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Published on February 28, 2014

Author: LeighRyan

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Countdown of eight cloud computing service providers that stood out in 2013


Counting down the top cloud computing vendors of 2013 December 2013 SearchCloudComputing Staff © TechTarget

This year has been all about drawing enterprises into cloud computing. As such, this list showcases which cloud computing vendors were successful in this goal. Eight cloud computing service providers that stood out this year With acquisitions, product releases and announcements aimed enterprises, it's clear these cloud vendors are making the effort to reign supreme in the market and entice the most companies. It should be no surprise to many cloud experts and professionals which vendor is at the top, but the more interesting story is which cloud computing service providers show the potential to push their way to the top to unseat the king. © TechTarget Source: kevron2001/Fotolia 2

8. Joyent Inc. © TechTarget Source: Dave Shea/mezzoblue/Flickr 3

Counting down the top cloud computing vendors of 2013 Some of the biggest verticals for cloud computing include media, entertainment and online gaming. Online streaming media giant Netflix is probably the best go-to model for cloud innovation and success. So when a reputable cloud service provider such as Joyent Inc. elbows its way into the media and entertainment space -- with the intention of establishing a performance advantage over other providers -- it deserves some attention. Besides offering better performance and scalability, according to company officials, other advantages Joyent cloud brings include better service and support and more flexible customer contracts. "[It's] trying to match the large public clouds in terms of price," said Dave Bartoletti, analyst with Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. "The goal is to be equivalent [to] or cheaper than the big clouds.“ Joyent has packed its product catalog with offerings that include both compute and storage services, as well as public cloud services and software to manage private clouds, making it viable for a wide cloud customer base. But with more heavily armed competitors such as Amazon, Rackspace and SoftLayer (now an IBM company), Joyent has its work cut out. If it can carve a deep hold in the media, entertainment and gaming verticals, Joyent's high-performance cloud service could steal some customers away from the bigger public clouds. © TechTarget 4

7. Verizon Terremark © TechTarget Source: qthrul/Flickr 5

Counting down the top cloud computing vendors of 2013 Verizon Terremark first made waves in 2013 by overhauling its pricing, and then made an even bigger splash in the market when it overhauled its data centers using SeaMicro's fabric-based compute servers in early October. In Verizon's data centers, secure partitions separate every virtual machine (VM), hypervisor and customer; security is enforced in hardware; and Advanced Micro Devices and Verizon collaborated on a method of layering data encryption, data inspection and firewall capabilities onto each VM's traffic. Users can also extend private networks into the public cloud with no changes to policies, addresses and security configurations. The Weather Company, which runs The Weather Channel cable network and Weather.com, became the poster child for a multicloud strategy that included Verizon with the announcement of the overhauled data center. "Verizon Terremark is offering real advantages on the performance side, with guarantees and the ability to pick service levels for each machine." - Bryson Koehler, CIO, The Weather Company © TechTarget 6

6. SalesForce.com © TechTarget Source: Justin Levy/Flickr 7

Counting down the top cloud computing vendors of 2013 Salesforce.com is widely believed to be one of the most mature and stable Software as a Service (SaaS) options around. But that doesn't mean it's not without problems, such as its proprietary language. Is it possible that its limitations might lead to a move from SaaS? "The Force.com platform is restrictive in that you have to use their proprietary language and tools to build these apps," said John Staten, analyst with Forrester Research Inc. Salesforce's Heroku cloud, which is not fully integrated into Force, is more flexible but also has its limitations in that it's mostly restricted to Java and Ruby coding, Staten added. Since Heroku does run on Amazon Web Services, a customer can actually bridge to a more fully featured platform to do as they wish. Despite Salesforce's insistence on using proprietary language to build apps on Force.com, its overall flexibility will continue to open doors within the community. Its SaaS stronghold remains as tight as ever, Staten said. © TechTarget 8

