In-Depth

5 Cloud Platforms You Don't Know About (But Should)

Don't just consider the "big boys" when determining your cloud computing partner -- many vendors have a lot to offer. Here's five up-and-coming platforms to add to your consideration list.

So you're considering the move to an enterprise cloud platform and want to know more about your options. Embracing a cloud platform is a big deal -- and will entail some major, long-term investment in budget and resources. Your platform vendor is going to be an important partner in making the transition and keeping it running. So it makes sense to do your research and know your partners.

And who, exactly, are these cloud partners?

Well, you probably can think of a few off the top of your head. They're well-known names in technology, and you probably read about them every day in the news: Google with its App Engine, Amazon's Web Services/EC2, Microsoft with Windows Azure and Oracle's Sun Cloud Computing.

But those aren't the only offerings out there. And while the above platforms offer the solid foundations of multinational, billion-dollar companies, your projects might benefit from the more personal collaboration available from smaller, up-and-coming companies in the cloud computing industry.

Here are a few of those smaller cloud platform providers you may not have heard about yet, but you might want to check out when planning a cloud development project:

  • Enki offers a Computing Utility service for hosting cloud services, Web 2.0 sites and enterprise applications. This is a scalable and secure virtual private data center service in which you can host applications. Enki's on-demand cloud hosting and management operations can be scaled from one virtual server to hundreds, and their grid of servers live in a secure SAS70 certified data center.
  • The XCalibre FlexiScale public cloud is currently the only cloud computing service based in Europe. XCaliber lets you deploy a server from their library of pre-built operating system and appliance images, or you can build the server image yourself. As your needs scale, new servers can be added in a matter of seconds. Servers can be managed through a Web-based user interface or via a comprehensive management API.
  • Rackspace Cloud has a range of cloud services from which you can choose. The cloudfiles service offers pay-as-you-grow file storage and content delivery, and can be used by itself or as an add-on to other Rackspace services. The cloudsites services is an entry-level hosting platform for a variety of common Web applications including Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, DotNetNuke, as well as ecommerce sites running OSCommerce, ZenCart, ASP.NET Store Front. The cloudservers service lets you scale from 1 to 50 servers, which each server provisioned from 256 MB up to 15.5 GB of physical memory. Rackspace Cloud is currently offering a Cloud Servers for Windows Beta program based on Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2008.
  • RightScale lets you deploy applications to the cloud using the Amazon EC2 infrastructure. RightScale provides cloud-ready ServerTemplates to help get your app deployed right the first time and to optimize connections across servers – and even across clouds. The base RightImage servers and RightScripts scripts help you build the server, but you free to choose the development language, tools, software stack and data store for your application.
  • Terremark Worldwide offers two cloud-computing services. vCloud Express offers a simple but highly scalable, pay-as-you-go solution optimized for development teams, smaller organizations and businesses just getting started in the cloud. Terremark's Enterprise Cloud offering, on the other hand, is tailored for businesses that need dedicated resources, integration with private networks, more comprehensive role-based security and the ability to integrate physical devices.

Cloud computing represents a move away from one-size-fits-all server offerings and, as you'd expect, these five cloud vendors offer a wide range of service choices, giving you real choice when it comes to selecting the right platform.

About the Author

Terrence Dorsey is a writer, editor and content strategist specializing in technology and software development. He is currently a Senior Technical Writer at ESPN. Read his blog at terrencedorsey.com or follow him on Twitter: @tpdorsey.

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