Cloud computing is still a nascent field but a host of vendors have sprung up already. Here are some of the most promising cloud-computing vendors you should be watching to see how they can add value to your business.
1. Akamai: The company, founded in 1998, provides a global computing infrastructure for Internet content and application delivery. Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., Akamai transparently mirrors content from customers servers to its network of servers. It delivers mirrored content to the end user from the Akamai server "nearest" in terms of Internet topology and routing conditions, providing faster delivery and smoother transmission of streaming media.
2. Amazon: Amazon provides two cloud computing offerings, S3 (Simple Storage Service) and the EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud). Amazon S3 provides "unlimited" storage space with a simple Web interface; it was introduced to the United States in March 2006, and to Europe in November 2007. Customers pay 15 cents per-gigabyte per-month, with additional charges for bandwidth used and a per-request (get or put) charge. As of Nov. 1, 2008, customers storing more than 50TB per month receive discounted pricing. Amazon S3 reportedly stores more than 29 billion objects as of October 2008. S3 uses include Web hosting, image hosting and back-up systems. EC2 rents server space on which customers can run their own applications on an arbitrary number of virtual machines. Customers, through a Web interface, can launch virtual machine instances and "kill" them at will; hence, the term "elastic computing". Together, S3 and EC2 are known as Amazon Web Services.
3. Enki Consulting: A managed cloud-computing provider, Enki Consulting offers fast and reliable virtual private datacenters on a utility-like billing model. Its AppLogic-based Computing Utility service automatically scales customers' virtual private datacenters in response to CPU loading. Groups of virtual machines can be defined to handle computing load in parallel, with Enki automation employing user-defined thresholds and delays to add or subtract running appliances to the group automatically to meet application performance SLAs and resource-utilization efficiency goals.
4. Joyent: Cloud computing specialist Joyent has the largest OpenSolaris installation in the world. The company manages hundreds of terabytes of data in each of its datacenters. Joyent Accelerators are virtualized servers deployed within an ecosystem of the highest-grade networking and routing fabric available, hardware load balancing, persistent and fast storage, and a top-notch systems development and operations team. The Joyent Accelerator powered compute cloud provides a highly scalable on-demand infrastructure for running Web sites, including rich Web applications written in Ruby on Rails, PHP, Python and Java. Joyent's cloud is open, scalable and fast.
5. Layered Technologies (Layered Tech): A dedicated hosting and cloud computing service provider, Layered Tech brands its cloud computing platform as Grid Layer Virtual Private Data Centers. The minimum number of server nodes on a virtual private datacenter is 4, scaling to 48 nodes and beyond. The Grid Layer is based upon 3tera's Applogic utility computing solution.
6. Rackspace Mosso: This is the cloud computing division of Rackspace, one of the world's largest hosting companies. Mosso has three cloud computing offerings. Cloud Sites, starting at $100 per month, lets a customer erect a Web site in five minutes with load-balancing, clustering and redundant storage built-in; then it scales automatically with bandwidth, storage and processing power. Cloud Files provides unlimited storage starting at 15 cents per gigabyte and delivers content Akamai-style starting at 22 cents per gigabyte. Cloud Servers is an on-demand virtual machine service that is still in development, but similar services are available from Mosso's sister company, Slicehost, which was acquired by Rackspace in October 2008.
7. Salesforce.com: The SaaS (Software as a Service) company launched its cloud computing "Platform as a Service" initiative, Force.com, in January 2008. Force.com is Salesforce.com's PaaS (Platform as a Service) offering that includes the company's Apex programming language and former Apex platform (now Force.com), including many developer tools. Harrah's Entertainment, owner of numerous Las Vegas casinos, is now shifting applications for managing room reservations, air travel programs and player relations to the Force.com hosted application service.
8. Terremark: Terremark is another traditional hosting company breaking into the utility computing and cloud computing space with its Enterprise Cloud offering. At the heart of Enterprise Cloud is the Infinicenter Web portal, an application that allows you to dynamically provision servers from a pre-allocated pool of dedicated computer resources. In minutes, you can configure and provision a virtual server, then group and organize your servers according to role and dynamically extend them according to utilization. Pre-configured server templates are available for Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Sun Solaris operating systems. Instant bandwidth is available from 160 carriers.
9. 3Tera: A behind-the-scenes player, 3Tera may leap into the limelight. 3Tera makes the AppLogic "cloud computing infrastructure software" and "grid engine" used by Layered Tech and other cloud computing service providers. As private, enterprise-hosted cloud computing catches on, expect to see 3Tera selling directly to corporate computing customers, not just to utility computing service providers.
10. IBM Blue Cloud: IBM is focusing on the large enterprise market with its privately managed cloud computing datacenters. The company has built 13 such datacenters in two years of marketing Blue Cloud, and is currently rolling them out at a rate of one per quarter.
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