Cloud

The top 10 ‘arms merchants’ of the cloud

Amazon

Amazon is an unquestioned leader in integration because its public cloud gives businesses a way to run any cloud app they want. Amazon is way out front in the competition in public cloud infrastructure with its AWS service, and it continues to build that lead. This product competes against Microsoft’s Azure, Rackspace, HP, IBM’s Softlayer, and a long list of others.

But Amazon is moving aggressively beyond merely providing cloud infrastructure like computing (EC2) and storage (S3). Amazon is building out other services, including a platform of tools aimed at enabling developers to focus on what they do best and not have to worry about the rest. For example, Amazon has launched a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) called Beanstalk, which gives developers version control, collaboration tools, and provisioning.

Amazon is adding new features at a rapid pace. For example, it offers an increasingly rich set of database services to developers. It has Relational Database Service (RDS), a NoSQL service called DynamoDB, and an in-memory cache service ElastiCache.

Sure, all of these services make Amazon’s cloud infrastructure more attractive as a building block for businesses. But Amazon has a long way to go at reassuring enterprises that it can do more than that — for example, it could offer service level agreements (guarantees of reliability) and security standards that companies are used to. Businesses storing and serving their data with Amazon never know exactly where Amazon is keeping this data, and Amazon doesn’t run dedicated servers that ensure company data is separate from data belonging to other companies.

Amazon has tried to countered this, with an offering of a single-tenant server offering, but even this has come under fire from competitors like Rackspace, who say Amazon’s offering isn’t a truly dedicated server separated from the public cloud.

Also some large businesses are eager to shift their investments to open-source cloud infrastructure technologies, including OpenStack or Eucaplytus, which they can customize it themselves in a so-called private cloud. The question is whether and when these competing technologies will get enough adoption to give Amazon a run for its money.

Finally, another big trend challenging Amazon is the one toward the “hybrid” cloud, where many enterprise chief information officers (CIOs) seek to shift their workloads between public and private clouds. Amazon has recently forged an alliance with Eucalyptus, so that companies can bridge their private clouds with Amazon AWS. However, it’s not clear this is a credible offering yet for many CIOs. It’s not clear how well Amazon will coordinate with Eucalpytus, a relatively new company spun out of a university research project. If you’re a conservative CIO at a Fortune 100 company, you’re still more likely to choose a private cloud from an established player like Rackspace, tightly integrated with a Rackspace public cloud, or a public cloud run by VMware tightly integrated with VMware technology running in a data center under your direct control.

If you’ve used Amazon’s cloud products, please let us know what you think, and get our free full report when it is released next month.

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