Top 10 Cloud platforms for Enterprise
If you develop SaaS service or intend to move the IT infrastructure to the Internet, then, of course, you can buy VPS or dedicated server. But in the era of Cloud Computing that option is obsolete. If you want to have a really reliable, secure and scalable hosting, to automate most operations and (eventually) save money, it is logical to use one of the cloud platforms. And, depending on your goal, you can select a very interesting solution, which provides far more opportunities superior than conventional hosting. For example, for SaaS developers some platforms provide ready client base. Below - our top ten list of cloud platforms.
Amazon Web Services
Amazon was a pioneer of the cloud market and at the moment - it's the market leader. AWS is an IaaS platform (Infrastructure as a Service) and provides maximum freedom for developers in choice of the OS, middleware and development environment. From the other hand, most operations (starting from OS installation) have to be done manually. AWS is suitable either for hosting enterprise applications and content or building SaaS services.
Rackspace is the nearest Amazon competitor in IaaS segment and in part of cost and ease of administration it even outgoes AWS. Unlike Amazon, that is focused on developing new tools for deploying and managing cloud infrastructure, Rackspace wants to be closer to end users and applications. In particular, they recently launched the online app marketplace Cloud Tools. Besides, Rackspace provides basic collaboration services: mail server (Rackspace Email) and the file server (Rackspace Cloud Drive) that can be integrated with other cloud applications.
It's an ideal cloud platform for microsoft-oriented developers and companies. However, Windows Azure also supports PHP, MySQL, Ruby on Rails, Python, Java, Eclipse and Zend. The main advantage of Azure over Amazon Web Services and Rackspace Cloud is a high level of automation, allowing the developer to think only about the application, rather than on infrastructure. In addition, this platform makes it easy to integrate the cloud application with the local IT infrastructure with the help of SOAP, REST and XML (thus it supports the S+S scheme).
Google App Engine + Google Apps
Google App Engine is a perfect fit for SaaS startups as it provides free limited resources (disk space and bandwidth), which help the beginners to jump into SaaS market. Meanwhile GAE supports only two programming languages - Python and Java. GAE is focused primarily on SaaS services for small business. In addition to infrastructure platform, Google provides the set of APIs to integrate SaaS service to its popular Google Apps tools and online app store Google Apps Marketplace to promote your service on the market.
Intuit Partner Platform
IPP is very similar to Google Apps Marketplace. In addition to cloud hosting it provides the online SaaS marketplace for small business. But unlike Google Apps Marketplace all applications at IPP have not only single authentication but also single billing and a single interface to integrate and exchange data between each other. Even Microsoft has chosen IPP as a channel partner on the small business market.
Salesforce's platform Force.com intends to be a monopoly provider of enterprise SaaS applications. The platform is built around the most successful enterprise SaaS system - Salesforce and allows to create add-ons for this system and independent cloud applications. Force.com provides the wide range of development tools (Apex, Flash, Java), interface builder, ready-to-deploy modules (authentication, social tools, business processes, analytic reports) and marketplace with large user base.
For most companies Facebook - is a place where (almost all) clients live. Therefore, more companies create their own resident (branded) pages on Facebook and more CRM/Helpdesk developers create applications for Facebook. The most interesting examples are Salesforce Service Cloud and Get Satisfaction. In addition, content management systems (Alfresco, Docs.com) allow to use Facebook for sharing content with clients. And Zoho suggests to use Facebook as an internal social network.
VMWare vCloud - is not a separate cloud platform. It's an middle layer that several VMWare partners (including Salesforce) provide on top of their server infrastructure. As we know, VMWare - is the world leader in virtualization, so the main advantage of this platform is support the application appliances. In particular, it allows companies to quickly and simply transfer the in-house applications on the cloud platform without the problems associated with transferring related IT infrastructure.
IBM is known for its supercomputers, solving supertasks. And IBM Cloud is also mainly focused on large companies and resource-intensive processes: the software development and testing, storage and analytical processing of huge amounts of data. Obviously, the recent acquisition of OmniConnect, will add another function to this cloud - integration of disparate cloud systems and platforms.
Sharepoint today is de-facto the platform for microsoft-oriented companies. But SaaS version - Sharepoint Online has many limitations that allow to use it only as a collaboration system but not as a platform for creating and integrating applications. The new version Sharepoint 2010 will remove most of these restrictions and allow Sharepoint to play on the Cloud Computing market.