Cloud Computing is a prominent feature of the IT landscape today. Some professionals and industry zealots believe that cloud computing will soon become the preferred IT platform solution for businesses large and small. Others are more cautious citing concerns about privacy, security, and the stability of cloud computing vendors. Many companies have developed public cloud infrastructures around which a variety of services are offered. Some of the broadest cloud computing services offerings emanate from familiar companies such as: Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, and Rackspace.
Vendor Services Comparison
Cloud computing services vary in terms of deployment models and service categories. Deployment models refer to where the data is stored. Data can be stored in the public cloud (shared servers), private cloud (dedicated resources), hybrid cloud (combination of public and private) or community cloud (customer data is organized). In terms of service categories, there are three: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS). The service categories can be represented by a pyramid with the infrastructure at the base, platform at the middle, and software at the apex (Hilley, 2010). IaaS provide the physical location and the hardware of the cloud storage. PaaS, on the other hand, provide the software development environment to design and improve applications. Lastly, SaaS provide directly the needed applications to the end-users.
The four main providers of cloud computing services are: (1) Amazon, (2) IBM, (3) Microsoft, and (4) Rackspace. Amazon Web Services Inc. is a market leader in IaaS cloud computing. The company has diversified from its online marketplace and used this experience to develop its cloud computing services. However, recent outages in the past have made some customers wary of their quality and support (Williams, 2010). 5 recorded instances have been recorded totalling a downtime of 25 hours from 2008-2009. For fiscal year 2014, it has generated revenue of 5.4 Billion US$ (second only to IBM). Notable current customers include NASA, Walmart, Adobe, and Exxon Mobile.
Second is IBM which has already established its name in enterprise infrastructure and security. The advantages for this company are primarily in the experience to address enterprise issues and in software investment protection. With its IBM Blue Cloud services, the company has generated 7 Billion US$ making it the market leader in cloud computing services as of 2014. IBM has been a trusted provider of IT infrastructure and support. It recently built-up its cloud computing services tied up to existing enterprise contracts. Its notable customers include American Airlines, 7-Eleven and Frito-Lay.
Another is Microsoft which is already a giant in software development through its Windows operating systems and Office suite. However, it has recently launched Office 365 which is a software as a service (SaaS) product delivering the power of MS office via the web. It has also launched the Azure platform wherein developers can design web-based applications that can revolutionize cloud computing in the long run (Harris, 2010). This is an example of a platform as a service (PaaS) product. This enables Microsoft to cover three service categories with strength in SaaS. It just posted around 700 Million US$ in revenue for 2014, but it is targeting bigger market share as Windows 10 platform is on its launching phase. Current customers tied up to existing contracts for Microsoft Azure are Xerox, GE Healthcare, Pearson and 3M.
Rackspace is a major managed hosting provider (Harris, 2010). It is third in the market with revenue of 1.8 Billion US$ in 2014. It offers similar service to Amazon such as colocation, dedicated hosting, virtual private servers, and web hosting. However, it has the advantage particularly with good feedback when it comes to customer service through its Fanatical support which is available 24/7 for customer queries. Server hardware is rented by the end-users. Furthermore, software can be installed to suit company needs. Their OpenStack computing is the basis for their monitoring and networking technology. Current customers include, Mazda, Fujifilm, John Hardy, Vevo and Under Armour.
Harris, Torry. Cloud Computing Service- A Comparison. 2010. Web. 12 Jul 2015. http://www.thbs.com/thbs-insights/comparison-of-cloud-computing-services.
Hilley, David. "Cloud computing: A taxonomy of platform and infrastructure-level offerings." Georgia Institute of Technology, Tech. Rep (2009).
Vouk, Mladen A. “Cloud Computing – Issues, Research and Implementations.” Journal of Computing and Information Technology 16 (2008). 235-246. Print.
Williams, Mark I. A quick start guide to cloud computing: moving your business into the cloud. Kogan Page Publishers, 2010.