Cloud

The top cloud companies — here’s what customers think of them

cloud technology companies
Image Credit: Rhys A, Flickr

On Aug. 23, we introduced readers to the top 10 “arms merchants” of the cloud. From the big names like Amazon and Google to smaller, emerging players like Rightscale and New Relic, all these companies are helping businesses bring their digital infrastructure to the cloud.

But which cloud providers do customers prefer?

To find out, we asked those of you who have used any of these companies’ products or other cloud services to answer our Cloud Technology Product survey. In the last two weeks, we heard from 50 cloud tool users — CEOs, engineers, product managers, investors and more — who provided some valuable insight into the top cloud companies.

We’re using the data to establish a “Cloud Technology Index,” which we’ll publish later this month. This will be a listing of the top 10 companies that are best helping businesses move to the cloud, at least according to real customers. We’re looking for reviews on any vendors that are helping this transition, regardless of whether they are offering predominantly infrastructure or services at other layers of the stack.

Then we’ll continue to update as the index as cloud ecosystem evolves. That means we’re still collecting survey responses and tabulating the results, but we wanted to share some of our initial findings.


Have you used a cloud service for your business? If you fill out this survey, we’ll offer you our expanded report about the top cloud companies — for free.


Adoption of cloud solutions is on the rise, according to our data, which demonstrates significant year-over-year growth in the implementation of cloud services. Over 29 percent of respondents set up their cloud solution sometime this year, compared to 25 percent last year and 19 percent in 2011.

We also discovered that startups and more established enterprises are moving to the cloud in roughly equal measures. Exactly half of respondents work for companies of more than 100 people, but 35 percent work for businesses with less than 10.

The results of our first set of surveys are pretty unsurprising: Amazon snagged the top spot as the most used cloud company, with Google and Microsoft coming in a distant second and third. Here’s what our survey respondents think about their cloud services.

Amazon

Amazon offers a rich array of cloud services, including a platform-as-a-service called Elastic Beanstalk, but 90 percent of respondents who have used an Amazon cloud product stuck with its cloud infrastructure offering, Amazon Web Services. AWS users seem fairly satisfied with the bundle of services (EC2 compute, S3 storage, etc.): 80 percent of users indicated AWS is easy to use, and 88 percent would recommend it to a colleague.

“We get a lot of use from Amazon S3 and its API is very easy to work with,” said one respondent who began using AWS in 2011.

Not everyone is enamored with AWS, though. One former client decided to drop the service and build a custom cloud in-house, citing long-term cost reductions and increased security and control as reasons for abandoning Amazon.

Google

While AWS is currently the dominant public cloud provider, Google brings a formidable arsenal of resources to the battle. The search giant’s Compute Engine (GCE) is the core of the company’s cloud services — and our respondents see it as a viable competitor to AWS.

“GCE strongly lacks a management console; everything is driven by the command-line, much like AWS when they started out,” wrote one respondent who started using the service last year. “But GCE seems much faster than AWS, and I feel like Google can really compete in this area with Amazon.”

Google hasn’t stopped with Compute. The company is rapidly expanding its cloud offerings to encompass additional layers of the stack, leaving it well poised to snag customers early and keep them in the Google ecosystem as they expand.

Eight percent of survey respondents indicated they’ve used Google’s relatively new App Engine, which offers the capability to build and host web applications on Google infrastructure. All of them still use the service, and 75 percent would recommend it to a colleague, listing low cost and ease of use as App Engine advantages.

Microsoft

Microsoft has also jumped headfirst into the cloud fray, moving with impressive speed to strengthen its cloud offerings. In addition to infrastructural solutions, it offers its own platform as a service, Windows Azure.

Our survey respondents have mixed feelings about Azure. “The web console is very good and easy to use,” noted one. “However, it completely lacks any delegated admin, and the online documentation can get out of date very quickly.”

Yammer, the enterprise social network Microsoft acquired in 2012, also received lukewarm reviews. “I like easiness of creating groups and topics,” said a research engineer for a large enterprise, “but I miss the possibility to share conversations between networks.”

Other

While only 6 percent of survey respondents indicated they’ve used New Relic’s cloud services, they all heaped praise on the company’s web and mobile offerings, which help developers ensure all their apps run securely and efficiently in parallel. Pivotal and Rightscale had similarly scant response rates, but those who chimed in recommended their tools. (To be fair, Pivotal has yet to officially launch its Pivotal One platform as a service, but it does already have customers of its existing products such as Cloud Foundry and Greenplum).

Across all the services, 38 percent of respondents agreed ‘user experience’ is the key area where cloud offerings could improve, followed by “help/tutorial” (27 percent) and “cost” (18 percent).

We’ll be releasing our full report with more detailed findings soon, so stay tuned for more! Please help us review products you’ve used. Fill out this survey, and we’ll deliver you our expanded report about the top cloud companies — for free.


Mobile developer or publisher? VentureBeat is studying mobile marketing automation. Fill out our 5-minute survey, and we'll share the data with you.