straightforward user interface, which helps small business owners manage their remote infrastructure without in-house IT staff.

GoGrid is a division of San Francisco-based ServePath, founded in 2001. ServePath also owns Upstream Networks, a content delivery network, and ColoServe, which provides collocation services.

2) Enomaly

You have to give Enomaly credit: it launched way back in 2004, when “cloud” was hardly a popular buzzword. The core idea, too, shows real savvy: Enomalys’s Elastic Computing Platform (ECP) allows companies to create their own private cloud. On the other hand, ECP also provides companies with a bridge to external cloud hosting. A Web hosting company, for instance, could use ECP to tap into the growing demand for cloud services, offering its clients a virtualized public cloud.

Founder Reuven Cohen blogs at ElasticVapor, a good read to help follow the industry – more than a marketing tool. Cohen, something of a ‘cloud theorist’, has founded or help found a number of cloud-related organizations.

Here’s a trophy for the company: The open source edition of ECP was SourceForge’s Project of the Month in August 2008, a considerable honor given the volume of development at SourceForge. (The community version of ECP is a free download.)

The problem, of course, is that ECP isn’t the only such solution. For instance, take a look at Elastra (see below) or Virtual Iron (which itself was recently bought by giant Oracle) as a small company offering a cost effective similar solution. Only time will tell how these many competitors will shake out.

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Tags: open source, cloud computing, Google, IBM, Salesforce


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