In the coming months, the cloud will change businesses in ways we can't imagine.
Companies are rushing to develop new technologies to speed cloud development. Across the board, vendors young and old are offering new solutions that are making cloud computing easier, faster, more effective and less expensive.
The cloud is not new. Software-as-a-Service models promoted by Salesforce.com's on-demand CRM packages captured the attention of businesses years ago. Hosting centers have handled infrastructure needs. Virtualization, eliminating the need to keep hardware on-premise, has acted as a disrupter of traditional IT notions. Amazon.com formalized the cloud business model using its own infrastructure and opened the floodgates of the cloud era.
But cloud computing has now passed a tipping point, as business leaders recognize the benefits and are issuing orders to get into the cloud, fast.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service, at first dominated by Amazon Web Services' automated public cloud model and followed by Rackspace and others using OpenStack, open-source standards, is now being offered to businesses in public, private or hybrid models. The action in this space now centers on making it easy for enterprises to pick and choose what mixture of public and private infrastructure makes them feel comfortable.
Once businesses decide to adopt a cloud service infrastructure service, they look to a Platform-as-a-Service provider to help them transition and manage their IT resources as they move from their data center onto the cloud. This is a complex task and businesses such as RightScale, Heroku and Red Hat are stepping up with ever-more creative and useful solutions.
Salesforce.com may have started the Software-as-a-Service revolution, but others quickly followed. Microsoft, Google and other established vendors provide their signature software apps through the cloud. Many other newer firms are offering vertical solutions, such as financial reporting as well as testing, app development and more.
Off-premise hosting has created new needs for security that new and old vendors are rushing to fill. New security architectures are being created to protect enterprise resources that now reside in off-premise data centers that are being accessed by mobile devices. Whether it's a longtime storage leader such as Symantec or upstarts such as Bromium and CloudPassage, the race is on to build the cheapest and most effective solution.
The cloud has created a new world for storage, providing an almost inexhaustible repository for data. The category has seen new companies such as Box and Dropbox rise up to offer low-cost cloud storage. Major cloud players Google and Amazon Web Services added storage to their cloud portfolios, while established players such as EMC pivot to the cloud.
Get a good seat and watch in the coming months as the cloud innovations come into view. Welcome to the Cloud 100.
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PUBLISHED MARCH 13, 2013