1) Amazon Web Services
Leading cloud pioneer Amazon offers several different in-the-cloud services. The best known is Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, or Amazon EC2, which allows customers to set up and access virtual servers via a simple Web interface. Fees are assessed hourly based on the number and size of virtual machines you have ($.10 -$.80 per hour), with an additional fee for data transfer.
EC2 is designed to work in conjunction with Amazon's other cloud services, which include Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Simple DB, Cloudfront, Simple Queue Service (SQS), and Elastic MapReduce.
Yes, they own search and are working on owning the cloud. With Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, and Picasa in its lineup, Google offers some of the best known cloud computing services available. They also offer some lesser known cloud services targeted primarily at enterprises, such as Google Sites, Google Gadgets, Google Video, and most notably, the Google Apps Engine. The Apps Engine allows developers to write applications to run on Google's servers while accessing data that resides in the Google cloud as well as data that resides behind the corporate firewall. While it has been criticized for limited programming language support, the Apps Engine debuted Java and Ajax support in April, which may make it more appealing to developers.
Notable: Google recently revealed its philosophy of cloud computing in this Enterprise Blog post written by senior project manager Rajen Sheth: As companies weigh private data centers vs. scalable clouds, they should ask a simple question: can I find the same economics, ease of maintenance, and pace of innovation that is inherent in the cloud?
Although it was somewhat late to the cloud computing party, IBM launched its "Smart Business" lineup of cloud-based products and services in June. For now, the company is focusing on two key areas: software development and testing, and virtual desktops. But the company makes it clear that the cloud model has much wider-reaching implications, noting that "cloud computing represents a true paradigm shift in the way IT and IT-enabled services are delivered and consumed by businesses." The company has also made noises about partnering with Google the two companies would be a potent duo in the cloud sector.
Notable: A big part of IBMs advantage in the cloud is the remarkable reach of its international presence. Early customers of IBM's cloud computing offerings include South Africa's Nedbank and China's Sinochem.
Its a critical question facing the tech industry: Can Microsoft, the king of the traditional world of packaged software, leverage its hulking muscle to grab a similar position in the cloud world? The answer is unclear but Microsoft is certainly trying. The software giants ambitious Azure initiative has a solution for every Microsoft constituency, from ISVs to Web developers to enterprise clients to consumers. Formally unveiled in 2008, Azure is still very much a work in progress. If it succeeds as Microsoft hopes, in future years well be talking about Windows Azure, a cloud-based OS that offers remote computing power, storage and management services. To make the dream come true, Microsoft is investing a kings fortune in a network of $500 million, 500,000-square-feet datacenters around the country. The facilities will presumably form the physical backbone of the cloud network. If all goes according to plan, Microsoft will not only control the software but also the physical infrastructure that delivers that software. In other words, the company is attempting to be even bigger than it is now. (No one ever accused Redmond of being modest.) Perhaps the companys ace in the hole: it understands enterprise management a critical building block more than its top competitors.
Notable: In a March 2009 interview with the New York Times, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer jumped up and drew a diagram on a white board of the companys cloud computing plans. Its a squiggly, complicated drawing, leading the reporter to ask if the plan wasnt overly complex. Not at all, Ballmer explained, detailing how current flagship Windows Server will be replaced by Windows Azure. In a quote that suggests that Microsoft is very attuned to the cloud trend, he told the Times: Anything that has been a server needs to be a service.
More than 59,000 companies use Salesforce.com's Sales Cloud and Service Cloud solutions for customer relationship management, which has helped make it one of the most well-known and most successful cloud computing companies. In addition, through Force.com, it allows developers to use the Salesforce.com platform to develop their own applications. Users can also purchase access to the Force.com cloud infrastructure to deploy their applications.
Notable: In its 10-year history, Salesforce.com has amassed an amazing lineup of awards. Its impressive client roster includes Dell, Dow Jones Newswires, Kaiser Permanente, and SunTrust Banks. Perhaps more impressive: even in the recession the company reported stellar financial results.
Although Oracle chief Larry Ellison hasn't always been a big supporter of the cloud model and yes, thats an understatement Oracle's cloud offerings are substantial. The company's cloud portfolio includes a number of SaaS solutions which fall into three broad categories: CRM On Demand, Beehive On Demand (secure collaboration), and Sourcing on Demand. For developers, they offer Oracle Platform for SaaS. And they've also partnered with Amazon Web Services to allow companies to deploy or backup Oracle Database and other products through EC2. In addition, thanks to its recent acquisition, Oracle also adds Sun Microsystems' cloud offerings to its portfolio. Thats some serious heft.
Notable: In fiscal 2009, Oracle reported $779 million in revenue from its On Demand applications. That's an increase of 12 percent from 2008's $694 million.
Plus: Heres an excellent video of Lew Tucker, CTO of cloud computing at Sun, explaining why future cloud apps wont need humans.
7) EMC and VMware
Tech titan EMC and subsidiary VMware (of which EMC owns approximately 90%) have a broad portfolio of cloud-related offerings. EMCs storage portfolio has been extended for cloud computing, while VMware is leveraging its virtualization expertise to get a foothold in the cloud space. VMwares Virtual Appliance Marketplace gives customers access to approximately 1,000 applications that can be deployed as virtual appliances.
EMCs Atmos, released late in 2008, is designed to be massively scalable and globally distributed, but it operates as a single storage entity for cloud computing. One of cloud computings main obstacles is data movement. By using metadata and data policies, Atmos streamlines the delivery of petabytes of information.