SalesForce.com Some analysts believe, however, that Salesforce will actually begin a move from being a tired-and-true SaaS provider to more of a Platform as a Service or, dare we say it, an infrastructure business. "Going forward, it will be about building within their ecosystem, including building new products and acquiring others," said David S. Linthicum, senior vice president with Cloud Technology Partners in Boston. Salesforce is expected to continue its focus on the enterprise by providing key customer relationship management processes and customizing its services to the specific services an enterprise needs. To put it another way, "so far, so good with those guys," Linthicum said. © TechTarget 9

5. IBM © TechTarget Source: Irish Typepad/Flickr 10

Counting down the top cloud computing vendors of 2013 After getting off to a stumbling start in the cloud services business, IBM appears to have found its footing. Since launching its breakthrough Smart Business Cloud Enterprise line a couple of years ago, larger IT shops have taken Big Blue's cloud products more seriously. The company reported that cloud revenues grew 70% in this year's third quarter -surpassing $1 billion for the first time -- and it expects that figure to grow to $7 billion by 2015. What has fueled this momentum is the $6 billion IBM spent in acquiring a dozen cloudbased companies in the last few years, most notably its purchase earlier this year of SoftLayer. Recently IBM announced that it would drop its signature SmartCloud Enterprise in favor of SoftLayer, and it hopes this move bolsters the confidence of larger customers to extend their infrastructure out to the public cloud. According to IBM, the SoftLayer deal added 1,000 new customers in the first 100 days. IBM recently launched a two-month-long marketing campaign zeroing in on Amazon's market-leading cloud platform and how IBM is better positioned to provide a basket of cloud-based products and technical services. © TechTarget 11

4. Google Inc. © TechTarget Source: Robert Scoble/Flickr 12

Counting down the top cloud computing vendors of 2013 For a company that sparked claims of the apocalypse when its search engine had a rare outage, Google is primed to address concerns about cloud computing performance and latency. Though it just went into general availability this week, Google Inc.'s Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Google Compute Engine, had been making noise in the cloud market while still in beta by chopping prices, signing a cooperative agreement with the Defense Information Systems Agency to learn how to implement cloud security policies and building a Cloud Playground where developers can test code. "Google [is] part of the conversation, though in reality, economically, they are a non-factor at this point," said Mark Eisenberg, vice president of strategy and technology at Incelligence, based in Boston. © TechTarget 13

Google Inc. BuildFax, a provider of property condition reports based in Asheville, N.C., is using Google Compute Engine in beta, along with Amazon Web Services (AWS). Joe Emison, BuildFax's cofounder and chief technology officer, looked into his response times to customer requests and believes Google's cloud service can outplay AWS in performance, particularly when looking at companies that use replication for disaster recovery in the cloud. "My understanding is that Google has a private cybernetwork. That should make [performance] faster, and that's a nontrivial issue … if you're adopting these more modern, distributed database designs with latency problems in mind," Emison said. "A 100-millisecond latency can be the difference between 'I can replicate my data' or 'I cannot.'" As the cloud market matures and major names fall down on performance testing, Google force its way to the front of the pack. Plus, Google will add live migration for virtual machines on its IaaS, changed from a two-week maintenance time, assisting with a pain point for IT departments. Chicago-based Cloudbakers, a premier Google Apps reseller and managed partner, has just started offering Google App Engine, the company’s Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering, and it is proving to be "very economical" for clients, said Mitch Greenwald, its founder. © TechTarget 14

3. Rackspace Inc. © TechTarget Source: Scott Beale/laughingsquid/Flickr 15

Counting down the top cloud computing vendors of 2013 Rackspace is a familiar name on lists of top cloud computing providers, but that doesn't mean that the company is content in its place. Listening to the needs of its customers, Rackspace Inc. had made moves this year to enhance its public cloud's performance and features to better compete with Amazon Web Services (AWS). In the company's second quarter of 2013, Rackspace's public cloud business reportedly grew by 36.4% to $99 million -- tripling its revenue growth for its dedicated hosting business. "Recently, [Rackspace] has really started to step up their game building out other cloud services," said Aaron Rankin, chief technology officer of Chicago-based Sprout Social Inc., which mostly uses Rackspace, though it has some AWS components. Rankin also noted that he's seen a theme of Rackspace's CEO starting to focus on performance. "It's clear that they're really starting to compete with Amazon on their products and not just on their level of 'fanatical' service." © TechTarget 16

