Windows Azure

Windows Azure is both a infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and PaaS created and sold by Microsoft. Developers can use it to create, deploy, and manage applications powered by the company’s worldwide network of datacenters. Azure supports both Microsoft languages and technologies as well as popular languages created by third parties. Supported technologies include Python, Java, and Node.js.

Azure was first launched in February 2010. The infrastructure portion, featuring Azure virtual machines, was released in mid-2012. Moreover, in 2013, Microsoft announced the availability of Azure Web Sites and Azure Mobile Services.

Currently, Azure processes nearly 5 billion authentications per week. The service, which offers pay-as-you-go and subscription options, Azure generates around $19 billion in annual revenue.

For the future, Azure chief Satya Nadella told us, “There are four specific things that we’re working on: One is the modern datacenter, because now you’re managing compute, storage, and network as a unit at datacenter and multi-datacenter scale. People refer to it as a software driven data center, and to us that’s a key part. Next layer is the data … we need to have a very first-class data platform. Then above that, you have to have a very modern application platform for building mobile, social, and data driven applications. Last, we want to make all these applications available on any device while giving IT the ability to secure the access and the data.”

Other executives have indicated Microsoft plans to do better at competitive pricing and “top-to-bottom” customer service.

User stories:

“We have worked as a six-person startup headquartered in Bengaluru, India, to use Azure to power our innovative solution aimed at sports lovers worldwide. We are fortunate to have been actively supported by Microsoft, hence this experience is one which we recommend to the developer community.”

New Relic

New Relic is an analytics service delivered in a SaaS model. Without counting plugins, the service supports applications built with Ruby, Rails, PHP, Java, .NET, and Python. The product analyzes and reports metrics around performance, latency, experience, server resources, and much more. All the data is rendered in a graphically simple dashboard UI.

In June 2013, the company announced it was opening a plugin platform so developers could create tools for and monitor any kind of metrics they wanted, including business performance metrics.

In addition to web app monitoring, New Relic also provides analytics for iOS and Android applications, capabilities that were announced in March.

In terms of momentum, this startup is used by 1.5 million application creators. The company told VentureBeat in August that it had grown 130 percent in the most recent quarter and was poised to hit a $100 million run rate.

New Relic raised an $80 million round of funding in February. Its founder, Lew Cirne, has stated that he is looking forward to taking the company public next. “We’d love New Relic to be for IT management market what Salesforce is to sales and CRM,” Cirne said.

User stories:

“New Relic has been invaluable for us to help us tune our backend. When we put our first version of the services out, we did not exactly know how they will be used. With New Relic, we were able to quickly determine the bottlenecks and fix them. We were also able to get some invaluable analytics and know, in near real time, the latencies experienced by our users. In fact, we have not been able to harness all the data that New Relic offers. We are actively in the process of pursuing this to help enhance our users’ experience.”

Joyent

Joyent is in the business of virtualization and cloud computing. Its JoyentCloud product is a direct competitor of Amazon EC2, offering IaaS and PaaS tools.

In addition to hosting, Joyent is also responsible for several notable software projects, including SmartOS, an open-source Unix competitor; and Node.js, a wildly popular project for server-side JavaScript.

The company’s current release is Joyent7, a “fabric-based cloud infrastructure platform” intended for large enterprises and cloud providers. This product provides tools such as Node.js debugging, unified directory services, billing and other financial features, a cloud ops dashboard, workflow APIs, and datacenter local storage.

In January 2012, Joyent took an $85 million round of funding led by Weather Investment II Group with participation from Telefónica, Greycroft Partners, Intel Capital, and several other entities.

A note on Node

Node.js has without question been Joyent’s biggest standalone success in the developer community. While the company has filled its client roster with big-name enterprises, it also fostered the growth of this open-source programming technology by employing its creator, Ryan Dahl, and several other core contributors. In maintaining the project over the years, Joyent has stabilized the project from a hacker’s plaything to an enterprise-ready power tool.

Today, an entire ecosystem of consultancies, security tools, platforms, and applications exist around Node.js, which itself has become one of the most popular open-source projects on the Internet.