Cloud Computing Leaders: Ten to Watch: Page 2

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4. Elastra

Why they’re a leader today? As organizations adopt a variety of cloud-based apps – both public and private – their IT departments must ask, “How are we going to manage all of this?”

Sure, rapid deployment and flexibility are great, but what happens when your IT staff is already overworked and understaffed?

Enter Elastra. The company’s cloud management software enables an application-centric model to automate the configuration, deployment, and ongoing management of IT systems – from departmental applications to large J2EE-based installs.

Supporting both Amazon Web Services and VMware vSphere private clouds, Elastra’s Enterprise Cloud Server helps organizations handle the compliance, governance, and security challenges that come with cloud computing, along with handling commercial software infrastructure, such as application servers and databases from Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft.

Why they could be on top in years to come? Cloud sprawl has the potential of making IT pros long for the simpler days when they just had to worry about data-center sprawl. Any vendor who eases this pain should do well.

Meanwhile, Elastra is already looking forward. “Long term, the major shift will be to the next great application platforms. No one is entirely sure what they will look like, but they certainly will involve a lot more operations automation and application-awareness in the infrastructure itself,” said Stuart Charlton, Elastra’s CTO.

To prep for this, instead of focusing on image management or hard-to-maintain scripts, Elastra’s modeling languages – ECML, EDML, and EMML – are open specifications that declaratively describe an application’s configuration, which can handle everything from simple to the most complex deployments, enabling IT departments to leverage cloud computing through enhanced computer-assisted IT operations management.

It’s a twist on the if-you-build-it-they-will-come trope from Field of Dreams: If you make it simple, people will actually use it. Not a bad philosophy for a cloud pioneer.

Key executive: Stuart Charlton, CTO, was previously an Enterprise Architect with BEA Systems.

Customers: Northrop Grumman, MITRE, Intel.

5. OpSource

Why they’re a leader today? OpSource was founded in 2002 and has since raised an impressive amount of VC funding – approximately $64 million – from Intel Capital, Artiman Ventures, Velocity Interactive Group, Crosslink Capital and Key Venture Partners.

OpSource has set its sights on being the go-to “cloud operations” provider. OpSource argues that it goes beyond traditional hosting by managing the cloud for many of its managed hosting customers.

OpSource’s cloud portfolio includes hosting, storage and cloud infrastructure services. With OpSource Application Operations, OpSource delivers database management, compliance services, change management, performance management and application optimization.

OpSource claims to support “hundreds of applications, millions of users and billions of transactions” each day.

Why they could be on top in years to come? OpSource believes that the future of the cloud depends on the ecosystem of developers, integrators, telcos and VARs. Enterprise customers prefer to buy “solutions,” not point products, and OpSource argues that these buyers increasingly see cloud hosting and managed hosting services as simply components to larger solutions.

“Right now, the cloud is still just servers, storage and networking. And no one ever sat around a boardroom and said, ‘You know what would make this a better company? A new server.’ But solution providers are going to change that. They are taking the cloud and providing solutions around it,” said Treb Ryan, CEO. “We believe more than 70% of Infrastructure-as-a-Service will eventually be sold through vertical channels.”

With this in mind, OpSource has been working hard to build out its channel. The company inked a deal in May with NTT America, under which NTT America will deliver cloud services built on top of the OpSource Cloud.

Key executive: Before co-founding OpSource in 2002, CEO Treb Ryan served as President of the Americas for Metromedia Fiber Network (MFN).

Customers: Adobe, BMC, SAP, NTT America, Taleo and Xactly.

6. Cisco

Why they’re a leader today? Cisco knows how to get a foothold in a new space via acquisition. The cloud proves to be no exception. After acquiring WebEx and PostPath, Cisco built out a “cloud-based collaboration platform”.

The company’s more recent acquisitions of ScanSafe, a cloud security vendor, and CoreOptics, a provider of optical networking solutions, position Cisco as a serious cloud infrastructure provider.

With ScanSafe, Cisco intends to alleviate cloud security worries. With CoreOptics, Cisco refers to the acquisition as a way “to equip service provider customers with highly advanced 100 Gigabits per second (Gbps) transmission technology to scale their networks to meet the demands of rapidly growing Internet Protocol traffic driven by video, mobility and cloud services.”

Cisco has said it will focus on private clouds, rather than going head to head with public cloud vendors, such as Amazon and Google. However, while the company may not deliver cloud services, recent moves clearly position Cisco as an infrastructure provider for any cloud flavor.

Why they could be on top in years to come? The easiest (okay, be a cynic and say “laziest”) way to predict future cloud success is via dollars invested. If Cisco’s cloud-related acquisitions are a measuring stick, they should be a contender for a good, long while. Layer investment on top of existing deployments and overall track record, and Cisco is the closest thing to a sure bet you can find in the cloud.

Key executive: Padmasree Warrior, CTO, served as CTO at Motorola before joining Cisco in 2007.

Customers: Nihon Unisys, Tele Sistemi Ferroviari (TSF), Molina Healthcare, ExamWorks.

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Tags: cloud computing, Cloud, SaaS, Cloud network, cloud content management

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