Rackspace Inc. Rackspace is also steering customers toward a hybrid IT model, particularly with its launch of a dedicated VMware vCenter Server. This approach drew Sprout Social toward Rackspace. "The biggest benefit for us has been that they have this hybrid offering where you can do some stuff in the cloud, and you can actually lease physical machines that are completely dedicated to you," Rankin said. "They're in the same data center, so you can consider putting a machine in the physical world that has to interact at low latency with stuff in the cloud environment. If you went with a provider like Amazon, they have no physical options, so if you grow beyond what their cloud services can give you, you can put a physical machine in some other third party's data center, but there's generally going to be a significant amount of latency." This year, Rackspace continued its collaboration with CERN openlab to build reference architecture for hybrid cloud services, which will extend between CERN's OpenStackbased clouds and Rackspace's public and private clouds. © TechTarget 17

2. Microsoft © TechTarget Source: Wikimedia Commons/Ben Franske 18

Counting down the top cloud computing vendors of 2013 Microsoft gained more credibility as a serious cloud provider in 2013 with a handful of announcements, including one made with Oracle that permits the latter's best-selling software to work with Windows Server, Hyper-V and, most importantly, Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud environment. The agreement also commits both to making sure Java works smoothly with Azure, which should appeal to larger IT shops crafting internally developed cloud-based apps. The company further helped its cause by improving its infrastructure software to better run both on-premises and cloud apps side by side. To fuel continued corporate momentum, however, Microsoft will have to prove that Azure can be an integration platform that tightly ties together the rest of the company's cloud portfolio, from Office 365 to Hadoop to Office 2013. "Azure should be the integration platform for all of its cloud-based products, to the point where when you think of Azure, you think Microsoft in the cloud. But that is not the case right now," said Mike Drips, systems administrator with Wipro Inc. in Houston. © TechTarget 19

1. Amazon Web Services (AWS) © TechTarget Source: Debbie Ding/punctuum/Flickr 20

Counting down the top cloud computing vendors of 2013 Amazon Web Services (AWS) remains the top dog in the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) world -- by far, according to a Gartner Inc. report released midyear. "Little by little, AWS has systematically addressed the barriers to 'mainstream' enterprise adoption," wrote Gartner analyst Lydia Leong in a blog post about the report. "2013 has really been a tipping point. We still hear plenty of interest in competitors, but AWS is overwhelmingly the dominant vendor." Among Amazon's moves to shore up AWS' appeal this year is a keen new interest in developing its partner ecosystem, according to Carl Brooks, analyst with 451 Research, based in Boston. "AWS is still King Kong -- but now it's King Kong with friends," Brooks said. "All the major IT services providers and major IT vendors are active partners right now." © TechTarget 21

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Where Amazon has a real leg up on the competition is in the completeness of its IaaS offering, according to Sean Perry, CIO for Robert Half International Inc., based in San Ramon, Calif. He cited DNS and MapReduce services as offerings that are hard to come by elsewhere. "If you have people with skills in AWS, you can get things done more quickly," he said. "For us, the ability to work within one cloud is helpful." However, getting a better grasp on international data in the wake of 2013's National Security Agency leaks will be key for Amazon going forward. Microsoft has taken steps with its Azure service to make the containment of data within international borders a standard practice, while Amazon still handles these issues on a case-by-case basis, Perry said. © TechTarget 22

All the cloud providers discussed here can streamline your path to the cloud, but no singular technology alone will get the job done. Rather, you must prepare your existing IT infrastructure for the move by selecting the right mix of tools that satisfy your environment’s unique requirements. Inside this expert cloud guide, review valuable tips for carrying out these essential tasks so you can avoid common pitfalls and simplify your migration. http://bit.ly/1lpnpHt © TechTarget 23

Interested in getting more cloud service coverage? Visit SearchCloudComputing.com © TechTarget 24

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