VMwares expertise is with private clouds at the moment, but its Cloud OS is an ambitious attempt to capture the broader cloud market the way Microsoft dominated the PC market through Windows.
According to VMware, its cloud operating system is specifically designed to holistically manage large collections of infrastructure CPUs, storage, networking as a seamless, flexible and dynamic operating environment.
VMware argues that Cloud OS will manage the complexity of the next-generation data center, public or private, much the way a traditional computing OS manages an individual machine.
Notable: As leaders of both the storage and virtual server markets, the EMC-VMware team could well dominate the early stages of cloud computing. Even with a slew of formidable competitors, most of who complain about VMwares closed environment, this is a tandem that competitors must fear.
A tech heavyweight, HPs cloud-related offerings include a number of foundational technologies, such as HP Adaptive Infrastructure, ProLiant SL Extreme Scale-Out servers and the HP Service Delivery Platform.
Additionally, HP offers cloud-related services, including consulting services, HP Utility Computing services, and the company also delivers its Adaptive Infrastructure as a service.
The above are all in line with traditional HP offerings. Whats interesting from a cloud perspective, and what is being overlooked by other vendors, is governance. HPs SOA management and governance service helps organizations enforce policy, automate application lifecycles, automate recordkeeping and manage contracts.
Meanwhile, HP is leveraging its SaaS capabilities to offer the Cloud Assure service. HP Cloud Assure helps organizations assess and validate cloud security, performance and application availability.
Notable: At the end of July, HP entered into an agreement with Intel and Yahoo to create a global, multi-data-center, open-source test bed for the advancement of cloud computing research and education.
A major player in the tech world, SAP entered the cloud computing fray with the purchase of Cogheads assets. Coghead had been in the PaaS space. It had developed a web-based, enterprise-class visual software editor to help customers launch cloud-based applications. Coghead shut its doors in February, and SAP promptly swooped in and picked over the carcass.
At the Interop conference in May, CTO Dr. Vishal Sikkas keynote address gave some hints about SAPs cloud strategy. As Sikka sees it there are three near-term opportunities that SAP can (or already is) cashing in on. Sikka indicated that SAP will tailor its existing software to capitalize on business network service clouds, such as iTunes (already powered by the SAP Business Suite); cloud-based services in the SaaS mold, such as on-demand SFA or PSA applications; and mission-critical enterprise applications, such as any number of on-demand infrastructure offerings.
Even while discussing cloud computings many benefits, SAP sounds pretty cautious. Theyre not as skeptical as Oracle was only a few months ago a skepticism that immediately disappeared with the Sun acquisition and much of that skepticism probably comes from the fact that its effort to sell a SaaS-type offering, Business ByDesign, has been universally regarded as a failure.
Notable: That said, as SAP faces increasing competition from Microsoft and Oracle expect it to start being more aggressive about cloud computing soon.
Since Dell is a computer maker that has never focused on software or networking, you might think its a stretch to call it a cloud vendor. But Dell very much disagrees. First, it (unsuccessfully) attempted to patent the term cloud computing (which is kind of funny, almost like trying to patent the term datacenter). More successfully, the company launched DCS Data Center Solutions to target an audience of businesses that need help configuring a cloud-based datacenter. DCS handles everything from optimization to project management to global consulting. Who says Dell is just a hardware firm? Referring to DCS, Dell CEO Michael Dell toldBusinessweek in 2008 that, We created a whole new business just to build custom products for those customers. Now it's a several-hundred-million-dollar business, and it will be a billion-dollar business in a couple of yearsit's on a tear."
Notable Dell has made a number of acquisitions to build out the software side of its cloud offering, including Everdream (desktop management software), Silverback Technologies (remote monitoring) and Message One (email management). The goal, it appears: provide one-stop shopping for businesses that want to build an automated datacenter running commodity boxes, all optimized for the cloud. That is likely a lucrative strategy.
Recently, Novell has announced several cloud-related ventures. In July, they demonstrated the Novell Cloud Security Service at the Burton Group Catalyst Conference. And in June, they announced the release of Moblin, a new open-source operating system designed to make it easier to use cloud computing from the desktop. Other cloud-related projects include the SUSE Appliance Program and the recently acquired PlateSpin Workload Management Solutions.
Notable: Justin Steinman, Novell's VP of solution and product marketing, says that Novell's role is to be "an arms vendor to the cloud." In other words, they plan to provide software that makes it easier for companies to use the cloud.
Known for accelerating Web content, Akamai intends to do the same for cloud-hosted applications. This past spring, Akamai inked a deal with OpSource to integrate Akamai content delivery tools with OpSources cloud service. One of the key roadblocks with cloud computing is availability. This deal intends to make application delivery a building block of cloud-based applications.
Notable: Despite the recession, Akamai is still doing fairly well. The company just released its Q2 2009 earnings report, showing revenues of $204.6 million and a net income of $36 million, a 5% increase over Q2 2008. However, this number does represent a 3% dip from Q1 2009 in terms of both revenue and net income.
Rollbase encourages its customers to "Roll your own"er, that is, to use Rollbase software to create custom Web apps quickly. Or you can use one of their pre-built apps (for CRM, employee management, bug tracking, etc.) for just $49 per user per month. The Rollbase platform includes Google Apps integration, allowing customers to create applications that seamlessly interact with Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs.
Notable: The team behind Rollbase previously developed Recruitforce, a SaaS talent recruiting solution that was purchased by Taleo and became Taleo Business Edition.