Ten Cloud Computing Leaders: Page 3

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6. Rackspace

Why they're a leader today: Rackspace started out in 1998 offering data center services, such as dedicated server hosting and storage. As with many other hosting providers, Rackspace is now calling itself a “cloud provider” more often than not. Unlike the herd rushing into this space, though, Rackspace was an early mover. The Rackspace Cloud suite offers access to virtual servers, an application and website building service and a storage service. To broaden its appeal to the developer community, the company released an open source “Cloud Servers API,” which allows users to create, configure and control Rackspace Cloud Servers from within their own applications.

Why they could be on top in years to come: Rackspace is already considered one of the main rivals to Amazon, and its Cloud Tools quickly grew into a top cloud ecosystem. Moreover, Rackspace has been aggressively rolling out new features, such as Database-as-a-Service (DaaS) tools; and it has been doing the hard work to support popular third-party platforms, such as Oracle.

Key Executive: Emil Sayegh, GM of the Rackspace Cloud, was formerly Director of Services Marketing at Dell.

Customers: Radio Flyer, Razorfish, TV Guide Magazine, Carlsberg, Wendy’s, Boston Celtics.

7. Eucalyptus Systems

Why they're a leader today: A roundup like this, focusing on an emerging trend, shouldn’t get too top-heavy with established vendors. Startups are the lifeblood of innovation in the tech sector, and Eucalyptus fits the bill well. What started as a research project at U.C. Santa Barbara has evolved into one of the cloud’s early success stories. Eucalyptus’s open source software gives users a way to turn existing data-center resources into a cloud that can be controlled and customized by local IT. Eucalyptus software delivers such capabilities as end-user customization, self-service provisioning and legacy application support. Included APIs allow users to then extend internal apps to public clouds, such as Amazon EC2.

The company is backed by $5.5 million in Series A VC funding from Benchmark Capital and BV Capital.

Why they could be on top in years to come: Cloud adoption will move slowly if too much emphasis is placed on public clouds. Many large organizations simply have too much invested in their in-house applications and infrastructures to abandon those investments. Eucalyptus’s positioning as a private- and hybrid-cloud software provider should serve the company well.

Moreover, any new proprietary computing technology eventually attracts open source competitors. Eucalyptus is an early advocate and provider of open-source cloud tools. When NASA built its Nebula Cloud Computing Platform, arguably one of the most advanced cloud platforms, the space agency relied on various open-source technologies, including Eucalyptus, Django, Xen, and the Lustre file system.

Eucalyptus is also pushing for cloud standards, presumably hoping, of course, that its own technology will be one of those standards.

Key Executive: In March, Eucalyptus appointed former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos as the company’s new CEO. Former CEO and co-founder Woody Rollins now serves as CFO.

Customers: NASA and Eli Lilly.

8. Terremark

Why they're a leader today? Terremark is another hosting/colocation company embracing the cloud. With a market cap of $504 million (as of February 2010), the company has the resources to compete with the likes of Microsoft, Amazon and Google.

According to its February 2010 earnings report, Terremark’s total revenue for Q3 fiscal year 2010 totaled $74.3 million, up 13 percent over the prior year. Not bad coming out of a deep recession.

Before you think this is a reflection of how bad the recession actually was, Terremark reported that it had “a record bookings quarter with $37.6 million of new annual contract value booked in the quarter ended December 31, 2009.”

In terms of the cloud, the company “increased the annualized cloud computing run rate to $17.2 million during the third quarter, a 30 percent increase from the previous quarter.”

Terremark’s Enterprise Cloud is a managed cloud platform for deploying mission-critical applications. Enterprise Cloud’s Infinicenter web portal allows users to configure and provision virtual servers and server groups. It also has features for organizing servers according to role and dynamically extending them according to utilization.

Why they could be on top in years to come: Already considered a leading provider of collocation and VMware-based infrastructure services, Terremark has carved out a sizable cloud niche by landing a number of government customers.

Terremark is investing heavily in its “Network Access Point (NAP) of the Capital Region,” a data center complex located outside of Washington, D.C. in Culpepper, VA. Obviously, NAP of the Capital region is intended to serve the federal government. Getting an early foothold with the Fed should pay off both near- and long-term.

Key Executive: Randy Rowland joined the company in 2007 and served as VP of Product Development and GM of Managed Hosting before attaining his current position as SVP of Product Development.

Customers: Agora Games, USA.gov, Library of Congress, SUBWAY Restaurants.

9. GoGrid

Why they're a leader today: GoGrid (formerly ServePath) provides a “multi-tier, cloud computing platform that allows you to manage your cloud hosting infrastructure completely on demand through an intuitive, web interface.” The platform integrates storage, load balancing, hourly billing and a number of other features.

GoGrid is directly positioned against Amazon EC2. It differentiates itself through broader support of various Windows and Linux operating systems, lower pricing and a 100% uptime SLA.

I’m not sure how much of a competitive advantage that extra .01% of uptime is, but as you can probably guess, GoGrid cites its customer service quality and reliability as key differentiators.

Why they could be on top in years to come: Like other hosting companies on this list, GoGrid offers a range of other services – collocation, managed hosting, CDN services – to keep the lights on as its cloud computing services ramp up. The company is pursuing a hybrid cloud strategy, which makes perfect sense in the early days of cloud adoption.

Even more promising, GoGrid has focused on interoperability as a competitive differentiator. With others trying to throw walls around their platforms and sneak vendor-lock in through the cloud, GoGrid’s efforts to integrate with a range of operating systems and its acceptance of tools from vendors that, at first glance, could be considered competitors (RightScale, Tap in Systems) means that when GoGrid mentions “interoperability,” it’s not an empty promise.

Key Executive: John Keagy, CEO and co-founder, previously founded and sold several ISPs.

Customers: GoGrid claims nearly 10,000 customers, including Novell, Macy’s and SAP.

10. RightScale

Why they're a leader today? Many organizations will adopt cloud apps and services in a hodge-podge fashion. The finance department will commit to one application on a certain cloud, while developers will be off in a different, more arcane cloud.

RightScale promises to deliver control and portability back to IT as cloud sprawl threatens to become just as bad as data-center sprawl. The RightScale Cloud Management platform allows organizations to deploy and manage applications across multiple clouds. A SaaS product, the platform sets up server clones, load balances them, monitors for and reports errors, performs automated backups, etc.

The company is backed by $17.5 million in VC funding from Index Ventures and Benchmark Capital.

Why they could be on top in years to come: There’s no guarantee they will be. As with other startups on this list, they have their work cut out for them to maintain success. That said, RightScale is focused on a specific IT pain point and is early to the cloud-management game. The company has already scored a couple of major customer wins with ESPN, Eli Lilly and Sony Music.

Key Executive: Thorsten von Eicken, CTO and founder, previously founded and served as Chief Architect of Expertcity (which was acquired by Citrix Online), where he directed the architecture of GoToMeeting.

Customers: ESPN, PBS, Eli Lilly, Sony Music, Harvard University, Zynga, Sling Media, CrowdStar, StarCut, Animoto.

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Tags: cloud computing, Cloud, cloud services, cloud based computing, Cloud network

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