Originally published for Averro.com blog.
Thanks to the convergence of multiple technology trends, including virtualization, data center consolidation, web-services, browser and commercialization of hardware advancements, there is simply no way of ignoring or denying the impact that cloud services are having within the industry. Placing files, email and applications on the cloud has its significant advantages over local/custom build infrastructures, ranging from availability, cost, ease of use and, contrary to popular misconception, better security. These advantages have propelled the popularity of cloud services off the charts.
Some of the most popular service providers include:
- Google – One of the earliest cloud-based service providers, they have made their mark by offering full featured applications (email, document collaboration, and communications) and other related services for free and/or very small fees. Their Platform as a Service (PaaS) platform, Google Apps allows users from around the world to perform almost all office tasks completely online without the need for physical/local resources. Many vendors are now building towards their platform.
- Amazon – While others cautiously approached the cloud services space, Amazon went all-in and offered one of the most complete service offering around. Marketed under the Amazon web services umbrella, many products and services are now available. Amongst the most well known are: Amazon EC2 is a complete virtual computing environment, which allows users to launch instances of servers with a variety of operating systems as platforms; Amazon S3 offers storage and retrieval of any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web; Amazon SimpleDB and Amazon RDS are their database offerings and a whole lot more.
- Microsoft – Oh yes, the software giant has officially stated that it is now fully on board and is “betting the company” on cloud services. Key offerings are under multiple brands: For businesses, Microsoft Online Services, offering Exchange, SharePoint, Dynamics CRM, Communication Server and LiveMeeting; and Windows Azure™, a platform allows developers to get all the processing power they require to develop their programs, and manage web based applications. For the consumer, Windows Live (including Hotmail and SkyDrive) and Microsoft Office Live.
- SalesForce –As one of the very first widely successful Software as a Service (SaaS) providers, SalesForce.com has remained a leader in sales and customer relationship management (CRM) – They have expanded their initial model into a complete solution offering ( force.com ) Infrastructure, Development and Collaboration platforms. They work closely with Google in the application space.
- Rackspace – Being a file hosting service to begin with, it was no surprise that RackspaceCloud was introduced in late 2009. the offerings are around the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) space and they include Cloud Sites, Cloud Servers and Cloud Files.
- VMware – VCloud is an initiative from VMware which will allow customers to migrate work on demand from their internal systems of cooperating VMware hypervisors to a remote cloud of VMware hypervisors. This is a new offering, but a very interesting one, which we are watching closely.
- GoGrid – A cloud infrastructure service provider that offers hosting Linux and Windows virtual machines managed by a multi-server control panel.
- Egnyte – Specialty provider of online storage, file sharing, online backup, FTP, and large file transfer capabilities. Key distinction is their shared drive mapping to cloud-based storage.
The above is only a small sampling of the companies offering cloud services. There are many more coming to the market with new and innovative services. Cloud services is one the most significant changes that has happened to the industry in recent times, and in the coming days, its popularity can only be expected to rise even further.
Names you might also know cloud services include: IT-as-a-Service, Cloud Computing, Utility Computing, Grid Computing, shared hosted services.